Photos by Rob Miller
Leap of Faith - Phenomena
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
23 January & 13 February 2020
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
LEAP OF FAITH with PEK / GLYNIS LOMON - Phenomena (Evil Clown 9239; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, alto & tenor saxes, contrabassoon, sheng, daxophone, aquasonic & assorted percussion and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice. Recently longtime Leap of Faith drummer Yuri Zbitnov retired from the various Evil Clown projects, leaving just two founding members, PEK and Glynis Lomon. This disc features the ever evolving Leap of Faith crew as just this duo, an immensely rare occurrence amongst the more than 100 Evil Clown catalogue. Ms. Lomon is an amazing cellist who has worked with Bill Dixon, Chris Chalfant, Blaise Siwula, Masashi Harada and Raqib Hassan, as well as more than 3/4 of all Leap of Faith discs.
This was recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters/Studio, hence it has superb, well balanced sound. Ms. Lomon’s cello is mic’d close so we hear every nuance of her expressive, diverse sound. PEK starts off on a double reed of some sort (sheng?), slowly bending his notes in a similar way to Ms. Lomon bent bowed strings. The duo seems relaxed and take their time. Ms. Lomon continues to concentrate, bowed low notes haunting the bottom end. PEK switches to one instrument at a time, later picking up his contrabass bassoon, which sounds like a foghorn in the distance or mutant sci-fi monster of some sort. Lomon switches to aquasonic (a bowed metal vase) with an eerie, disorienting sound which matches PEK’s switch to sax. The second half of this disc was recorded around 3 weeks later and again the duo take their time to explore their sounds in focused slow motion. There is some strong dialogue going on here when things increase in tempo and intensity midway. PEK always sounds great on whatever double reed he is playing hence the duo in the later part of this piece with frenetic cello is one of the highlights here. It is nice to hear this duo take their time to explore some new worlds without going too far out.
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Audio CD Evil Clown 9239
Leap of Faith - Phenomena
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1) Particle like Aspects of Wave Phenomena - 35:05
PEK - clarinet & contrabass clarinet, alto & tenor saxophones, contrabassoon, sheng, daxophone, gongs, Englephone, chimes, trine, temple blocks, bells, aquasonic, voice
Glynis Lomon – cello, aquasonic, voice, claps
2) Wave like Aspects of Particle Phenomena - 35:19
PEK – clarinet, alto & tenor saxophones, tarota, bass tromboon, flute & alto flute, sheng, melodica, orchestral chimes, Tibetan bowls, brontosaurus & tank bells, gongs, voice
Glynis Lomon – cello, aquasonic, voice
Joel SImches - Live to 2-track recording
Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG (Full Text Below)
“… PEK switches to one instrument at a time, later picking up his contrabass bassoon, which sounds like a foghorn in the distance or mutant sci-fi monster of some sort. …There is some strong dialogue going on here when things increase in tempo and intensity midway. PEK always sounds great on whatever double reed he is playing hence the duo in the later part of this piece with frenetic cello is one of the highlights here. It is nice to hear this duo take their time to explore some new worlds without going too far out. “
Two founding member of Leap of Faith, multi-reedist and multi-instrumentalist PEK and cellist and percussionist Glynis Lomon. present two improvisations themed on waves and particle transformations, using microphone techniques to enhance Lomon's bowing, in a set deploying aquasonic, daxophones, gongs, Englephone, contrabassoon, tromboon, and much more.
Liner Notes Excerpt by PEK (Full Notes Below)
"... I scheduled two sessions in January and February 2020 with Glynis, myself and the Evil Clown resident recording engineer Joel Simches. Instead of our typical full concert duration of 70 minutes, we played two 35 minutes pieces at each recording session. We then selected two of the tracks for Principles of an Open Future for Relative Pitch (to be released on CD this Fall) and two of the tracks for Phenomena which is available now on bandcamp and our other regular venues……"
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.
PEK tweak of a Catherine Hammond photo
Liner Notes by PEK
Leap of Faith is the core duet of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, clarinets & 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 various core units in dozens of configurations with a huge list of guests and occasionally as only the core unit with no guests.
There are relatively few recordings of the PEK/Lomon core duet without other players since previous core units have generally been trios/quartets. There are, however, a few sets from the archival period in the 90s and the more recent Categories of Being and Their Relations from July of 2018. It is interesting to expose Glynis and myself without other performers, since out history is so long and since in many ways the development of my mature improvisation language is a direct response to Glynis’. The core duet behaves as a bellwether to the balance of larger ensembles, guiding the improvisation, and when presented alone, reveals our deep connection not always so readily apparent in bigger bands.
In 2014, I was working in NYC for my day gig and I swung by Downtown Music Gallery where I had been a mail order customer for years. I had a great conversation with Bruce Lee Gallanter and the next week I sent him a bunch of CDs recorded during the archival period. Bruce sold these CDs quite well and I later realized that Kevin Reilly and a few of his NY pals had purchased the lion’s share. Kevin became a fan and has purchased many of our releases from bandcamp. Kevin runs Relative Pitch Records which releases CDs by many of the movers and shakers in the downtown improvisation scene… At the end of last year Kevin asked me if Glynis and I would like to record for Relative Pitch and I immediately responded in the affirmative since we will be in such amazing company!
I scheduled two sessions in January and February 2020 with Glynis, myself and the Evil Clown resident recording engineer Joel Simches. Instead of our typical full concert duration of 70 minutes, we played two 35 minutes pieces at each recording session. We then selected two of the tracks for Principles of an Open Future for Relative Pitch (to be released on CD this Fall) and two of the tracks for Phenomena which is available now on bandcamp and our other regular venues…
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- PEK 3/4/20
Photos by Catherine Hammond
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff