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A swinging album mining earlier jazz forms from the modern jazz sextet of Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Joshua Redman on tenor sax, Ron Miles on trumpet, Devin Hoff on bass, and drummers Ches Smith and Scott Amendola.

Goldberg / Redman / Miles / Hoff / Smith / Amendola
Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues

Goldberg / Redman / Miles / Hoff / Smith / Amendola: Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (Bag)
Label: Bag    
Released in: USA    

"This was recorded back in 2008, it's a swinging affair that I'm sure you'll enjoy, and I'm happy that it will be seeing the light of day. Here is a track from the record: Joshua Redman and I playing a duet on my tune Study of the Blues."-Ben Goldberg

"Ben Goldberg's Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (on his self-owned BAG Production label), is an album as seriously playful as its title. There's a deceptive looseness in the music's rhythm, veering toward New Orleans bar stomp, but braced by modern harmonies (Steve Lacy, Monk, and Andrew Hill are heavy influences), and swung from an early Ornette-ish sense of blues (one of Goldberg's 9 originals on the album, "Study of the Blues," is a Cubist riff on the opening bars of "Lonely Woman"), though rooted more in Coleman's deep melody than his Free velocity.

The band is topnotch: Goldberg on clarinet, Joshua Redman on tenor sax, Ron Miles on trumpet, Devin Hoff on bass, and Ches Smith on drums. (I recently raved about Miles' album, Quiver, with Bill Frisell and Brian Blade; I'm less familiar with Hoff and Smith, though intend to rectify that.)

There's a clairvoyance in their playing, an ensemble flair for stretching the tempo and snapping it back in a way that lets the music float without drifting. Even when the polyphony gets ripe, each line is crisp and propulsive.

The streams flow so clearly, thanks in part to the CD's sonic purity and dynamics. Along with Dave Douglas' Be Still (engineered by Joe Ferla), Subatomic Particle... is one of the best-sounding new jazz CDs I've heard in a long time. The horns are right there, arrayed in a row; you can practically see the air pushing through their shapes and out into the room. The bass snaps and sings; the drumkit slaps and sizzles.

Jeff Cressman, the Bay area engineer who laid down the tracks, tells me he recorded the session on 88.2kHz/24-bit digital with Apogee converters in a now-defunct studio renown for its well-balanced acoustics. He used two Coles 4038 ribbon mikes for the Bb clarinet (switching to an RCA77 when Goldberg played contra-alto), an omni Schoeps MK2 capsule for the trumpet, a Neumann TLM170 for the bass, and a mix on the trapset, including AKG 452s overhead, Beyer M380s on the tom-toms, Schoeps hyper-cardoid on the hi-hat, and a large tube condenser on the kick drum. Mark Orton, a Portland mixing engineer, sent it through an analog outboard, with little tampering, before converting it back to digital.

It sounds great.

One sad fact: The session was recorded in 2008. After failing to find a buyer, Goldberg started his own label (BAG Production Records) and put it out there, along with a growing line of products, which I also intend to check out."-Fred Kaplan, Stereophile

"A resident of Denver since he was 11, he began playing the trumpet seriously in junior high school and studied music at the University of Denver (1981-1985) and the Manhattan School of Music (1986). In addition to local gigs, Miles visited Italy in the summer of 1992 with the play Sophisticated Ladies and was a member of the Mercer Ellington Orchestra for a couple years. He played frequently with Bill Frisell during 1994-1995, also recording with the guitarist, and worked as assistant professor of music at Denver's Metropolitan Stage College. Ron Miles has recorded for Prolific (1986) and Capri (1990), as well as several advanced sets for Gramavision."-Scott Yanow

-All Music/MySpace (

"Devin Hoff is a double-bassist, bass guitarist, guitarist and songwriter. He began playing music seriously at age 15, and has continued to do so ever since, foregoing college as he was already working at his chosen profession. Torn between the visceral energies of punk and metal and the spiritual freedom of free jazz in his youth, he has spent the last 20-plus years exploring the resonance and dissonance of these musical tendencies. Devin has played and recorded with many musicians and bands over the years, including Carla Bozulich, Nels Cline, Vijay Iyer, Carla Kihlstedt, Joshua Redman, Kira Roessler, Mike Watt, and Xiu Xiu. His main creative vehicles of the past decade or so are the "crust jazz" bass/drums duo Good For Cows (with drummer Ches Smith) and his ongoing solo bass project, The Devin Hoff Platform. He also plays under a pseudonym in various crust punk and metal projects."

-Ken Vandermark Website (

"Born in San Diego, CA and raised in Sacramento, Ches Smith came up in a scene of punks and metal musicians who were listening to and experimenting with jazz and free improvisation. He studied philosophy at the University of Oregon before relocating to the San Francisco Bay area in 1995. After a few years of playing with obscure bands and intensive study with drummer / educator Peter Magadini, he enrolled in the graduate program at Mills College in Oakland at the suggestion of percussionist William Winant. There he studied percussion, improvisation, and composition with Winant, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran. One of Winant's first "assignments" for Ches was to sub in his touring gig at the time, Mr. Bungle (here he met bassist / composer Trevor Dunn who would later hire him for the second incarnation of his Trio-Convulsant). During his time at Mills, Ches co-founded two bands: Theory of Ruin (with Fudgetunnel / Nailbomb frontman Alex Newport), and Good for Cows (w/ Nels Cline Singers' Devin Hoff). He currently performs and records with Xiu Xiu, and Secret Chiefs 3. He has also performed with Ben Goldberg, Annie Gosfield, Wadada Leo Smith, John Tchicai, Fred Frith, and Trevor Dunn. In addition to Ceramic Dog, he also leads his two of his own projects, Congs for Brums and These Arches. He currently spends his time between Los Angeles, San Francisco and Brooklyn."

-Ches Smith Website (

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz
Sextet Recordings

Get additional information at Stereophile

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Price: $14.95
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units

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Product Information:

UPC: 091037508836

Label: Bag
Catalog ID: BAG003
Squidco Product Code: 17298

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2013
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded on February 9th and 10th, 2008 at Bay Records, Berkeley, CA by Jeff Cressman.


Ben Goldberg-Bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet

Joshua Redman-tenor saxophone

Ron Miles-trumpet

Devin Hoff-bass

Ches Smith-drums

Scott Amendola-drums

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Track Listing:

1. Evolution 3:55

2. Ethan's Song 5:36

3. Study of the Blues 2:52

4. Doom 4:01

5. The Because Of 4:39

6. Possible 5:56

7. Asterisk 4:50

8. Satisfied Mind 7:35

9. Who Died And Where I Moved To 5:52

10. Lopse 2:02

11. How To Do Things With Tears 4:18