Based around gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan bowls and many other metallic sounds, plus reeds and horns, signal processing & synths, the Boston improvising core duo of Metal Chaos Ensemble is formed by percussionist Yuri Zbitnoff and multi-reedist David Peck, here joined by guest electric bass player Mike Gruen to create a power trio edition of the band.
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Label: Evil Clown
Catalog ID: 9262
Squidco Product Code: 30803
Recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters, in Waltham, MA, on November 21st, 2020.
David Peck (PEK)-clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinets, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flutes, bass ocarina, melodica, diddlebow, upright electric bass, [d] ronin, wood blocks, temple blocks, log drum, xylophone, balafon, seed pod rattle, Tibetan bells, bowls, brontosaurus bells, tank bells, orchestral chimes, gongs, synthesizer, malletkat, moog subsequent, cymbells, linnstrument, novation peak, daxophone
Mike Gruen-electric bass, signal processing
Yuri Zbitnoff-drums, wood blocks, temple blocks, xylophone, balafon, Englephone, Tibetan bells and bowls, crotales, bells, brontosaurus bells, tank bells, cymbals
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• Show Bio for David Peck (PEK)
"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)
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^ Hide Bio for David Peck (PEK)
• Show Bio for Mike Gruen
• Show Bio for Yuri Zbitnoff
"Yuri Zbitnoff is a drummer/composer/arranger who has been simultaneously providing cutting edge musical entertainment and fomenting revolution of the mind for over 20 years.
Yuri can be heard playing in Atompunk Go-Go Jazz pioneers Mission Creep as well as jazz/rock powerhouse, Axemunkee.
Yuri is perhaps best known for his nearly 10 year stint with the roiling cauldron of apocalyptic cosmic jazz thunder known as Enuma Elish.
From 2000 to 2008, Yuri ran Lithiq, a label dedicated to promoting music at the nexus of electronic music, jazz and rock. During this time, Yuri released albums by both Enuma Elish and Sky Saw and performed with SpiralZero, Caduceus, and many others.
Yuri's association with PEK dates back to the late 90's and includes numerous performances with Raqib Hassan's ensembles as well as Leap of Faith. All of these recordings are available on Evil Clown."-Evil Clown Website (http://www.giantevilclown.com/bio-yuri-zbitnov.html)
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^ Hide Bio for Yuri Zbitnoff
1. Atomic Tuna 1:09:40
sample the album:
"Metal Chaos Ensemble was formed in early 2015 by PEK and Yuri Zbitnov as a working project to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments. I had started to amass the Evil Clown Arsenal of percussion, electronic and wind instruments and we needed a workshop to develop this universe of sounds for the Leap of Faith Orchestra. It was immediately obvious that Metal Chaos Ensemble had a sound to itself and over the last five years has been one of the most prolific Evil Clown ensembles. We have produced over 50 albums covering a wide range of sonority sets, but always with the presence of gongs, chimes, glockenspiel, Tibetan bowls and many other metallic sounds and the horns of PEK. All Metal Chaos Ensemble sessions include at least me and Yuri, along with a whole bunch of different guests.
MCE has had many different configurations over the years varying from duet with just Yuri and myself to sextet. Albey OnBass (a Cecil Taylor alumnus) played the electric bass on some of the more rock oriented larger group efforts in 2018. In late 2018, I was offered the opportunity to do an April 2019 event in Delaware as part of a psychedelic rock show in a nice downtown venue. The original plan was to do a trio with Albey, Yuri & me, but Albey had an opportunity to relocate to New Orleans which was too good to pass up, so Yuri and I looked for another electric bass player to fill Albey's huge shoes... Basically, we planned to present MCE as a rock Power Trio, with a bare minimum of gear...
We found Mike Gruen, an excellent rock bass player, with whom Yuri had played previously in a very different context. Mike was excited to play improvisational music less regimented than the song-form music he typically plays and Yuri was excited to play with a deep groove bass player. Anyway, we got together a few days prior to the Delaware gig to prepare at Evil Clown Headquarters and recorded Azoth. That weekend we did the Delaware show which was released as Basilisk. Those two releases are the first recordings of the Power Trio Edition of MCE...
The next MCE sessions saw the finalization of the newer sextet lineup of MCE with Yuri, myself, Mike, Bob Moores (trumpet, guitar, electronics), Eric Woods (analog synthesis), Mike Caglianone (saxes) and Joel Simches at the live-to-two-track mix. These 2019 sets include Proteus 4, The Nameless City, and Call of Cthulu. Early in March 2020, we did The Riddle of Steel, just as the stupid virus was taking off. I was really looking forward to exploring this sextet MCE ensemble for many sets in 2020 (MCE has done 8-10 albums per year since 2015), but I canceled everything that we had planned and basically locked Evil Clown down. As soon as I can open things up again, this sextet will have lots of sessions.
Over the year, I focused mainly on producing a huge batch of solo works while I waited for things to return to a more normal environment. However, I did do a Leap of Faith trio session at Eric Zinman's house in July... In August, Yuri and I did a studio MCE album called Don Quixote with several overdubbing sessions, and in September we did a through-performed duet called Null Hypothesis... Shortly after that, Mike reached out saying he really wanted in on a set. Since the virus seems to be spreading like crazy, I discussed the idea with Raffi (my housemate) and we decided that I could do this Power Trio set called Atomic Tuna...
As of this writing, just before Thanksgiving, it seems like the virus is running rampant and I am planning basically to lock down Evil Clown again until Spring... I will resume focusing on the solo studio construction works. When we can go back to bigger groups, we will come out hard... Don't doubt. In the meantime, you can check out Atomic Tuna, the third release from the MCE Power Trio Edition!!"-PEK
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