Evil Clown 

On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

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Photo by Raffi, tweak by PEK

Review:

Leap of Faith Orchestra performs

Supernovae by PEK

by Karl  Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com

Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery


LEAP OF FAITH ORCHESTRA With PEK/GLYNIS LOMON/ANDRIA NICODEMOU/SYD SMART/ et al - Possible Universes (Evil Clown 9144; USA) It seemed hard to believe at first, but Dave PEK, leader of Leap of Faith, has continued to expand his long running ensemble by adding personnel and keeping his various ensembles playing live in & around Boston (and occasionally in New York), as well as recording them in his home/studio. Word is that PEK’s Evil Clown label has passed the point of 100 releases, many in the past few years.


The Leap of Faith Orchestra has played their first few gigs in the past year and this disc captured one on May 28th of this year (2017). There are some 24 musicians involved including a few longtime cohorts like Eric Zinman (piano), Jonathan LaMaster (violin) and Syd Smart (drums). What is even more impressive is that Mr. PEK has learned how to organize/lead this massive ensemble so that it doesn’t sound consistently like chaos. The core members of Leap of Faith, PEK on multi-reeds, Glynis Lomon on cello and Yuri Zbitnov on drums are often at the center with various layers of strings, reeds, brass, guitars, basses and percussion surrounding them. It is hard to believe that there are so many musicians involved since certain sections are stripped down to silence of spaciousness. Unlike some of the other more out-there excursions by Leap of Faith, this one is more balanced and unfolds in a most organic and magical way. Everyone takes their time and sounds completely focused. I know that Mr. PEK has been employing a timer or clock to help keeps things more balanced and the results are indeed phenomenal. This could be the best Leap of Faith release so far, which is pretty amazing considering that I’ve reviewed some two dozen plus discs so far. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery 

Photos by Raffi

Leap of Faith Orchestra:  Possible Universes

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.


Audio CD                                              Evil Clown 9144

Leap of Faith Orchestra - Possible Universes
bandcamp:  streaming, downloads and CD Mail Order

Squidco:  CD Mail Order

   1) Leap of Faith Orchestra- Possible Universes (1:17:02)

   2) Leap of Faith - Possible Worlds  (20:26)

                                (Download Bonus Track of opening set)


PEK - saxophones, clarinets, double reeds (1,2) ​
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice (1,2) ​
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, percussion (1,2)​

Andria Nicodemou - vibes, percussion (1,2) 
Mimi Rabson - violin (1,2) 
Matt Scutchfield - violin (1) 
Jonathan LaMaster - violin (1) 
Dan O’Brien - flutes, clarinets, saxophones (1)
Zach Bartolomei - clarinets, saxophones, melodica (1)

Bob Moores - trumpet (1) 
Forbes Graham - trumpet (1) 
Kat Dobbins - trombone (1) 
Dave Harris - trombone, tuba (1) 
John Baylies - tuba (1)
Steve Provizer - trumpet, baritone horn (1)

Grant Beale - guitar, wood (1)
Chris Florio - guitar synthesizer, wood (1)
Eric Zinman - piano, kazoo, slide whistle, wood (1)

Tony Leva - bass (1,2) 
Silvain Castellano - bass (1) 
Kit Demos - bass (1) 
Syd Smart - drums, percussion (1,2) 
Kevin Dacey - drums, percussion (1) 
Joe Hartigan - drums, percussion (1) 

Kevin Dacey - drum, percussion (1) 


Ensemble Auxiliary Instruments: 
bullroarers, claves, melodicas, flex-a-tones, slide whistles, wind sirens,
crank sirens, bells, tibetan bowls, rachets, tube-o-phone

Leap of Faith Opening Set:  Possible Worlds

Leap of Faith Orchestra - Possible Universes

Somerville Armory, Somerville MA

28 May 2017

This system allows me to compose detailed Events without having to notate pitches or rhythms which would require significant rehearsal to accurately achieve. Skilled improvisers, like the ones I have recruited, can easily follow these instructions to create a highly structured improvisation without the need for specific rehearsal even when the ensemble is quite large as it is here. This allows enormous freedom and decision making for each performer and means that we do not have to rehearse these pieces prior to performance. 


All of the other contemporaneous Evil Clown performances and recordings by all of the ensembles - Leap of Faith, String Theory, Turbulence, Mekaniks, Metal Chaos Ensemble and the Sub-Units - are preparation for these full Leap of Faith Orchestra performances. The performances by these sub-ensembles stand by themselves as improvisation records as well as getting us ready to improvise in a full orchestra setting. 

"...The highly capable improvisers engaged by PEK are participating in the composer's unique method of Frame Notation…  Along with strings and three basses, a large assortment of percussion instruments, and two tubas, the orchestra utilizes an assortment of non-conventional devices such as bullroarers, claves, flex-a-tones, slide whistles, wind sirens, crank sirens, bells, Tibetan bowls, ratchets and a tube-o-phone…  Possible Universes works in a surprisingly paradoxical way, allowing structure and freedom to coexist, while constantly challenging the ear. It's not quite like anything else..."

- Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz (full Review below) 

Notes by PEK

Possible Universes is my third Graphic Score for large improvising orchestra since 2015.  These very special full orchestra events occur only twice a year. For each performance I prepare a Graphic Score specifically for that event which is simultaneously a Density and Sonority map prescribing the improvised development of the work.

The scores use a device call Frame Notation where written English descriptions of the overall sonority desired and simple graphic symbols are given durations for each player on their part along with direction on when to play and when not to play. The directions are put in little boxes called frames which are arranged on a timeline and are simple enough to be immediately understood by the performers. The players track the elapsed time on a very large sports clock. There is no melodic, harmonic or rhythmic information specified.

Raffi Photo tweak by PEK

Photos by Raffi

Review:

Leap of Faith Orchestra performs Possible Universes by PEK​

by Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz


Possible Universes is the latest release from the multi-faceted Leap of Faith collective. In the orchestra formation, the group has released some half-dozen recordings but the "full" orchestra is a biannual occurrence where the normally fifteen-piece ensemble grows. On this album, the collaborative expands to twenty-four musicians and, as always, the long-time anchors are composer and reed player PEK (David Peck) and cellist Glynis Lomon.

As is often the circumstance in Leap of Faith Orchestra recordings, the album consists of one very long (almost eighty minutes) title track. The highly capable improvisers engaged by PEK are participating in the composer's unique method of Frame Notation where (as he describes in the liner notes) ..,"written English descriptions of the overall sonority desired and simple graphic symbols are given durations for each player on their part along with direction on when to play and when not to play." The notation looks more like playoff brackets but within are the only directions that the composer chooses to offer—the mechanics of "who" and "when." What is not within the brackets are melodic or rhythmic data, placing Possible Universes in an often frenzied situation as the improvisations develop within controlled blocks of time and space.

Along with strings and three basses, a large assortment of percussion instruments, and two tubas, the orchestra utilizes an assortment of non-conventional devices such as bullroarers, claves, flex-a-tones, slide whistles, wind sirens, crank sirens, bells, Tibetan bowls, ratchets and a tube-o-phone. Even in the midst of scores of instruments, the piece utilizes silence as a much-needed balance. The Leap of Faith catalog has grown at a rapid pace in recent years; remarkable in that the collective and the enormous orchestra stay largely intact through these always complex works. Possible Universes works in a surprisingly paradoxical way, allowing structure and freedom to coexist, while constantly challenging the ear. It's not quite like anything else.

Photo by Raffi, tweak by PEK

The Score (click on this link to view on pdf, click on the first page below for the score webpage)

Photos by Raffi