Leap of Faith - Revealing the Essence
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA: 13 October 2021
Audio CD Evil Clown 9286
Leap of Faith - Revealing the Essence
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1) Revealing the Essence - 1:09:56
LIVESTREAMED to YouTube
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA
13 October 2021
PEK - clarinet, contralto & contrabass clarinets, tenor & alto saxophones, bass flute, mussette, medieval horn, goat horn, sheng, melodica, bass ocarina, gongs, brontosaurus & tank bells, Tibetan bowls & bells, cowbells, almglocken, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drums, chimes, orchestral chimes, electric chimes, xylophone, balafon, glockenspiel, crotales, aquasonic, [d[ronin, chime & spring boxes, telstar, medusa photosynth, voice
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice
Vance Provey - trumpet, flugelhorn, Tibetan bowls, glockenspeil, crotales
Michael Knoblach - basket of rocks, seed pod shakers, shakers and rattles, water filled mason jars, billiards triangle, abacus, vibratones, frame drum, copper bowl, lp udder, sandpaper blocks, glass furniture leg carpet protector, slinky, horses-ass-a-phone, Christmas ornaments, clock chime, toys, Tibetan bowls, gong
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
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 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.
This is the first Leap of Faith set with this quartet lineup. There have been some changes to the Evil Clown roster over the pandemic. While many of the regulars are still around and have been participating in the LIVESTREAMING shows from Evil Clown Headquarters, some have changed up in one way or another and are no longer available. Likewise, I have some new players, and I have some that participated in the past and are now rejoining us. This is the first Leap of Faith appearance by Michael Knoblach (the percussionist from Evil Clown’s newest ensemble, Expanse) and the first Evil Clown appearance of trumpeter Vance Provey.
The first Expanse session (Main Sequence) occurred right before the pandemic. This was a great duet, and Michael and I were both enthusiastic about doing more but were forced to wait. Since I resumed LIVESTREAM performances from Evil Clown Headquarters this May, Expanse has done two additional excellent performances: Vacuum Energy with guest Michael Caglianone and Scope with all four players of his JDME quartet (PEK, David Welans, Eric Dahlman, Jimmy Zhao, Michael Knoblach). Michael has a unique approach to percussion involving found objects along with hand percussion instruments which fits very well with the many unusual percussion and other instruments in the Evil Clown Arsenal. He also tends to play quietly which drives the mean ensemble dynamic level lower than typical in most Evil Clown ensembles.
Vance has been around the scene since before I showed up in Boston in the late 80s. He was on the Bennington faculty with Bill Dixon back in the day, and since the free improv scene in New York and the rest of New England has many players who studied there, there are lots of connections to him through other players we know. Glynis, of course, went to Bennington, and also knows and has played with Bill Dixon and many of the school’s alumni. Glynis and Vance have played in a few settings over the years. Recently, I was invited by Pianist Eric Zinman to perform at a recording session at his Cambridge home studio in a sextet with me, Eric, Vance, Stephen Haynes (tp), Nate McBride (b) and Eric Rosenthal (d). I really enjoyed playing in this setting, which was much more on the Free Jazz side of the Free Jazz / Free Improvisation spectrum than most Evil Clown performances, and I made an especially strong connection with the horn player front line. As I always do when invited to play with others, I recruit compatible musicians for my own projects, and this set is a great example of a highly credentialed and capable improvisor joining us for the first time and immediately making a deep contribution. Vance has signed up for a number of sessions in the upcoming schedule, including a quintet Leap of Faith session with me, Glynis, Vance, Nate and Eric R to be LIVESTREAMED to YouTube in late November.
So, Revealing the Essence is a hybrid of the Leap of Faith and Expanse aesthetics, with the PEK/Lomon interactions performed at a quieter mean dynamic with a two horn front line. This is a strong set as I expected, especially since everyone is still very excited to be able to play music again with others. Stay tuned for a steady stream of new sets over the next few months from Leap of Faith and all the other active Evil Clown ensembles.
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes
So, Revealing the Essence is a hybrid of the Leap of Faith and Expanse aesthetics, with the PEK/Lomon interactions performed at a quieter mean dynamic with a two horn front line. This is a strong set as I expected, especially since everyone is still very excited to be able to play music again with others.
Excerpt from PEK Liner Notes
“The first Leap of Faith set in a quartet lineup expanding the core of David Peck on reeds, winds & percussion and Glynis Lomon on cello & aquasonic with trumpeter Vance Provey and percussionist Michael Knoblach, in an introspective livestreamed set that balances the strings of Lomon against two horns while bringing out a wealth of unusual percussive interactions.”
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff