Greg Burbank - tuba, AUX* 
Abigale Reisman - violin, AUX*
Sue Buzzard - violin, AUX*
Adrienne Schoenfeld - bass, AUX*

Grant Beale - guitar, electronics, AUX*

Chris Florio - guitar synthesizer, AUX*
Eric Woods - analog synthesizer, AUX*
Eric Zinman - piano, AUX*

​Eric Rosenthal - drums, concert bass drum, balafon, Chinese gong, metal, wood

Syd Smart - drums, percussion, AUX*

AUX*:  Ensemble Auxiliary Instruments: 

wood blocks, castanets, rachets, wood rattles, claves, Tibetan bowls, Tibetan bells, flex-a-tones, hand chimes, sirens

Photo by Raffi, tweak by PEK

Review Excerpts:  Full reviews and links below:


"In a decade of writing for All About Jazz, Chicago Jazz Magazine, and The New York Jazz Record, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to thousands of creative music recordings, of overwhelming diversity.  I have heard nothing like the music of PEK….  There is a new collective depth to LOFO’s sound; symphonious, and with greater complexity of emotion, but still bristling with an underlying rawness...  The Photon Epoch marks a forward movement in PEK’s music, and it also stands out as the highlight to-date, of one of the most prolific and unique composers of our time."
-----Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz   


"I’ve reviewed 'LOFO' several times now, & each performance is better… one word of advice, however… approach their music with NO preconceived notions… of course, as with all great experimental music, it’s always better to SEE it, so I MOST strongly recommend that you watch the live video first…   personally, I believe there should be some kind of “awards” show for experimental music – & if there was, this trek would win awards HANDS-DOWN..."

-----Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion

Leap of Faith Orchestra - The Photon Epoch

Pickman Hall, Longy School of Music, Cambridge MA

27 April 2019

​Score

Digital Booklet for CD

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.

Notes from PEK


The vision of the overall Evil Clown project is to create an extremely broad universe of sound and to realize music which transforms into widely different sonorities within a single performance. The full Leap of Faith Orchestra performing a PEK frame notation score is the most complete implementation of that vision. The large ensemble size and the details provided in the score directing the improvisation allow us to create a story through a huge number of controlled textures over the 75 minute duration of the works.

The small Leap of Faith Orchestra, and the various sub-units (Leap of Faith, Metal Chaos Ensemble, Turbulence, String Theory, New Language Collaborative, Sub-Units and Mekaniks) also perform pure improvisations. These pure improvisations comprise most of the work of the Evil Clown ensembles and tune the player's improvisation languages to each other and the Evil Clown aesthetic (in 2017 we performed two scores, but published a total of 37 new albums).

This is the sixth frame notation score to be performed since the current project fired up in 2015...

Photos by Raffi

Liner Notes by Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz


In a decade of writing for All About Jazz, Chicago Jazz Magazine, and The New York Jazz Record, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to thousands of creative music recordings, of overwhelming diversity.  I have heard nothing like the music of PEK. 

Composer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and label founder, PEK is an audacious experimenter.  Beyond that, there are no appropriate labels for the music associated with his numerous groups on his Evil Clown label.  Listen to the Leap of Faith Orchestra on The Photon Epoch and you will find yourself at thirty-thousand feet, in a place with few identifiable landmarks, and then just trust that PEK will land the plane.

Twice each year, the Evil Clown family of groups convenes as a full orchestra, to perform and record before a live audience and without a substantial safety net.  The groups, Leap of Faith (a flexible formation), Metal Chaos Ensemble, String Theory, Turbulence, and Mekaniks each feature distinct instrument groupings and different dynamics; PEK himself is the common connection and the creative force behind each band.  The Photon Epoch is living, breathing art, best appreciated from all of the creative perspectives involved in the finished product.  Watch the YouTube video of this seventy-seven-minute show; it should be seen to appreciate what PEK’s Frame Notation method looks like when manifested through twenty musicians.  Then there is the Frame Notation itself.  This involved process, designed to eliminate the need for mass rehearsals, tells the musicians all they need to know; coding of instrument groups and score, when (and sometimes what) to play, for how long, and with what characteristics.  On paper, the Frame Notation is a work of visual art, the hybrid of an intricate wiring diagram and Piet Mondrian’s “Broadway Boogie Woogie”.

One of the first things you notice about The Photon Epoch is the evolving maturity of LOFO.  Many gadgets and odd instruments that populated the orchestra’s previous Cosmological Horizons are minimalized here.  There is a new collective depth to LOFO’s sound; symphonious, and with greater complexity of emotion, but still bristling with an underlying rawness.  While free improvisations, or as PEK prefers, "pure improvisations" are the unseen aspects within each frame, there is a consistent musicality running through the entire extended work.  Through a half-dozen live LOFO recordings, this collective—many who have been on board from the outset—has gelled as a large, empathetic unit, taking an erudite approach to traversing some perilous territory.  In the transitions from idyllic passages to visceral outbursts, the individual musicians have mastered the ability to dissociate themselves from unrelated stimuli while holding firm to interpreting ideas that, to this point, have only played out in PEK’s head.

I have listened to the music of all the Evil Clown sub-groups without preconceived expectations, beyond the understanding there would be unusual dynamic forces at work.  With the full orchestra, that energy grows exponentially.  I’ve played The Photon Epoch multiple times; with and without headphones, in the light and in the dark.  That is often the recipe for diluting the power of a piece of music, especially one of long duration.  That is not the case here - something new presents itself each time, an instrument group may stand out, a bell rings, a silence seems more profound.  The Photon Epoch marks a forward movement in PEK’s music, and it also stands out as the highlight to-date, of one of the most prolific and unique composers of our time.

Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz

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

2

Review:

Leap of Faith Orchestra performs

Supernovae by PEK

by Karl  Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com

Photos by Raffi

YuoTube

Review:  
Audaciously delicious experiments

Leap of Faith Orchestra – The Photon Epoch

Audaciously delicious experiments Leap of Faith Orchestra – THE PHOTON EPOCH:  I’ve reviewed “LOFO” several times now, & each performance is better… one word of advice, however… approach their music with NO preconceived notions… of course, as with all great experimental music, it’s always better to SEE it, so I MOST strongly recommend that you watch the live video first…

…I do actually realize that this isn’t “music for everyone”… but if (like me) you’re prone towards music that explores new territory each & every time they perform, you will want to be SURE to SUBSCRIBE to their YouTube channel, where you’ll find many more sonic adventures to enjoy.  The PLAYER LIST is also on the video above, as it’s far too long to list here.

My most recent review of LOFO’s work was for their “COSMOLOGICAL HORIZONS” album, which got VERY high marks!  As Composer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and label founder PEK notes, there ARE no “appropriate labels” for the music created here… just imagine yourself on an interstellar journey, albeit with the pilot declaring that “all’s been lost”, & each wormhole rider is “on their own”… for many listeners, that’s not a comfortable place to be, but since I got my start with experimental and improvised music, this hour & sixteen minute sonic trek is sheer perfection for me… if you’re at all adventurous – it WILL be for you, too!

There are no “breaks” (or “brakes”, for that matter)… so before you start listening (with your headphones on, of course), be sure you’ve got your “long-neck”, or “hookah”, or other “devices” prepped so you can enjoy the entire journey without interruption… personally, I believe there should be some kind of “awards” show for experimental music – & if there was, this trek would win awards HANDS-DOWN.

I give PEK & LOFO a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.99 for this splendid aural adventure.  In addition to the YouTube channel indicated above, you will want to check some of their other locations to stay current… their Evil Clown website; the page for The Photon Epoch on that site; the Evil Clown Facebook page; and their BandCamp page.       Rotcod Zzaj

Photo by Raffi, tweak by PEK

Program Notes for the Concert
Leap of Faith Orchestra Performs The Photon by PEK

Once or twice a year Sparkles, The Giant Evil Clown, presents the full Leap of Faith Orchestra in its largest configuration performing a Frame Notation Score composed by PEK which guides the improvisation...

In physical cosmology, The Photon Epoch was the period in the evolution of the early universe in which photons dominated the energy of the universe. The Photon Epoch started after most leptons and anti-leptons were annihilated at the end of the lepton epoch, about 10 seconds after the Big Bang. Atomic nuclei were created in the process of nucleosynthesis which occurred during the first few minutes of The Photon Epoch. For the remainder of The Photon Epoch, the universe contained a hot dense plasma of nuclei, electrons and photons. 370,000 years after the Big Bang the temperature of the universe fell to the point where nuclei could combine with electrons to create neutral atoms. As a result, photons no longer interacted frequently with matter, the universe became transparent and the cosmic microwave background radiation was created and then structure formation took place.

I am giving all my Frame Notation compositions for the LOFO astronomical/cosmological titles - It seems fitting with the scale of these long complex works and fits well with my usual Leap of Faith/Evil Clown titles which largely draw on Scientific and Mathematical ideas. These very special full orchestra events occur only once or twice a year. For each performance, I compose a Frame Notation Score specifically for that show which is simultaneously a Density and Sonority map prescribing the improvised development of the work. These very special scores intend to solve a very tricky problem of composition for large improvisation ensembles: How do you rehearse complex works for large ensembles when all the participants are extremely busy? Answer: Compose works that do not need to be rehearsed.

My newest composition, The Photon Epoch, is being presented in a great room at The Longy School of Music called Pickman Hall. Pickman Hall is a wonderful modern chamber orchestra performance space with high ceilings, a great grand piano and a nice live sound. The Leap of Faith Orchestra performed Superclusters, my 4th Frame Notation Score, at Pickman Hall in December 2017. Peter Cassino, who plays with our star cellist Glynis Lomon, and who performed the piano part on the 1st Frame Notation Score, The Expanding Universe, has generously offered us the use of this amazing venue. Thanks, Peter…

When deciding that I wanted to create a large improvisation orchestra version of Leap of Faith in early 2015, I reflected on my prior experience with large groups in the 90s and early 00s where we tried with difficulty to gather the entire group to rehearse. I decided to take a different approach and to develop the orchestra slowly over time by working with many smaller sections and combinations ultimately leading to the full unit. For the first year and a half, we performed pure improvisations with each other in various combinations, and created a lot of great work by smaller units in the process. The debut performance of the first Frame Notation Score by PEK, The Expanding Universe, was performed by the full Leap of Faith Orchestra in June 2016 - then 4 more since: Supernovae (November 2016); Possible Universes (May 2017), SuperClusters (December 2017), and Cosmological Horizons (July 2018): All to critical acclaim. See reviews on AllAboutJazz.com, FreeJazzBlog, the New York City Jazz Record and elsewhere (Evil Clown website press page). The various small ensembles continue regularly to present pure improvisations at Boston Venues and now LIVE STREAMING of recording sessions from Evil Clown Headquarters.

The Frames control who plays what instrument and at what times during the 75 minute duration of the composition. The score does not contain conventionally notated melodic, harmonic or rhythmic information; instead, the Frames, aligned with Time Indices along the top of the page, contain simple graphic symbols and English language descriptions for each performer dictating the instrument played and texture desired for the Frame’s Time Window specified by its Duration Bar. The score prescribes timbre sets (clouds of sounds of similar texture) by assigning auxiliary instruments (mostly wood or metal percussion) to each player and using the many possible permutations of primary and auxiliary instrument groupings across the orchestra to create an organic stream of transformations through highly varied sonorities. The ensemble tracks the time on the score with a large digital sports clock.

This system allows me to compose detailed Events without having to notate pitches or rhythms in conventional staff notation which would require significant rehearsal to accurately achieve and not take advantage of the distinct improvisational languages of the musicians. Skilled improvisers, like the ones I have recruited, can easily follow these instructions to create a highly structured improvisation without the need for 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. We rely on all of the work of the overall Evil Clown project to tighten the ensembles' improvisation across its many cross sections while the score provides directions on timing, sonority and transformation.

Each of the scores has continued to utilize the compositional symbols and devices of the previous scores while adding something new to my notational system. Some examples of recurrent devices are large texture blocks with auxiliary instrument groupings (like wood or metal texture), pulse tracks with unison attacks at irregular intervals from different sub-groups, using the decay from large gongs as structural divisions of the work to pivot into a new sonority, and Group Action Frames assigned to named sub-groups in the ensemble.

For the last three scores I have used different time scales for different sections of the work on the page timeline (1, 3 and 5 minute page widths), each of which allows the Events to lay differently on the page. Short detailed Events are easier to notate and interpret when the page is a one minute wide and longer, more general Events easier to notate and interpret when the page is five minutes wide. For The Photon Epoch, all of the page scales trigger Frames at the 1 second interval (i.e. 12:27), as opposed to a 5 second interval (i.e. 12:25) of the earliest score. I use spreadsheets with random number functions to generate time structures at several scales which are used in planning the Events. These structures are in use in nearly every section of the work, and the 1 second interval is required at every page scale to represent these structures.

Most of the musicians have performed several of or all the earlier scores, so they have learned how to interpret the basic Group Action Frame symbols and the other notational devices. I have increased the rate of and the number of transformations in each score and new Group Action Frames are added to my compositional vocabulary for the next one. I have learned how the notation is interpreted by the ensemble and that, in fact, they can interpret detailed directions successfully even without rehearsal. With a much larger well-defined universe of notation and a knowledgeable pool of performers each of the scores has become significantly more sophisticated than its predecessors. The audience will experience a steady flow of distinct sonorities over the duration of the performance.

All the other contemporaneous Evil Clown performances and recordings by all the ensembles - Leap of Faith, String Theory, Mekaniks, Metal Chaos Ensemble and the Sub-Units - are preparation for these full Leap of Faith Orchestra performances. The performances by these smaller ensembles stand by themselves as improvisation performances as well as getting us ready to improvise in a full orchestra setting. Please look for our regular concerts at Outpost 186 and Third Life Studios. Sign up for the mailing list at the Merch Table or send me email at Sparkles@GiantEvilClown.com!!


- PEK, 3/10/2019

On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... ​using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation."   - Squidco website staff

Evil Clown 

Audio CD                                              Evil Clown 9213

Leap of Faith Orchestra - The Photon Epoch

bandcamp:  streaming, downloads and CD Mail Order 

   1) Leap of Faith Orchestra -  

           The Photon Epoch (1:16:56)


PEK - clarinet & contralto clarinet, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, tarota, sheng, melodica, chau gong, plate gong, AUX* ​
Glynis Lomon - cello, voice, AUX* ​
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, daiko, dan-mo, englephone, vibraphone, paiste gong, brontosaurus & tank bells, AUX* 

Zach Bartolomei - alto sax, flute, atlantis gong, AUX* ​
Eric Dahlman - trumpet, overtone voice, AUX* ​ 

Bob Moores - trumpet, AUX* ​
Forbes Graham - trumpet, AUX* ​ 

Duane Reed - baritone horn, bass trombone, AUX* ​

Here's a ton of great links to previously performed Frame Notation Scores
----------------
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs Cosmological Horizons by PEK
Evil Clown Album Page    bandcamp     YouTube
Review (AllAboutJazz)    Review (Squid's Ear)
----------------
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs SuperClusters by PEK
Evil Clown Album Page     bandcamp     YouTube
Review (AllAboutJazz)    Review (Squid's Ear)

----------------
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs Possible Universes by PEK 

Evil Clown Album Page     bandcamp     YouTube     Squidco
Review (AllAboutJazz)    

----------------
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs Supernovae by PEK
Evil Clown Album Page     bandcamp     YouTube    
Review (AllAboutJazz)      Review (Free Jazz Blog)   

----------------
Leap of Faith Orchestra performs The Expanding Universe by PEK
Evil Clown Album Page     bandcamp     YouTube    
Review (AllAboutJazz)      Review (Gapplegate)      Review (JazzRightNow)