On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Leap of Faith - Unbounded Sets
Nave Gallery, Somerville MA: 4 June 2016
Spectrum, NYC: 5 May 2017
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter
- Downtonwn Music Galltery
LEAP OF FAITH With PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / STEVE NORTON / ANDRIA NICODEMOU / YURI ZBITNOV + DAN O’BRIEN / ZACH BARTOLOMEI - Unbounded Sets (Evil Clown 9140; USA) This disc shows features two different sides of Leap of Faith with one set from Somerville, MA on June 4 of 2016 and a very recent set from just last week at Spectrum in NYC on May 5th of 2017. The main difference is/was the recent departure of longtime member Steve Norton (on sopranino, alto & bari saxes & clarinets) who plays on the earlier set with addition of two younger reeds players: Dan O’Brien on flutes, clarinets & tenor sax and Zach Bartolomei on soprano & alto sax, clarinet & percussion.
The first set starts off quietly with Ms. Lomon’s hypnotic bowed cello, subtle percussion, vibes, an organic interweaving of several reeds, double-reeds… This must be the most laid-back of the many sets of Leap of Faith that I’ve caught or reviewed. The second set which I attended a few weeks back was also one of the more the restrained sets I’ve caught and was captured in the small, cosy setting of the Spectrum, just 1 subway stop away from the store. Again, this was a relaxed, calm set at first, slowly building its way amongst ruins of our current (not so) civilization. The three reeds players work well together with their kaleidoscopic, ever shifting blend of various reeds. Consistently engaging yet still holding back and never giving in to unnecessary extremes. This was one of their best sets and not to hard to swallow.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
2) Unbound Sets (51:01)
Specturm, New York NY - 5 May 2017
PEK - clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, tenor & bass saxophones,
tarota, contra-bassoon, aquasonic, metal, wood, hand chimes,
wind & crank sirens, slide whistle, fog horns, taxi horn
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice, hand chimes
Yuri Zbitnov - drum set, metal, crotatles, hand chimes
Dan O’Brien - tenor saxophone, clarinet & bass clarinet, flute,
hand chimes, whistle
Zach Bartolomei - soprano & alto saxophones, clarinet, hand
Audio CD Evil Clown 9140
Leap of Faith - Unbounded Sets
Bandcamp: streaming, downloads and CD Mail Order
1) Dark Energies (20:18)
Opening set for Leap of Faith Orchestra - The Expanding Universe
Nave Gallery, Somerville MA - 4 June 2016
PEK - tenor sax, clarinet, alto & contraalto clarinets, contrabassoon,
dulzaina, sheng, metal, daxophone, aquasonic, game calls
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice, wood
Steve Norton- sopranino & alto & baritone saxes, bass &
Composer and multi-instrumentalist, PEK, set his sights on something bigger with the Leap of Faith Orchestra's Supernovae. The previous incarnation of the LOFO expands from the fifteen musicians on The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown, 2016) to twenty-one players on this new outing. Another noteworthy element of this project is PEK's use of Frame Notation where the score is seen in written descriptions and straight-forward symbols within Duration Bars. The system provides the musicians with immediate understanding of their own parts and the higher-level arrangement of the music.
Supernovae consists of a single track composition running just under eighty minutes. The digital download includes a bonus track. Though the extended piece is not broken out by formal movements, there are clear delineations within the score. PEK's ensemble—not surprisingly—includes enough non-traditional and weird instruments to compete with a Dr. Seuss orchestra. Though they are not playing in a vacuum, that group of instruments dominates the first ten minutes before strings and reeds make themselves more clearly heard. Forty-five minutes in, we have the first case of prolonged melody, darker and more subdued than the overall tone of the first half.
Supernovae gives way to free improvisation overlaying the melody. Eventually the piece introduces a brilliant percussion passage before it reintroduces the non-traditional music elements, but here in a more refined manner. As with all of PEK's compositions, there is—behind the scenes—a painstaking amount of organization that is not always evident in the listening. That is part of the beauty of this album; the non-traditional approach to instrumentation and the lack of adherence to Western structure continue to make the various iterations of Leap of Faith consistently interesting. And interesting look at the written score can be viewed at http://www.evilclown.rocks/lofo-supernovae-score.html.
Photos by Shirley Grohs & Video Grabs