Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter,
Downtown Music Gallery
LEAP OF FAITH ORCHESTRA and SUB UNITS with PEK/GLYNIS LOMON/YURI ZBITNOV/ERIC ZINMAN/BOB MOORES/et al - Refuting Laplace’s Demon (Evil Clown 9173; USA) The Leap of Faith Orchestra continues to grow personnel-wise, adding musicians, known & unknown, from the Boston area whenever they play live. This two CD set features one entire 51 minute set by the orchestra (currently 13 members) from March 24th of 2018, as well as another CD by four sub-units. This two set format is the way things are set up for the last couple of Leap of Faith Orchestra CDs. This is a wise idea since the first set features the four sub-units, introducing the players to each other and the audience members simultaneously and giving them all chances to stretch out. This disc was recorded at Third Life Studio in Somerville, MA and not live for a change.
Disc 1: The Sub Units - Similar to the way that the John Zorn monthly improvs always feature a new combination of players, similar surprises are in store for each sub-unit here. Each of the four sub-units here are quartets or quintets with differing personnel. Sub-Unit 1 consists of four horns & piano: Bob Moores & Eric Dahlman on trumpets, Zack Bartolomei & Dan O’Brien on reeds plus Eric Zinman on piano. The results are thoughtful, slow building, two or three instruments at first with added players as time goes on. By the second half, the quintet begins to erupt at times, balancing between the calm and the storm, unpredictable yet consistently focused. Sub Unit 2 features longtime LoF regulars Glynis Lomon (cello) & Yuri Zbitnov (percussion) plus Steve Proviser (trumpet & trombone) and Adrienne Schoenfeld (bass). A similar process of having the quartet slowly blend their voices and evolve as they go. Since Leap of Faith founder Dave PEK keeps his various units busy (and records every gig or session), the many members have developed their own sound, no matter who is involved. This keeps things consistent, focused and most often successful or fascinating.
The Leap of Faith Orchestra gigs have been evolving over the past year or so, drawing from a growing community of musicians from the Boston area. This appears to be the nine single or double CD featuring Mr. PEK’s ever-expanding large ensemble. It it hard to believe that Mr. Peck keeps everyone so focused, with a good deal of well-balanced improv and several subgroups working so well together. PEK has also gotten better at recording this sessions so the the balance is consistent which is not so easy considering how musicians are often involved. Instead of directing the orchestra members, Mr. Peck has a timing clock which cues certain members or subgroups. Although there are some chaotic moments, there is a great deal more directed or focused improv connecting everyone in the ensemble. If you live in the Boston area and seek challenging music to check out live,you will have ample opportunity to check Leap of Faith (quartet - orchestra) and their varied sub units. If you live elsewhere, you can always purchase one of their nearly 100 releases. This one comes highly recommended!
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Photos by Raffi
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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.
Liner Notes by PEK:
Five times a year, a smallish Leap of Faith Orchestra (10 to 15 players) heads over to Third Life Studios in Somerville for a evening of large ensemble improvisation. For the first half of the show, we do four short 15 minute improvisations by different quartet sub-groupings of the orchestra. Then we do a 50 minute improvisation with everyone.
These shows are open to the entire Evil Clown roster of about 50 musicians. So, although we have some steady regulars, the orchestra really is a bit different every time. I assign the sub-units to take advantage of unusual groupings of instruments. I also bring a bunch of auxiliary instruments like wood blocks, hand chimes, bells, slide whistles, sirens, etc., which we distribute though the ensemble to enable players to completely change their sound.
For the longer improvisation with everyone, we have a rule that each player should lay out for roughly a third of the duration of the piece. Together with the broad palate provided by a large ensemble with everyone capable of instrument changes, this simple rule naturally creates a steady flow of transformation though different sonorities.
Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units
- Refuting Leplace's Demon
Third Life Studios, Somerville MA
24 March 2018
Full Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter Below...
"... The Leap of Faith Orchestra continues to grow personnel-wise, adding musicians, known & unknown, from the Boston area whenever they play live… It is hard to believe that Mr. Peck keeps everyone so focused, with a good deal of well-balanced improv and several subgroups working so well together… Although there are some chaotic moments, there is a great deal more directed or focused improv connecting everyone in the ensemble. If you live in the Boston area and seek challenging music to check out live,you will have ample opportunity to check Leap of Faith (quartet - orchestra) and their varied sub units..."
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
Audio CD Evil Clown 9173
Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units
- Refuting Leplace's Demon
1. Sub-Unit 1: Necessary Incompleteness - 16:28
2. Sub-Unit 2: Logical Independence - 15:11
3. Sub-Unit 3: Uncertainty Relations - 15:34
4. Sub-Unit 4: Observer Effect - 15:46
5. Orchestra: Refuting Laplace’s demon - 50:56
PEK (3,4,5) - clarinet & contraalto clarinet,
sopranino, alto, tenor & Bass saxophones,
English horn, contrabassoon, dulzaina, mussette,
guanzi, alto flute, sheng, accordion, melodica,
goat horn, aquasonic, hand chimes, slide
whistles, wind siren, fog horns, kazoo, voice
wood, hand chimes
Dan O'Brien (1,5) - alto & baritone saxophones,
clarinet & bass clarinet, flute & piccolo
Zack Bartolomei (1,5) - soprano & alto saxophones,
hand chimes, wood, metal, hand chimes
Bob Moores (1,5) - trumpet, slide whistle, crank
siren, wood flute, hand chimes, game calls, metal
Eric Dahlman (1,5) - trumpet, piccolo trumpet,
Steve Proviser (2,5) - trumpet, valve trombone.
metal, wood, voice