On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Review from Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
LEAP OF FAITH with PEK / GLYNIS LOMON / YURI ZBITNOV / MIMI RAPSON / ELINOR SPEIRS - Topological Constructions (Evil Clown 9183; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, sopranino, alto, tenor & bass saxes, double reeds, etc, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonics & voice, Mimi Rapson on violin & metal, Elinor Speirs on violin and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, percussion & metal. This disc was recorded at the Evil Clown Headquarters in in June of 2018. For this disc, the three core Leap of Faith members (Pek, Lomon & Zbitnov) have added two string players, both of whom are women. The two guests here play on several previous Leap of Faith efforts so they know how to fit it and add to the ritualistic free sonic sorcery. The intro features eerie percussion: gongs & metals along with the three strings slowly interwoven. The quintet take their time so everyone gets a chance to stretch out, interact and solo. Both string players sounds great, especially when they are egged on by Ms. Lomon’s spirited cello! One of the things I like about this disc is that it moves slowly and doesn’t have some of the fireworks that some of the larger ensembles have. It is superbly recorded, warm and clean with very little hyper-intensity. Hence, if you are patient, the rewards are great!
- Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
Photos of Elinor by Raffi tweaked by PEK
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 trio of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, clarinets & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion. 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. The ensemble has always been highly modular and our many recordings feature the core trio in dozens of configurations with a huge list of guests.
Mimi Rabson is our star violinist from the Leap of Faith Orchestra. She is a brilliant and highly in demand player who also teaches at Berklee. We love playing with Mimi and have her play with us as often as we can. In order to keep momentum that comes from regular sessions in small improvisation units, Glynis, Yuri and myself work around Mimi’s availability to schedule as many Evil Clown Headquarters sessions as we can. To date, we have recorded 3 prior excellent sessions at ECH in addition to Topological Constructions: Semantic Differentials (April 2018), Zeno’s Paradox (September 2017) and Thought Experiment (November 2017).
Violinist Elinor Speirs is our special guest for Topological Constructions. She is working on a DMA at New England Conservatory, like our regular LOFO member Dan O’Brien. I contacted her hoping she could be in the string section for the performance of my work for improvisation orchestra, Cosmological Horizons, next month at Killian Hall MIT. Unfortunately, she can’t make CH, so we decided to get her together with this small Strings variation of Leap of Faith at Evil Clown Headquarters. Glynis, Mimi and Elinor were a spectacular string section indeed!! Hopefully we’ll see more of Elinor in the future…
Worthy of note is the newest arsenal acquisition, the Brontosaurus Bell, which is making its Leap of Faith premiere on this recording. This is an extraordinarily large (32 inches) cow bell which someone welded together and hung from a huge heavy stand. No cows are big enough for this bell, so I’m calling it the Brontosaurus Bell. Turns out this instrument has lots of different amazing sounds depending on where, with what, and how hard you strike it!! It has sounds like from a thunder sheet or rapidly decaying gong. A perfect complement to the already huge set of metal percussion instruments….
One special thing about the ECH sessions is the ready availability of all of the instruments in the Evil Clown Arsenal. The studio is pretty big, but there is not enough room for the entire Arsenal, so we select auxiliary instruments until the room is full. The available sound palette is the biggest we customarily use except for full Orchestra shows at larger venues (when we move it all with a truck).
PEK, 23 June 2018
PEK tweak of a Raffi Photo
Audio CD Evil Clown 9183
Leap of Faith - Topological Constructions
streaming, downloads and CD mail Order
1) Topological Constructions - 1:12:52
Evil Clown Headquarters - 21 June 2018
PEK - clarinet & Contraalto clarinet, sopranino, bamboo soprano, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, contrabasson, English horn, tarota, sheng, log drums, balafon, aquasonic, [d]ronin, wood, metal, brontosaurus bell, orchestral chimes, voice
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice
Leap of Faith - Topological Constructions
Evil Clown Headquarters, Waltham MA - 21 June 2018
Bill Dixon used to say that a soloist is the smallest orchestra possible. David Peck seems to form ensembles on that premise. Leap of Faith is one of those aggregates in which size, shape, timbre and even instrumental distinction are continually and wonderfully present and blurred, contradicting even the notion of contradiction.
Part of the fun is that there’s a whole lotta doublin’ goin; on. Just look at the Rabelaisian list of instruments the leader wields to suit his constantly morphing purposes, half of which I can’t identify, or the briefer but equally fascinating arsenal of drummer Yuri Zbitnoff. All that timbral merriment foregrounds the fact that performer anonymity is a common occurrence, leaving the listener afloat in a haze of changing style, sound and space. There are certainly times when that legal fiction we still call jazz rears its head, or threatens to do so, but it quickly submerges beneath orchestral shades and crystalline percussion avalanches. It is absolutely wonderful to hear cellist Glynis Lomon, whose work, speaking of Bill Dixon, I remember fondly from the 2007 Vision Festival and who, like everyone in Leap of Faith, is in excellent form here. There are certain points at which delay, again conjuring shades of that pioneering and now departed trumpeter, comes centerstage, but electronics are in play less frequently than on other Evil Clown releases.
As musical trope and idea ebb and flow, and as melodic simplicity and overtone complexity vie for prominence, the sound of the room is ever-present. The recording has a beautifully resonant quality, not overly reverberant but certainly live, that is lacking from so many documents of improvised music, and the room functions almost like another instrument, lending its own character to every sound it contains. The net effect is a sense of live music making and its attendant excitement and discovery in action as we’re let in on the processes behind its creation. This is music delightfully and consciously shorn of idiom and the more confrontational for it, even during its most peaceful moments, of which there are plenty.
- Marc Medwin, Squid's Ear
A string-rich configuration Leap of Faith quintet tears it up Evil Clown Headquarters with special guests violinists Mimi Rabson and Elinor Speirs!!
Review Excerpt from Bruce Lee Galanter,
Downtown Music Gallery (full review below)
"For this disc, the three core Leap of Faith members (Pek, Lomon & Zbitnov) have added two string players… Both string players sounds great, especially when they are egged on by Ms. Lomon’s spirited cello! One of the things I like about this disc is that it moves slowly and doesn’t have some of the fireworks that some of the larger ensembles have. It is superbly recorded, warm and clean with very little hyper-intensity. Hence, if you are patient, the rewards are great! "
(full review below)
“Part of the fun is that there’s a whole lotta doublin’ goin; on. Just look at the Rabelaisian list of instruments the leader wields to suit his constantly morphing purposes, half of which I can’t identify, or the briefer but equally fascinating arsenal of drummer Yuri Zbitnoff. All that timbral merriment foregrounds the fact that performer anonymity is a common occurrence, leaving the listener afloat in a haze of changing style, sound and space. There are certainly times when that legal fiction we still call jazz rears its head, or threatens to do so, but it quickly submerges beneath orchestral shades and crystalline percussion avalanches.”
"The core trio of the Leap of Faith Orchestra--PEK on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, and Yuri Zbitnov on drums & percussion--is joined by fellow Orchestra violinist Mimi Rabson and special guest, violinist Elinor Speirs, for a remarkable improvised work using a huge arsenal of instruments including a new Brontosaurus Bell."
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff