The Squid's Ear Magazine


Leap Of Faith: Cosmic String Loop (Evil Clown)

The core duet from the Leap of Faith Orchestra of David Peck (PEK) on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, are joined by Tom Swafford on violin and Kit Demos on double bass, all performing on the vast collection of percussive instruments in the Evil Clown arsenal, performing transformations across highly varied sonorities.
 

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Label: Evil Clown
Catalog ID: 9306
Squidco Product Code: 33282

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Evil Clown Headquarters, in Waltham, Massachusetts, on May 7th, 2022.


Personnel:



David Peck (PEK)-clarinet, contralto clarinet, contrabass clarinets, sopranino saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, bass flute, picolo oboe, tarota, mussette, sheng, novation peak, moog subsequent, Linnstrumnet, prophet, orchestral chimes, electric chimes, chimes, gongs, xylophone, balafon, [d]ronin, spring box, chime boxe, plate gong, brontosaurus bell, tank bells, Tibetan bowls, almglocken, crotales, glockenspiel, log drums, wood blocks, temple blocks, voice

Glynis Lomon-cello, aquasonic, cymbells, voice

Tom Swafford-violin

Kit Demos-bass, gong, temple blocks, temple bell, bell tree


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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Leap of Faith is the core duet of the Leap of Faith Orchestra (LOFO) comprised of PEK on clarinets, saxophones, double reeds & flutes, and Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice. The ensemble is based in Boston and dates back to the early 90s. We utilize a huge arsenal of additional Evil Clown instruments to improvise long works featuring transformations across highly varied sonorities. At times, the core unit has been a trio or even a quartet. The longest running core unit was comprised of PEK, Glynis and drummer Yuri Zbitnov, who played for the last couple of years of the archival period and the first 5 years of the reboot starting in 2015. The ensemble has always been highly modular, and our many recordings (well over 100) feature the core unit in dozens of configurations with a huge list of guests and occasionally as only the core unit with no guests. Currently, the core unit is the duet of PEK and Lomon and we are regularly presenting LIVESTREAMs to YouTube from Evil Clown Headquarters with other guest performers.

The second Leap of Faith Core Unit (1995 - 1998) included PEK, Lomon and Craig Schildhuaer (double bass). During this period, we also did some sets with additional string players. Glynis and I both enjoyed playing in a multiple string player ensemble with no percussion and when the project fired up again, we created a separate project called String Theory for this idea since the Leap of Faith core unit at that time included Yuri at the drum set. Between 2015 and 2019, String Theory produced 13 albums with a variety of string player guests including Mimi Rabson, Tony Leva, Silvain Castellano, Jane Wang, Elinor Spears and other Boston notables.

Nowadays, since Yuri has withdrawn, a unit with this configuration is credited to Leap of Faith instead of String Theory... Just before the pandemic, Leap of Faith did a performance as a trio with drummer Steve Niemitz at Bonnie Kane's Friday night experience in western Mass. On the bill with us was a stunning solo violin performance by Tom Swafford. As I always do, I immediately moved to recruit Tom for some Evil Clown sessions. He was living in NYC at the time, but was planning a move to Providence RI after 6 months or so. Of course, the stupid virus kicked in, and now, almost 2 ½ years later, we are finally getting to this long-anticipated set.

We had originally discussed a trio, but I had recently discovered that double bass wiz Kit Demos was interested in doing some Evil Clown sets and he was available for this session. Kit and Glynis have played together before, and Kit performed on Possible Universes, one of my Leap of Faith Orchestra scores for improvised orchestra performed at the Somerville Armory in May 2017. As often happens with very busy strong players, especially bassists and drummers who are highly in demand, Kit has been an infrequent contributor. He's great, so I'm super glad that he is into it and willing to drive down from southern Maine to join us.

Tom and Kit both had a great time on their first visit to the Evil Clown studio, and I'm hopeful that this String Edition of Leap of Faith will have more performances coming! I expected this to be a great set recalling String Theory and the early Leap of Faith string sessions, and I was not disappointed..."-David Peck, from the liner notes


Artist Biographies

"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)
9/27/2023

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"Improvising cellist, vocalist and aquasonic player Glynis Lomon graduated from Bennington College in 1975 with a degree in Music/Black Music. At Bennington she studied with musician/composer Bill Dixon and continued to perform and record with his ensembles until his recent death. Glynis has also been privileged to play with Arthur Brooks, Jimmy Lyons, Cecil Taylor, Butch Morris, William Parker, Joe Morris, Greta Buck, Masashi Harada, Lowell Davidson, Raqib Hassan and many others. For almost a decade she and multi reed player PEK performed in the Boston area with their group Leap of Faith."

-Evil Clown Website (http://www.giantevilclown.com/bio-glynis-lomon-.html)
9/27/2023

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"Tom Swafford grew up in Seattle, studied composition with Louis Andriessen (Amsterdam), Olly Wilson (U.C. Berkeley) and John McDonald (Tufts U.), and has been active as a violinist and composer in a wide variety of music communities since his arrival in New York in 2007. He has presented concerts of his music at Roulette Intermedium and The Stone. He recorded and toured Europe in the group Kef, with bassist Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz and guitarist Aram Bajakian. In 2015, his 11-piece ensemble String Power released its debut album. His musical theater piece, Bad Actor, was performed at the Tank in 2017. He recently recorded a duo album with bassist Zachary Swanson, and a trio album with Swanson and drummer Dalius Naujo."

-Tom Swafford Website (https://www.tomswafford.com/bio.html)
9/27/2023

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"Chrys 'Kit" Demos: bass, DIY analog microtonal synthesizer, Boston-based, with extensive collaborations across the music spectrum."

-Kit Demos Website (http://www.kitdemos.com/about)
9/27/2023

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Track Listing:



1. Cosmic String Of Loops 1:13:05

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Boston Area Improvisers
Recordings by or featuring Reed & Wind Players
Stringed Instruments
Percussion & Drums
Quartet Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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