Leap of Faith - Coherent Alternatives
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 11 June 2022
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
----Liner Notes by PEK
Leap of Faith is the core duet of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice. The ensemble is based in Boston and dates back to the early 90s. We utilize a huge arsenal of additional Evil Clown instruments to improvise long works featuring transformations across highly varied sonorities. At times, the core unit has been a trio or even a quartet. The longest running core unit was comprised of PEK, Glynis and drummer Yuri Zbitnov, who played for the last couple of years of the archival period and the first 5 years of the reboot starting in 2015. The ensemble has always been highly modular, and our many recordings (well over 100) feature the core unit in dozens of configurations with a huge list of guests and occasionally as only the core unit with no guests. Currently, the core unit is the duet of PEK and Lomon and we are regularly presenting LIVESTREAMs to YouTube from Evil Clown Headquarters with other guest performers.
I met Glynis originally when we both played in the Masashi Harada Sextet… A few months after I arrived in Boston to attend Berklee, I saw Masashi perform with Joe and Matt Maneri and introduced myself afterwards, and the Sextet started soon after. I was a bit older (at 25) than most Berklee students and I had spent the 5 years prior studying jazz and classical saxophone in California. I also played in rock bands, and with some of those musicians (Jim Smith, Mike Grialou, and David Murray), we made some very experimental music. Although I had a great deal of instrumental technique, I had not played with the level of seasoned free-improvisation specialists that were in this band and generally part of the Boston Improvisation scene. Therefore, the MHS was a critically important band for me in entering the initial phase of my mature improvisation style.
Also in the MHS, was John Fugarino, who played a trumpet with both valves and a slide, and who had been studying microtonal and other composition at New England Conservatory, just down the street from Berklee. John and I played a fair amount outside of the MHS, including in a quartet with Masashi on drums and the amazing George Garzone with whom I was studying with at Berklee. As happens with many bands, the MHS was short-lived, folding after a few years… Following the dissolution of the MHS, Glynis and I formed our first trio, Leaping Water Trio, which morphed into the first Leap of Faith lineup a few years later. We both, however lost track of John at this time.
A few months back, I ran into John on facebook. He is currently teaching music at the Elementary School level and also performs regularly, although not much free improvisation. I encouraged him to come and join in on Evil Clown Livestreaming performances and he made his initial appearance on a large format Turbulence Orchestra session (Wind Shear) in April. Coherent Alternatives is the first Leap of Faith session John has played on, and his work is excellent! In addition to the valve-slide trumpet he also brought a regular trumpet, a flugelhorn, and a trombone; and he also played a bunch of the percussion instruments that are always available to the players at a session at Evil Clown Headquarters… Despite it being 30 years since we last played together, the connection between the 3 of us was immediately deep.
I like this reunion session and I think you will too. John will be back next month for a Turbulence Orchestra set, and I’m working on scheduling another Leap of Faith set for late summer with this trio + pianist/synth player Eric Zinman. Stayed tuned and check us out!
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes
“…Coherent Alternatives is the first Leap of Faith session John has played on, and his work is excellent! In addition to the valve-slide trumpet he also brought a regular trumpet, a flugelhorn, and a trombone; and he also played a bunch of the percussion instruments that are always available to the players at a session at Evil Clown Headquarters… Despite it being 30 years since we last played together, the connection between the 3 of us was immediately deep.…”
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 9310
Leap of Faith - Coherent Alternatives
bandcamp: streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
1) Coherent Alternatives - 1:10:36
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
11 June 2022
PEK - clarinet, contralto & contrabass clarinets, soprano, alto, & tenor saxophones, piccolo oboe, bass flute, bass tromboon, sheng, melodica, novation peak, moog subsequent, prophet, syntrix, Linnstrument controllers, [d]ronin, baby bomb piano, tank cello, 17 string bass, cow bells, spring & chime rod boxes, almglocken, crotales, glockenspiel, chimes, wood blocks, brontosaurus & tank bells, gongs, plate gong, temple blocks, log drums, cow bells, Englephone
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, cymbells, voice
John Fugarino - John Fugarino - trumpet, slide/valve trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, gongs, brontosaurus & tank bells, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drums, chimes, bell tree, Englephone