The Squid's Ear Magazine


Expanse Meets The JMDE Quartet: Scope (Evil Clown)

David Peck's Grand Aesthetic approach to compositional structures for groupings of any size and orchestral combination leads to unexpected and sometimes exotic results, as heard in this live and monumental performance of his Expanse project expanded with percussionist Michael Knoblach, David Welans on flutes, Eric Dahlman on trumpet and Jimmy Zhao on Chinese instruments.
 

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David Peck (PEK)-contralto clarinet, contrabass clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, piccolo oboe, sheng, alto flute, bass flutes, occarinas, wood flute, bass dizi, bass recorder, concertina, aquasonic, [d]ronin, spring boxes, chime boxes, electric chimes, Tibetal bell, guqin, guyzeng, balafon, brontosaurus bells, tank bells, almglocken, glockenspiel, Englephone, crotales, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drums, orchestral castanets

Jimmy Zhao-erhu, hulusi, bawu, dizi, xiao, xun, tao di

Michael Knoblach-basket of rocks, seed pod shakers, shakers and rattles, water filled mason jars, billiards triangle, abacus, vibratones, frame drum, copper bowl, lp udder, sandpaper blocks, glass furniture leg carpet protector, slinky, horses ass a phone, Christmas ornaments, clock chime, toys

David Welans-flutes, piccolo

Eric Dahlman-trumpet, gong


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Label: Evil Clown
Catalog ID: 9281
Squidco Product Code: 31143

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Livestreamed from Evil Clown Headquarters, in Waltham, Massachusetts, on August 8th, 2021.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Per the man himself, PEK's Grand Aesthetic, his singular musical system, is designed to work with almost limitless configurations of musicians and instruments. His system has already been run through various arrangements, ranging from solos (including entire orchestras of overdubbed PEKs) to small and mid-sized ensembles to the massive Leap of Faith Orchestra. The system has often worked best, or at least most reliably, when stalwart collaborators such as Glynis Limon, Bob Moores, and Yuri Zbitnov have taken part in the projects. However, it really shows its promise and flexibility when musicians external to the already wide Leap of Faith universe enter the fray.

Expanse is a new group consisting of Michael Knoblach on percussion and and PEK on, well, everything imaginable. Add to that Eric Dahlman on trumpet and gong, David Wellans on flutes and piccolo, and Jimmy Zhao on a host of instruments of Asian derivation (erhu, hulusi, bawu, dizi, xiao, xun, tao di), and you have the combined Expanse and JMDE Quartet captured here.

Different instruments introduce different palettes of sound and new collaborators lead to new musical paths. Scope is a case in point for this claim, as the additions of Dahlman, and, maybe more notably, Wellans and Zhao bring an earthiness and numinosity to this session that is unique among Evil Clown's recent releases. On the one hand, wafting melodies pervade this release more than anything I have heard from PEK since his work with Raqib Hassan in the late 1990s. At the same time, this uncharacteristically hypnotic melodicism and earthy percussion (45 minutes in, when the ensemble really seems to settle in) evoke a ritualism his recent projects seem to systematically avoid.

Now, this release might not be a complete departure. The cosmic electronic effects remain, as does PEK's relentless push to explore different combinations of tones and timbres while eschewing hooks and repetition. Scope distinguishes itself as it stops short of the cosmic spaciness featured in the larger Leap of Faith ensembles, the heavy grind of Metal Chaos, or the tangled and windy torrents of Turbulence. Instead, the quintet turns its attention to the realm between the mundane and the supernatural and conjures a surprising euphony and sense of transcendence. (Just listen to how the heavy sirens dissipate when faced with a gust of echoing flutes and chirping scrapes at 53' to hear how this music explores that liminal space.) Scope, in other words, is alternately steeped in the Evil Clown aesthetic and a step beyond it.

Scope is likely to appeal to fans of previous PEK releases. Maybe more importantly, however, this one might even convince a few of those holdouts who have been looking for more tunefulness among the blasts and abrasions."-Nick Ostrum, The Squid's Ear



This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Artist Biographies

"PEK (aka David Peck) is a multi-instrument improviser who plays all kinds of instruments including saxophones, clarinets, double reeds, percussion, electronics and auxiliary sound making devices of all kinds.

PEK was born in 1964 and started playing clarinet and piano in elementary school. In 7th grade he started saxophones, first on alto, then switching to tenor in high school. He spent 10 years playing in rock bands and studying classical and jazz saxophone with Kurt Heisig in the San Jose CA area before moving to Boston in 1989 to attend Berklee where he studied performance with George Garzone. While Berklee was an excellent place to study harmony, voice training and other important aspects of a conventional formal music training course of study, it was not a very good environment for learning contemporary (or pure) improvisation (apart from his work with George). PEK did find, however, that Boston had a thriving improvisation scene, and it was here that he developed his mature pure improvisation language.

During the 90s, PEK performed with many notable improvisers including Masashi Harada, Glynis Lomon, William Parker, Laurence Cooke, Eric Zinman, Glenn Spearman, Raqib Hassan, Charlie Kohlhase, Steve Norton, Keith Hedger, Mark McGrain, Sydney Smart, Matt Samolis, Martha Ritchey, Larry Roland, Dennis Warren, Yuri Zbitnov, Craig Schildhauer, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Leslie Ross, Rob Bethel, Wayne Rogers, Eric Rosenthal, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tatsuya Nakatani, James Coleman, B'hob Rainey and George Garzone.

PEK met cellist Glynis Lomon when they played together in the Masashi Harada Sextet which existed between 1990 and 1992. They developed a deep musical connection which they continued following the MHS; first with the Leaping Water Trio for a few years and then with the first version of Leap of Faith in 1994. Leap of Faith was very active in Boston from that time until 2001 and went through a series of several core ensembles which always included both PEK and Glynis. Other key Leap of Faith core members during this period were Mark McGrain (trombone), Craig Schildhauer (double bass), Sydney Smart (drums), Yuri Zbitnov (drums) and James Coleman (theremin). Leap of Faith was always a very modular unit with constantly shifting personnel and many different guests. The early Leap of Faith period concluded in 2001 with a dual bill at an excellent room at MIT called Killian Hall with George Garzone's seminal trio the Fringe.

At this time, PEK changed careers for his day gig, returning to college for a computer science degree and beginning to work in the structural engineering industry at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. He became far too busy to continue the heavy music schedule, and preferring not to do music casually, he entered a long musically dormant period.

Flash forward to early 2014. PEK was a regular mail order customer of Downtown Music Gallery, the premiere specialty shop in Manhattan for free jazz, contemporary classical and other new music. While in New York on SGH business, he went down to DMG and had a lengthy conversation with proprietor Bruce Lee Gallanter about the early Leap of Faith period. He then sent Bruce a package of about 15 CD titles from the 90s and was pleasantly surprised when Bruce managed to sell nearly all of it. This public interest in the old catalog spurred PEK into getting back into performance. He reformed Leap of Faith with Glynis Lomon (cello, voice, aquasonic), Yuri Zbitnov (drums) and newcomer Steve Norton (clarinets and saxophones) and started to record and perform in early 2015.

Now having access to financial resources always absent in the early period, PEK began to accumulate a huge collection of instruments both for himself and also to expand the palate of Leap of Faith and the other projects soon to follow. He acquired new recording equipment and many new saxophones, clarinets, double reeds, metal and wooden percussion instruments, electronic instruments, signal processing equipment and other sound-making devices from many cultures. He revived his old record label, Evil Clown, and created reissues and new releases for much of the early period work by Leap of Faith and many of his other projects to sell at shows, DMG and the internet (around 100 archival titles).

The Arsenal of equipment has a grand purpose: To establish a large scale aesthetic problem to use the instruments to make long form broad palate improvisations with dramatic transformation and development. The very broad palate enables the long improvisations to evolve with very different movements and pronounced development over their length. PEK started the Leap of Faith Orchestra, a greatly expanded Leap of Faith, to achieve this purpose along with a number of smaller ensembles which are sub-units of the full orchestra including String Theory (focusing on orchestral strings), Metal Chaos Ensemble (focusing on metallic percussion), Turbulence (horn players), Mekaniks (electronics) and Chicxulub (space rock). In all, the Evil Clown roster includes over 40 musicians who contribute to one or more of the various projects, with PEK participating in all of them. Leap of Faith has also had some special guests like Steve Swell (trombone), Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Jeremiah Cymerman (clarinet) and Jim Hobbs (alto sax). The Leap of Faith Orchestra happens whenever several of these groups play together at the same time, or the ensemble exceeds 7 or 8 players. The Full Orchestra is a special case discussed below.

The current roster is comprised in part of: - Core Leap of Faith: PEK, Glynis Lomon, Yuri Zbitnov (Steve Norton has since left to go to Graduate School) - Percussion: Andria Nicodemou (vibes), Kevin Dacey (perc), Joe Hartigan (perc), Syd Smart (drums) - Strings: Jane Wang (cello), Clara Kebabian (violin), Tony Leva (bass), Mimi Rabson (violin), Kirsten Lamb (bass), Brendan Higgins (bass), Silvain Castellano (bass), Rob Bethel (cello), Kit Demos (bass), Matt Scutchfield (violin), Helen Sherrah-Davies (violin) - Piano: Eric Zinman, Peter Cassino, Emilio Gonzales - Horns: Dave Harris (tuba, trombone), Charlie Kohlhase (saxes), Bob Moores (trumpet), Sara Honeywell (trombone), Forbes Graham (trumpet), John Baylies (tuba), Dan O'Brien (woodwinds), Zack Bartolomei (woodwinds), Kat Dobbins (trombone), Steve Provizer (trumpet, baritone horn), Matt Samolis (flute) - Electronics: Greg Grinnell, Jason Adams (electric bass, electronics) - Guitar: Dru Wesely, Grant Beale, Chris Florio - Voice: Dei Xhrist

Evil Clown is documenting the ongoing solutions to this aesthetic challenge by creating limited CD editions and digital download albums of every performance and studio session by this array of ensembles. Interested audience can track the development of the grand scale project over the many releases - over 80 albums recorded and released so far between Jan of 2015 and March of 2017. All of the bands are highly modular, changing personnel and instrumentation with each meeting. The result is an enormous amount of music that shares the same fundamental improvisational language but differs from event to event greatly both in sonority (overall sound) and specific detail.

For the full Leap of Faith Orchestra, PEK composes a graphic notation score to guide the improvisation. The full Orchestra is comprised of roughly 20 players from the roster and performs twice a year. Two performances have occurred to date - The Expanding Universe in June of 2016 and Supernovae in November of 2016. Composition for Possible Universes is completed and the work will be performed on May 28, 2017 with another performance (score not yet begun) scheduled for November.

The scores use a device called Frame Notation where written English descriptions of the overall sonority desired and simple graphic symbols are given durations for each player on their part along with direction on when to play and when not to play. The directions are put in little boxes called frames which are arranged on a timeline and are simple enough to be immediately understood by the performers. Horizontal lines, called Duration Bars, extend across the page indicating when each Event (the Frame + the Duration Bar) begins and ends. An Event can be intended for the full ensemble, a defined group within the ensemble (for example, Metal Chaos Ensemble), a custom group (for example, Tubas), or an individual (for example, Andria Feature).

Parts are the full score annotated with Hiliters so that each player's instructions stand out. They can clearly see their individual instructions, but can also see the big picture, enabling far more knowledge about the pending actions of the rest of the ensemble than typical in pure improvisation. The players track the elapsed time on a very large sports clock. There is no melodic, harmonic or rhythmic information specified. This system allows PEK to compose detailed Ensemble Events without having to notate pitches or rhythms which would require significant rehearsal to accurately achieve."

-All About Jazz (https://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/pek)
6/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Jimmy Zhao is a Boston area musician and improviser, performing on erhu, bandhu, other Chinese instruments and viola.

-Squidco 6/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Michael Knoblach Percussion---Knoblach has played with Ad Frank, Twitcher, Reg Bloor (from Glenn Branca Ensemble), Cul de Sac, John Fahey, Jon LaMaster's Saturnalia, Neovoxer Ensemble, The Boston Village Gamelan, Kiniwe African Percussion Ensemble, Donald "the junkman" Knaack (ex-John Cage), The Calypso Invaders, The Valhalla Kittens, Emily Grogan, Ted Drozdowski's The Scissormen, The Trojan Ponies, Ken Lovelett, John Amaral, Tim Mungenast, Bill T. Miller and others. He played the New Year's Countdown in Copley Square for Boston, MA for a number of years. He has done soundtrack work for the Troma Films release "Terror Firmer." Michael has had extensive studies in Arabic hand drumming and classical Egyptian tambourine, as well as having studied tabla and North Indian classical music with Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri. He studied drum set with Gene Piccolo (ex-Jack McDuff, ex-Woody Herman, ex-Glenn Miller Band and Piccolo was a long time student of Ed Thigpen (Oscar Peterson Trio, more...) and Shelly Manne (Stan Kenton, more...)). He is currently playing percussion with Dahlman & Nugent in the band Auddity and is playing washboard and old timey percussion with banjo/fiddle player Nicholas Bogosian, as well as other projects."

-Touhey Gallery (http://www.touhey.com/upcoming.html)
6/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

David Welans is a Boston flute player and teacher. He has a BM music composition from Berklee, with graduate studies in flute and composition at Boston University. He is certified by the Massachusetts Department of Education. He is also a quality control/tester /headjoint cutter with the William S.Haynes Flute Company for 20 years, after which I held the same position with the Verne Q. Powell Flute Company. He has beenteaching flute, piccolo, and music composition for over 25 years in both private and classroom settings.

-Cambridge Flute Lessons (https://sites.google.com/site/cambridgeflutelessons/)
6/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"- Performed with free jazz icon Hal Russell & his NRG Ensemble, Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Travis Chandler Philharmonic, Auddity, Rakalam Bob Moses, DMJE quartet and DME trio. Dahlman has appeared on Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty's Discovery Channel soundtrack "Bridges".

- Music appears in the documentary film "The Bear Cult" (2015 Hyperion).

- Studied with Ingrid Monson, Dave Frank, Anthony Davis & John Luther Adams."

-Evil Clown (http://www.evilclown.rocks/bio-eric-dahlman.html)
6/10/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Scope 1:10:45

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Boston Area Improvisers
Quintet Recordings
Percussion & Drums
Cultural Musics from Around the World
Staff Picks & Recommended Items

Search for other titles on the label:
Evil Clown.


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