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 Orchestra performs
by Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com
Axioms - Illusion and Reality
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 20 January 2022
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.
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes:
“… An early core Leap of Faith core unit was PEK and Glynis with bassist Craig Schildhauer. This version of Leap of Faith was around for 3 or 4 years in the mid-90s. While doing this performance I kept thinking back to this Leap of Faith configuration from nearly 30 years ago. Had that trio done a set with an excellent poet such as Jane, we would have a much earlier document of a two string players / one horn player ensemble with a guest poet…”
PEK Liner Notes
Albey onBass and Jane SpokenWord were associated with Cecil Taylor's final trio. Following Cecil's passing they were in Boston for about a year in 2017-2018 and Albey performed a dozen or so times with Leap of Faith, Metal Chaos Ensemble and Turbulence. In November 2018, Albey and I had been discussing doing a duet, but we decided to include Jane’s poetry as a trio. This new Evil Clown Ensemble we called Axioms, which to me is an apt name for a band which features words - something that most Evil Clown sessions do not.
There are two definitions:
1) a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true
2) a statement or proposition on which an abstractly defined structure is based (mathematics)
These two meanings bridge the distance between poetic discussion of truths and abstract musical structures.
A few months later, about a year before the virus, Albey and Jane moved to New Orleans, so the original session from December 2018, Manifestations, had been our only recording to date.
Back in July 2021, soon after I reopened Evil Clown Headquarters for YouTube streaming performances / recordings (following the time when musicians could be fully vaccinated for the virus), Albey reached out saying that he and Jane would be in the Boston area for a few weeks, and we recorded Hypotheses a few days later. In the fall, they moved back to the Boston Area, and Illusions and Reality is the third session since last July.
This new set, Illusions and Reality, has a new slightly smaller lineup with the Jane/Albey duet and the PEK/Glynis Lomon duet. An interesting dynamic arises when small subgroups with deep history play together in a larger unit. Jane and Albey have been married for 50 years and they are deeply connected as an improvisation duet with Albey playing bass and Jane reciting her poetry. PEK and Glynis have played together in Leap of Faith and other ensembles since the early 90s. The duets combined interact as two duets as well as the quartet members interacting individually.
An early core Leap of Faith core unit was PEK and Glynis with bassist Craig Schildhauer. This version of Leap of Faith was around for 3 or 4 years in the mid-90s. While doing this performance I kept thinking back to this Leap of Faith configuration from nearly 30 years ago. Had that trio done a set with an excellent poet such as Jane, we would have a much earlier document of a two string players / one horn player ensemble with a guest poet.
IMHO this is the strongest Axioms set so far… the interplay between Glynis and Albey is getting telepathic… the instrumental support for Jane’s words is outstanding… Hopefully, the scheduling will allow frequent repetition of this quartet Axioms ensemble. I like this performance and I think you will too...
PEK – 21 January 2022
Audio CD Evil Clown 9295
Axioms - Illusion and Reality
streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
1) Illusion and Reality - 1:09:44
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
20 January 2022
Jane SpokenWord - poetry, spoken word, Englephone
PEK - clarinet, contralto & contrabass clarinets, sopranino, alto, & tenor saxophones, piccolo oboe, tarota, daxophone, [d]ronin, spring & chime boxes, electric chimes, chimes, gongs, orchestral chimes, brontosaurus & tank bells, plate gong, Tibetan bells & bowls, almglocken, crotales, glockenspiel, cow bells, log drums, wood blocks, temple blocks. balafon, xylophone, aquasonic, spoken word
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice
Albey onBass - electric upright bass, brontosaurus bell, spoken word
Joel Simches - live to 2 track recording
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff