Fourteen musicians perform drummer Dan Weiss' ambitious compositional project, a through-composed work featuring an ensemble with guitar, horns, voices, harp, piano, organ, bass and percussion, with players including Weiss, Matt Mitchell, Judith Berkson, David Binney, &c. &c.
Label: Pi Recordings
Released in: USA
"Fourteen is drummer Dan Weiss's breakthrough as a composer and bandleader: A hugely ambitious project, it is a through-composed work that features a 14-piece ensemble with guitar, horns, voices, harp, piano, organ, bass and percussion. It's an indescribable amalgam of jazz improvisation, Indian beat cycles, extreme metal, minimalism, prog rock, contemporary classical music, and a myriad of other influences, all compounded into an outpouring of personal expression completely beyond musical boundaries.
Named one of "Five Drummers Whose Time Is Now" by the New York Times, Weiss is one of the most in demand musicians on the jazz scene. He began playing the drums at the age of six and received his bachelor's degree at Manhattan School of Music with a major in jazz percussion and minor in classical composition. He has toured and recorded with musicians such as David Binney, Lee Konitz, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Miguel Zenon and Kenny Werner, among many others. A disciple of the tabla master Pandit Samir Chatterjee, under whom he has studied for almost 20 years, Weiss is also arguably unique among jazz drummers for transposing ideas from his study of Indian classical music to the drum kit. He has released four prior albums as a leader: Tintal Drum Set Solo and Jhaptal Drum Set Solo - both with Miles Okazaki on guitar - on which Weiss performs classical works for tabla on trap drums; and Now Yes When and Timshel, which feature his long-standing trio with Jacob Sacks on piano and Thomas Morgan on bass. He has been named the number one "Rising Star Percussionist" the last two years in the Downbeat Critic's Poll.
Weiss ups the ante with Fourteen, a major compositional undertaking. He started writing the music in 2010, initially as melodic ideas and eventually conceiving of the project on a grander scale. He says of the work, "I had some of my closest friends in mind while writing this music and their voices dictated the path that the music should travel. The writing process for this record was not a struggle at all like it has been for some of my other projects. My spirit felt free and loose, as if something or someone else was doing the work for me." The work eventually grew to encompass Fourteen musicians, including old working partners such as Okazaki, Sacks and Morgan, and also musicians he regularly worked with such as David Binney on alto saxophone; Ohad Talmor on tenor saxophone; Matt Mitchell on glockenspiel, piano and organ (supposedly the Vox Continental on which Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was recorded); Jacob Garchik on trombone and tuba; and Ben Gerstein on trombone. The vocalists Lana Cenčić, Judith Berkson and Maria Neckam, all of whom Weiss has worked with in the past, were chosen for the blend of their vocal timbre and strengths with rhythmic articulation. Katie Andrews on harp and Stephen Cellucci on percussion added further musical color. According to Miles Okazaki, "Dan is able to assemble groups like this because people trust his vision and know that the result will be honest and musical. He has no patience for gimmicks or shortcuts. In his daily practice, he is the most rigorous and focused musician that I have ever met, and this carries through to his composition and performance ethic."
The work is meticulously composed and solos are woven into the music's fabric. Okazaki views this piece as "a collective sonic exploration, focused more on the gestalt texture than the ego of any individual." Intricate rhythmic detail informs every part of the music. The work ebbs and flows, growing to powerful crescendos before modulating to quiet contemplation. The individual instrumental parts are often direct, but they draw their strength by being placed layer-upon-layer to produce their mysterious effect. Okazaki calls the music "complex without being overly intellectual, loose without being chaotic, emotional without being sentimental."
According to Matt Mitchell, "One of the many inspiring things about being involved with Fourteen was the courage and determination Dan displayed in putting together something so ambitious. His having pulled it off so splendidly gives me a renewed and expanded sense of what is possible." A true tour de force, Fourteen is recorded to be listened to in full: tracks flow without pause from one to the next, alternating between ghostly beauty and brutal workouts, by turns intense, transformative, and transcendent."-Pi Recordings
• Show Bio for Miles Okazaki
"Miles Okazaki is an American musician based in New York City. He is known for his technical command of the guitar, his rhythmic approach to improvisation and composition, and his work in contemporary music theory. Okazaki grew up in Port Townsend, Washington, a small town near the Olympic Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. He got his first classical guitar at age 6, and began playing regular gigs on electric guitar by age 14, after studying for several years at the Centrum Jazz Workshop. He received many awards as a guitarist throughout his early years, and eventually placed 2nd in the Thelonious Monk International Guitar Competition.
Okazaki moved to New York City in 1997 to pursue a career in music and begin writing his own material. His teacher on guitar at this time was Rodney Jones, who recommended him for his first gig, with Stanley Turrentine. Okazaki spent four years on the road with vocalist Jane Monheit, while also writing and rehearsing the music for his first album, Mirror, which was released independently. The album received a "Critics Pick" in the New York Times, calling it "a work of sustained collectivity as well as deep intricacy." He expanded to a septet for his second album, Generations, described by pianist Vijay Iyer "the sonic equivalent of Escher or Borges, but with real emotional heft,". His third album, Figurations, was recorded live with a quartet, and was selected as one of the New York Times top ten albums of 2012, described by Ben Ratliff as "slowly evolving puzzles of brilliant jazz logic." In January of 2016 Okazaki recorded a new album, Trickster, that will be released later this year. Okazaki wrote, produced, and illustrated these albums.
As a sideman, Okazaki works in many areas, ranging from Standard repertoire to experimental music. Recently he has been seen most frequently as the guitarist for Steve Coleman and Five Elements. In the last few years, he has worked with a wide variety of artists including Kenny Barron, Jonathan Finlayson, Amir El Saffar, Adam Rudolph, Dan Weiss, Linda Oh, Darcy James Argue, Jane Monheit, Vijay Iyer, Francois Moutin, Doug Hammond, Carl Allen, Ohad Talmor, Mary Halvorson, John Zorn, Jen Shyu, Mark Giuliana, Patrick Cornelius, Rajna Swaminatham, Matt Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Tony Moreno, Ben Wendel, Donny McCaslin, and many others.
Okazaki currently teaches guitar at the University of Michigan. His first book, Fundamentals of Guitar, was released in 2015. He has also taught at the Banff Institute, The New School, Queens College, The Juilliard School, Amsterdam Conservatory, and many other institutions. Outside of guitar, his past teachers include Anthony Davis (composition), Ganesh Kumar (Carnatic percussion), and Kendall Briggs (counterpoint). His awards and grants include Chamber Music America's "New Works" (2007), Chamber Music America's "French-American Jazz Exchange" (2009), the Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundations Residency Commission (2010), the American Music Center's Composer Assistance Program (2011), the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation's US Artists International grant (2012), the Rockefeller Brother's Fund Artist Residency (2012), and the Jazz Gallery Mentorship program (2015). He holds degrees from Harvard University, Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School, and lives in Brooklyn, NY."-Miles Okazaki Website (http://www.milesokazaki.com/biography/)
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• Show Bio for Matt Mitchell
"Matt Mitchell is a pianist and composer interested in the intersections of various strains of acoustic, electric, composed, and improvised new music. He currently composes for and leads several ensembles featuring many of the current foremost musicians and improvisers, including Tim Berne, Kim Cass, Caroline Davis, Kate Gentile, Ben Gerstein, Sylvaine Hélary, Jon Irabagon, Travis Laplante, Ava Mendoza, Miles Okazaki, Ches Smith, Chris Speed, Tyshawn Sorey, Chris Tordini, Anna Webber, Dan Weiss, and Katie Young.
He is an anchor member of several significant creative music ensembles which integrate composed and improvised music, including Tim Berne's Snakeoil, the Dave Douglas Quintet, John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble, Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls, Jonathan Finlayson's Sicilian Defense, Dan Weiss's Large Ensemble, Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse, the Darius Jones Quartet, Kate Gentile's Mannequins, Mario Pavone's Blue Dialect Trio, Anna Webber's Simple Trio, Ches Smith's We All Break, Michael Attias' Spun Tree, Ohad Talmor's Grand Ensemble, and Quinsin Nachoff's Flux. He is also among the core performers of John Zorn's Bagatelles.
Musicians with whom he performs and has performed include Jon Irabagon, Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet + 1, JD Allen, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green's Apex, Rez Abbasi's Invocation, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Ralph Alessi's Baida Quartet, Dave King's Indelicate duo, Amir ElSaffar, Marc Ducret, David Torn, Vernon Reid, Clarence Penn and Penn Station, Linda Oh, Rudy Royston, Allison Miller, Donny McCaslin, Brad Shepik, and Darcy James Argue's Secret Society.
He has taught extensively with the Brooklyn-based School for Improvisational Music, as well as at the New School, NYU, and the Siena Jazz Workshop. He is also a 2015 receipient of a Doris Duke Impact Award and a 2012 recipient of a Pew Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage."-Matt Mitchell Website (http://www.mattmitchell.us/bio/)
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• Show Bio for Jacob Garchik
"Jacob Garchik, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger, was born in San Francisco and has lived in New York since 1994. At home in a wide variety of styles and musical roles, he has become a vital part of NYC's downtown and Brooklyn scene, playing trombone with the Lee Konitz Nonet, Ohad Talmor/Steve Swallow Sextet, The Four Bags, Slavic Soul Party, and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble. In 2012 he released the acclaimed solo CD "The Heavens: the Atheist Gospel Trombone Album".
Since 2006 Jacob has contributed dozens of arrangements and transcriptions for the Kronos Quartet of music from all over the world. His arrangements were featured on "Floodplain" (2009) and "Rainbow" (2010). He composed the score for Kronos for the documentary film "The Campaign" (2013) about the fight for marriage equality in California, which aired on PBS and at the frameline37 film festival in San Francisco.Complete list of arrangements for Kronos
As a trombonist Jacob has worked with many of the luminaries of the avant-garde, including Henry Threadgill, Laurie Anderson, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Coleman, Joe Maneri, Frank London, James Tenney, Josh Roseman, Don Byron, Terry Reilly, George Lewis, and Billy Martin. He has also played in ensembles led by rising artists such as Mary Halvorson, Dan Weiss, Miguel Zenon, and Steve Lehman. In 2013 he was named a "Rising Star" in the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Critic's Poll. Jacob also plays accordion, bass trombone, tuba, computer, and piano."-Jacob Garchik Website (http://jacobgarchik.com/?page_id=8)
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NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: Pi 52
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Recorded May 1st and 2nd, 2012, at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NYC, by Mike Marciano and Max Ross.
Thomas Morgan-acoustic bass
David Binney-alto saxophone, handclaps
Miles Okazaki-classical guitar, electric guitar handclaps
Dan Weiss-drums, handclaps, vocals [recitation], composed by, producer, liner notes
Stephen Cellucci-percussion, handclaps
Matt Mitchell-piano, organ, glockenspiel, handclaps
Ohad Talmor-tenor saxophone
Jacob Garchik-trombone, tuba
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1. Part One 7:43
2. Part Two 6:57
3. Part Three 3:31
4. Part Four 4:01
5. Part Five 3:59
6. Part Six 7:08
7. Part Seven 4:04