New York bassist Max Johnson expands his piano trio of Kris Davis on piano and Mike Pride on drums with Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, adding an eclectic Western flavor to overall on-point, anchored and driven modern jazz of a high order, balancing lyrical playing with moments of free collective playing, in a beautiful and extraordinary album.
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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CF439CD
Squidco Product Code: 24457
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Acoustic Recording, April 27th, 2014, by Michael Brorby.
Susan Alcorn-pedal steel guitar
Max Johnson-double bass
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1. Ten Hands 9:26
2. Greenwood 7:40
3. Great Big Fat Person 11:25
4. Once Upon A Time In The West 21:16
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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"Max Johnson may be the only musician to have worked with legendary improvisers Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Muhal Richard Abrams & William Parker, bluegrass royalty Sam Bush & David Grisman, in addition to rock pioneers Adrian Belew, Vernon Reid & the Butthole Surfers. That eclecticism is at work on his new album, In the West, featuring piano trio, augmented by pedal steel guitar. The album features Kris Davis on Piano, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, and Mike Pride on drums, in addition to Johnson's bass playing and composing.
Kris Davis is one of the most breathtakingly original voices on the piano in the modern era, and her multiple projects as a leader, in addition to working with luminaries Eric Revis, Tony Malaby & Bill Frisell, display her masterful control of sound.
Susan Alcorn is one of the premiere innovators on pedal steel guitar, taking it's roots in country and western, imbuing it with the lush harmonic beauty of Messiaen & Varese, and adding a frenetic wild free jazz energy, leading her to lend her amazing musical gifts to people like Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanek & Ellery Eskelin.
Mike Pride has led an broad musical life, doing everything from improvising with masters Joe Morris, Nate Wooley, and Peter Evans, to playing hardcore punk with the legendary band Millions of Dead Cops, but it is his unique vision and mastery of the drums that have made him one of the most powerful and moving drummers you'll ever hear.
The combination of these four individuals is what makes In the West a compelling testament. Drawing on a wide world of sounds, this quartet shifts through audio landscapes, twisting through the open and remarkable compositions of Johnson, finding themselves finally at a patient and powerful medley from Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in the West. The journey the listener embarks on is lush and beautiful, wild and thorny, strange and uncharted, but always a treat to the ear, and moving to the soul."-Clean Feed
• Show Bio for Susan Alcorn
"Susan Alcorn (born 1953) is an American composer, improvisor, and pedal steel guitarist. Having started out playing guitar at the age of twelve, she quickly immersed herself in folk music, blues, and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. By the time she was twenty-one, she had immersed herself in the pedal steel guitar, playing in country and western swing bands in Texas.
Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist "deep listening" philosophies of Pauline Oliveros.
Though mostly a solo performer, Alcorn has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Joe Giardullo, Caroline Kraabel, Earl Howard, Le Quan Ninh, Sean Meehan, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, Walter Daniels, Ellen Fullman, Jandek, George Burt, Janel Leppin, Michael Formanek, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker, Johanna Varner, Zane Campbell and Mary Halvorson."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Alcorn)
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• Show Bio for Kris Davis
"Pianist-composer Kris Davis has blossomed as one of the singular talents on the New York jazz scene, a deeply thoughtful, resolutely individual artist who offers "uncommon creative adventure," according to JazzTimes. The Vancouver-born, Brooklyn-residing Davis was dubbed one of the music's top up-and-comers in a 2012 New York Times article titled "New Pilots at the Keyboard," with the newspaper saying: "Over the past couple years in New York, one method for deciding where to hear jazz on a given night has been to track down the pianist Kris Davis." Reviewing one of the series of striking albums Davis has released over the past half-decade, the Chicago Sun-Times lauded the "sense of kaleidoscopic possibilities" in her playing and compositions.
Long favored by her peers and jazz fans in the know, Davis has earned high praise from no less than star pianist and MacArthur "Genius" Grant honoree Jason Moran, who included her in his Best of 2012 piece in Art Forum, writing: "A freethinking, gifted pianist on the scene, Davis lives in each note that she plays. Her range is impeccable; she tackles prepared piano, minimalism and jazz standards, all under one umbrella. I consider her an honorary descendant of Cecil Taylor and a welcome addition to the fold."
The newest album from Davis as a leader is Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed, 2013), with the pianist joined by kindred spirits Ingrid Laubrock (tenor saxophone), Mat Maneri (viola), Trevor Dunn (double-bass) and Tom Rainey (drums). Davis made her debut on record as a leader with Lifespan (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2003), followed by three progressively inventive and acclaimed albums for the Fresh Sound label: the quartet discs The Slightest Shift (2006) and Rye Eclipse (2008), then the trio set Good Citizen (2010). Davis's 2011 solo piano album on Clean Feed, Aeriol Piano, appeared on Best of the Year lists in The New York Times, JazzTimes and Art Forum. Davis wrote the extraordinary arrangements for saxophonist-composer Tony Malaby's nonet project Novela, with the album Novela released by Clean Feed in 2011 and appearing on Best of the Year lists in DownBeat and JazzTimes. The pianist is also part of the collaborative Paradoxical Frog with Laubrock and drummer Tyshawn Sorey; their eponymous 2011 album on Clean Feed was included on Best of the Year lists by National Public Radio, The New York Times and All About Jazz.
In addition to her work as a leader, Davis has performed with such top figures as Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, John Hollenbeck, Michael Formanek and Mary Halvorson. Davis started playing piano at age 6, studying classical music through the Royal Conservatory in Canada and formulating her desire for a life in music by playing in the school jazz band at age 12. She earned a bachelor's degree in Jazz Piano from the University of Toronto and attended the Banff Centre for the Arts jazz program in 1997 and 2000. The pianist received a Canada Council grant to relocate to New York and study composition with Jim McNeely, then another to study extended piano techniques with Benoit Delbecq in Paris. She holds a master's in Classical Composition from the City College of New York, and she teaches at the School for Improvised Music.
The Jazz Gallery has given Davis a commissioning residency to write for her trio with Rainey and John Hébert to take place in May 2013, and the Shifting Foundation awarded her a grant to compose and record a large-ensemble project. About her art, JazzTimes has declared: "Davis draws you in so effortlessly that the brilliance of what she's doing doesn't hit you until the piece has slipped past." "-Kris Davis Website (http://krisdavis.net/bio/)
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• Show Bio for Max Johnson
"Max Johnson is a bassist, composer and bandleader based in New York City. Known for his big sound, eclectic style and prolific output, Johnson has made a name in both the jazz and improvised music world, playing with legendary luminaries Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Muhal Richard Abrams, among others, in addition to becoming a first call bluegrass bassist, playing with legends Sam Bush, David Grisman, the Traveling McCourys & Tony Trischka. With 6 albums, and over fifteen hundred concerts under his belt, Johnson has proven to be an unparalleled force on the bass, and a unique, exhilarating voice as a composer.
Growing up in Hoboken, New Jersey, Johnson learned about music at an early age from his father, Glenn Johnson, drummer/composer of the band Leisure Class. At age 13, Max took up the electric bass, and after performing with local bands in Montclair, NJ, he joined the School of Rock in 2004, where he had the incredible opportunity to tour internationally and perform with Jon Anderson, John Wetton, the Butthole Surfers, Adrian Belew, Vernon Reid, Andrew W.K., Ronnie Spector, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and a long list of others. Johnson then attended the New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music in 2008, where he studied bass with masters Henry Grimes, Mark Helias, Reggie Workman, Cameron Brown & Marji Danilow; and composition with Jane Ira Bloom, Tim Berne & Bill Kirchner. While studying there, he began performing professionally in New York City, building a name for himself as a bassist and bandleader in the improvised music world, and a first call bass player in the bluegrass scene. Johnson continued his education at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he recieved his Master's degree in classical composition under Jonathan Bailey Holland, John Mallia and Roger Zahab.
Although young in age, Johnson has already crafted a unique sound and vision as an improviser, and is rich in experience, having performed with John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Nels Cline, Candido Camero, Henry Grimes, William Parker, Butch Morris, Karl Berger, Bobby Sanabria, Sylvie Courvoisier, Erik Friedlander, Mary Halvorson, Joseph Jarman, Kenny Wollesen, Elliott Sharp, Angelica Sanchez, and many others. As a bassist with a non-stop touring schedule, Johnson has performed over one thousand concerts throughout North America and Europe, including top festivals and performing arts centers such as Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Lollapalooza, Quebec City Festival, Bern Jazz Festival, and many others. Max Johnson has been featured as a sideman on over twenty-five recordings, including the platinum-selling Night Castle by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
An active bandleader, Max Johnson has six records to his name: Elevated Vegetation (FMR), The Invisible Trio & Something Familiar (Fresh Sound-New Talent), featuring Kirk Knuffke on cornet & Ziv Ravitz on drums; The Prisoner (NoBusiness) featuring Ingrid Laubrock, Mat Maneri & Tomas Fujiwara; and Quartet (NotTwo), with Mark Whitecage on alto saxophone and clarinet, Steve Swell on trombone, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. Big Eyed Rabbit, his collaborative trio with Ross Martin and Jeff Davis, also released their debut album in 2014, Big Eyed Rabbit (NotTwo). His albums have been positively reviewed in the New York Times, NYC Jazz Record, JazzTimes, and other publications. El Intruso International Critic's Poll voted Max Johnson #1 Newcomer Musician in the 2012, and #2 Bassist and #4 Musician of the year in their 2014 poll."-Max Johnson Website (http://www.maxjohnsonmusic.com/biography.html)
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• Show Bio for Mike Pride
"Mike Pride: Percussionist • Composer • Vocalist • Visual Artist
Born and raised in Southern Maine, but based out of New York City since 2000, Mike Pride currently performs solo, leads modern-jazz quartet From Bacteria To Boys, the 7-drummer installation-band Drummer's Corpse, and the MDC piano trio I Hate Work. He also co-leads the ensembles Pulverize The Sound (w/ Peter Evans and Tim Dahl), and Period (w/ Charlie Looker and Chuck Bettis). Pride is renowned for his ability to excel in a wide range of genres and ensembles. He has worked with everyone from improvised music icon Anthony Braxton to punk legends Millions Of Dead Cops, toured extensively on four continents, appeared on more than 100 recordings, and is currently touring the world opening for comedian Amy Schumer with Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore.
A short list of his collaborators includes Mick Barr, Tim Berne, Boredoms, Eugene Chadbourne, Nels Cline, Andrew D'Angelo, Trevor Dunn, Dynamite Club, Peter Evans, Charles Gayle, Milford Graves, Drew Gress, Mary Halvorson, Curtis Hasselbring, Nona Hendryx, Jon Irabagon, Brad Jones, Haino Keiji, Kirk Knuffke, George Lewis, Frank Lowe, Bill McHenry, Tony Malaby, Sam Mickens, Butch Morris, Joe Morris, William Parker, Marc Ribot, Matana Roberts, Herb Robertson, Jamie Saft, Sonny Simmons, Craig Wedren, Nate Wooley, Otomo Yoshihide and John Zorn.
Pride's versatility doesn't end with his eclectic résumé as a popular sideman and leader/co-leader of many active ensembles spanning the worlds of modern-jazz, avant-rock, noise and doom metal improv. He is also a busy educator and clinician, a soundtrack composer for TV shows, video games, podcasts, independent films, and websites, and an experienced and exhibited visual artist.
Mike proudly uses Yamaha Drums & hardware, Vic Firth striking implements, and Humes & Berg Cases."-Mike Pride Website (http://mikepride.com/about/)
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