The follow-up to drummer/composer Dan Weiss's release "Fourteen" presents a larger ensemble taking on jazz, world music, prog rock, contemporary classical music and more in compositions named for drummers, with a diverse orchestration of acoustic and unconventional instruments.
Weiss, Dan Large Ensemble
Sixteen: Drummers Suite
Label: Pi Recordings
Released in: USA
"Sixteen: Drummers Suite is the highly anticipated follow-up to Fourteen, drummer/composer Dan Weiss's brilliantly ambitious opus for fourteen musicians. Nate Chinen of the New York Times named it one of his top ten releases of 2014, and Peter Hum in the Ottawa Citizen called it "a blazingly creative effort . Ultimately, its audacious and unconventional success is uplifting, a testament to what's possible and what can be imagined." Sixteen is even more daring: The ensemble is now comprised of sixteen musicians, featuring drums, acoustic bass, guitar, piano, synthesizer, three saxophones, two trombones, tuba, flute, three voices, harp, glockenspiel, organ, vibraphone, tabla and percussion, giving the work even greater sonic scope. Like on Fourteen, the work is an unique amalgam of jazz, Indian music, prog rock, contemporary classical music, and other completely idiosyncratic influences, all woven by Weiss into a completely sui generis musical tapestry.
Weiss started composing Sixteen immediately after the completion of Fourteen, which had whet his appetite for further exploration of different orchestration concepts and use of a greater tonal palette. The work is particularly influenced by the composers Iannis Xenakis and Per Nørgård, whose works Weiss was studying. Around the same time he was analyzing an Elvin Jones comping rhythm from a video he found on YouTube of the John Coltrane Quartet performing the song "Vigil" at the Comblain-la-Tour Festival, Belgium in 1965, and the idea came to him to use a particular drumming passage as the basis for his composition "Elvin." Inspired by the idea of starting his composition process with a drum pattern rather than harmony or melody, Weiss went on to meticulously transcribe specific rhythmic passages of some other of his favorite drummers: Max Roach, Tony Williams, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny "Klook" Clarke and Ed Blackwell, and utilize them as the basis of each movement of the suite. Each piece on Sixteen is built not only around these specific drum patterns but they also reflect Weiss's imagining of the personality based on his research into the lives of each drummer. He further cross-references these personalities from movement to movement as a way of showing how they influenced one another, reflecting the nature of the drum lineage in the jazz tradition. The introductory piece "The Drummers Meet" intertwines all six drummers' phrases in the context of a chakradar, a specific type of tabla composition. The source material for the other pieces are:
Elvin Jones, from John Coltrane Quartet recorded at the Comblain-la-Tour Festival, Belgium, 1965: "Vigil," from 2:15 to 2:23 Max Roach, from Max Roach's Deeds, Not Words: "Jodie's Cha Cha," from 1:02 to 1:11 Tony Williams, from Miles Davis's Nefertiti: "Nefertiti," from 6:37 to 6:50 Philly Joe Jones, from Miles Davis's Milestones: "Billy Boy," from 5:10 to 5:14 Kenny "Klook" Clarke, from Dexter Gordon's Our Man in Paris: "Broadway," from 0:00 to 0:09 Ed Blackwell, from John Coltrane and Don Cherry's The Avant Garde: "Cherryco," from 4:55 to 5:02
Weiss is one of the busiest drummers on the jazz scene. He has toured and recorded with the likes of Rudresh Mahanthappa, Greg Osby, Lee Konitz, Tim Berne, Rez Abbasi, and Amir ElSaffar, in addition to musicians such as keyboardist Matt Mitchell, saxophonists Dave Binney and Miguel Zenon, guitarist Miles Okazaki, and vocalist Jen Shyu, all of whom appear on Sixteen. Indeed, the musicians on the album most of whom also appeared on Fourteen are almost entirely made up of Weiss's long-time collaborators. As much as Sixteen is an expression of his singular vision, it is also a reflection of this strong community of superb, like-minded musicians who admire Weiss's talent and ambition and have bought-in fully to this considerable undertaking. Pianist Jacob Sacks, who has played with Weiss for over twenty years, says of him "Dan is one of the greatest musicians of our time. His endless fountain of creativity, scholarship, and camaraderie is a constant source of inspiration to me and to anyone who has ears and a heart."
As on Fourteen, the work is through-composed and written specifically to showcase each musician's unique sound. Even with all the tricky rhythms and abrupt changes in the music that might seem unwieldy for such a large group, the musicians pull it all off with aplomb. Jen Shyu says of Sixteen: "I was most struck by how tailor-made it was for each of us. During the recordings session he seemed to know exactly how it would sound. The music really shows the vastness of his imagination and is a window into how his mind works; how he is able to bring all of these influences together. For all its complexity rhythmically as well as melodically and harmonically, the music remains penetrating and lingering." Jacob Garchik, who plays trombone and tuba on the recording said "Danny has a distinctive compositional voice, which mirrors his vibrant personality: deeply layered and complex, with humor, surprise, virtuosity, tradition, swing, soulfulness, and groove." On Sixteen, he abstractly and beautifully translates the multi-layered styles of his drum heroes, their independent limbs to simultaneous melodies. It delights with overlapping, complimentary layers where melodic lines co-exist in different rhythmic cycles, instrumental groups, stylistic references, and sonic palates. With Sixteen: Drummers Suite, Weiss has realized another exceptional achievement, one that continues to reimagine the possibilities of what a large ensemble can do in a jazz context."-Pi Recordings
• 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 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 Anna Webber
"Reedist Anna Webber, a Brooklynite by way of British Columbia, is one of the most exciting new arrivals on the New York avant-garde jazz scene in the past couple years. Her second album, SIMPLE, demonstrates the inextricable link between her improvising and her compositions; her detail-rich writing recalls the work of elders as disparate as Tim Berne and Henry Threadgill, and her busy motion evokes a fizzy sort of exhilaration.-Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
Anna Webber is an integral part of a new wave of the Brooklyn avant-garde jazz scene. A saxophonist and flutist who strives for the unexpected, she has furthermore consistently proven herself to be a unique and forward-thinking composer with releases such as 2014's SIMPLE (Skirl Records) and 2013's Percussive Mechanics. Binary, the follow-up to SIMPLE which features bandmates John Hollenbeck and Matt Mitchell, further establishes Webber as a compelling improvisor and composer."-Anna Webber Website (http://www.annakristinwebber.com/index2.html)
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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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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PIR-CD-63
Squidco Product Code: 21786
Recorded at Systems Two Recording studio in Brooklyn, New York on December 18th, 19th and 20th, 2014 by Max Ross.
Dan Weiss-compositions, drums, tabla, vocal percussion
Thomas Morgan-acoustic bass
Matt Mitchell-keyboard, piano, glockenspiel, organ, vibraphone
Miles Okazaki-guitars, vocal percussion
Stephen Cellucci-percussion, vocal percussion
Anna Webber-flute, alto flute
David Binney-alto saxophone
Miguel Zenon-alto saxophone
Ohad Talmor-tenor saxophone
Jacob Garchik-trombone, tuba
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1. The Drummers Meet 0:56
2. Elvin 4:00
3. Max 5:04
4. Tony 7:11
5. Philly Joe 9:22
6. Klook 7:21
7. Ed 15:18