Zugzwang (with Tom McNalley)
Sinister, strident and glacial sounds emanating from sunny Ventura, California. Kaiser uses quartertone trumpet, McNalley electric guitar. Both add electronics to distort, extend and transmute their instruments. Zugzwang communicates a taste for controlled acoustic violence. It works well because Kaiser and McNalley’s mutual understanding and individual skill are reinforced rather than masked by the treatments.
The music has imaginative scope too: it’s dramatic in structure as well as texture. McNalley, still in his early twenties, is developing an exciting and distinctive voice on an instrument that has already been exhaustively redefined by iconoclasts and innovators. And it’s clear that he benefits from Kaiser’s challenging company.
–Julian Cowley, The Wire, November 2006
A few years ago I heard Oregon-based guitarist Tom McNalley on his trio’s debut, and found it to be an exciting, powerful record. With the kind of energy and genre-mashing often heard on a Nels Cline session, for example, the guitarist romped through multi-sectioned compositions with abandon. Teamed up with trumpeter Jeff Kaiser (using a quarter-tone trumpet here), McNalley focuses on more spacious and textural playing. Both guys supplement their axes with electronics, and I came away with the impression that McNaIIey has been influenced by the under-appreciated G.E. Stinson. This is heard most on atmospheric tracks like “Opening Demand” – with lots of cosmic loops and some lovely lyric playing from both. But to say that they favor textural playing doesn’t mean we’re in Eno territory here. There are plenty of rough and explosive moments here, particulary on the opening, “Carbon Fianchetto” or the antic splatter and skronk of “Systematic Imbalance.” They’re judicious about usinq notes, about nodding towards idioms. And each piece seems to concentrate on a reduction or a thickening of basic elements. Rich and alive with detail, it’s a fine duo recording.
–Jason Bivins, Signal to Noise, Winter 2007
Recorded live with no overdubs, this duo album features trumpeter Jeff Kaiser and guitarist Tom McNalley in a creative affair where noise plays a major role. The session is serious, contains plenty of motion, and comes with innumerable surprises. The album’s title is a word that refers to forced movement, as in chess. How many times have we found ourselves sitting around wishing to pass on some opportunity or other when we find that we’re compelled to take action? Apparently Kaiser and McNalley feel compelled to fill the room with sheets of noise.
Like a game of chess, the two artists face off with repeated demands from each other. Electronic noises ebb and flow in a continuous motion. Like the gray matter in our heads, the duo’s session sizzles from end to end as if in deep thought. After the first thirteen minutes, a recognizable trumpet and guitar appear with something musical. Spanish ties pop up now and again, but the gist of their action is creative noodling. A few echoes are applied electronically, and the wall-to-wall noise does abate once in awhile.
For the most part, Kaiser is on fire with his squealing horn, while McNalley is equally creative with fingerstyle guitar antics. They both enjoy a fast pace, which at times resembles flamenco dancing. Their intensity is at that level and above.
The natural tension that arises during a chess match appears in the music that Kaiser and McNalley create. With an ear toward science fiction sound effects and another ear toward the instrumental warmup room, the two artists try on different sounds for size. ”Organic Symmetry” differs from the album’s usual pattern by focusing on both instrumentalists as plaintive voices in the wind. Call it a ballad. Muted trumpets echo forcefully while a standard guitar applies walking chords with genuine ease.
” Aristotelian Blockade” runs a similar course, but adds plenty of noise to the equation in order to achieve a balance. Most of Zugzwang, however, relies on wall-to-wall noise for its effects. This is creative music, but it’s not for everyone.
–Jim Santella, AllAboutJazz.com
Jeff Kaiser (tromba ed elettronica) vive un momento di grazia; non c’è che dire. Ci ha da poco frollato (con piacere e a dovere) l’apparato auditivo nei Choir Boys, (fumigante mistura industrial-avant da svenimento il primo omonimo lavoro; il più recente “With Strings” a liberare insospettabili filamenti noir non di meno corrosivi anche se più di ascolto), ora a distanza di un soffio si premura di fotterci definitivamente sfornando questa subdola raccolta di fanghiglia rugginosa ed umorale, uno sfinimento; collasso psico/fisico vertiginoso. Materiali dall’alta tossicità intrinseca mescolati a vagolamenti pre-verbali, Tom McNalley (chitarra ed elettronica) aggiunge alla perdita di razionalità generale una chitarra atonale dai bordi taglienti che s’inceppa (spesso) esaurita e sfibrata, ma in grado (spesso) di levarsi in vaporose volute di drones rampicanti esemplari. Quel che convince appieno è il senso di compiutezza complessiva, l’inizio ombroso ed urticante di Carbon Fianchetto che passa da possibile esplosione (che non giunge mai) Wolf Eyes a distesa ambient d’alta scuola. Un rincorrersi continuo sulle ali di un sentire costantemente in bilico fra urlo trattenuto (Davis o Peter Brötzmann) e placide distese al chiar di luna di dark ambient-avant purgata da eccessi e dedita al morbo della comunicazione. Misteriose fluttuazioni elettroniche aliene s’impossessano talvolta della scena ma non è poi un male, l’epilessia al contrario di Systematic Imbalance ad esempio; s’intravedono anche filamenti d’ironia sullo sfondo. Cosa chieder di più? Dissolta (speriamo per sempre) la patina colta rompicazzo di certe produzioni (con la quale anche Kaiser spesso è convolato a nozze in precedenza); vai che forse ci siamo veramente! Trasversale ed incubico, “Zugzwang” potrebbe divenire pietra angolare se lo volesse, la splendidezza di Both Varied Situations ne è dimostrazione piena e convincente; sfibrature chitarristiche in libero deliquio (Experimental Audio Reserch in fase terminale?) e carezzevole scalata elettronica para sinfonica da urlo che muore di un vuoto acusmatico infestato da sinistre presenze. McNalley per l’attacco di Organic Symmetry corre anche il rischio di beccarsi un bacio sulle labbra da parte mia (bleah!), dolce, dolcissima ballata, di nuovo Davis e di nuovo Bailey, in una sala di registrazione spenta; in punta di piedi ed a occhi chiusi. Il buco nero finale di Liquid Compensation, detriti sparsi armonici su di una collina radioattiva; un capolavoro! Per chi ha amato: i Work, gli Abstractions, i God, i Fat, l’Elliott Sharp di “Larynx”, TG, Don Cherry, Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, ma anche: Richard Youngs, Dna, Lustmord, Foodsoon; PSI. Questo disco è per tutti voi. Un’esoterica gemma.
Marco Carcasi, http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=2546
In this daring release, Kaiser and McNalley utilize electronics, trumpet and electric guitar with great imagination, succeeding in creating unconventional sonic architectures. The artists build a bizarre world, with eerie natural landscapes, as well as industrial zones of anguish, madness and darkness.
DOMINIQUE CHEVANT, http://www.amazings.com/reviews2006.html
Kaiser on trumpet, McNalley on guitars and both tweaking the knobs. Definitely a treat for fringe folks only, but if you want to head into deep space, this is an E ticket ride. I’m never bored when listening to anything Kaiser does, and this album is no exception.
Jon Worley, http://www.aidabet.com/issues/278/278reviews.html
Like listening to a Moog synthesizer on the verge of a nervous breakdown, trumpeter Jeff Kaiser and fellow circuit tinkerer guitarist Tom McNalley manage to coax electronic devices onto the couch of a shrink’s office. Erratic outbursts of electricity are carefully psychoanalyzed, counteracted with rationalized accompanying responses. As this heavily nuanced electronic latticework incorporates the more corporeally produced trumpet and guitar, the texture splinters at times and coalesces at others. In essence, this is one of those trippy albums that creep under your skin and completely alter you mood. Be prepared to leave through a different door than the one through which you entered.
— RN, http://newmusicbox.net/eartrack.nmbx?id=3139
Southern Californian experimental improvisers Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, electronics) and Tom McNalley (e-guitar, electronics) embark upon a mischievously bizarre sojourn here. Call it what you will, but this studio session serves as the epitome of crazed-out, avant garde sound-sculpting where just about anything is liable to occur. For the record, this is not spacey New Age-type fodder. However, the artists delve into a variety of moods, exploring angst, humor and alien soundscapes. McNalley’s electric guitar phrases are generally concise and steeped in distortion; the duo fuses loops and ominous effects into the grand mix. In certain segments, Kaiser’s ethereal and oscillinating quarter-tone trumpet lines intimate a harrowing musical vista.
The duo develops an off-the-wall musical documentary via wide-open improvisational flurries and expansive clusters of sound. But it’s not all about bombast. They frequently delve into revved-up free-form extrapolations offset with searing, phantasmagorical electronics-drenched mania and subtly climactic inferences. Cosmic meltdowns often take precedent; on “Aristotelian Blockade,” the musicians generate a cyclical, trance-inducing state of being. Fans of Kaiser, for example, shouldn’t be shocked by this material. But I’ll go out on a very short limb by affirming that this production is not geared for weak hearts or unadventurous minds.
Glenn Astarita, AllaboutJazz.com
For me the best part of this experimental project was the trumpet. Jeff Kaiser does alot of avant garde/experimental and creative work with keyboards and electronics and regular trumpet as well as being a writer and producer but here he focuses on the ‘1/4r’ tone trumpet and the work shines.
The album delves into weird and strange tones, sounds, segments, and inter-plays and in places the sense is like a drone–maybe too much effect and electronics. Hums, beeps, burps, and other made-up sounds and noises are common and the guitar work screeches, distorts, and wails in places…still for me the more natural sound of the horn, I mean the trumpet is what counts in my book.
The songs are strangely titled and go well with the experimental way-out sense and these tunes are also quite long. Here’s a few: 12:44 [that’s 12 minutes, 44 seconds], 11:14, and 11:00. Plus there’s 3 tracks that run for over seven minutes. Yet one of the best was the shortest–“zwischenzug” was just 1:36 but it had the best feel of any of the long tracks.
While I enjoyed the project I would have loved to have heard some longer trumpet melodies instead of the bursts and blasts that made this a strange effort with I think a purposeful disjointed edge. Fans of the quarter-tone will want to check out the range and creativity of Kaiser. For me a good effort but still too experimental for my listening tastes. There’s lots of music to choose from here and others will find other tracks more suitable for their tastes.
A. Canales, Critical review Service
Choir Boys with strings
Recorded live in two large suites at Ventura College Theatre by the quartet of Andrew Pask clarinet, bass clarinet, alto and bass penny whistle, Jeff Kaiser on trumpet and a version of Don Ellis’s quarter tone instrument and GE Stinson and Steuart Liebig on guitar and bass guitar respectively, The Choir Boys With Strings serves to show how slow someone like Anthony Braxton has been to wake up to the potential of electronics in improvised music. One can imagine someone like George Lewis taking part in something like this, though the language is closer to the saxophonist’s. Everyone’s plugged into something and the result is an urgent, witty and often moving collage of acoustic and electronic sound which doesn’t draw attention to itself, but lets some genuinely powerful music come through.
-Brian Morton, The Wire May 2006.
CHOIR BOYS WITH STRINGS [JEFF KAISER/ANDREW PASK/STEUART LIEBIG/G.E. STINSON] (pfMENTUM 037; USA) This is quite far from what most folks would expect from a quartet of trumpet, clarinet, bass guitar, and electric guitar, but it won’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with Kaiser and Pask’s previous duo work under the Choir Boys moniker. This is an electronic processing blowout, all four players largely masking the conventional sounds of their instrument with outer space swooshes and asteroid streaks. Kaiser (trumpet, quarter-tone trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics) and Pask (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, bass penny whistle, electronics) are damn fine players, so my favorite parts come when the organic feeling of their horns finds a balance with the electronics. The playing is thoughtful, varied, and controlled, but it’s a far cry from the kind of restrained improv that’s common these days. These cats let loose with a rambunctious and gleeful spirit that reminds me of Sun Ra going into his most cosmic zone. Liebig and Stinson are hardcore veterans of the kind of multi-layered textural guitar extensions they focus on here, to the point where I’d strongly recommend this disc to fans of the general space/ambient genre who might have a hankering for some serious turbulence as they drift away.
– Michael Anton Parker, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC, NY
No, actually, no pure voiced choir boys or lush orchestrations turn up here. Hunt if you must and try and uncover them. At the opening pitches, your ear is plunged into an electronic search for signal playing tag with acoustic contributions from the clarinet. Sometimes the sonic clouds clear and off in the distance you see it, yes it, over there, but the fog rolls in before you can possibly get there. The lines are crossed, the vision blurred, the dream continues. But wait, over there, there it is. No, wrong again. Here is half of a cell phone call to Saturn relayed through an outdated videogame unit. Is he frustrated? Damn straight he is and he wants to go home. Please come and pick him up. He’ll be waiting, waiting over there, next to it. You know. And hurry if you can.
— MS, www.newmusicbox.org/earmark_archives.nmbx
The Choir Boys – The Choir Boys With Strings (CD, pfMENTUM, Experimental/modern classical/jazz/electronic)
Anyone who is familiar with Jeff Kaiser, Andrew Pask, G.E. Stinson, and Steuart Liebig will have a good idea of what to expect from The Choir Boys. These four underground kings of improvisation got together and recorded two lengthy pieces at the Ventura College Theatre in California on October 5, 2005. Thus, The Choir Boys With Strings was born. Atmospheric electronics collide with elements of modern classical and modern jazz and rock to create heady and confusing music that will only appeal to a small, eclectic segment of listeners. Similar in intent and scope to early Tangerine Dream, The Choir Boys With Strings is an audio experience in which anything can and does happen. Despite the fact that the album features two continuous pieces “track numbers have been added for convenience.” Cool, creative, and ultimately obtuse…this album is creative, engaging, and thoroughly unpredictable. (Rating: 5+)
March 2006, http://www.babysue.com/
Album enregistré plus tôt par le trompettiste Jeff Kaiser et le clarinettiste et saxophoniste Andrew Pask, The Choir Boys est récemment devenu quartette. Avec le soutien des guitaristes G.E. Stinson et Steuart Liebig, la paire d’origine renouvelle en public ses expériences électro-acoustiques. Chacun des quatre membres faisant généralement usage d’apports électroniques variés.
Et voici passées en machines clarinette basse (frénétique sur Needlework Alice), saxophone (prisonnier des échos sur Tobacconist from Rimini) et trompette (au charme retardataire sur Rest of the Skeleton). A l’image de la lutte engagée par l’alto de Pask contre le traitement informatique qu’on lui réserve, le quartette se fait acteur et témoin d’une époque défavorable à la résistance prolongée des instruments anciens.
Une fois redéfinis, ils peuvent confectionner un collage aérien (French Woman Luggage Cart) ou servir une progression mesurée, et donc, plus saisissable (Tobacconist from Rimini), qui contraste avec Adulterous Dishwasher, où l’appréhension de la musique immédiate se trouve changée en combinaison d’expressions perturbées.
Partis d’un principe vieux comme le monde – celui de la confrontation -, The Choir Boys a su démontrer de façon originale la malléabilité de l’acoustique sous l’effet des programmations. Ajoutant à la démonstration l’allure distinguée de ses formules.Chroniqué par Grisli
Autres Chroniques de Grisli, http://www.infratunes.com/
In following their duo session, The Choir Boys, with this quartet performance a year later, Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask once again reach out into the realm of electronic music, unfettered by convention. The Choir Boys with Strings adds guitar and bass to the mix, giving Kaiser’s trumpets and Pask’s woodwinds an added layer of sounds. They’re wild and raucous throughout, making sure that eerie refrains capture the day.
Each of the four artists converses through his instrument, taking nods from the others and employing a free-flowing stream of ideas. Kaiser’s trumpets come in open and muted form, with and without echo. Pask surges forward with his clarinets and alto saxophone, employing a conventional texture in a non-conventional setting. G.E. Stinson colors the session with light sparks from electric guitar as Steuart Liebig crawls raggedly across the bottom.
Throughout the program, each player adds electronic blips and beeps that season the program lightly. They emphasize lyrical musical conversations which weave a thread through this performance among four improvising artists.
Kaiser’s trumpet squeals and moans eerily on “Tobacconist from Rimini,” while guitar and bass provide walls of reflected sound. When Pask’s alto joins the melee, the scene turns helter-skelter. The quartet takes this one on a trip to the moon and back. ”Adulterous Dishwasher” brings an airy soliloquy from Kaiser that includes kissing sounds and all kinds of personal trumpet remarks. He’s followed by a mechanical tirade that lets guitar and bass imitate a machine while fusing electronics into their mix.
The quartet combines noise with improvised soloing. The basic elements of melody, harmony and rhythm are absent, however, as each artist sculpts his idea of what free-form improvised music should endow. Don’t look for soulful impressions or pleasant musical amity. These “choir boys” prefer to stimulate the senses through eerie sounds and varied industrial machinations.
Jim Santella, AllAboutJazz.com
Jeff Kaiser abbandona per un attimo il suo Ockodektet ed in compagnia del neozelandese Andrew Pask ci sforna un dischetto agile/pesante di notevole spessore. In sintesi siamo di fronte ad un oscuro viaggio misticheggiante fra schizzi jazz, paturnie improvvisative più accese, deviazioni inqualificabili e un’elettronica stiracchiata verso il basso che sfiora spesso derive dark ambient (sto usando questo termine per la seconda volta in breve tempo ed in recensioni di materiali del genere.Che vuol dire?). Stupiscono di molto gli attacchi brutisti di Dim Effigies dove oggettivamente ci si trova di fronte ad una furia iconoclasta raramente data a vedere dai due strumentisti, assalti in quasi distorsione, cupe brutalità elettroniche di qualche lontana matrice industrial ed un belante motivo impro per fiati che malevolo si leva in alto. Confonde non poco le idee, e questo è un buon segno (1).
Possibile variazione di Japa noise germogliato sotto il sole cocente della California, la frammentazione delle note di Pask che si disperdono nel vuoto looppandosi su se stesse provoca notevole senso di straniamento generale.
Convince molto il processo d’interferenza elettronica continua alla quale viene sottoposta la performance del duo, innesta in qualche maniera la marcia in più; discosta in maniera determinante il tutto dalla solita uscita di settore. E questo è un buon segno (2).
Avevamo apprezzato il lavoro in solitaria di Kaiser ma ad onor del vero lo consideravamo uno dei tanti nomi del panorama (senza nessun offesa sia detto, ognuno si sceglie il proprio orticello su cui pascolare), questa uscita sconfessa tutte le nostre cogitazioni irrispettose.
Sarà l’asciuttezza data dalla formula a due, sarà probabilmente una fugace forma di insofferenza; sarà quel che più vi pare. Avete a che fare con uno dei più stimolanti prodotti degli ultimi tempi in campo improvvisativo. Bello constatare come l’accostamento acustico/elettronico se debitamente agitato può dar luogo a queste mutazioni sconsiderate. La sensazione di ascesa che si prova in Carbon Icon grazie all’entrata di un’onda cupa dopo la parte acustica è emblema unico di un linguaggio che pare volersi stiracchiare all’infinito sino a lambire (non sono impazzito) estasi rituali di lontana matrice tibetana. Si sguazza in una visione costantemente a mezza strada fra il sacro ed il profano. Da qualche parte si agitano spettri di Evan Parker, di Brötzmann, addirittura lontani richiami alle agitazioni storiche degli AMM; ma non abbastanza da non lasciar trapelare la sincera vena creativa che si agita sotto il tutto. Le frastagliate fasi che agitano The Variability Of Stammering Arrows fanno addirittura puntare lo sgurdo su certa scena inglese anni 80 con tutte le dovute cautele del caso (Clock Dva, Cabaret Voltaire; Hula). Incubica calata negli altiforni industrial che se martellata più sulla carrozzeria avrebbe potuto essere filiazione diretta dei God o degli Slab; chiaramente il tasso di tracimazione sonora qui viene tenuto molto più sotto controllo. Tromba e clarinetto senza nessuna esitazione stilistica, questo ci piace; lo spirito suicida esposto.
Putrefazioni di materia jazz lasciata finalmente urlare libera senza giacca e cravatta a creare lo stile, maglie nere hardcore idealmente ad un passo (provateci ad immaginare dentro una sezione ritmica).
Possibile epigono minimalizzato dei Fat o a scelta, rituale balinese al tramonto; e questo è un buon segno (3). (4 Stars)
Marco Carcasi, http://www.kathodik.it/
THE CHOIR BOYS (pfMENTUM 24) features trumpeter JEFF KAISER with multi-instrumentalist ANDREW PASK, who employs clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, bass, and pennywhistle in a collage of electronic and acoustic sounds that reveal an interesting musical adventure. It’s a spiritual journey that runs far and wide. The artists who contribute to the unique character of the pfMENTUM label are searching. They’re looking for new and different ways to demonstrate the full extent of their creative powers. Noise and programmed electronics combine with musical tones on this album by two experimenters in the field. Pask brings a muscular approach to his woodwind instruments, while Kaiser prefers to surround the performance arena with mystic colors and hypnotic drones. The airy tone of Pask’s clarinet flirts with Kaiser’s tightly muted trumpet in a whirlwind of ideas. Later, his fluid bass clarinet runs up and down in cascades that never end. Pask’s saxophones introduce threads of Jazz history to the session, while Kaiser’s open horns reveal virtuosic technique. Snippets of melody dance about with animated motion, as the two artists return again and again to a theme of spirituality. While the album’s cover art depicts scenes from the church, the duo’s music (Wheeling Rebus/ Dim Effigies/ Carbon Icon/ The Variability of Stammering Arrows/ Blue Air Habit/ Tumbling Abstention/ Reliquaries. 73:48. Oct. 16-17, 2004, Los Feliz, CA) moves far beyond the walls of that hallowed institution. Science Fiction and deep philosophic studies carry a large part of its connotation. You can feel the spirit of the session moving you toward some kind of target light at the end of a tunnel. While much of the album’s textural matter appears dark and dramatic, Kaiser and Pask leave plenty of room for uplifting interpretations. Free music begets free interpretation. Kaiser and Pask, both highly creative artists, have succeeded in opening doors for continued study of their musical product.
Jim Santella, Cadence, May 2005
This work is a violent yoking together of diverse traditions. With woodwinds and horns, Kaiser and Pask negotiate their way through a chamber of crackles, squeals and raw noise, offsetting rigorous compositional schemata with cogently placed pockets of improvisation.
At first, the sound is orchestral in its well-turned intonation and clarity, but then Kaiser provokes a telling counterpoint through the craggy confrontation of mutilated trumpet and saxophone that pockmarks “Dim Effigies”. The piece has a dark, clanking momentum, rich in traces of Xenakis and the sourer moments of Morton Feldman’s orchestrations.
Kaiser and Pask attack their instruments with relish, working up a real head of psychedelic steam and achieving a plateau of whirling dervish ecstasy. After the fog lifts, bass clarinet, trumpet and saxophone pit themselves against the abrasive atmosphere of the piece, plunging deep below the surface of the atonal patterns and emerging with rich, melodic ideas of their own. All of this denotes a wonderfully disciplined and cohesive recording that accumulates considerable architectural impact as it progresses through its seventy-three minutes.
In addition to their loose-limbed propulsive force, there’s a wealth of textural detail in their unobtrusive use of electronics, while the ever present electro-acoustic burr of scraping, rustling instrumentation lends the whole a deliciously organic appeal. Each musician listens and responds naturally; pieces never feel unfinished and flow into one another, making the effort seamless and concise, but never terse. This duo finds pleasure in the sound and shape of skewed identities, and their rhythmic combinations ooze generously form these pieces. Their focused symbiosis of breath and circuitry strives toward the deep fusion of instrumental resources that collaborators like Supersilent occasionally accomplish.
Meanwhile, “The Vulnerability of Stammering Arrows” is a creepy froth of industrial grinding, buzzes and rasping flugelhorn that mutate into a soundscape of overlapping drones and looping tones. Simultaneously wound up and precise, the nearly unrecognizable, sustained notes of a trumpet are interspersed with brief interludes of silence. The unfolding feels improvised, but the resultant piece has layered depth and strange sonorities that suggest careful arrangement and calculated effect. Woodwinds are shrouded in booming feedback-like resonance, timbres suggesting electronics and the audible beating of clustered overtones.
Throughout, Kaiser and Pask engage in the notion of a dialectical unity of opposites: Kaiser crafts open-ended textures and drones while Pask brings firm forms by way of his robust and decisive playing, and the two opposites cue each other in an ever-ongoing project. Such an issue also works to imbue the proceedings with the presence of absence, of a separation that must be maintained in each engagement in order that something might be disclosed. That being said, as perhaps evidenced by the generally melancholy disposition of the textures, there remains a desire to overcome this tension and risk. With their continued choice to not merely sustain, but also surpass, themselves into surprising modulations of sound and structure, this pair seems to side with laceration, and has crafted an enthralling album as a result.
Max Schaefer, June 2005, http://lostatsea.net/
Horns, woodwinds and real time processing can go a long way if manipulated by inventive and inquisitive musicians. Leaving well behaved transgressions within delineated contours of judgement and irony, Pask and Kaiser draw an alternative way to multi-dimensional explorations of airy territories that – even considering the scarcity of instruments – maintain an oblique orchestral flavour which is the record’s very strength. Both artists wear their remarkable technique without a whiff of megalomania, questioning their directions every minute, leaving precious thinking room to each other and emanating contrapuntal intelligence over the course of the whole work. And if hints of irreverence appear, they are promptly wrestled by a unanimous connection to bittersweet melancholies and independency statements that a sapient effect treatment transforms into architectures of extravagant lucid dreams.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, May 2005 touchingextremes.org
Alien electronics of the most dense, textural and sometimes frightening kind — that’s what LA improv scenesters Kaiser and Pask offer on these seven mysterious excursions in the wonders of pure sound. Interestingly enough, these icy, veiled sound sculptures, created with the aid of a varied array of wind instruments including quarter-tone trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, assorted saxophones and bass penny whistle, were recorded live in the studio with no overdubbing or pre-recorded samples involved. There’s some serious processing action applied on the fly, though — not as post-production retouching gloss but as an integral part of the execution itself, using filters, FX pedals, echo and reverb units and whatnot in order to enhance the alienating nature of the timbres they can elicit from their traditional instrumentation. What the duo accomplishes through these means is so rich, multilayered and versatile that it’s no wonder their compositions take so long (the shortest track clocks in at 5:47) to unfold and develop into monstrous astro-polyhedral jams. The fact that Pask is also a distinguished computer expert who collaborates with software companies probably explains the luxury of having such a complex and futuristic digital rig at their disposal. Opener “Wheeling Rebus” illustrates the gradual transformation of their subtle reeds and horns’ long, pulseless tones into a thick wall of processed noise, machine droneology and rambling sonic debris that brings forth fascination and menace all at once. Similar procedures constitute the highlights of the jazzier “Carbon Icon”, where frantic mutantrupet soloing explodes joyfully into robotic scales and a solemn hymn-like sci-fi panoramic, propelling the listener from mid-sixties free jazz anti-stylings into an improbable future of post-apocalyptic datanoise, where human breath (ultimately the recording’s undisputed unsung hero) conquers acoustic space with metallic patterns. The fierce, demonic blowing on “Dim Effigie” recalls such shamanistic icons of destructive, scary new jazz virtuosity as Peter Brötzmann: screaming lava, desperate coils of squalling, Escher-esque horns lock and send rippling, labyrinthine frequencies with almost Heavy Metal brutality. Free jazz’s cerebral mathematic excesses, the microtonal intricacies liberated by British Improv (the futuristic sounds of legendary pioneering outfits like AMM and Musica Elettronica Viva certainly come to mind, at least in spirit), and the glossy digital feel of ’80s and ’90s King Crimson’s adventures are among the album’s main reference points found. “The Variability Of Stammering Arrows” and “Blue Air Habit”, with a combined timing of 32 minutes, establish the album’s central statement: finding a way through the exuberant counterpoints and deft sound manipulations will be an excruciating task but all the more rewarding. Just to think that these unsettling timbral dramas were executed/exorcized/conjured in only two days is disconcerting enough: you’d feel as if you’d been transported outside time, space and linearity. We may not know whether androids dream of electric sheep, but they will surely groove to The Choir Boys.
— Marco Rivera, http://www.splendidezine.com/
Baignant individuellement dans des sphères musicales aux frontières insaisissables, le trompettiste Jeff Kaiser et le clarinettiste Andrew Pask décidèrent récemment d’affronter ensemble leurs hésitations stylistiques touchant au jazz, à la musique expérimentale bruitiste, et aux postures improvisées.
Débarrassés des complexes, on oppose aux évolutions des instruments à vent l’intervention de programmations électroniques, sobres ou à saturations. Moins de musique que de laboratoire, les instruments testent la résistance de leurs propres matériaux, jugeant de l’épaisseur des souffles (Wheeling Rebus) ou de la réaction des tubes (Dim Effigies).
Plus loin, Kaiser va chercher à connaître les intentions d’un Pask jonglant avec des saxophones ténor et soprano, une clarinette et une clarinette basse. Les phrases se croisent, se heurtent ou s’entendent, toujours portées par les flux. De fines expériences de traitements sonores (Blue Air Habit) laissent leur place à des duels efficaces à devenir instants de grâce (Tumbling Abstention). Là, on élabore des discours pseudo mélodiques, en n’oubliant pas de s’éloigner encore, s’il est possible, du commun ressassé.
Si les décision électroniques – loin d’être inédites et parfois même ronflantes (The Variability Of Stammering Arrows) – peuvent altérer les propos de Jeff Kaiser et Andrew Pask, ils s’en sortent sans véritable peine grâce à un savoir-faire indéniable gonflé de fougue dévastatrice. Au final, The Choir Boys est un alliage précieux et un album envoûtant.
Sound sojourners Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask create unique sonic landscape on The Choir Boys, utilizing both the instrumental expertise for which each is known, as well as tapping their broader ambitions with live processing. The music ranges from ambient electronic, to industrial Stockhausen, with plenty of hard blowing along the way.
Pask begins with his bass penny whistle, processed while he plays. The swirling and smearing goes from a panpipes sound to impending storm. With the whistle put aside, low rumbling machines dominate. Clarinet rises from the electric shower, and participates as one sound among many. “Dim Effigies” begins with a sound like dental work gone terribly wrong. An elaboration on Japanese noise music, a startling metallic drone creates the backdrop for Pask’s blistering alto improv. After a solo muse, rich oily electronic sound wavers slightly, with Pask’s calming bleep which becomes looped and distorted.
Vocal clarinet opens “Carbon Icon,” with Kaiser’s muted trumpet giving rapid chase. Small electronic flashes mar the monolithic drone. Pask again weaves clarinet through the burbling background. Kaiser, processed almost beyond recognition, sets “The Variability of Stammering Arrows” in motion. His muted tones circulate through the speakers with distorted echoes. Pask’s clarinet then feeds the altering software more tones. Kaiser puts his horn through its paces with loops and distortions coming back at him. Kaiser, with Pask on soprano, play out.
On “Blue Air Habit” Pask’s tenor plays off instant reworkings of his own phrases, triggering otherworldly responses. Interdimensional drones with altered sax ruminations end it. A slightly modified duo, “Tumbling Abstention” takes Kaiser on some lip shredding passages that bounce back. “Reliquaries” features an uncluttered improvised duet with clarinet and trumpet.
After releasing the large and complex Alchemical Mass, Kaiser demonstrates in his collaboration with Pask his ability to swing from stars in a duet setting as well.
Rex Butters, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
The Choir Boys (pfMentum 024) Featuring Jeff Kaiser on quarter-tone trumpet, flugel & live processing, Andrew Pask on clarinets, soprano, alto & tenor saxes and more processing. Jeff has a fine double quartet disc out on Nine Winds and now runs his own pfMentum Label. This spacious duo offering was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, although both horn players do quite a bit of processing. Wind sounds are mutated and echoed beyond normal recognition. Mysterious, alien, floating, sonic manipulations slowly weave through the fog and are panned and moving through the stereo spectrum in waves. Sounding like distant whales or birds, slowly turning into electronic shadows and breath-filled spirits. On “Dim Effegies” both horns erupt into a thick layer of angry tones, noise triggered trumpet and squealing sax and even more noise surrounding. Cautious muted trumpet and somber bass clarinet inhabit “Carbon Icon”, until the quietly bizarre electronics sounds come in and the cosmic drones take over, reminding me of that early space/rock/psych FM staple “Space Hymn” by Lothar & The Hand People. It is often difficult to tell who is playing what, since there is often more processed than regular horn sounds, yet it remains fascinating throughout. This is closer to space/rock/prog electronics than to anything else, so for those who can still appreciate the better moments of space music, this is definitely for you.
– BLG, Downtown Music Gallery
On this project Kaiser uses trumpet, quarter-tone trumpet, and flugelhorn along with live processing as his tools. Collaborating with Mr. Pask who plays clarinet, bass clarinet, and soprano, alto, and tenor saxes with bass penny whistle, they turn out a strange experimental brew of music that has a mystic feel. The ‘choir boys” don’t sing vocally but they do let their instruments have free reign to make a [sometimes] joyful noise.
This album has some of the longest tracks I’ve heard in recent memory. There’s three tunes that run almost for ten minutes each–one is over 15 minutes, and the longest runs for 17:31! That cut, “Blue Air Habit” offers some creative sounds, tones, and musical notes. Sometimes the sounds are pulled…maybe stretched out, from the instruments–drawing every last drop from each note. The mix of natural sounds and the [electronic] processing (at times) compliments the overall feel but sometimes I found it to be a bit too ‘clashing.’ It’s a marathon of a work and you have to make the time to listen to this one.
The music on the album ranges from sublime to explosive, as in cut 2 “Dim Effigies.” Is it a scene from PEANUTS-Charlie Brown or is it a musical sword-fight? The musical wails, riffs, bursts, and tones along with some electronic beds and such display some amazing ‘horn’ work. This is one of those 9 minute numbers and it is something to hear. “Carbon Icon” is a short six-and-half minutes and the sense is much less frenzied and more subtle. Almost a break as compared to the previous track.
One magical effort is “The Variability of Stammering Arrows.” It starts off slow but builds to what is a vast vista for the ears and of the mind. Clearly it has many ‘sounds’ mostly nuanced and clever. The thing is that it takes time to really get into the gist of the song. Some may like the ‘electronics,’ others might prefer to do without them. In my opinion, the sense is of a DR. WHO episode–at least that was what came to mind. Possibly even bits of some Star Wars-sounding clips.
” Tumbling Abstention” (5:47) was clear experimentalism yet it featured some fine playing. At times the sounds tend towards the abstract but still they are clever and creative–even mischievous. This project closes with “Reliquaries” which captures the theme of choirs, old ‘saints’ and statues, and the sense of mystery. Early on, one sound feels like a Tibetan chant; other sounds continue some serious as well as playful tones. Maybe in places the structure is disjointed but that is part of the avant garde nature of these approaches.
An interesting CD for fans of creative instrumental sounds.
Copyright 2005 – The Critical Review Eyeear7@Hotmail.com
Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask play a range of wind instruments on The Choir Boys (CD024) including trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinets, saxophones and whistle, recorded live in the studio with no overdubs. What makes this different to other improv-winds, however, is that both also participate in live processing. Reminiscent a little of Frippertronics, this allows them to echo, loop, stretch, process through various filters on the go to create a much more varied and dynamic effect. There are times when long low rumbling drones accompany them, or backwards sounds, computer burbling and slippery vinyl-like scratching, or loud industrial noise walls of sounds. The effects are used variably across the album – less in the final elegiac Reliquaries with lovely long tones, or as an assault of noise in Dim effigies. Looped percussives in Blue air habit over an ambient/industrial base of tones, or the mysterious ambiences of Wheeling rebus. Anyway, throughout the processing adds a fascinating dimension, taking this into an exciting electronic improv area. Perhaps over-processed at times – you can sometimes lose the skilful and intricate playing that forms the basis of their works, but that’s a different album. The analogue sounds haven’t disappeared, merely been augmented. A very nice one.
Auf den ersten Blick könnte man The Choir Boys (pfMENTUM 024) für ein Bläserduo halten, eine Begegnung des Trompeten- & Vierteltontrompetenklangs von JEFF KAISER mit den Sounds der Klarinette & Bassklarinette, der Soprano-, Alto- & Tenorsaxophons von ANDREW PASK. Der Clue verbirgt sich jedoch im Stichwort Live Processing. Statt Improinteraktionen in akribisch angenuckelten akustischen Klangfarben, rauscht ein Pfingststurm überirdischer und begeisterter Elektronenwolken aus den Boxen. Die beiden Chorknaben stoßen erst nur mit der Coverikonographie die Imagination in christliche Gefilde. Die einzelnen Titel abstrahieren dann schon von solchen Assoziationen: ‚Wheeling Rebus‘, ‚Dim Effigies‘, ‚The Variability of Stammering Arrows‘, ‚Tumbling Abstention‘. Aber dann auch wieder ‚Reliquaries‘ und sind das nicht doch alles mystische Termini? Abgesehen davon, dass ich mit The Choir Boys einen, von Robert Aldrich verfilmten, hard-boiled Polizeikrimi von Joseph Wambaugh verbinde, scheint mir hier der Versuch eines Detournements vorzuliegen. Der mystischen Union des von Pfeilen durchbohrten, entflammten Herzens mit den Spirits from above wird ein musikinduziertes Äquivalent unterschoben. Kaiser hat nicht umsonst mit seinem Ockodektet bei der Uraufführung der Alchemical Mass ministriert. Andrew Pask, der aus Neuseeland stammt, hat neben seinem Klarinettenstudium tatsächlich in einem Chor für Frühe Musik gesungen, bevor er gut sechs Jahre in Hong Kong als Jazzsaxophonist verbrachte und anschließend nach L.A. übersiedelte. Ohne den suggestiven Überbau taucht man in die etwa von Evan Parker mit Lawrence Casserly und Joel Ryan inszenierte musikalische Alchemie, in die rauschenden Klanglandschaften dröhnender und brodelnder Anderwelten. Wenn eine oder beide der abenteuersuchenden Instrumentalstimmen unverfremdet, ohne elektronischen Raumanzug in diese Zonen eintauchen, dann gelingt das nur, weil sie sich diesen Zonen anverwandeln und sich durchlässig machen für Klänge, die andere Quellen haben als Zungen, Holz und Metall. Vielleicht ist es dann dieses anthropofugale Moment, das den puren Trompeten- & Klarinettenclash von ‚Reliquaries‘ so erhaben wirken lässt. Ein Meisterwerk elektro-akustischer Osmose.[At first sight one could regard The Choir Boys (pfMENTUM 024) as a Blaeserduo, a meeting of the trumpet & quarterly clay/tone trumpet sound of JEFF EMPEROR with the sounds of the clarinet & bass clarinet, the Soprano -, Alto & tenor saxophone of ANDREW PASK. The Clue hides itself however in the keyword Live processing. Instead of Improinteraktionen in with the utmost care angenuckelten acoustic tone qualities, a Pfingststurm of celestial and inspired electron clouds from the boxes rushes. The two choir boys push only only with the Coverikonographie the imagination into Christian Gefilde. The individual titles abstract then already from such associations: ‘ Wheeling Rebus ‘, ‘ Dim Effigies ‘, ‘ The Variability OF master ring Arrows ‘, ‘ Tumbling renunciation ‘. But then also again ‘ Reliquaries ‘ and are that not nevertheless all mystische terms? Refrained of it that I with The Choir Boys, from Robert Aldrich filmed one, hard boiled police crime film from Joseph Wambaugh connects, seems for me the attempt of a Detournements to be present here. The mystischen union, of the inflamed heart with the Spirits, perforated by arrows, from above becomes an music-induced equivalent put underneath. Emperor did not ministriert in vain with his Ockodektet during the premiere of the Alchemical measure. Andrew Pask, which originates from New Zealand, sang actual apart from his clarinet study in a choir for early music, before he spent well six years in Hong Kong as jazz saxophonist and afterwards to L.A. moved. Without the suggestiven cover dips one into for instance from Evan the Parker with Lawrence Casserly and Joel Ryan produced musical Alchemie, into the rushing sound landscapes of roaring and bubbling other worlds. If or both of the adventure-looking for instrument valley voices unverfremdet, without electronic space suit into these zones dive, then succeeds only, because they make themselves permeable these zones anverwandeln and for sounds, which have other sources than tongues, wood and metal. Perhaps it is then this anthropofugale moment, which lets the pure trumpet & Klarinettenclash of ‘ Reliquaries ‘ work so raised. A masterpiece of electroacoustic osmose.]
Rigo Ditmann, Bad Alchemy 46
Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask perform in this album a series of compositions between Jazz, New Music and experimentation, with some electronic textures that give way to some imaginative samples of Dark Ambient. There are some passages entirely devoted to experimentation with sounds. In this work, the wind instruments have a remarkable role, and it is perhaps here where Kaiser & Pask’s skills are most outstanding.
DOMINIQUE CHEVANT, http://www.amazings.com/reviews2005.html
Kaiser takes to trumpet and flugelhorn, and Pask plays winds (clarinets, saxophones and a whistle). They combine in that world where I most often find Kaiser: The one he creates in my mind. These breathy improvisations would be great for a Halloween party (well, except for the ones processed to the hilt), and they’re stellar for wandering off in search of your next great idea.
Jon Worley, http://cent.com/abetting/262reviews.html
Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio
“Deep, complex and tasty!”
“Excellent, inventive compositions combined with some great improv.”
Ben Bostwick, http://zk.stanford.edu
Straight out of Ventura, California, Jeff Kaiser releases the CD version of his recent performance with his Ockodektet and the Ojai Camerata, The Alchemical Mass. A riveting exercise crossing modern composition with improvisation and choral arrangements, all in the service of an authentic 15th Century alchemical text, its author having passed from royal court astrologer to executed heretic fugitive.
Filling out the remainder of the CD, Kaiser presents “Suite Solutio,” an earlier outing with a sextet co-led with Ernesto Diaz-Infante. More improvisational in nature, the piece builds complex structures as they unfold from the imaginations of the participants. Both bands include SoCal stalwarts Vinny Golia, Richie West, Eric Barber, Jason Mears, and Michael Vlatkovich, among others.
Opening with Golia and Eric Barber on sopranino and soprano saxes respectively, the reedists’ pops and swoops are joined by an etheric vocal chorus, and after a pause the ensemble bursts forth. They retreat to again open space for the chorus, this time including male voices singing the text with the women’s voices imitating wind song. West and Brad Dutz create tribal rhythms, with Golia raving wickedly. The richly written “Kyrie” features the voices with wind chime accompaniment. “Collecta and Gloria” has Kris Tiner’s flugelhorn exploring over whispering voices, with tuba and bass undercurrents.
The shrill fanfare of “Epistola and Graduale” kicks up a variegated vocal response, giving way to the percussion and gongs of the “Offertorium.” A swirling theme of reeds and horns parts for Kaiser and Mears to spar like old martial arts masters. Their rapid-fire interplay turns into serenely nuanced vibes from Dutz. A sequence of small group improv clears for Vlatkovitch’s sliding ruminations. A mystical “Ave Maria and Commune” reprises the eerie vocal arranging with just tightly rhythmic small gongs ringing. The chanting loses the gongs and gains the reeds, and the vocals sweep upward.
West keeps cool on brushes to open “Suite Solutio,” Connolly dropping low tones with Diaz-Infante sliding curlicues on his strings. “Part II” has Scot Ray on trombone and Kaiser each reaching for extended highs. Kaiser walks a different tightrope, muted, peering through the transtonal wisps of Diaz-Infante’s prepared guitar on “Part III.” “Part IV” launches on a figure conceivably built on Woody Woodpecker’s laugh. The woodpecker morphs into an SST with West fueling inhumanly fast. Connolly stays in speed or rubberizes around the maelstrom. Singing gongs and cymbals, small flute and plunger muted trumpet and trombone create “Part V,” with Ray getting enough room to turn lyrical.
Jeff Kaiser again shows himself to be a free improviser with striking compositional sense and excellent taste in traveling companions.
Rex Butters, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=16460
You can not have Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante on the same album and not expectr the best improvisational and spontaneous music. And even better if they are playing in large ensambles like this one, cause they interact heavily with talented musicians as them. On the first six tracks we have here the Ockodektet full of atmospheres and using noises and even vocals. The Ockodektet uses a main idea and starts improvising from this principal idea (this is more evident in tracks like “Ave Maria”, with this vocal choruses that sound really medieval). This six tracks are different from other music played by the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet because they emphasize certain atmospheres, principally with the vocals thata re different from other type of improvisation.
The Kaiser/Diaz-Infante sextet is where Jeff Kaiser unleashes his trumpet lines (in the OCkodektet he is conducting) which are the center of the improvisations here. Diaz-Infante creates his incredible noises and sounds with the guitar while the bass creates some atmospheres using less notes and suspending them, such as in “Part III”. The percussion is soft, preferring a background role letting Kaiser and Diaz-Infante develope their ideas more clearly.
This is an album full of master improvisation and any lover of this type of music should listen and learn here.
Federico Marongiu/ Music Extreme, Feb 2005
The title of this album has devoured a significant portion of my strictly-enforced word limit, so here’s the bare facts with little garnish: Kaiser, a trumpeter of great acclaim (who is featured on the opening of the HBO series DEADWOOD), accompanied by 15 other musicians, offers a jazz interpretation of a centuries-old religious text inspired by the ancient (now new-age) practice of alchemy, a medieval philosophy concerned with the prolongation of life. The music is atonal, inspired (at least in some way) by the works of once-radical composers such as John Cage, as well as various other pioneers. If you appreciate the “experimental” works of John Zorn, trumpeter Dave Douglas, or violinist Eyvind Kang, or if you’re just looking to expand your musical horizons, check out this disc.
“Jeff Kaiser isn’t the first composer to endeavor to write jazz-flavored liturgical music—Mary Lou Williams beat him to the punch by a half-a-century—but “The Alchemical Mass” is still an unusual undertaking. Kaiser makes it more so by using as his text the heretical Mass written by 16th century astrologer and scholar Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis. Kaiser shows a boldness fitting to the text with his blending of avant-garde jazz and classically inspired vocal writing. And he succeeds at both.
Throughout, swirling, raucous free passages give way to a choir voiced in a manner that would make any contemporary choral composer proud. The Introitus opens with what sounds like a wolf call—don’t worry, Paul Winter’s nowhere in sight here—and developing with slap-tongued saxophones. The voices of the Ojai Camerata enter softly, blending with the horns; a sound not very different from that opening howl. But that moment of calm is disrupted by an explosion of horns. The voices return with sopranos sustaining a long note and the males chanting underneath.
Kaiser gets a sound from the choir redolent of ancient sanctuaries. Yet he seamlessly ties this with contemporary technique, as on the Introitus, when he calls on the voices to start swooping, which he then underpins with a hell-raising bass drum tattoo. This shift from the heavenly to the hellish is true to the tradition where the promise of paradise is set against the threat of the inferno. Heavenly is not too strong a word for Kaiser’s opening of the Kyrie, nor for the Camerata’s execution of the tightly voiced harmonies. The same holds true for the final amen. Kaiser links the free form with the liturgical form by using variations of bell-like sounds that are at home in both settings, whether a ride pattern played on triangle or the boom of a gong.
“ Suite Solutio”, played by a sextet co-led by Kaiser and guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, is a less ambitious work, but certainly no less successful. The suite is no more a slave to accepted form than the Mass. It’s a mélange of color. Diaz-Infante wrenches an impressive array of effects from his prepared acoustic guitar. He squeals and squawks with abandon, skittering over the fretboard with glancing strokes.
Kaiser on flugelhorn and Scot Ray on trombone peck at their horns and distort their sounds with a variety of mutes. Brad Dutz on percussion and Richie West on drums contribute to the kaleidoscope. Bassist Jim Connolly seems to be assigned the role of the voice of reason as it were, adding a rich, steady counterpoint that comes to the fore on Part III when he bows a deep, lyrical line. The final section employs the same kind of bell sounds that are so important in the Mass: The piece, and the session, end with a solitary bell ringing for a full 30 seconds.”
David Dupont, 21 December 2004, OneFinalNote.com
“Jeff Kaiser’s Ockodektet has appeared before (2002_15 – it doesn’t seem that
long ago!) and now the variable sized and composed group returns with 13
Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic (pfMentum cd013, www.pfmentum.com). 13
tracks, each with a title from Tristram Shandy, it is a continuous work that
shifts in structure and focus. Constantly on the go, it is a protean work to
try and describe. Horns and saxes ululate, flutter, purr, chatter and
twitter throughout dominating proceedings while bass and drums keep things
moving. Different instruments get their chances at solos, providing varied
textures and densities – flute, organ, guitar, drums. Mellifluous moody
monolithic were words that came to me – it is not always possible to pick
out the instruments – where was that theremin? However, overall a dramatic
work that carries you along.
Accompanying it comes a split disk. The Ockodektet, in a smaller version – I
am not sure if ockodektet is numerical – joins with the Ojai Camerata on The
Alchemical Mass, to provide half of this release (pfMentum cd019). And it is
marvellous – combining the composed-improv music with modern classical
choral work is inspired. The band shimmers and pitters, builds and sways,
occasional screaming and drones as the voices sing, mutter, whisper, build
the hymns. Some components are played as almost straight hymns, others the
voices and instruments weave around each other. A significant work.
The other half of the album is the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante sextet (yes,
Diaz-Infante, a doyen of the improv scene heard often across these pages is
in the orchestra also) adding trombone, bass, percussion and drums to their
trumpet/flugelhorn and guitar. The closer focus here works well, the parts
moving from a jazzy swing through squeaky and thumping percussive, to
chittery trumpet and guitar scrabbling with the percussion over a stepping
bass, bebop and brass duets, rainsticks and gongs in a final evocation that
fades in a tone. Completing a compelling disk.”
jeremy, ampersand et cetera
“THE JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET/THE KAISER/DIAZ-INFANTE SEXTET – The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio (pfMentum 019) The collective personnel features Jeff Kaiser & Kris Tiner on trumpets & flugel; Vinny Golia, Eric Barber & Jason Mears on woodwinds; Michael Vlatkovich on trombone; Mark Weaver on tubs; Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared guitar & piano; Wayne Peet & Jim Connolly on percussion and Brad Dutz on drums. LA trumpeter, Jeff Kaiser, just launched his new label pfMentum with some eight CDs from a number of LA’s finest jazz & new music players. Jeff has collaborates with Vinny Golia and can be found on some Nine Winds releases. Mr. Kaiser presents two different ensembles here. His Ockodektet includes 11 musicians plus The Ojai Camerata, a modern classical vocal ensemble with some 17 singers. “The Alchemical Mass” is a suite of six pieces and is a serious work, closer to contemporary classical than to modern jazz. The layers of spooky voices and chanting (in Latin) are utilized just right, never too much with superb soprano (Eric Barber) and sopranino (Vinny Golia) saxes sailing on top. Although being Jewish myself, I haven’t heard much Church music in my life, but I must admit to digging the layers of dark, chanting voices with those twisted horns squealing on top. The Latin and English translation is printed in the booklet, but it is the overall sound that fascinates me. There some really intense and explosive moments found here that fit within the grand scheme.
The Kaiser/(Ernesto)Diaz-Infante Sextet perform “Suite Solutio” for the second half of this CD and you might recall Ernesto from his prepared guitar work with local guitarist Chris Forsyth, they’ve played at DMG a couple of times in the past. ‘Suite Solutio’ is another (5 part) suite. The instrumentation for the sextet is trumpets, prepared acoustic guitar, trombone (Scot Ray, CD on Crypto), bass & two percussionists. This music is again very spooky, sometimes stark, like an abstract painting with the well-placed paint splattered on the canvas. The writing is strong and focused with some impressive muted horns, free-guitar rambling and intricate rhythm team work. The production and recording is especially well done, all the music is well-crafted. An impressive and auspicious beginning for a fine new label.”
“The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio
The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet and the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet | pfMentum
Two progressive artists lead these ensembles in a creative affair. Quiet spaces are interwoven with loud cacophony. A group of orchestral instruments can be made to sound like many things. Here, Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante light creative fires and push their ensembles to the limit.
“The Alchemical Mass” combines the formal sounds of church with the kinds of natural motifs that are commonly found in native religious rites. Primal chants and tribal drums are mixed with the delicate performance of a refined chamber choir. The Ojai Camerata bends and shapes its vocal stylings in a search for new and creative ways to indicate religious zeal. Respects are paid as the choir and eleven-piece instrumental ensemble shed their reins. Emotions are bared, and the artists are given ample freedom. Solo voices include trumpet, trombone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, and piano. While the mass follows traditional norms, it contains much free motion and a fair amount of noise.
“Suite Solutio” swings gently with a fluid motion and relaxed freedom. Diaz-Infante’s prepared guitar provides the ensemble with a natural timbre. While the five-part suite contains some noise, it proudly showcases freedom in creative jazz. Kaiser’s expressive trumpet moans and wails with searing emotion. Jim Connolly’s bowed bass mourns, while Diaz-Infante’s guitar drives with upbeat energy. In part IV, the sextet distinguishes itself with the kind of blinding speed and virtuosic articulation that recall jazz’s earliest pioneers. Scot Ray’s trombone aria and Kaiser’s tightly muted trumpet sequences prove effective in depicting the ensemble’s driving forces.
Diaz-Infante and Kaiser are dedicated explorers.”
~ Jim Santella, AllAboutJazz.com
“The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata – THE ALCHEMICAL MASS and The Kaizer/Diaz-Infante Sextet – SUITE SOLUTIO: Two quite different sets… “Mass” seems to focus more on the ethereal, while “Suite” anchors itself (more) in the “downbeat”… darker shadings, but both highlighting the life that well-played music brings to the soul. That contrast was best illustrated by the superb vocal explorations on “Kyrie”, on the “Mass” section, as opposed to my favorite cut on the album, “Part I” of the “Suite”. Light & airy vocals on the first, deep walking bass lines on the second. If you’re more inclined to “fast improv”, check out cut 10 (“Part IV”)… radical, but (definitely) under control. Jeff’s recordings have gotten better & better every time we’ve heard a new one, & this is no exception… super recording quality. Don’t try & scope this one on th’ living room speakers – do it with headphones th’ first time around… there are lots of nuances you’ll miss unless you zone yourself into the “concentration” zone. Even (some) “regular” jazzheads will enjoy this, but it will be an especially delightful & sumptuous treat for fans of improv who have been waiting to hear the sound quality bar raised. This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears – a definite KEEPER! Contact at http://pfmentum.com Rotcod Zzaj”
Improvijazzation Nation #67, http://home.comcast.net/~rotcod/
“Nicholas Cibenensis, the chaplain and court astrologer to the King of Hungary is credited for writing the text of the alchemical mass. The alchemists were misunderstood and condemned by the Roman Catholic church as heretics. Yet many consider alchemy as the beginnings of chemistry.
On this album the always daring JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET perform the lengthy Alchemical Mass. It parallels the traditional mass in many ways and honors God, Christ, and the virgin Mary. Clearly it is not blasphemous. But here beyond the mysterious Latin we’ll go to the highly creative and mystical and even somewhat avant-garde and experimental sounds and music of the talented band.
This performance brings in many talented artists that incorporate many instruments. Saxophones, horns, trumpets, percussion, etc. are joined by the OJAI CAMERATA and then with the The KAISER/DIAZ-INFANTE SEXTET. Performed at the First United Methodist Church in Ventura, California, the feel is that of a mass, but the experimental and creative parts contribute to a surreal feel. The ‘Intriotus’ or opening plays for over 10 minutes with the dueling saxes of Barber and Golia. A truly epic battle.
THE ALCHEMICAL MASS is an album that offers a sense of the mystery of the past, updated and performed by talented singers and musicians. Should be of interest to music teachers, church historians, students of church music, old European (Latin) culture, and New Age and gnostic fans.
Clearly this is an interesting musical experience.”
-Copyright 2004 A. Canales [The CRITICAL REVIEW]
“Kaiser’s mass appeal:
Ventura composer Jeff Kaiser’s latest work, “The Alchemical Mass,” is a contradiction in musical terms. Classical musicians will think it’s jazz, but jazz musicians will say it’s classical. Conservatives will consider it avant-garde, but the avant-garde will call it conservative.”
-Ventura County Star
This CD contains two interesting experimental works: The Alchemical Mass” and “Suite Solutio”. Most of the pieces can be labelled within the New Music, although they also have Jazz and Psychedelic characteristics. Some of the pieces have an Industrial style, others are quite minimalist. The themes are interpreted with a great number of acoustic instruments.
VALERIANO GUIOL, http://www.amazings.com/reviews2004.html
The only moments where “The alchemical mass” effectively sounds as such is during the extremely dissonant choral parts sung by the Ojai Camerata, whose intervention brings some measure of “sacred relief” in an otherwise lively, acute and positively chaotic composition. Shirking any responsibility about any possible audience reaction, the Ockodektet breaks ancient rules and pushes contemplation away, respelling both chamber wording and free jazz idiomatic juggles with no shortage of introversion and useful fake errata. The piece has natural escalations and sudden mementos but, when the choir enters the scene, my personal vu-meters measure the highest emotional intensity. On the other hand, “Suite Solutio” is a new look on the results of cross pollinating free swinging and gradually maturing virtuosity; sometimes it seems like the musicians are mocking “straight” jazz’s accents and nervous tics, but if they’re really doing it I couldn’t care less, as the level of interplay is top rank. More a divertissement than a “serious” composition, this is a perfect tractwalker to a road leading far out of quick-setting cliches.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
This disc includes two sections. The first (The Alchemical Mass) is presented by The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata and the second (Suite Solutio) is presented by the Kaiser/Diaz/Infante Sextet. Both pieces were composed by Mr. Kaiser. One might easily come to the obvious conclusion that this is not a collection of modern power pop (!). No, instead these pieces are complex modern classical compositions thick with heady arrangements that include traditional and modern sounds. Kaiser’s provocative, complex music is not meant for the masses…but rather for that small segment of the population seeking the truly strange and unusual. The moods range from soft and surreal…to obtuse…to gothic and cerebral. While this is a difficult album to describe…it is a strangely inviting and rather eerie spin. Kaiser is one of the true originals in modern classical music. Eclectic and esoteric. (Rating: 5+)
http://www.lmnop.com/ , Nov 2004
Jeff Kaiser’s most ambitious project to date, “The Alchemical Mass” is a 33-minute work for a large group of avant-garde musicians/improvisers (the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet) and mixed chorus (the Ojai Camerata, which commissioned the piece). Based on fragments from a Latin text written by Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis at the turn of the 16th century, the work combines elements of Gregorian chant, Verdi’s thunderous Requiem, and conducted texture-based group improvisation. The result is striking (to say the least), powerful, mysterious, and profoundly unique. Some free-form passages seem to lack purpose (especially “Introitus”), but otherwise the interaction between ensemble and choir is highly evocative of the mysteries of Magick. Listeners familiar with the Ockodektet’s previous two albums will recognize Kaiser’s approach to massed improvisation, but the music here is much darker and solemn (although it never even brushes the kind of rigidity usually found in liturgical music). “Ave Maria and Commune,” where Kaiser draws captivating vocal textures from the Ojai Camerata, is his most singular piece of music to date. The sound quality is fine, especially considering the shoestring budget such large projects are recorded on, but better separation between the instruments is still to be hoped for. “Suite Solutio,” the second piece on this album, is a very different thing. Performed by the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet, with Kaiser on trumpet (he only conducts in “The Alchemical Mass”), Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared acoustic guitar, trombonist Scot Ray, bassist Jim Connolly, Brad Dutz on percussion, and Richie West on drums, the five-part suite includes fast-paced avant-swing passages, brief Latin American grooves, and extended ad libs. A little bit of the previous work’s mood has been carried over, mostly in the pace of each section. The up-close recording of this piece allows one to focus much more closely on individual performances. The interplay between Kaiser and Ray, Dutz’s endless resourcefulness, and Diaz-Infante’s equivocal contributions are what drive the piece forward, but after the grandiloquence of “The Alchemical Mass,” “Suite Solutio” requires several listens before leaving any kind of impression.
Francois Couture, All-Music Guide
JEFF KAISER and ERNESTO DIAZINFANTE constitute the nefarious masterminds behind THE ALCHEMICAL MASS/SUITE SOLUTIO (Pfmentum 19). Properly annotating the disc for inclusion in the pages of Cadence is a reviewer’s minor nightmare. Two long-form compositions break the program into halves. The Alchemical Mass: Introitus/ Kyrie/ Collecta and Gloria/ Epistola and Graduale/ Offertorium/ Ave Maria and Commune. 4/26/03, Ventura, CA.) employs Kaiser’s Ocktodektet augmented by the supplementary choir the Ojai Camerata. The entire 30-piece orchestra sized unit (Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Jason Mears, woodwinds; Kris Tiner, tpt, flgh; Michael Vlatkovich, tbn; Mark Weaver, tba; Jim Connelly, b; Diaz-Infante, prepared g; Wayne Peet, p; Brad Dutz, perc; Richie West, d; Diane Besocke, Candace Delbo, Eleanor Land, Laura Johnson-Bickford, Lu Setnicka, sopranos; Gwen Erickson, Lisa Gordon, Katherine Halsey, Holly Mitchem, Zoe Pietycha, altos; Carla Aiello, Jay Hersh, J.B. White- tenors; Dave Farber, Jim Halverson, Kurt Meyer, Bill Wagner; Jeff Kaiser, cond; Dr. Wyant Morton, cond, director.) is both daunting in size and design. The liners contain annotations for each section of the mass scribed in Latin and reflect an odd gothic bent to the project. The music seems to be seeking to reflect an aural approximation of the alchemical process, calibrating constituent elements to create catalytic reactions that result in new alloys of music. Hearing the large phalanx of instruments interact with the chanting body of voices is both unsettling and enveloping as jagged themes and rhythms boil out of the mix. Moments of stirring beauty are also regular constituents as during the ghostly vocal harmonies of “Kyrie.” Recorded in a church space, the natural acoustics of the environment also conspire to shape and influence the music. Soloists arise, but are largely anonymous in the greater scheme of the pieces. The disc’s concluding half pares down the ensemble into the Kaiser/Diaz- Infante Sextet (Kaiser, tpt, flgh; Diaz-Infante, prepared g; Scot Ray, tbn; Jim Connelly, b; Brad Dutz, perc; Richie West, d). to bring the five part “Suite Solutio” ( 2/25/01, Ojai, CA 53:24) to life. The music is more in line with the previous efforts of the joint leaders, lumbering rhythms pocked by bursts of droning noise and jangley string and drum punctuations. Discordant and excoriating on the surface there’s still a definite method behind the madcappery. Both portions of the program illustrate the sort of ambitious work that’s regularly funneling out of the Left Coast even if the results are sometimes uncomfortable to the naked unprepared ear.
Derek Taylor, Cadence, December 2004
Pfmentum’s split release, featuring Jeff Kaiser, may not be as lively and melodic as West’s, but it is certainly their most interesting to date, as well as one of my personal favorites. The first half, featuring the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet and the Ojai Camerata, is entitled The Alchemical Mass. Actually recorded in 2003 in the First United Methodist Church in Ventura, CA, all eleven musicians and the two conductors perform a musical interpertation of a church mass. In conjuction with the Ockodektet, the 18 vocalists of the Ojaj Camerata perform, in Latin, the hymns and prayers of the mass. The classical improv, along with the stunning vocal performances, both work together to bring about a deeply ethereal, wonderfully lasting, listening experience. The second half of the album – the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet, is five tracks of moving jazz improv that fits nicely back to back with The Alchemical Mass. An older recording from 2001, it brings horn blower Kaiser together with guitarist Diaz-Infante, trombone player Scot Ray, bassist Jim Connolly, percussionist Brad Dutz, and drummer Rich West. All musicians have been involved in Pfmentum recordings, as well as other labels, and this early recording is a nice archival piece of comparision with newer works and projects of these artists. Both of these recordings are excellent and well representative of the talent and diversity of the musicians.
Jeramy Ponder, JackalBlaster, Nov. 2004
Comentario: Fuera de bromas y en un registro mucho más serio, Jeff Kaiser nos ofreció un tiempo después de 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic dos bellas piezas musicales: The Alchemical Mass, con el Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet y el conjunto vocal Ojai Camerata, y Suite Solutio, con el Kaiser/Díaz-Infante Sextet.
Comentario: The Alchemical Mass es, como su nombre indica, una misa (Introitus; Kyrie; Collecta e Gloria; Epistola e Graduale; Offertorium; Ave Maria e Commune), que inspirada en la obra homónima, escrita en algún tiempo entre 1490 y 1516, funde la forma clásica de la misa con elementos de una cierta religiosidad primitivista, presentes a través del canto (Ojai Camerata) y reforzados con los motivos afro-exóticos que dan a la música un colorido fascinante, al mismo tiempo erudito y popular. Kaiser es el hombre adecuado para este tipo de grandes producciones de “new music”, donde los aspectos convencionales se unen con un tipo de escritura innovadora y una ejecución experimental.
La segunda pieza del disco, interpretada por el Kaiser/Díaz-Infante Sextet (Jeff Kaiser, Ernesto Díaz-Infante, Scot Ray, Jim Connolly, Brad Dutz y Richie West) es muy diferente de la misa. Lo que aquí tenemos es una grabación de 2001, incluida en el mismo CD, tal vez para llenar el espacio libre. Qué bien que Kaiser tomase la decisión de juntar ambas piezas, dando la magnífica oportunidad de escuchar a un sexteto de jazz (trompeta, guitarra, trombón, contrabajo, batería y percusión), el de Kaiser y Díaz-Infante, que improvisa en un estilo free-bop experimental, apoyado por las buenas composiciones, propias de Kaiser y demás músicos, con un destacado papel para los guitarrazos de Díaz-Infante, que infunden respeto, dado la forma en que trabaja con las seis cuerdas. Común a ambas piezas es asimismo el tono sombrío que las envuelve y les confiere un aura de misterio, algo que procede de tiempos inmemoriales y que se desarrolla en directo frente a nosotros. Bello y escalofriante.
Eduardo Chagas, Publicada en Portugués originalmente en http://jazzearredores.blogspot.com/ and http://www.tomajazz.com/
Doveva succedere, due agitatori agitati come Kaiser ed Ernesto Diaz-Infante hanno partorito il loro piccolo e ritorto bambino storto.
Entrambi baciati dal sole della California si sono incontrati molte altre volte lungo produzioni votate quasi sempre all’obliquo puro, ora deviano ancora di più le proprie angolosità e si concedono un lungo dialogo fitto che, nel caso di Kaiser; si avvale anche dell’utilizzo del gruppo vocale The Ojai Camerata.
Ne scaturisce un lavoro complessissimo che trova il proprio campo di azione naturale in quella zona di confine che è a mezza strada fra contemporanea e nuova visione del jazz. Lavoro densissimo ma senza nessun estremismo, profondo ed oscuro con un’attenzione rivolta alla scrittura complessiva invero mirabile.
Oscuro per umori oscuri senza ombra di dubbio, soluzione alchemica ben congegnata come il titolo recita.
La metà intestata a Kaiser muove abilmente sottili atmosfere religiose ben supportate dall’ottimo lavoro svolto in fase di mixaggio nell’equilibrare il mirabile lavoro del coro con la parte strumentistica per un risultato finale di notevole spessore visionario.
Da parte sua invece Diaz-Infante si accontenta di far viaggiare la sua chitarra perennemente in disordine con tutta una serie di ritmiche strascicate quasi da sbornia ancora in fase attiva che si tramutano come per magia in un fascinosissimo affresco noir poco meno che splendido per gli umori blues e jazz disturbato che rilascia tutto intorno.
Scontro/incrocio fra i più riusciti; e brava la nostra Pfmentum!
Aggiunto: December 4th 2004
Recensore: Marco Carcasi, http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1509
rbd‘s Bad Alchemy Favourites 2004:
ABSOLUTE ZERO Crashing Icons (ReR) – JOHN BISSET Smithy (2:13) – FAUST vs. DÄLEK Derbe Respect Alder (Klangbad/Staubgold) – GUAPO Five Suns (Cuneiform) – JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON Virthulegu forsetar (Touch) – JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET The Alchemical Mass (pfMentum) – SQUAREPUSHER Ultravisitor (Warp) – DAVID THOMAS & TWO PALE BOYS 18 Monkeys On A Dead Man‘s Chest (Glitterhouse) – WIWILI Latitude 13°37‘ – Longitude 85°49‘ (Vand‘œvre) – XIU XIU Fabulous Muscles (Tomlab)
Eine scheinbar ganz andere Welt streift THE JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET mit The Alchemical Mass (pfMENTUM CD 019). Als Eingangsportal gibt es aber erneut ein Zitat von C.G. Jung: „…there have always been people who, not satisfied with the dominants of conscious life, set forth – under cover and by devious paths, to their destruction or salvation – to seek direct experience of the eternal roots…“ Für Jung zählten dazu die Heretiker und die Alchemisten. Vielleicht wurde am 26.4.2003 in der First United Methodist Church in Ventura, CA überhaupt das erste Mal die okkulte Messe gefeiert, die Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis, der 1531 in Wien hingerichtete einstige Hofalchemist Ladislaus II. von Böhmen u. Ungarn ca. 1516 komponiert hat. FUNDAMENTUM VERO ARTIS EST CORPORUM SOLUTIO QUAE, NON IN AQUAM, SED IN AQUAM MERCURIALEM RESOLVENDA SUNT, EX QUA GENERATUR VERUS LAPIS PHILOSOPHORUM singt der 17-zungige Chor der Ojai Camerata zum Introitus. Nach Kyrie, Collecta und Gloria, Epistola und Graduale, dem Offertorium und Ave Maria schließt die Messe mit dem Commune: REGEM NOSTRUM VENIENTEM EX IGNE, ILLUMINATUM, ET DIADEMATE CORONATUM, IPSUM HONORATE IN PERPETUUM, AMEN. Für mich ist Musik das merkuriale Medium per se, Unruhestifter, Lösungsmittel, Hoffnungsträger und Vorschein für Altered States. Es muss alles anders werden, damit alles anders wird. Kaiser öffnet die Flaschenpost von Cibenensis ohne falsche Andacht. Der heraus sprudelnde Geist ist ein quecksilbriges Medium, das als kakophoner Stachel gegen die Trägheit der Masse angeht und dem Status quo Beine macht. Die Einzelstimmen von Soprano- & Sopraninosax vertreiben im hellen Intro den Geist der Schwere. Die funkelnden Klangpartikel des Chores transformieren die Madrigaltechniken Gesualdos und Marenzios ins Avanciert-Modernistische eines Dallapiccola, Berio und Nono. Das auf 11 Mann reduzierte Ockodektet summt dazu dunkel im Hintergrund, flackert aber – bei Gloria & Epistula – furios auf und schießt empor als mitreißender Feuersturm. Das Offertorium flackert im Wechselspiel von Flügelhorn und Altosax. The Alchemical Mass ist weniger Third als Sub-Stream, ein Zeitparadox, ein inspirierender Wegweiser. ‚Trobar clus‘, etwas Dunkles finden durch… Suchen. Ein nächster Schritt könnte darin bestehen, bei www.levity.com/alchemy anzuklopfen oder Gustav René Hockes Abracadabra über Sprach-Alchimie und Esoterische Kombinationskunst nachzublättern. Kaisers nächster Schritt ist die 5-teilige Suite Solutio, eingespielt mit Flügelhorn, akustischer Gitarre, Posaune, Kontrabass, Percussion und Drums. Sie nimmt Bezug auf den Kernsatz der wahren alchemistischen Kunst, die Auflösung und Verwandlung des Grobstofflichen ins Merkuriale, auf eine Taufe nicht mit Wasser, sondern mit Geist. Kaiser operiert auch hier nicht mit pythagoreischem Sphärenklang. Richard Crashaws metaphysischem Musizismus „All things that are… are musical“ frönt er als Manierist, als ‚musicien maudit‘. Er schürt den Läuterungsprozess mit der fiebrigen, aber immer reflektierten Kakophonie von ‚Capricci stravaganti‘. Das ist Musik, wie sie bad alchemystischer nicht sein könnte.
Jeff Kaiser is always up for inviting a few likeminded musical madmen to join his party. On The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio, he gives his free-form, indefinable experimentation a bit more definition by splitting the content into two parts. The first segment, “The Alchemical Mass”, pairs Kaiser’s Ockodektet with the Ojai Camerata. The six-part piece is typical for Kaiser, inasmuch as seemingly random collisions of tones and instruments can ever be considered typical. Leaping from a quiet tone to clashing horn runs and back again, the piece takes modern, atonal chamber music to kinetic heights.
The second and more effective part of the program combines Kaiser’s trumpet and flugelhorn with the rest of the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet. This crew, headed by Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared acoustic guitar, takes Kaiser into more ambient, and ultimately weirder, territory than usual. For those familiar with Kaiser’s typically unpredictable work, you’ll realize that this is really saying something. The key to the difference is that the five-part “Suite Solutio” is actually less chaotic than Kaiser’s standard material, which leaves more room for a spider-like creepiness to skitter through the music’s open spaces. This relative cohesion may be due to the more pronounced presence of bassist Jim Connolly, with whom Kaiser worked on The Circus Doesn’t Stop at Gove, as well as “The Alchemical Mass”. Alternately, it’s possible that for Kaiser, working with a scant six musicians as opposed to the twelve on “The Alchemical Mass” simply reduces the excess clutter. Regardless of the reason, “Suite Solutio” is some of the finest music that Kaiser has produced.
Jeff Kaiser’s music will never gain widespread appeal, but as pieces like “Suite Solutio” demonstrate, his work is important to the continued evolution that’s happening at music’s outer fringe.
— Ron Davies, http://www.splendidezine.com/review.html?reviewid=1102677376319014
13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic
“Again Jeff Kaiser surprises with the heavy experimentation of his Ockodektet. As always he uses multiple noises and sounds to create new landscapes (or shoud I called them “Soundscapes”?) of improvisational ideas. Here the music is not of really easy lsitening but it always amazes with the new ideas that he and the band achieve on each track. The experimentation with multiple musicians allows Kaiser to create different layers of sounds and then combined them into his own experimentation. This i music for open minds and for those who like to be amazed by the incredible musicianship of this guys.”
Federico Marongiu/ Music Extreme, Feb, 2005
“The West Coast has a very active new music scene, but it’s distinctly regional. Here are two recordings by avant-garde “big bands,” Jeff Kaiser’s based in southern California and Moe! Staiano’s based around the San Francisco area.
Neither share any personnel, but both have vital players and a distinct energy and enthusiasm for new music. Kaiser has a number of Los Angeles notables peopling his band including reed master Vinny Golia, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, and keyboard player Wayne Peet. But while the two bands may share a certain spirit, they also have completely different methodologies.
Kaiser’s band performs a multipart composition comprised of 13 movements played without pause. 13 Themes For A Triskaidekaphobic seems to be a tribute to a departed “uncle” (real? Imagined?, it’s hard to tell from the enigmatic but humorous movement titles) and begins with what sounds like the strains of a New Orleans funeral march before opening up into free territory. The first movement settles into a solo with Vinny Golia playing a sopranino sax with remarkable fluidity and a tone that almost sounds like an oboe. He’s accompanied by weird electronic rumblings and huffing orchestral accompaniment which leads into a dialogue between Golia and Vlatkovich. Kaiser makes maximum use of his 18 member ensemble and is continually finding intriguing and unique backdrops for the soloists as well as interesting solo/duet combinations. The New Orleans dirge makes a re-appearance at one point decorated by pointillistic orchestral flourishes. One of the more intriguing aspects of this group is the electronic arsenal buried in it. Weird bubbling interludes occasionally surface, adding a unique hue and textures to the foreground. But it’s their background work that really gives this ensemble a unique flavor. Check out their passages during the early part of Golia’s sopranino solo during the first movement. During the fifth movement Peet’s organ comes to the fore for a weird almost Sun Ra-ish interlude.
If there is a drawback to this disc, it’s the recording quality. It has a hollow, “live” sound that primarily works against the drum/percussion section, causing it to sound too boomy. Oddly enough though, it enhances the electronic aspect of the band giving it an other-worldly sound (which probably also contributes to the Sun Ra angle). The other minor flaw is the inconclusive way this piece ends. Considering that the timing on the disc is 1 hour and 13 minutes, I wonder if Kaiser intended for the piece to have its final say at precisely the 13th minute to reinforce the Triskaidekaphobic theme, regardless of where it is musically.
Despite this shortcoming, I still find this a fascinating document. If your ears haven’t yet been digitally sanitized (and you’re not afraid of the number thirteen), 13 Themes For A Triskaidekaphobic is well worth hearing…”
-Robert lannapollo, Cadence Magazine, April 2004
“Southern California area trumpeter Jeff Kaiser’s orchestral music can be unforgiving, sentimental, heady, weighty and probing. It’s kind of like a seek and destroy mission for the mind. Overall, the artist hits the mark with this exhaustively arranged extravaganza, abetted by some of the West Coast’s top modern jazz/avant garde instrumentalists.”
Glenn Astarita, New and Noteworthy, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/
“Two new releases from the avant-garde jazz label, Pfmentum, have come my way recently. First, Jeff Kaiser’s Ockodektet just released a massive 18 member ensemble recording of sounds, moods, and textures. Humorously titled 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic and clocking in at one hour, 13 mins, 13 secs, Kaiser, as both trumpeter and conductor, has brought together Southern California’s most experimental musicians for a grand blending of both jazz and classical abstractions. Featuring both classical symphony players and instrumentation, as well as guitars, electronics, and the theremin, the Ockodektet gives individual voices throughout the recording as both soloists and improv musicians create an exciting and completely engaging soundtrack to the phobia of the number 13. Besides Kaiser, the only other names I am familiar with here is Brad Dutz and the ever prolific Ernesto Diaz-Infante, but all of the other musicians are fascinating in weaving together this colorful tapestry of sound. Never ceasing, always in constant, kinetic flux, the album plays as a whole, with individual song titles placed for convenience more than points of reference. Here, only the most creative, imaginative minds work together to bring this moody piece of music together. Wrapped in beautiful packaging, this is highly recommended only to fans of experimental jazz who demand challenging music.”
-Jeramy Ponder, Jackal Blaster Magazine
“Joyous large-ensemble session with lots of open-ended improvisation. Tracks include composed threads and prearranged solos, so it’s not all one big blur. Loud and exhiliarating, mostly fast tempos, with some expert soloing. It’s an 18-piece band performing a piece about fear of the number 13. The band comprises some of Southern California’s finest jazz/improv artists including Vinny Golia (the Bay Area’s Ernesto Diaz-Infante is in there as well). Every track is energetic — even the slow ones — and worth a spin.”
Craig Matsumoto, 2004-01-22, http://zookeeper.stanford.edu/
“Here’s a recording that is just as much of a mouthful as it is an earful. The title refers to the fear of the number 13, something that appears not to apply to the trumpeter, composer and leader of this L.A.-based 18-piece band (which, incidentally, should have been called “OkTodektet,” so as to be more etymologically correct). Over a total running time of 4,593 seconds, which works out to one hour 13 minutes and 13 seconds (at least according to the timing at the back of the wafer thin cardboard pack, though it is actually two seconds more), this somewhat unewieldy musical beast plows through, you guessed it, 13 pieces bearing such wordy titles like “The Curate’s folly Betwixt them,” “The Accusing Spirit which flew up to heaven’s chancery,” “A thousand of my father’s most subtle syllogisms” and other similar sesquipedelian designations. In strictly musical terms, this band is reminiscent of Vinny Golia’s even larger ensemble, and the multi-instrumentalist himself is also part of this venture and presumably featured on his many horns throughout (although there are no credits given to individual soloists on any of the tracks.) The disc was recorded in a live setting rather than a recording studio. Of course, the costs involved in properly miking all of this would cost a fancy penny, so what we get here is a distant and echoey mix which gets terribly muddled when the orchestral activity peaks, though solo voices are never lost in the proceedings. With only slight breaks between cuts, or sometimes none at all, the band sets out on a long uninterrupted journey. After a most unexpected opening fanfare, the music soon dissolves into a series of individual and collective solos in between a number of written passages, one of these even sounding like a take-off on Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music. In our fast-paced times, in which people are constantly bombarded by all sorts of stimuli and where attention spans seem to grow increasingly shorter, a sprawling music like this one can be viewed as going against the grain; but however raw or imperfect these kinds of statements may be, they are certainly needed. Still. for the next recording, it would be nice for those responsible to improve the recording quality; not only will the value of the music be greatly enhanced, but so will the listening pleasure.”
– Marc Chénard, The Squid’s Ear
“Trumpeter/composer Jeff Kaiser is an ambitious guy—an understatement his large ensemble work more than bears out. Although he has worked with a variety of groups of different sizes, his Ockodektet appears to be a significant focus recently, with his last release being 17 Themes for Ockodektet on his own pfMENTUM label. This eighteen piece orchestra (nineteen if you count Kaiser) includes not only a reeds and brass section, but also three guitarists, two bassists and two percussionists, the sum of which create a thick stew produced in Kaiser’s numerically fixated image. The musicians themselves come from the seemingly scarce, yet no less vibrant Los Angeles improvised music community. These beacons include reedists Vinny Golia, Eric Barber and Lynn Johnson, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, acoustic guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, guitarist G.E. Stinson, keyboardist Wayne Peet and percussionist Brad Dutz. All are accomplished players and exhibit themselves as more than up to the challenge that Kaiser has placed before them.
In the interest of background, Kaiser’s sense of purpose can be seen through the use of titles influenced by Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, an 18th Century comedic novel, and a program that oddly clocks in at 1:13:13 (by the way, a Triskaidekaphobic is someone who is afraid of the number 13). As for the music itself, the program places Kaiser’s diverse influences—Barry Guy’s London Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, Alan Silva’s Celestial Communication Orchestra, and other avant-garde/experimental composers come to mind—into a blender and spits them out for consumption. It is a demanding listen that is full of nuances, as each title flows into the next (the titles are seemingly there for mere convenience) with a combination of carefully scripted solo and ensemble parts as well as plenty of improvised joy and featured soloists. The terrain is constantly shifting and like the old big band trick, Kaiser plays sections off one another and also partakes in blending seemingly incongruous instruments together. Also worth noting is that if a static pattern or theme emerges, it doesn’t stick around for long, so don’t expect any rigidity.
As the piece works best as a whole, there are many highlights, especially from the soloists. The work does commence with a coronation anthem (yes, think Handel), “My Uncle Toby’s Apologetical Oration”, with its luxurious brass and sonorous reeds that after 48 seconds dissolves into a swirling, hypnotic, yet slightly ominous brew of improvisation. Vinny Golia’s sopranino saxophone is the first to rise above the packed crowd to demonstrate that there is plenty of room for individual voices. As expected, the reeds get more than their share of the solo spotlight. Golia consistently shines, particularly on various clarinets on “The Accusing Spirit Which Flew Up to Heaven’s Chancery” and “His Life Was Put in Jeopardy by Words”. Tenor saxophonist Eric Barber is also impressive, as he rockets into the stratosphere during the dusky tension of “The Curate’s Folly Betwixt Them”. Oh, and be sure to catch the twittering reedplay that segues into the opening anthem on “The Stranger’s Nose Was No More Heard Of”.
The three trumpets also are fiercely interactive, both as individual and group soloists, or when skirmishing with the other members of the collective. For example, the dueling trumpets have their say on both “Gravity Was An Errant Scoundrel”, and after a reed interchange, they spar on “The Heat and Impatience of his Thirst”, which even features a jazz twist by way of a quote from Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody’N You”. Fellow brassmen Michael Vlatkovich and euphonium/valve trombonist Eric Sbar also excel, the former exerting tremendous power on “A Thousand of My Father’s Most Subtle Syllogisms” and the latter stepping forward on “This Sweet Fountain of Science”.
Finally, the rhythm section serves as the spices that make the stew so damn good. Of particular note are Wayne Peet’s organ, G.E. Stinson’s Mars-induced guitar soundscapes, as well as the dual drummers, who all march together on “Devout, Venerable, Hoary-headed Men, Meekly Holding Up a Box”. The bassists also have their say on “His Life Was Put in Jeopardy by Words”, with their rolling arco waves inspiring a vivid group interaction and a rare rhythm section vamp. Interestingly enough, it is the rhythm section that more or less has the final say here, on “I Wish My Uncle Toby Had Been A Water-drinker”, laying down an eerie vibe courtesy of Peet’s rousing organ.
One note of caution: the release was recorded in the Ventura City Hall on equipment that was less than ideal (perhaps direct to a DAT with one microphone). As such, the recording tends to get a bit muddy and during more rousing moments, some instruments do get lost in the shuffle. And while this is a musically complex piece that can be a tad overpowering at times, it is an elaborate work that demonstrates Kaiser’s unfailing imagination. But overall, even if this kind of release is not going to appeal to the mainstream listener, one seeking a more complex and genre-bending experience should find plenty to absorb within.”
Jay Collins, 23 December 2003, One Final Note (onefinalnote.com)
“If you have an irrational fear of the number 13, or you’re just a timid person, look out: Jeff Kaiser and his seventeen-strong band of noisemakers have designed 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic to send you running for the hills. Armed with guitars, drums and a metric ton of wind instruments, Kaiser and his cronies stake out territory somewhere between free jazz and the atonality of twelve-tone classical music. If these references mean nothing to you, think about the crescendo of shrieking strings in a movie score — the sound that usually comes before something really scary happens in the film. Now stretch this out over several minutes. If that idea doesn’t fire up your curiosity, there’s nothing for you here. For the more adventurous, these thirteen tracks make for thoughtful listening.
Given the absence of straightforward playing, there isn’t much need to debate the musicians’ relative chops. Instead, their skill and savvy lie in their ability to combine disparate elements into a cohesive whole. The opening track, “My Uncle Toby’s Apologetical Oration”, begins with a sick national anthem, then leaps from crazed saxophone to an obstinate marching band to hints of “Pop Goes the Weasel” innocence. None of this makes sense, either in writing or on the recording, but when you listen to it, that really doesn’t matter too much. This is gut-punch music, the type that aims for something a little more immediate and visceral than a toe-tapping rhythm. Melodies are given up in favor of frantic horn runs, song structures are abandoned for chaotic free-for-alls, and simple things like song titles are mutated into ambiguous threats like “The Curate’s Folly Betwixt Them”.
The thing that really makes 13 Themes pleasurable is that it does all of this while maintaining a sense of child-like whimsy. Aggressive improvisation is often framed as a representation of an uncertain and unpleasant society. Here, however, the odd dashes of nursery rhymes create a sense of cartoonish anarchy. Because of this, rather than feeling exhausted by the album’s end, you’ll feel kind of excited and ornery, like a kid who’s seen too many cartoon cats get flattened.
In the end, the music’s sheer surface tension will put off many listeners. Those who remain will get quite a treat out of this baker’s dozen.”
— Ron Davies, 2.26.04, http://www.splendidezine.com/
“When an editor at jambands.com asked if I was interested in reviewing the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet’s 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic, I said to myself “Sure, why not? I’ve reviewed CDs by people I have never heard of in the past, this shouldn’t be all that different.” Then I did a little bit of research, and a feeling began to grow inside me that this album would be way stranger than most in my collection. And when the CD arrived, the sensation in my gut was confirmed. The music on this album was as obtuse as could be, and I had a hard time listening to it, at first.
Jeff Kaiser hails from Ventura, California, and is one of the most revered names in that state’s avant-garde music scene. He is a classically trained composer and trumpet player, and when he is not busy teaching music to pay the bills, he runs the pfMENTUM record label, which concentrates on sonic experimentation and the weird in music.
Kaiser’s main role in this project is as a conductor. And the first task of any good conductor is to surround himself with skilled players, which Kaiser has done quite satisfactorily, hand-picking members of Los Angeles’s small but potent improvisational music scene to be in his Ockodektet. That’s eighteen musicians, plus Kaiser, lending their chops to the record….There is structure here, but it is of a much more cerebral nature than the compositions incorporated by most jambands. Though it may be difficult to believe on first listen, Jeff Kaiser has put much thought into this album, especially the title and the names of its “songs.”
For those of you who don’t know, a person with triskaidekaphobia is someone is scared of the number 13. There are 13 “songs” on the album (the term is used extremely loosely in this context, as the tracks seem to be cut at random spots rather than fully containing structured, cohesive songs), and the CD’s running length is 73:13: one hour, 13 minutes and 13 seconds. Implications of bad luck aside, Kaiser seems to be infatuated with the number, further from a Triskaidekaphobic it would be difficult to be.
And then there are the titles, all of which reference Lawrence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, an obscure novel written in 1799 that lampooned the memoirs of 17th century English nobility. How Kaiser decided which track of avant-garde noise would be called “Gravity Was an Errant Scoundrel” and which would be titled “A Thousand of My Father’s Most Sublime Syllogisms” is beyond me, but all of the titles are interesting.”
-Scott Medvin, 2.26.04, http://www.jambands.com/
“First, the good news: composer/arranger/conductor/trumpeter Jeff Kaiser has a knack for beautiful packaging and a sharp sense of humor. His most recent album, 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic, comes wrapped in a textured three-fold bordeaux sleeve, itself tied with a string like a special gift, and the artwork inside is brilliant, recalling M.C. Escher as “13” in different fonts rises to the heavens and becomes a wavy sky. The quote inside is from Carl Jung: “Number helps more than anything else to bring order into the chaos of appearances.” Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13, so it’s no surprise that 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic has 13 tracks. But look more closely, and you’ll notice that the album runs for one hour, 13 minutes, and 13 seconds.
Now, the not-so-bad but not-so-great news: Kaiser creates music that will either pleasingly challenge you or frequently frustrate you. If you’re like me, you’ll feel a mix of both. Kaiser and his 18-piece ensemble play instrumental pieces that were apparently inspired by Laurence Sterne’s unusual, unique comedic novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which was published in nine volumes in England between 1759 and 1766. The ensemble incorporates tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones; clarinets; flutes; trumpets; trombones; euphonium; tuba; electric and acoustic guitars; organ; theremin; and drums. The aural output is avant-garde, occasionally improvisational jazz with classical elements, at times recalling Georg Handel, Dizzy Gillespie, or Steve Reich.
All of the tracks are lengthy in name, with titles like “My Uncle Toby’s Apologetical Oration,” which opens the album by shifting from a classical theme to six minutes of brass-heavy playing that builds up to a mellow ending. “Gravity Was an Errant Scoundrel” has its ups and downs, but you do feel a sense of danger and excitement throughout the track. By Kaiser’s standards, “This Sweet Fountain of Science” is more low key than most of the pieces on 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic, though there is a sense of hurry in the track’s second half. “Devout, Venerable, Hoary-Headed Man, Meekly Holding up a Box” has a heavier presence of drums, perhaps leading some listeners to imagine a twisted parade whose marchers may be sliding off their plane.
Following the jaunty “The Stranger’s Nose Was No More Head Of,” Kaiser offers a quieter piece titled “Uncle Toby Understood the Nature of a Parabola.” This calmer and less angular track is an exception to the work you’ll find on 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic. Clarinets and bass shine on “His Life Was Put in Jeopardy by Words,” with the former especially effective throughout the piece. The closing track, “I Wish My Uncle Toby Had Been a Water-Drinker,” is notable for its heavy percussion and metallic feel; if you like the beginning of “Everything Counts” or “People are People” by Depeche Mode, you might love Kaiser’s closer.
13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic is a difficult album to explain, which is probably how Kaiser likes his music to be. This is atypical, experimental jazz with excellent players and a menacing dissonance throughout the album. The diversity of instruments is entertaining and enjoyable, though sometimes there is a strong desire for traditional melody between the musicians. Before I got heavily into the Cocteau Twins recordings, a fan of theirs once described their music to me as “indescribable yet instantly recognizable.” So true, but yet so much more easily describable than 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic. The audience for Kaiser’s latest work is limited, but those who take the chance and give it a listen may be rewarded mightily.
– Sahar, 1/19/04, DOA, http://www.adequacy.net/
“Triskaidekaphobia, of course, is the fear of the number thirteen. An ockodektet might be an 18-person ensemble, though none of my dictionaries list the word. In any case, there are 18 people (plus Jeff Kaiser) working their way through some really fun (and warped, of course) compositions here. And as usual, I’m impressed.
This is Mothers of Invention kind of stuff. Or maybe it’s more relevant to Zappa’s later orchestral period. At times it’s neither. At times, it’s both. I think you get my drift. It sounds like Kaiser has written out these pieces fairly strictly, but I think there are improvisational moments as well. A blurb of spontaneity here and there within the inscribed explorations.
Basically, this is avant-garde composition done well. Kaiser doesn’t much like to stick to the ordinary, but his flights of fancy are always unique and creative. He doesn’t “get weird” just for the sake of making listeners shake their heads. Rather, he travels unusual pathways so that the listeners can discover a new and exciting window on existence.
I like unusual music of all kinds, but Kaiser’s one of my favorites. He knows how to use the experimental in ways that are approachable. And he creates works of lasting impact. This disc is another amazing outing.”
Jon Worley, Aiding and Abetting, Issue 248
“Jeff Kaiser’s CDs always create a moral dilemma for me because they come packaged in such beautiful, Japanese-style, wrappings that I am reluctant to untie the string to get to the CD itself. Once you get past that point, however, you discover that the music is fresh and inventive and not easily categorized. Is it jazz, with a classical touch? Or classical, with a touch of jazz? Doesn’t really matter, it’s highly original and the packaging is second to nobody.”
http://www.sequenza21.com/ November 10-17, 2003
“13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic and 17 Themes for Ockodektet, build shivering walls of sound around his luminous trumpet, creating a lush, sophisticated mood that manages to remain lighthearted. ”
“Jeff Kaiser is known for his experimentation with large ensembles of classically and jazz trained musicians. The result is obviously a symphony of styles and sounds that go beyond what you are used to and mess your head up with sudden explosions of no-wave free jazz just when you were relaxing and enjoying the calm complex arrangements and the lucky improvisations of horns, string instruments and other acoustic instrument. With very few electric or electronic instruments involved, this album sounds extremely alive and present, exotic and weird, but at the same time natural and smooth. It’d be interesting to know how much of is written and how much is improvised… The CD comes beautifully packaged in a folded cardboard with silver prints and a string tieing it together.”
Marc “the MEMORY Man” Urselli-Schärer, http://www.chaindlk.org/ 26 Nov 2003
“Thematically, the new CD by trumpeter/composer Jeff Kaiser would send Howlin’ Wolf running for a rabbit’s foot. 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic features a large band comprised of some of LA’s most creative improvisers including Lynn Johnston, Mike Vlatkovich, Vinny Golia, Jason Mears, Richie West, Dan Clucas, and Kris Tiner. The hyper literate Kaiser named his themes after titles from the novel Tristam Shanty. Clocking in at exactly 1:13:13, the suite proves Kaiser to be a composer of richly varied multi-layered large scale works.
Opening with “My Uncle Toby’s Apologetical Oration,” the band plays an orderly high school awards dinner intro that breaks into improvised reeds and drums. Vinny Golia’s remarkable sopranino solo emerges with the bass, and soon the brass marches in. Stinson and Peet create deep odd electronic rumblings which travel along as Vlatkovich duets with the Golia. Emily Hay’s dynamic flute signals “Gravity was an errant scoundrel.” She plays with the electronics and manages to stay in front of the returning brass. Tiner, Clucas, and Kaiser play chase games on trumpets, then Kaiser and Jason Mears on alto lead an assault with guitar, bass and drums.
Erik Sbar on euphonium joins the burbling electronics that introduce “This Sweet Fountain of Science,” a ballad. After some drifting flute and trombones, Golia and Johnston take over on strident low saxes. That yields to a tribal drum sound joined by Kaiser playing a long vivid rich toned solo. Barber’s sax flags the beginning of “The Curate’s Folly Betwixt Them.” Kaiser frames Barber’s extended playing on the tenor sax with dramatic horn charts alongside organist Wayne Peet. Peet and Stinson jam their way into “Devout, Venerable, Hoary-headed Men, Meekly Holding Up a Box.” Peet considers the theme with Richie West and Stinson.
“The Stranger’s Nose Was No More Heard of” hosts a return of the awards band theme that opened the piece played in a soundscape of chirping winds. Dutz and West set a primal mood for “Uncle Toby Understood the Nature of a Parabola.” Tiner, Vlatkovich, and Kaiser blow brief cries at each other, until Golia’s clarinet runs fast and free into “The Accusing Spirit Which Flew Up to Heaven’s Chancery.” The reeds join together to spur him on, then a herd of horns announces a long song by Tiner.
“A Thousand of My Father’s Most Subtle Syllogisms” begins in the basses, who hand off to Hay. Her lilting solo leads into Johnston on bass clarinet and Kaiser on flugelhorn, both of which unleash a mighty roar. Golia returns to roam reflectively on contra alto clarinet for “His Life Was Put in Jeopardy by Words.” All the reeds play multiphonically, leading into Tiner and Clucas’ spirited duet on “The Heat and Impatience of his Thirst.” Vlatkovich takes over with a slippery solo, followed by a blistering turn on tenor by Barber.
Jeff Kaiser’s large group recordings continue to impress, demonstrating the composer’s unique ideas and good taste in employing a cross section of LA’s bustling creative musician pool.”
— Rex Butters, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/ October 2003
“Here’s something new from JEFF KAISER’S creative mind. With his talent and friends, they deliver explorations into experimental, avant garde, pseudo-classical, imaginary music, eclectic, and backgrounds for imagination.
There’s a flood of instruments of every kind and they create effects, ‘personalities’, and musical situations of all sorts. Imagine on “The Curate’s folly betwixt them” sounds that conjur up images of an old monk plotting something maybe less than spiritual. Or is it the discovery in the cellar of a monster?! Let your imagination go.
Beat and groove is not what is found here but rather a theatre for the ears and mind. The clever creations are not all that new in a sense–radio and tv as well as movies have created mood, scene, and set up music for decades, but here the nuances are deeper and one has to listen carefully and attently to grasp the solid playing and high skill often displayed.
If you want to see instruments get ‘stretched’ to new possibilities, this album will give you a taste. It’s certainly not for everybody but it is something very interesting.”
A. Canales, The CRITICAL REVIEW Service, November 2003
“Moody, large ensemble modern jazz arrangements with excellent direction and playing from trumpeter Kaiser”
-Don Campau, No Pigeonholes Favorites 2003
Jeff Kaiser artista molto attivo nella zona, e d continuita a quella scuola di minoranza tenace che nella Bay Area ha sempre difeso le sorti del post-freejazz.
Dirige questo organico di diciotto elementi, perpetuando tutte le tecniche gi note delle relazioni tra composizione e alea, mettendoci per un’enfasi visionaria piuttosto personale. Il lavoro si svolge in un’unica maxi-sequenza, suddivisa in sezioni impercettibili, titolate per con molta fantasia.
Dopo un esordio assorto, sorta di preghiera introduttiva, l’orchestrona inizia a stendere le masse sonore che, pi o meno temperate, accompagnano l’ascoltatore fino alla fine.
I solisti si lanciano in esposizioni estatiche, concitate, chiamandosi a dialogare a turno. Sassofoni e flauti trascolorano dal denso-drammatico al pallido-morbido, mentre gli scontri pi accesi sono tra le trombe (spesso sordinate e tirate in sovracuto) e i tromboni-euphonium-tuba.
Punteggiano questi sfoghi a perdifiato rapide frasi di insieme, a volte legate pi spesso staccate, a cercare quell’effetto dialettico tra silenzio e caos non pi cos sorprendente. E una ritmica cangiante, molto elettrica a tratti, oppure tribale nel percussionismo ovattato di alcuni passaggi.
Inutile descrivere l’avvicendarsi degli interventi, giusto segnalare invece quelli pi impressionanti, dovuti ai clarinetti dell’ottimo Vinny Golia, al trombone di Michael Vlatkovich, ai bassi di Jim Connolly e Hal Onserud.
Chi ama l’ipertrofia voluttuosa del free orchestrale sar soddisfatto; viceversa, chi cerca qualcosa di pi formale pu tranquillamente astenersi.
stefano merighi, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/italy/reviews/r0804_025_it.htm
With “13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic” we certainly don’t have a conventional musical project. The music is of an experimental character, with some classicist passages, others within the Jazz wave, some entering World Music, and the presence of elements typical of New Music and other styles. The work is mostly based on wind instruments.
VALERIANO GUIOL, http://www.amazings.com/reviews2004.html
“I think Jeff must have pulled in every Left Coast improvisor he could find for this extraordinary outing. Th’ introductions to most of th’ cuts will make you think you’re going to hear a “straight” chamber music set, but about 16/32 bars in, the whole (humongous) group jumps on several (absolutely brassy) trains at once, goin’ to ev’ry corner of th’ globe to explore sounds & combinations of sound(s) that will inspire you to revel in random. Crisp, clear recording add a lot to the overall listening experience, & th’ improvisationally inclined will adopt this as a mantra for th’ next couple of decades. If you’re a “conventional” fan, or lookin’ for music to lull you to sleep at nite, you’ll avoid this at all costs… but if you dig th’ cool of chaos, this is the ticket! Headphones required – this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want something in an orchestral vein that isn’t “just chamber music” – there are some really nice jazz rhythm sections, too!”
Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation, Issue # 65 1/2 REVIEWS
The nineteen free-thinkers in action during these 73 minutes of barely governable, outspoken sonic mayhem are among the finest American improvisers, all coming from the more energizing fringes of radical contemporary expression. Kaiser’s alarmingly remorseless discarding of any kind of mindless convenience keeps the whole companionship navigating the perilous waters of earnest dissonance; this could alienate some superficial sympathy but surely rewards unorthodox listeners, which is a major ammunition for border operators with such a pedigree. The timbral orientation tends towards a large use of the wind instruments: it doesn’t come as a surprise, given the presence of luminaries like Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Emily Hay & Lynn Johnston (from Motor Totemist Guild, one of the most overlooked ensembles in decades) plus the leader’s trumpet. Anyhow, the music is never overblown, maintaining a certain grade of meticulous activism that defines this brew of composed/decomposed parts as an immaculate self-government struggling to survive in a horde of neurotic humdrum values.
Massimo Ricci, touching Extremes
Comentario: Dentro del vasto catálogo de miedos que asolan a la humanidad, abunda la triscaidecafobia, que no es otra cosa que el miedo al número trece. Hay quien no siente ningún recelo respecto al trece y contempla la asociación de los dos guarismos como un hecho sin ninguna relevancia fuera de la aritmética. Pero también hay quien se aterroriza sólo de imaginarlos asociados. Sin miedo, intentando eliminar la fobia enfrentándose a ella con coraje, Jeff Kaiser bromea con las cuestión en el disco grabado para pfMENTUM, su micro-discográfica propia, con sede en Ventura, California. Estemos ante un caso u otro, lo cierto es que Jeff Kaiser, trompetista, compositor, arreglista y director de orquesta, abordó la cuestión con sentido del humor, tal vez creyendo en los beneficios de la terapia musical para sí mismo o para otros, a través de la audición de 13 Themes For A Triskaidekaphobic (“Trece temas para un triscaidecafóbico”). Y entre bromas, la cuestión es llevada a un asunto muy serio: son trece los temas humorísticamente titulados según los títulos de “The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman”, novela cómica en nueve volúmenes de Laurence Sterne, publicada entre 1759 y 1767 (por ejemplo “My Uncle Toby’s Apologetical Oration”, “Gravity Was An Errant Scoundrel”, “The Stranger’s Nose Was No More Head Of”, etc.), con una duración de una hora, trece minutos y trece segundos. Exactamente. Para condensar el clima supersticioso (o no), Kaiser incluye en la portada una cita de Carl Jung, a propósito de las innombrables cosas de la psique de la que el discípulo de Freud era un reputado especialista: “Number helps more than anything else to bring order into the chaos of appearances” [“Los números ayudan más que cualquier otra cosa a poner orden en el caso de las apariencias”]. Así sea.
Dejando de lado las consideraciones extramusicales, 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic está estructurado como una larga suite ejecutada por el Ockdektet de Jeff Kaiser (con 18 integrantes como su propio nombre indica), que incluye a Vinny Golia, Ernesto Díaz-Infante y cerca de una decena y media de músicos de la mejor cosecha de la costa Oeste de los USA. Kaiser involucra a todos estos músicos en la creación de una estética basada en la libre improvisación moderna, en formato de big band, de propensión fuertemente abstracta, que tanto suena como sus congéneres británicas de Barry Guy, por ejemplo, como con las menos tradicionales orquestas de jazz norteamericanas, privilegiando igualmente las sonoridades camerísticas más próximas a la tradición musical europea. Un organismo complejo que ejecuta una música de elevada complejidad en su estructura y desarrollo.
La obra es impresionante en su magnitud, tanto en los efectos de conjunto y
los arreglos para diferentes conjuntos instrumentales, como en los detalles de los solos, con especial nota para los vientos (la sección incluye saxos tenor, alto y soprano, clarinetes, flautas, trompetas, trombones y tuba), que tienen el mayor protagonismo. Jeff Kaiser compone música de difícil aproximación, que requiere del oyente una actitud de escucha constructiva, esto es, concentración e interés para conseguir acompañar cada momento creativo, tarea nada ligera si se considera que el programa es realmente ambicioso y a veces algo pesado. Se recomienda que se empiece con escuchas parciales, por partes, antes de abalanzarse sobre la secuencia total, para la cual es preciso tomar aliento y realizar cierto jogging auditivo. Si se da el caso de tener los oídos bien robustos por mucho fitness y si no se es supersticioso, el desafío de 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic puede ser altamente estimulante y satisfactorio.
Publicada en Portugués originalmente en http://jazzearredores.blogspot.com/ and http://www.tomajazz.com/
Het ’13 Themes’-schijfje is een uitermate sober maar mooi vormgegeven cd-tje van een in Zuid-Californië residerende avant-garde bigband. De band bestaat uit een aantal muzikanten die in de regio van Los Angeles reeds enige faam verwierven door hun ongebreideld enthousiasme inzake geïmproviseerde muziek. Trombonist <b>Michael Vlatkovich</b>, toetsenist <b>Wayne Peet</b> en de percussionisten <b>Brad Dutz</b> en <b>Richie West</b> zijn wellicht de bekendste ven het 19-koppige gezelschap. De 13 stukken vormen samen een meerdelige, in elkaar overlopende compositie zonder pauzes, die aan de titels te lezen zou kunnen gaan over een echte of ingebeelde oom die uit het zicht is verdwenen. De cd vangt aan met een soort dodenmars die stilaan overgaat in vrije improvisatie waarin zowel plaats is voor solo’s als duetten allerhande. Het grote verschil met het gros van dit soort orkesten is de grote inbreng die een resem aan elektronische geluiden krijgt toebedeeld. Soms zorgen die geluiden voor wat extra bevreemdende improvisatie, een andere keer zorgen ze net weer voor de samenhang. <b>Sun Ra</b> is nooit veraf, maar Kaiser houdt duidelijk ook van componisten als <b>Stockhausen</b>. Jazz en klassieke abstractie gaan hand in hand, met de vrije teugels geleid door een geïnspireerde Jeff Kaiser. Het getal dertien is trouwens alomtegenwoordig: 13 thema’s, een uur, dertien minuten en dertien seconden muziek en ’Triskaidekaphobic’ betekent een persoon die een grote angst heeft voor het cijfer dertien. Wie voelt zich geroepen om hierbij een knettergekke cartoon te maken? ‘The Alchemical Mass’ is een suite in zes bewegingen, gebracht door Kaiser’s Ockodektet dat deze keer elf deelnemers telt. Het zeventien koppen tellende vocale ensemble <b>The Ojai Camerata</b> assisteert de muzikanten in hun heel ernstige, naar hedendaags klassiek neigende, werkstuk. De spookachtige Latijnse vocalen vormen een gedegen contrast met de overheersende blazers van zowel Kaiser, <b>Eric Barber</b> en <b>Vinny Golia</b>. Dit is geen makkelijke muziek, maar bij beluistering met een koptelefoon bloeit de suite helemaal open en laat ze ook de gedetailleerde muzikale invullingen tot zijn recht komen. De tweede suite bestaat uit vijf gedeeltes voor een beperkter aantal muzikanten, waarbij de trombone van <b>Scot Ray</b> opvalt. De geprepareerde gitaar van <b>Ernesto Diaz-Infante</b> zorgt hier voor de vervreemding en brengt tevens een sneetje noise in de soep. Net zo donker en angstaanjagend van sfeer als de voorgaande suite, maar heel wat abstracter en moeilijker te behappen is deze tweede suite toch een toonbeeld van geïmproviseerde jazz die een kruisbestuiving is aangegaan met avant-gardistisch klassiek. Voor de durvers.
(patrick bruneel) Gonzo Circus
THE JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET, das ist nichts weniger als eine kalifornische Neudefinition von Blas-, sprich Himmelfahrtsmusik. Der mächtige Klangkörper ist bei 13 Themes For A Triskaidekophobic (pfMENTUM CD 013) nahezu unverändert zu 17 Themes For Ockodektet. Das Kernteam aus Eric Barber, Vinny Golia, Emily Hay & Lynn Johnston (woodwinds), Dan Clucas & Kris Tiner (trumpets), Eric Sbar (euphonium & valve-trombone), Mark Weaver (tuba), E. Diaz-Infante & G.E. Stinson (guitars), Wayne Peet (organ, theremin, electronics), Jim Connolly (bass), Brad Dutz & Richie West (percussion & drums) ist identisch, die Bläser wurden verstärkt um Jason Mears (alto sax) & Michael Vlatkovich (trombone), Tom McNally spielt zusätzlich E-Gitarre und mit Hal Onserud steht ein anderer Mann am zweiten Kontrabass. Das Klangmassiv, das der Trompeter Jeff Kaiser auftürmt als Komponist, Arrangeur und Dirigent dieser Bigband, in der die Erfahrungen einzelner Ensemblemitglieder mit der Motor Totemist Guild, Destroy All Nels Cline, dem Obliteration Percussion 4tet und Bedouin Hornbook kulminieren, hat ein Zentralmotiv in der ominösen 13. In 1 Stunde 13 Minuten und 13 Sekunden soll der Aberglaube um diese ‚Unglückszahl‘ ausgetrieben werden. Schließlich ist 13 eine Zahl wie jede andere und Zahlen helfen, laut C.G. Jung, mehr als alles andere, Ordnung ins Chaos der Erscheinungen zu bringen. Nur hat jeder Sachverhalt eine zweite Seite und die trägt hier den Namen ‚Uncle Toby‘. Zwar ist über die musikalischen Fähigkeiten von Tristram Shandy‘s Onkel kaum mehr bekannt, als dass er gerne ‚Lillabullero‘ vor sich hin pfiff. Aber Kaiser hat wohl seine Gründe, die 13 Kapitel seiner musikalischen Therapie des Aberglaubens aus Sternes abschweifungslustigem Anti-Buch zu entleihen. Und noch bessere Gründe, „to make some noise in the world.“ Seine Arrangements sind messerscharf geschliffen und gesalzen mit dem Know-how jeder einzelnen Stimme. Die tiefen, in den beiden Kontrabässen verankerten Bläser, die E-Gitarren und Peets Widerhaken bilden ganz eigene Klangwirbel um die nach einem genauen Plan gebündelten, gesplitteten und einzeln ausgestellten Brass- & Reedstimmen. Die Zitat-, Schnitt- und Überblendungstechnik erinnert hier und da an Willem Breuker oder an Charles Ives. Der kakophone Gusto ist mit einer Sophistication hinterfüttert, die permanent eine Ordnung zweiten Grades stiftet. Kaiser ist das Gegenteil eines naiven, nämlich ein kalkulierender Künstler, ein Meister der musikalischen Integralrechnung. Aber es gibt keinen Moment, an dem er einen nicht spüren lässt, wie sehr er „all that noise, and running backwards and fowards“ liebt.
Jeff Kaiser è ottimo trombettista, compositore e più che altro notevole agitatore della scena californiana. Ha suonato con i Motor Totemist Guild, Eugene chadbourne, Ernesto Diaz Infante e molti altri ancora. In questo ’13 Themes’ lo troviamo a dirigere una valanga di musicisti lungo territori scoscesi che di volta in volta si fanno turbinosi ed ostili oppure subdolamente placidi con gelide folate di fiati ad irrompere sulla scena. Possibile ed ideale marcia funebre, in alcuni casi molto New Orleans per lo spirito da Big Band dimostrato, senza problemi maneggia e dà da maneggiare ai suoi invitati fascinose sezioni quasi orientali e stacchi assassini prossimi al lavoro dell’altrettanto folle orchestra messa in piedi da Moe! Staiano.
Aperture quasi sinfoniche che si fanno free per brevi attimi e poi cavalcate ritmiche in una scrittura affascinante e complessa che notevole sforzo richiede ma è anche prodiga di soddisfazioni auditive.
13 brani senza nessuna pausa animati da un’invidiabile energia e forza vitale dedicati alla morte di un ipotetico Zio Toby che a giudicare dai titoli succosi e dalle note di copertina un mezzo genio doveva essere.
Sun Ra disteso al sole pallido che spunta dall’occhio di un ciclone?
Potrebbe anche essere.
Dare un’occhiata da queste parti è altamente consigliato.
Aggiunto: December 4th 2004
Recensore: Marco Carcasi, http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1503
17 Themes for Ockodektet
“Kaiser takes us on a rollercoaster ride: post-Lutoslawski melodies meet chaotic free jazz, Duke Ellington goes head to head with Lawrence ‘Butch’ Morris. Somewhere, 17 Themes for Ockodektet constitutes an extension of the trumpeter’s 1998 CD Nothing Is Not Breath: Music for Double Quartet, but here extremes are pushed much further. Opposite musical forms are set side by side, acoustic and electronic instruments battle it out…More than the pieces themselves, what strikes the listener is Kaiser’s ability to conduct. The group gestures (crescendo and diminuendo, shifts between free improv and scored sections) are highly precise and provide a source of marvel for 74 minutes. That and the unusual touch Wayne Peet’s organ playing brings to the music make 17 Themes for Ockodektet a satisfying experience…”
–Francois Couture, http://www.allmusic.com , 10.2002
“Based in Ventura, California, Jeff Kaiser is an active composer, trumpet player, conductor, and music teacher. He has played with countless musicians in the creative music realm, including Eugene Chadbourne and The Motor Totemist Guild. He has worked in radio and television and is active in promoting modern music concerts in Ventura, CA.
The ambitious 17 Themes For Ockodektet is one of two recent releases on Kaisers pfMENTUM label. The Ockodektet is a large ensemble consisting of Eric Barber, Vinny Golia, Emily Hay and Lynn Johnston on woodwinds, Don Clucas and Kris Tiner on trumpets, Eric Sbar on euphonium and valve-trombone, Mark Weaver on tuba, Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared acoustic guitar, G.E. Stinson on electric guitar and electronics, Wayne Peet on organ, theremin and electronics, Jim Connolly and Scott Walton on contrabasses, Billy Mintz on drums, Brad Dutz on percussion, and Jeff Kaiser on trumpet and conducting.
Recorded live at Ventura, CA City Hall on Kaiser’s 40th birthday in late 2001, this sizable ensemble incorporates both classical and jazz influences. The music comfortably inhabits both the classical and jazz worlds, at times sounding like a horn/wind driven symphony, but also having a cosmic cool jazz sound with those beautiful low end contrabass notes keeping a slow but steady pace. Jazz and classical often come together as the ensemble heads into highly intense thematic orchestral territory with jazz still rearing it’s much welcome head throughout. The spirit of the Sun Ra Arkestra fills the air, though the orchestral elements keep the music firmly on it’s own personal Ockodektet plane. Imagine the Arkestra performing their rendition of Peter and the Wolf and you might get something like the Ockodektet.
The ensemble continually transitions between slower and fiery chaotic segments, the slower moments being highly passionate in which each instrument is distinct amongst the whole… each blow on a horn or wind instrument standing on the podium to make its statement, and haunting electronic swirls can sometimes be heard as a dark backdrop. Overall, a thoroughly captivating 73 minutes of modern music for large ensemble.”
–Jerry Kranitz , Aural Innovations, 10.2002, http://www.aural-innovations.com/
“The Order Of Her Bones is a duo project of Kaiser on trumpet, flugelhorn and voices, and Brad Dutz on marimba, xylophone, drums, and more bells, percussion and assorted toys than I could begin to list. (or even identify… do you know what a bougarabou or a tuba flute is?) Anyway, Kaiser and Dutz manage to keep things remarkably busy for only two musicians. Even the most subtle moments spoke to me in a loud voice. The horn is garrulous and the percussion melodic. Jazz dominates throughout but there are ambient/atmospheric moments and the whole thing comes off like a story is being told. Kaiser is a proficient but communicative horn player. He can tear up his instrument but at all times I feel like he’s speaking to me and not just showing his chops. Dutz’s performance is responsible for much of the atmosphere and theme, smoothly moving between his arsenal of percussive tools. But the real strength of the album is that it sounds like an animated conversation between the two artists. Quite different from the Ockodektet but equally expressive.”
–Jerry Kranitz , Aural Innovations, 10.2002, http://www.aural-innovations.com/
“It is unclear what an Ockodektet exactly is, but this unit of seventeen musicians sports a radically free improvisatory aesthetic that combines the thrust of a traditional big jazz band with the sonorities of a chamber-like avant-garde ensemble. This is very much trumpeter Jeff Kaiser’s show: He composed and arranged all the tunes, recorded and produced the CD, and presumably tied the string bow on each individual package. The group includes some of the best of the West Coast scene: names such as reed phenom Vinny Golia and radical guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante. Kaiser’s solos are surprisingly accessible given the somewhat disjointed nature of his arrangements, which challenge the performers with complex rhythms and patterns. Whether focusing on lovely flute tones, or Wagnerian blasts of brass, Kaiser succeeds in holding the listener’s attention without compromising the integrity of his vision…Kaiser’s paths sound surprisingly fresh and even the more static ensemble parts are filled with pregnant rumblings. Unfortunately, individual soloists are unidentified, but some of the intense reed work (Golia?) (for example, on “Figures to be Actualities,”) is strikingly impressive.”
–Steven Loewy, allmusic.com, 10.2002
“The avant-garde big band is a fascinating concept…and an elusive one. How do you get a united sound in a genre requiring individuality? Can a roomful of players blow freely, without it dissolving in chaos? On his 40th birthday, trumpeter Jeff Kaiser led 17 instruments through two vivid suites, where colors are many and emotions change fast.
Opening to thick applause, “Dirge” pairs a drunk bass clarinet with a lazy tuba, walking in sad slithers. This sounds traditional and modern at once – shades of Albert Ayler. Throaty at first, the reed becomes bolder, fiercer; a hum starts in the brass section, and percussion creeps in like radio static. With encouragement from the crowd, the whole band enters like a New Orleans parade gone mad. Suddenly they’re all twittering, and we start the second movement, “Clad Like Birds”.
A tenor hits long, wavering notes; these are answered by Kaiser, blowing in a soft transparent tone. This is more of a dirge than the first number, and the horns scream a finale, stark and powerful. From here we move to gentler things: “Amplifying Their Moods” is a study for organ (Wayne Peet), steel drums (Brad Dutz), and an earthy, Rahsaan-like flute. The musicians react in astonishing fashion: a phrase by Jeff is continued on oboe, concluded by soprano sax…or it could be the same instrument played two different ways! At the end are crackling woodwinds, a loud series of oom-pahs (!) and Peet’s organ, which starts in a churchyard and ends in a haunted house. This music can change instantaneously – a good match for the genre and those who play in it. You won’t find this instrumentation any place else: the group includes two basses, two guitars, three percussionists, one trombone (on a valve model, yet) and some very talented reeds. The most famous among them are Peet and West Coast icon Vinny Golia (Kaiser plays in the Golia Large Ensemble, another avant-garde big band.) “Even with Diagrams” finds the brass on parade, a slow walk leading into shrill clusters. Unrelated to jazz, this piece feels like the classical music written in the ‘Sixties. The solemn texture is upset by a cantankerous baritone sax (probably Golia); after this, all goes wild. Jeff’s fluttering solo is nice, along with the drums behind him.
“One Absolute Material” is a feature for the drummers; Peet helps out with some flying-saucer noises. There is a loud whisper on “Figure of This In-Between” – muted horns, covered by a windy synthesizer. From there you get frantic saxwork, a chorus of chirping reeds, and, on “Figure with Wings”, a pair of giddy flutes, chasing each other in glee. An ominous tuba (Mark Weaver) glowers in the background, drums surge and then fade – the flutes stay the same, but their mood is altered by the things around them. Flamboyant horns close the suite with a blare that rivals “Ascension”. It’s uneven, and unfocused at times, but also shows talent, strength, and ingenuity – as I said, a fascinating concept. The second suite, more formal in structure, reminds me of the composer Toru Takemitsu in its use of open space. Following a pompous fanfare, “Coincidentia Oppositorium” is a workout for Ernesto Diaz-Infante, twanging the strings in a rusty jangle. The fanfare sounds again, and we’re now in a jungle of flutes and bells. This gives way to brass, wailing a lament on “Where His Third Eye Could Be”. The basses take their only solo (one bowed, one plucked) over steel drums and electronic squiggles. The highlight here is the baritone, slithering like a gator through the swamp. A heady stomp comes next, then a meditation for soprano, followed by exotica on “There Is No Profit from Dreams”. Woody phrases emanate from the alto flute, while muted horns buzz like mosquitoes. This piece is the softest, the most accessible…the best in the collection. (Check out the weird noises at the end; sounds like a melting guitar!)
“Into That Nothing-Between” is our sendoff, blending soap-opera organ, smoldering bongos, a horn riff based on “The Theme”, and a raft of electronics. It sounds like the dial has stopped between stations – noisy, but pleasant. The closing cacophonous rush is worthy of “A Day in the Life”, and ends on a similar Big Chord. The resulting work is expansive, expressive, and surprising in a number of ways. Worth hearing if you seek the unusual.”
–John Barrett , http://www.jazzusa.com/, Vol 06 – Issue 11 – November 2002
“While this came via Pax Recordings, and Ernesto Diaz-Infante is on it, the album deserves a separate review as it is quite different. Arriving in a folded card sleeve, tied with red string, images of strange Victorian equipment on it, the album was recorded on Kaiser’s 40th birthday in 2001. The instrumentation includes woodwind, trumpets, euphonium, tuba, guitars, electronics, organ and theremin, contrabasses, drums and percussion with composer and conductor (of the 16 other people) Kaiser also on trumpet. (There are 14 tracks, so I have inserted a comma in the title, which makes more sense to me.)
This is a VERY big band which plays two continuous suites. From the sound I am assuming it is a composed improvisation, with overall directions, themes and continuity provided by Kaiser, but with freedom within those boundaries. The size and scope make it hard to describe ˆ in many ways it approaches classical music in its structure and arrangement ˆ large movements taking the music in various directions.
Some pointers: brass, particularly the trumpet (of course) are the main leading instrument, although most others get solo’s of various lengths; there are a few stylistic continuities ˆ often the brass work by layering long notes that may harmonise building tonal structures, a pulsing of the whole orchestra occurs a few times; there is an underlying sonority to the themes; and there is a regular movement between lighter restrained solos and sections and building dense aggregates of sound approaching a controlled cacophony.
The ‘Dirge’ opens the first suite and allows the solo trumpet to fly over soft slow accompaniment of tuba, shakers and muted trumpet into a crescendo of strings. The tonal layering is seen in ‘Clad like birds’ after a pizzicato orchestral eruption. Softness accentuated by a flute solo, which then duets with the trumpet followed by a clarinet solo in ‘Amplifying the parallels’. All around the other instruments create a percussive clatter, supporting the foreground ˆ throughout the balance between the group and solo instruments is maintained ˆ it never feels like extraneous filler. The group then begin to pulse, building to one of the many climaxes, the trumpet emerging then fading to strings which continue in the light mystery of ‘Nothing may be taken naturally’. The album continues with many highlights and developments from here on in ˆ trying to describe the whole is beyond me but some passages: the tonal layers leading through a chattering pattery period before a solo with lovely support in ”Even with diagrams’; the shift from light hearted woodwinds to an elephant march in ‘One absolute material’; tribal moods of ‘Figures to be actualities’ that lead to the flute pastoral ‘Figure with wings’ that pulses to the conclusion of the first suite. The second opens lyrically before the acoustic guitar gets its solo with tuba and percussion; soft brass melding into tuned percussion in ‘Where his third eye could be’; the extended flute solo, another pastoral passage for ‘There is no profit from dreams’ which also has a restrained trumpet solo after a pulsation; and the organ and bass solo that opens the finale, ‘Into that nothing-between’.
Those are mere hints and tasters, as the album has a continuity and depth which is hard to describe, and none of the 17 instrumentalists (playing more instruments than that ˆ though the Theremin is unfortunately not foregrounded) ever seem extraneous, whether they are soloing, supporting or participating in one of the dramatic group extravagances. This is a wonderful album of controlled freedom, flowing freely and lyrically. A very pleasant surprise from my letter box!”
–Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera 2002_15, http://ampersandetc.virtualave.net
“Our friend Jeff (at pfMENTUM records) has been busy, recording up a storm. There are a couple other CD’s he is part of that will be reviewed in later issues. ‘Bones’ features his trumpet against percussion artistry by Brad Dutz. An even dozen tracks of highly creative & energetic improvisation that will make your ears stand at attention. I can tell you, you’ve never heard a marimba (with a trumpet) played like Brad plays it. The players are totally conscious of each other, using the open spaces freely in a conversational mode that is ‘listener-friendly.’ Almost like you’re eavesdropping on their private thoughts (and, in a way, I suppose you are). Jeff’s playing is ‘seamless,’ totally flowing & full of freedom. I enjoyed each of the cuts 2 or 3 times, catching the playful spirit expressed right away…you will, too! This CD gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners enchanted with new sonic experience; if your ears curdle when listening to music that MOVES…you probably aren’t reading this ‘zine anyway, so it doesn’t matter. VERY interesting music.”
-Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation #58
“I just wanted to thank you for sending me your wonderful disc…I very much appreciate having had an opportunity to hear your work. You’re a hell of a composer/arranger, kind of like a re-born Henry Brant (only hipper)…”
–Walter Horn, musician
“It’s a careening blend of jazz and classical. Some textures suggest the ideas of classical composer John Cage, other parts feature swinging and grooving along the lines of the great jazz bassist-composer Charles Mingus, and there’s improvisation that might remind some of “free jazz” legend Ornette Coleman or the later works of fellow saxophone giant John Coltrane.”
–Brett Johnson, Ventura Star, 5 September 2002, time out, p18
“Jeff Kaiser, Ventura’s stalwart champion of improvised and experimental music, turned 40 recently and put on a birthday bash in suitable style. The public was invited, and they showed up in droves to Ventura City Hall…The tall wooden statue of Padre Serra in the atrium seemed to stand over the proceedings like a sentry who looked a bit suspicious of the mayhem unfolding…What the crowd heard was a classic, yet special, Kaiser event, as he led his ad hoc ensemble [The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet], 16 players strong, made up mostly of musicians from Los Angeles’ left-end jazz scene…Kaiser assumed his command post to summon an ensemble sound that was alternately big and anarchic, then soft and ethereal…It was that kind of night, with echoes and ideas freely bouncing off the walls. At the end, even Padre Serra seemed impressed.”
–Josef Woodard, “A Heavenly Mix of Musical Styles.” LA Times, Calendar Weekend, 20 December 2001, p45.
“Jeff Kaiser has been making a ruckus, publicly, in Ventura for at least a dozen years, creating and protecting music on the cultural fringeÉAn adventure-minded trumpeter, electronic artist, composer and improviser, Kaiser has kept the experimental faith around town. Through his pfMENTUM record label and concert organizationÉKaiser has given Ventura a spot on the international new music circuit.”
Josef Woodard, “New Music and an Improvising Spirit.” LA Times, Calendar Weekend, 6 December 2001, p6.
“Kaiser is a rarity — an award-winning musician who actually makes a living making music. When heÕs not playing or touring, heÕs teaching and grooming a whole new generation of trumpet players.”
Bill Locey. “Birthday Brass.” Ventura Star Time-Out. 7 Dec. 2001, p14.
“Miles Davis meets Phil Spector meets John Cage meets Don Cherry meets Sound Garden meets Barbara Streisand (oops!) meets Hal Russell meets Chet Baker meets Herb Albert meet the Press meet the Beatles meets Meat Puppets meets…”
-From an ARC Concert Series Ad, Feb. 13, 2001
“For many reasons — his maverick approach to music, his transcendent performances that often include mesmerizing accompaniment, his fierce allegiance and contribution to the arts, the unique talent that he actively pursues and promotes through pfMENTUM — Jeff Kaiser is undoubtedly someone to watch…”
Cicero, Michel. “Avant Guard.” Ventura County Reporter. 15 Febuary 2001. Page13.
“[I]t was refreshing – in contrast to so much of the rehashed music that has inundated the jazz world over the last couple of decades – to hear Kaiser’s truly artistic performance of…’Ululatus’ (howling or wailing in Latin), dedicated to the late trumpet experimenter Lester Bowie…”
Roberts, Russell Arthur. “The New Music Wizardry of Jeff Kaiser.” Santa Barbara Jazz Society Jazzette. October 2001. Page 1
Review: Jeff Kaiser Trio At the Big Sur Experimental Music Festival 2000
“The Jeff Kaiser Trio played a confident blend of experimental and improvisational styles that was at once challenging and entertaining. Kaiser, who runs the pfMENTUM label out of Ventura, is an energetic and charismatic trumpeter, a perfect poster boy for experimental music…”
-M. Fernandes, San Diego New Music Newsletter, July-September 2000
Reviews: Nowherland Soundtrack
“In Ted Mills’ short, beguiling and funny film ‘nowhereland,’ a character in some unspecified post-Orwellian zone wanders about a bleak quasi-sci-fi landscape…Mills had finished this unique film last year, but what he lacked was the right soundtrack. It had to be something suitably strange and experimental, with hints of humor.
Enter Jeff Kaiser of Ventura, the perfect candidate for the gig. Kaiser, long a champion of making and promoting new music, has been very active of late. Add this soundtrack to the list.
It’s a testament to the strength of the music that listening to the soundtrack without visuals conjures up its own kind of abstract cinematic world.
Using mostly trumpet and electronics, with the help of longtime ally Jim Connolly on acoustic bass, Kaiser basically followed his aesthetic heart in the process. He relies on improvisation and texture-building strategies to create a complementary score. Roy and Daphne Jones add ethereal vocal parts on the bittersweet theme, a tender moment before the noisy aural storm of the coda. It’s all in an experimentalist day’s work.”
-Josef Woodard, LA Times, 25 August 00
Reviews: Pith Balls and Inclined Planes
“…more of Kaiser’s dark hued trumpet and flugelhorn…Kaiser uses the electronics more spaciaiously, often creating a rippling background effect to serve as relief for his brief statements with mute (‘Diagrams’ almost sounds like a rogue Ornette piece)…A very intriguing session.”
Bivens, Jason. Reviews. Cadence, December 2000, page 12.
“Two multi-instrumentalist improvisers and California residents collaborate for the first time on this disc of eight improvised compositions. Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics, voice) is a seasoned trumpet improviser and composer, and the founder of the Ventura New Music Concert Series. Ernesto Diaz-Infante (acoustic guitar, voice) is an active performer, improviser and performer, with a well established discography to his credit. The music is an eclectic mix of electroacoustic textures, prepared acoustic guitar, horns and voices. There are some truly fascinating pieces here. “The Unreasonable Power of the Diagrams”, for example, has an incredible quivering vocal track overtop the flutterings of flugelhorn and the scrapings of guitar. More quivering sounds, guitar strings and haunting electronics (which when put all together sound like a chorus of buzzing bees) populate the stunning track “She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts”. Serendipitous, spontaneous and spirited, this is an intriguing and rewarding release, pushing the limits of composition and performance while challenging the listener’s preconceptions of what improvisational music can be. Recommended for the adventurous.”[rds], Incursion Music Review ISSUE 015: 5.11.2000
“This heady dose of avant garde jazz contains many a force field of ambient, angular energy. Kaiser’s trumpet and flugelhorn work are especially striking, a muted whalesong effect is blown throughout the compositions like a siren’s call. Subtle guitar and electronic touches spice up the concoction. The wittily titled pieces (such as “She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts” and “Puny Demigods On Stilts”) wander with purposeful, churning abandon. Modern, uncompromising, improvisational, and atmospheric, Pith Balls and Inclined Planes offers something different to cure what ails ya.”
-Jim Esch, Turk’s Head Review 11/28/00
“Acoustic guitar vs. trumpet, flugelhorn and electronics. This improvisational confrontation could have gone a number of ways. It could have capitalized on the almost inherent melodicism of the brass and guitar, with the two making sweet, sticky love across the stereo field. Maybe it could have been a fiery duel of strings and breath; barbed wire against a hurricane, with my ears as the casualty. Thankfully, it’s neither. Neither musician is afraid of melody, but they’re never tied to it. ‘Outside, Three Tennis Courts’ has Jeff Kaiser playing a short melodic fragment that sits upright against a barrage of Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s string maelstrom. ‘She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts’ sees Kaiser electronically treating Diaz-Infante’s guitar and introducing hazy synth textures. ‘Once (And it Was Not Yesterday)’ takes samples of ‘Solus’ and turns them into an electroacoustic maelstrom. The interplay between the two is always interesting; there are constant associations to be made with every listen. Each tracks sounds like an exploration of possibility, scanning and hurtling through barrels of ideas. Creative music, fully realized.”
– Nirav Soni, Ink Nineteen Magazine, Florida, September 2000
“This CD has a citation, taking on the shape of a motto, on its sleeve: “You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers, which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs… but I’m not absolutely sure of anything…” (Richard Feynman)
This is a well-suited motto for this new CD from the duo Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante from California. The CD has eight tracks, and they all differ immensely, and change around, even within the same piece. It’s a good old adventure to seep through this mix, or let it seep through you… If you have some experience with different aspects of music, you will recognize many influences, from jazz, improvised jazz, electronic music, avant-garde Rumanian spectral music, Cageian chance operations and so forth. If you’re not that much of an aficionado, just relax and enjoy the stew! These guys are at the forefront of what they’re doing, and it’s a pleasure to spin this piece of plastic through the laser box! The sound world that materializes in your listening room is full of ins and outs, dizzying labyrinths and exhausting trails through the mountains of Lapland, but also with penthouse views of the city, ruler-straight highways across the Texan prairies and visions straight out of the myths of the Hopi Indians. Let the music take the upper hand, and let your mind free. These pathfinders won’t mislead you!
The CD starts off with sounds that might have come out of John Cage’s “Cartridge Music” (for amplified small objects) or his “But What About the Noise of Crumpling Paper…” , but later it changes over to some kind of free-form jazz that you might find on a series of CDs from the FMP (Free Music Production) label in Berlin. Yes, here are sounds reminiscent of productions from Wolfgang Fuchs (Don’t miss his “So – und? So!”) and Georg Katzer, especially when the electronics of Jeff Kaiser dig in! Kaiser’s implementation of electronic treatment is barehanded, right on, with an uncanny feel for the medium. He never over-does it, but always hits it right on the nail, in a perfect co-existence with the traditional instruments.
When the musicians start expressing themselves through their voices yet another layer of sounds and associations appear, leaning a bit towards the sound-poetry of the likes of Valeri Scherstjanoi and Paul Dutton. Magnificent! In track no 6 – “She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts” – some of the percussive sounds at times give way to associations to the highlands of Tibet and the monks gathering in their temples. Later on in that same piece, and elsewhere too, these guys pay homage to the Rumanian spectral avant-garde and the music of people like Horatiu Radulsescu and Iancu Dumitrescu, with the hands on manipulation of the guitar strings and whatnot!
Sometimes the slow screeches bring eerie sights of crashing airplanes to view, but they might also instigate memories of dark nights on shuddering glaciers, when the ice shrugs and shifts under you, opening dangerous new cracks all around. Then suddenly a jolly street band from New Orleans appears for a short instance, before something else happens!
So – exciting music from Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante, making you long for more adventures from the same duo!”
-Ingvar Loco Nordin, http://home.swipnet.se/sonoloco/, September 2000
“A lot of artists call themselves ‘unique,’ but most rarely live up to the description. This is certainly THE exception–it would be hard to find anything quite as “unique” as Pith Balls and Inclined Planes, an experiment in noise and rhythm from Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante. It’s a surreal adventure, filled with an abundance of experimentation and improvisation, musical modern art that deconstructs the structure and form of contemporary music. Beneath the noise of a horn or the squeal of fingers on a guitar string lies subtle nuances of control; a hidden underlying current of patterned thoughts and ideas. They lead you into one direction to simply turn you into a completey different one, always opting for the unexpected.
The bubbling, non-human electronic noises of Once (And It Was Not Yesterday) drift into the beastly squeals and grunts of the trumpet and guitar of Puny Demigods On Stilts. These two are contrasted with the bizarre jazzy ramblings of The Unreasonable Power of the Diagrams, which has a slight semblance of structure, but never quite settles into anything concrete. The instruments aren’t so much played as abused, strained and stretched beyond their general use. Kaiser’s solo trumpet squeals and speaks in a confused wah-wah on Fearful of Contagion, setting the stage for the long-winded rattling of She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts, a highly dynamic piece that centers on the abstract percussive sounds one can get out of a guitar. From the sound of it, it’s doubtful that this particular guitar will ever be played in standard fashion again.
Pith Balls… is a bold move, and made for even bolder listeners. It’s a level of music that rarely gets visited; a one-time shot that bends backwards to reach something new, something no one has heard before.
MISH MASH Mandate: Bring the Noise”
MishMash.playhear.com, Featured Artists, Issue 22, September, 2000
“Pith Balls and Inclined Planes is mostly Jeff Kaiser’s project (he’s even responsible for the CD’s design). The Californian trumpeter teamed up with Ernesto Diaz-Infante to improvise the material he later manipulated in studio. Diaz-Infante performs on prepared acoustic guitar (which takes him far away from his solo piano albums such as Ucross Journal). The eight pieces presented on this CD use any or all of the following: trumpet, guitar, electronics. All three are used on the opener “My Machines Came from Too Far Away”: after an electro-acoustic introduction, the guitar lays down some flooring for Kaiser’s Miles Davis-like cool jazz melody on heavily-treated muted trumpet. Very nice. “Once (And It Was Not Yesterday)” (dedicated to Conlon Nancarrow) is an interesting piece of musique concrete using as a sound source sped-up samples from Diaz-Infante’s solo piano recording Solus. A couple of tracks let the two musicians improvise without electronics, so the listener can hear how they actually interact with each other – the maniacal “Outside, Three Tennis Courts” is very conclusive for that matter. Each musician has a solo spot (although Diaz-Infante’s has electronics added). The closing number “Suppose a Black Thread” makes a beautiful finale with backward guitar notes, prepared guitar overtones and another cool jazz-inspired muted trumpet line which takes us back where we started.
The synthesis of improvised versus manipulated and electronic versus acoustic (the trumpet and the guitar are never heard “naturally”, they are always diverted from their original “intended” sound) works perfectly. The level of artistry is admirable, making Pith Balls and Inclined Planes a highly recommendable record and a rewarding listening experience.”
-Francois Couture, All-Music Guide, allmusic.com
“Many years ago I read where NASA, during one of it’s rocket launches, sent a time capsule up to the heavens which included recordings of Elvis or The Beatles, artifacts, books and mementos that provided a snap shot of mankind’s earthly existence. Of course, this was all intended for the alien’s up above who could possibly figure out what we earthlings had been up to for the last several thousand years. Well, as I listened to this new release titled, Pith Balls and Inclined Planes by trumpeter, electronics ace Jeff Kaiser and acoustic guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, the aforementioned thoughts ran through my mind.
Jeff Kaiser’s muted trumpet, loops, animalistic noises, creaky sounds and expressionistic persona depicts a strange yet quite intriguing language, which of course is only enhanced by Diaz-Infante’s very percussive approach to the acoustic guitar. On “The Unreasonable Power Of The Diagrams”, Kaiser performs rapid flurries amid multiphonics, grunts and groans whereas, his blazing leads on “She Surreptitiously Introduced Colored Shirts” along with Diaz-Infante’s subtle manhandling of his acoustic guitar presents an odd yet curiously interesting portraiture. The piece titled, “Suppose A Black Thread” features loops, more sinewy yet well developed phrasing by Kaiser and sounds of perhaps infants crying out for attention. Yet it’s all about improvisation and compositions that reside on a higher and somewhat previously unexplored horizon as the musicians find new ways to convey a theme where music is sound and sound is music.
While it might be difficult to recommend this recording even to the most ardent admirers of modernistic musings, I found this to be a rather fascinating and at times hallucinatory outing. And like those aliens in deep space, interpretations are seemingly open-ended, as time, place and matter are rendered expendable or irrelevant, which partly signifies the beauty of it all. * * * * 1/2 (out of * * * * *)”
-Glenn Astarita, allaboutjazz.com, 3 August 2000
“…Kaiser recently released a strong, definitively free-wheeling duet with guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante called ‘Pith Balls and Inclined Planes.’ The pair explore varied terrain, calling successfully on the muse of free improvisation, from a generally nonidiomatic perspective. In other words, don’t expect much that sounds like jazz here (although there are wisps of swing phrases on ‘Puny Demigods on Stilts’).
Diaz-Infante is a composer and performer with an instinctive way of creating ‘sound paintings’ that stress mood and feelings. His atonal adventures here sometimes recall the work of British free guitar icon Derek Bailey, while Kaiser’s trumpet gestures often achieve a kind of mumbling eloquence, as on ‘Fearful of Contagion’ and ‘Outside: Three Tennis Courts.’
Kaiser also shows his refined skill with computer-manipulated electronic sounds, as on the mesmerizing piece ‘Once (and It Was Not Yesterday),’ dedicated to the late great Conlon Nancarrow. For several decades, Nancarrow, exiled to Mexico City, created wild etudes for player piano, unplayable by humans. Kaiser pays tribute with a similar effect derived with the help of his computer, with rapid skittering lines over a drone.
The CD is another good example of the pfMENTUM label’s mandate, mostly about engaging improvisational statements, or otherwise pushing the envelope of musical possibilities.”
-Josef Woodard, LA Times, 25 August 00
“I’ve heard quite a bit of Diaz-Infante’s music, and have liked a lot of it, so I was exited when a new CD of his showed up in the mail. I’m not disappointed. This time out it’s Jeff Kaiser on trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics and voice, and Diaz-Infante on acoustic guitar and voice. Kaiser is very active in the Southern California new music scene, and has played with people like Eugene Chadbourne, Brad Dutz and Vinnie Golia.
The music on Pith Balls and Inclined Planes is thoroughly improvised and has the kind of nervous, excited energy that is often found when accomplished players manage to let go and have fun together. Much of the music exists in that interesting space where it’s not entirely clear what’s acoustic and what’s electronic, what’s an accident and what was carefully planned, or at least imagined.
There are seven tracks on Pith Balls and Inclined Planes, all sharing a hyper, busy vibe. Some of them, like “Outside, Three Tennis Courts” sound like they were recorded live, while others clearly went through a fair amount of post-production sampling, manipulation and mixing. That hasn’t dulled their effect, though, and Kaiser (who did all of the computer work) has managed to sustain the music’s energy throughout the album.
This sort of non-jazz improvised music scares some people off, probably because it often ends up being a lot more interesting for the performers than it is for the listeners. Thankfully that’s not a problem here — the music is consistently engaging, evocative and just plain fun.”
— irving bellemead, www.splendidezine.com, 8.14.00
“This 2000 collaboration between Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante is a truly unique listening experience. The record is a major departure from Diaz-Infante’s piano style and instead shows a new artistic direction. On this recording Kaiser and Diaz-Infante utilize a whole array of different instruments. Kaiser primarily plays the trumpet, flugelhorn, voice, and works electronics, where Diaz-Infante plays no piano, but instead focuses on the prepared acoustic guitar and voice. This is an Avant-Garde record that’s as far out as it is interesting. On the most fundamental level of organized sound this record is spacious and colorful. While the record does become a bit disharmonious at times, when the pieces come together, it’s truly magical. Great compositional techniques and great production!”
–Matt Borgh, www.theorganizationofsound.com, 8.7.00
“…Pith Balls and Inclined Planes, where Diaz-Infante is otherwise playing unorthodox acoustic guitar. Jeff Kaiser plays reverberant trumpet and flugelhorn, and performs technical manipulations generating passages of burbling fermented electronics. This is music of boldly contrasting elements, although the flow of small, rapidly occurring events–particles streams within each distinctive voice–conveys conceptual coherence and fundamental continuity of approach between the players.”
–Julian Cowley, THE WIRE (issue 198/August 2000)
“Ernesto Diaz-Infante takes care of the acoustic guitar and some vague vocal work, and Jeff Kaiser does the rest, including manipulating samples from Diaz-Infante’s Solus album. When I say guitar, by the way, that’s the whole guitar. Not just strings resonating. There’s tightening and untightening the strings, rubbing the neck, thumping the body … just about every noise that can be made with a guitar. Kaiser does the same thing with his trumpet and flugelhorn. Yeah, sometimes they’re “played” in a traditional sense. But there’s a lot of “other” going on as well. The pieces themselves come together in the mind of the listener. They have to be assembled. Part of the experience is finding your own meaning. I know, most folks find such exercises tiring. Not me. There’s such exuberance, such a sense of serendipity here that I just can’t put it down. Does it make sense? Not all the time. Not yet. But this puppy is primed for many more listens down the road.”
–Aiding and Abetting, Vol. 201, 26 June 2000, http://cent.com/abetting/
Bivens, Jason. Reviews. Cadence, December 2000, page 12.
Reviews: Asphalt Buddhas
“Kaiser’s ‘Asphalt Buddhas’ (pfMENTUM) has a much more experimental, noise-embracing character. Noise, in this case, is not a dirty word, but the base ingredient in a style of abstract sound collage. Kaiser is the antic collagist, the stitcher and paster, who blends improvised patches of electronic sound, trumpet playing of various degrees of purity, the furtive guitar work of Aplanalp, mouth-made sounds and occasional snippets of sound filched from CB radio by artist Jeff Overlie (whose photography series provides the tracks and the CD with their titles)…This is music without a net and with only scant mapping. Alternately mumbling and howling, the CD requires — and rewards — an open mind.”
-Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times, 5 November 1999
“Jeff Kaiser avait surpris son monde avec un premier enregistrement (Ganz Andere) saluŽ unanimement par la presse europŽenne. Voilˆ qu’il nous revient aujourd’hui sans abaisser ses prŽtentions. Adepte du duo, le poly-instrumentiste californien explore toutes les combinaisons possibles de l’acoustique et de l’Žlectronique. Recombinant Ablution mle de faon surrŽaliste la guitare sche et l’Žlectronique pour faire de cette pice un passage rŽellement atemporel. Obligation of the Faithful associe quant ˆ lui le bugle et l’Žlectronique dans un morceau savoureux et plein de mystre. L’imagination crŽative des deux musiciens n’a presque pas de limite et l’auditeur reste surpris jusque dans la quatrime partie de la pice Words of Jesus in Red qui cl™t l’album. Les orientations esthŽtiques et les choix artistiques de Jeff Kaiser font de ce musicien en marge l’un des artistes majeurs de cette nouvelle scne californienne qui a longtemps gravitŽ autour de Vinny Golia pour aujourd’hui s’en affranchir.”
-Sebastien Moig, Jazzosphere Magazine, France, 2000 Edition
“Like recalcitrant schoolboys set in a corner, [Philip] Glass and [John] Cage these days are shoehorned into the New Age/classical category. Critics sleep at night, and make deadline, knowing the rest can be blanketed as jazz…But Venturan JEFF KAISER is not going easily into that good night. He rages once more against the mainstream on his latest CD project, ‘Asphalt Buddhas,’…How to describe it? Weird, wild, wonderful. Interesting, intriguing. Loud. Annoying. Unfathomable…’Asphalt Buddhas’ doesn’t just push envelopes. It crams into the package…a variety of audacious ideas, then signs, seals and delivers…Along with the white-line ruminations of zoned out truckers, listeners are subjected to an array of sounds: creaks, cracks, groans, screeching…”
-Elena Jarvis, Ventura County Star, 5 November 1999
“…new sounds and everyday chatter take on new meaning. For Jeff Kaiser and Woody Aplanalp their music resides where noises are unwanted and unwelcome, but with contemplation ultimately satisfying. Feedback, CB radio interceptions, scary vocals and electronic goo figure just as prominently as traditional instrumentation. The duo deconstructs the landscapes of Jon Hassel and Raymond Scott, removing the trail markers from the path. Listeners are required to check their notions of notation, rhythm and, well, music at the door. For Kaiser, a trumpeter who’s resume includes work with Eugene Chadbourne, The Michael Vlatkovich Brass Trio, Brad Dutz, The Vinny Golia Large Ensemble, Dan Plonsey and the Human Behavior Orchestra, this is perhaps his version of the Stones’ Classic Exile On Main Street.”
-Mark Corroto, allaboutjazz.com, 9 January 2000
“After a few weeks of unchallenging music, it’s really nice to get a disc like Cement Buddhas. It’s essentially a meeting — if not a knock-down drag-out fight — between various guitars (Aplanalp) and horns (Kaiser), all heavily manipulated, with treated voices and electronic twiddling filling in the cracks in the mortar. And it’s abrasive. Archipelagos of recognizable guitar and horn melody are connected by strings of razor-sharp, ear-flensing noise — perhaps overmodulated voices, perhaps overdriven electronics, but all of it instinctively hostile to the human ear.
The pleasure here is to find order in the chaos. Kaiser and Aplanalp are both solid musicians, and the paths their music/noise hybrids take are neither gratuitous nor entirely random. The challenge is to halt the noise in its tracks as it seeks to burrow into your head, and to unravel it backwards, revealing its component parts and lurching logic, dissolving into computational textures and insidious fingerings.
Or you can simply embrace the aggressive abnormality of the music and let go, following it as its noisy tentacles work their way into all the cracks and interstitial spaces that riddle the world. That’s right. Just let go.”
-George Zahora, splendidezine.com, 10 January 2000
Reviews: Ganz Andere
“On Ganz Andere, Kaiser and reed monster Vinny GOlia play a series of challenging duets and solos…they are extremely well done (by the way, just check out his titles – has this guy read his philosophy of religion, or what)…Kaiser’s trumpet has a pleasingly ragged tone (reminescent of Bobby Bradfor and Bill Dixon in different ways), able to blend well with Golia’s reeds and with the more arcane electronic sounds. This dis is about music as a means to transport you ro another world, and in that it succeds pleasingly.”
Bivens, Jason. Reviews. Cadence, December 2000, page 12.
“‘Ganz Andere’ draws on Kaiser’s skill in blending sampling and synthesis in an electronic setting, stirred in with the real-time sound of his own improvisational trumpet voice and woodwinds by noted Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia…The CD itself is another important entry in the annals of Kaiser’s music, darkly mysterious, laced with humor and fundamentally experimental in structure and texture. The electronica dives deep, resists the easy seduction of rhythmic pulse and keeps the issue of real versus canned sound sources a matter of surrealistic guesswork.”
-Josef Woodard, L.A. Times, VC, 23 April 1999
“Jeff Kaiser’s Ganz Andere is wonderful: formal but sonically wide, and the natural sounds Golia makes amid the production of synthesis separates the music from someone like Xenakis.”
-Lazaro Vega, Blue Lake Public Radio, 15 July 1999
“Some music invites listeners to get up and dance. Composer Jeff Kaiser does not make that kind of music. What Kaiser does create is New Music, electro-acoustic pastiches of jazz trumpet, world-music instruments, spoken word and sound samples run through a battery of processors…on the recording of ‘Ganz Andere,’ Kaiser’s latest exploration of time, space, spirituality and secularism.”
-Lisa McKinnon, Ventura County Star, Time Out, 30 April 1999
“Noisy, chaotic improv with a jazzy edge, using trumpets, flutes and clarinets along with electronics and samples. I really like Jeff’s wacky titles, such as ‘Son of God in Garage with Rat’ and ‘Man with Spider in Mouth’. But the music has to work too, and this does.”
-Bryce Moore, DJ, Difficult Listening, Perth, Australia, 18 July 1999
“I was delighted to discover that Jeff Kaiser’s Cement Buddhas, which I reviewed recently, represented Kaiser at his most accessible. Ganz Andere is more random, an improvisational beast that for the most part eschews traditional melodies or musical structures in favor of heavily-treated interaction between trumpet, wind instruments and assorted sampled sounds and voices. Multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia makes an able foil for Kaiser, and together they delight in the headlong collision of sonic textures while retaining an ear for listenability. Ambiances Magnetiques fans will dig this.”
-George Zahora, splendidezine.com, 10 February 2000
“This truly eccentric work manages to combine elements of jazz, world music, avant-classical and glitch electronics into a strange hymn to sacred time. Kaiser and his cohort, Vinny Golia play a variety of interesting instruments. From trumpets, clarinets, saxophones to piccolo and Chinese membrane flute. Along with these instruments they deconstruct a variety of sample sources. Steel, stone, wood and amateur band voice and instrumental sounds are combined in interesting ways. “Son of god in Garage with Rat” sounds like a collaboration between Oval and Sun Ra. A lot of the clarinet sounds are very haunting and provide interesting melodic counterpoints to the much more abrasive trumpeting. These elements play chase games with skipping CD sounds and granulated samples. The Chinese membrane flute adds a very eastern flavour to the magnificent epic sounding “Yellow Light Surrounding Shadow Outline of Large Man”. While some of it is quite peaceful, quite a lot explodes into chaos with “Mysterium Tremendum” bursting out of the speakers like a noisy attention-deficit child. All of this is packaged in a quite pretty raffia coloured sleeve featuring some intriguing alchemical equations. An interesting trip for those interested in the more chaotic amalgamation of varied musicks!”
-][oyd Barrett, Atmospheric Disturbances, Brisbane, Australia, May 2000
Track “Templum-Tempus”, Runner up, PALMARES du 26e Concours International de Musique Electroacoustique, Bourges, France – 1999
Track “Ganz Andere” performed at the 1999 National Conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States. Held at San Jose State University, California.
Reviews: Nothing is Not Breath
“I almost began this review with a confession that I was lying about the Trignition CD [9Winds] being the most inaccessible CD, but as I listened further, I stopped myself. This disc is a huge, 70-minute, eleven-part suite that begins subtly and improvisationally and then explodes in many multi-layered compositions and quirky fanfares. I feel the apex of the disc culminates in Section VIII, which I will call the “theme”. It’s the only part of the disc that my mind sings. The rest is an avant-garde smorgasboard that swings in places, much like Ornette’s original double quartet did on the historic Free Jazz. Nothing Is Not Breath goes beyond that template, happily, and saturates itself with wonderful 20th Century classical sensibilities. In attempting to interpret the title of this work, I beleive that even though only four of the eight instruments are winds, the percussion and double basses actually seem to breathe. The rising and falling of dynamics, and the lack of rhythm or pulse in some selections, resembles a large organism slowly inhaling . . . and exhaling. The tumbling marimba is the rattle of its breath, the squealing reeds its vocal chords, the percussion its raspy cough. This is a Kaiser masterwork (not to mention that Golia is on it, of course).”
-Fred Barrett, Beyond Coltrane
“There is an aura of discovery and inevitability about this music, a sense that the players are uncovering fresh sounds at every turn…Nothing Is Not Breath is a trip, a soundtrack…running inside your head…Kaiser does have the knack of making his material refreshingly creative and vigorous. The live recording, with superb spatial characteristics, helps to make this a rewarding and intriguing listen.”
-Cadence Jazz Magazine, New York, July 1998
“Recorded during a live performance at Ventura City Hall last fall, the CD captures a truly remarkable piece of semi-improvisational music replete with all the drama, adventure and twisted beauty that marks Kaiser’s eclectic repertoire.”
-The Reporter, Ventura, March 1998
“Speaking of notable musicians in Ventura, trumpeter-composer-situation-maker Jeff Kaiser came out of a self-imposed hiatus and upped the ante for provocative new music…”
-Los Angeles Times, Calendar Weekend, 1 Jan 1998
“An octet with the nuance of a duo supports Kaiser’s compositions: sort of Russian processionals set free.”
-Greg Burk, LA Weekly, 12 August 1998
Reviews: Excerpts from the Prince
“Kaiser’s CD (Excerpts from the Prince)…is a seamless and somewhat disturbing dreamscape that reflects well on Kaiser’s skill in weaving acoustic and electronic materials. The swirling assemblage of sampled sounds, trumpet flourishes, and ghostly voices conjures up a hypnotic ambience, with murmuring sonic activity oozing up from some subconscious place.”
-Los Angeles Times, 21 September 1995
“Excerpts from the Prince finds trumpeter JEFF KAISER composing and playing all instruments including tpt, electronics, samples and god knows what else. Created for a theater work, it’s an intriguing piece that shows Kaiser to be a musician of imagination and intelligence.”
-Cadence, July 1996
“Kaiser’s acoustic instrument is the trumpet, but he is clearly something of a studio wizard as well…Kaiser’s work provides tantalizing glimpses of an interesting musical intelligence…I’d like to hear more of Kaiser’s work.”
-Option, July-August 1996