Five times a year, a smallish Leap of Faith Orchestra (10 to 15 players) heads over to Third Life Studios in Somerville for an evening of large ensemble improvisation. For the first half of the show, we do four short 15 minute improvisations by different quartet sub-groupings of the orchestra. Then we do a 50 minute improvisation with everyone.
These shows are open to the entire Evil Clown roster of about 50 musicians. So, although we have some steady regulars, the orchestra really is different every time. I assign the sub-units to take advantage of unusual groupings of instruments. I also bring a bunch of auxiliary instruments like wood blocks, hand chimes, bells, slide whistles, sirens, etc., which we distribute though the ensemble to enable players to completely change their sound.
For the longer improvisation with everyone, we have a rule that each player should lay out for roughly a third of the duration of the piece. Together with the broad palate provided by a large ensemble with everyone capable of instrument changes, this rule naturally creates a steady flow of transformation though different sonorities.
For this performance, with 9 players total to work with, I decided to structure the first half of the show a bit different than usual. We did three 20 minute pieces with core Leap of Faith and 2 of the other 6 joining in for each piece. It’s striking how different these sets are from each other.
In addition, we have the pleasure of two Evil Clown Newcomers!! Emilio Gonzalez is an excellent pianist. We played together a couple of years ago on a Matt Samolis recording done at Third Life Studio. This was also my introduction to this space, which we have been using since that time for LOFO&SU shows every other month… Emilio is highly in demand, so it was difficult to get him on the book, but the wait was well worth it! We’ll hope to see more of him in the future.
Albey onBass reached out to me not too long ago from FB. We arranged to get him on this set and several others in the near future including Leap of Faith Orchestra performs Cosmological Horizons by PEK in a week at Killian Hall MIT. Albey is an extremely well-credentialed improviser who has played with no less than Cecil Taylor and Marshall Allen! I don’t ordinarily use electric bass in the Leap of Faith projects since it often lends more of a rock vibe than I want in LOF (Metal Chaos Ensemble and Mekaniks are Evil Clown ensembles that do include more rock elements). Albey, however, played his ass off, and his fretless electric worked great with the LOF aesthetic. Weirdly, it turns out that while Albey has been living in New York for some time, he is from Boston and had played with both Yuri and Chris back in the day! Wow…
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
Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units
Third Life Studios, Somerville MA
7 July 2018
Full PEK Liner Notes Below...
"... For this performance, with 9 players total to work with, I decided to structure the first half of the show a bit different than usual. We did three 20 minute pieces with core Leap of Faith and 2 of the other 6 joining in for each piece. It’s striking how different these sets are from each other...."
Photos by Raffi
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.
2 Audio CDs Evil Clown 9184
Leap of Faith Orchestra & Sub-Units
- Inferences (double CD)
1. Sub-Unit 1: Derivations - 20:41
2. Sub-Unit 2: Predicates - 20:45
3. Sub-Unit 3: Fuzzy Logic - 20:21
4. Inferences AKA Tweedy (probably) Flies - 52:51
PEK (1-4) - clarinet & Contraalto clarinet, sopranino, bamboo soprano, alto, tenor & bass saxophones, contrabassoon, English horn, tarota, sheng, Goat Horn, Wood Flute, tromboon, Vevuzela, Melodica, Aquasonic, metal, Wood, slide whistles, wind siren, game calls, voice
Bob Moores (1,4) - trumpet, hand chimes, Vevuzela, metal, crank siren, voice
Duane Reed (1,4) - baritone horn, bass trombone
Reverend Grant Beale (3,4) - guitar
Chris Florio (3,4) - guitar
Albey onBass (2-4) -fretless electric bass, hand chimes, metal
Emilio Gonzalez (2,4) - piano