Formed in 2015 by reedist and multi-instrumentalist David Peck and percussionist Yuri Zbitnov to explore chaotic rhythms on metallic instruments, using the now extended arsenal of exotic percussive instruments the collective has amassed, in a 2-part album with Mike Gruen on electric bass creating a power trio of unusual rhythmic intention.
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Label: Evil Clown
Catalog ID: 9217
Squidco Product Code: 27983
Recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters, in Waltham, Massachusetts, on May 23rd, 2019.
David Peck (PEK)-alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, clarinet,contralto clarinet, tarota, gong
Mike Gruen-electric bass
Yuri Zbitnoff-drum set, Englephone
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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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1. The Effluvium Of The Weasel 32:16
2. The Serpent King 15:56
sample the album:
"Metal Chaos Ensemble (MCE) was formed in early 2015 by PEK and Yuri Zbitnoff 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 three years has been one of the most prolific Evil Clown ensembles. We have produced a bunch of 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 myself and Yuri, along with a whole bunch of different guests. As of this writing (27 May 2019), MCE has 40 or so albums, mostly recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters as a studio project along with 3 or 4 live performances. The broad pallet aesthetic of the MCE relies on a huge amount of equipment which allows for huge transformations across sonority. The amount of equipment involved makes mobilization to a venue a real issue Ð therefore, the studio nature of the bulk of this project. Since the MCE core unit is Yuri and PEK and we usually have guests, there are some repeating MCE Editions with mostly the same players. These include a mostly percussion MCE, a heavy electronics MCE, and a few other variations. We were invited several months ago to travel to Wilmington Delaware to participate in a concert supporting Vermin Supreme for President by our facebook pals from Urban Shamen Attack. The Merry Pranksters event featured performances by 4 psychedelic rock bands along with great computer video projection by Jim Tuite... We decided to bring MCE for this show, but decided to push it more in the rock direction than usual by adding electric bass Ð creating a Power Trio Edition of the band with just drums, bass and a few of my horns. Initially, we had Albey onBass covering the bass part; Albey showed up in Boston last summer long enough to do about 10 Evil Clown sets in several of the different bands, but then he got a great opportunity to relocate to New Orleans and he took off (We miss you Albey!). Until a month or so before the Vermin Supreme show we though he would still make it, but finally I heard he would not be able to pull it off. So, we conducted a quick search for another electric bassist who could fill Albey's huge shoes. We contacted a few of our regulars who all had conflicts and then we dug deeper. Yuri eventually came up with Mike Gruen, who really shreds, no doubt. Yuri and Mike had played together in very different settings, but never anything like MCE which is purely improvised. We had Mike over to Evil Clown Headquarters for a warmup set for the Vermin Supreme show a few days before and we really hit it off! It is a long drive from Boston to Wilmington and our set was the first in a longstring of acts for the night. Yuri and I left at 9 am to make it in plenty of time for our 4:30 start time since it was the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, and we anticipated traffic getting around NYC. Mike traveled separately, since he had a church gig the following morning, but somehow we got the times all confused and he thought our start time was 6:00 pm. While on the road we talked via cell and realized he was about 90 minutes behind us. Mike drove like a mad man to make up lost time, but still did not quite make the early start. Yuri and I did about 30 minutes of duet while we waited and then when Mike showed up, we got him on stage as fast as possible and did a shorter second set to complete our hour. Then Mike turned around and drove right back home... While we were disappointed that Mike missed a chunk of the show, when he arrived after 6 hours of frantic driving, he mounted the stage in a frenzy. The Serpent King demonstrates what a real Metal Chaos Ensemble Power Trio Edition can deliver!! The flow of the whole set is still excellent, and actually has a nice shape with 2/3 duet followed by 1/3 trio at a whole other energy level. Look for more of Metal Chaos Ensemble Power Trio Edition, brought to you soon by Sparkles the Giant Evil Clown!!"-PEK, liner notes
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