I’m late posting this, but take a listen to the new LP by Virginia-based ambient electronic duo honeybrandy, joined by Chris Schlarb on guitar, Phillip Greenlief on woodwinds, and myself on trumpet. We made this down at Big Ego Studio in Long Beach earlier this year, and it all came together so beautifully. I’m especially fond of the last track…
2017 has been eventful to say the least, and I’ve been lagging on posting updates here but not for lack of activity. Above are some photo highlights. Back in January I was pleased to accept the Jazz Educator of the Year award from the Kern County Music Educators’ Association, which was a nice prelude to our 2nd annual KCMEA Jazz Day event at Bakersfield College in April, and a few months later my acceptance of a tenure-track, full time teaching position as Director of Jazz Studies at BC. Lots of exciting things coming down the pike as we expand and develop this program…
I’ve been doing a bit of work down in Long Beach at my friend Chris Schlarb’s new Big Ego Studios, playing on several soon-to-be released projects by Schlarb’s group Psychic Temple, LA bassist Anthony Shadduck, Virginia duo Honeybrandy, and Iowa-based songwriter Dana Telsrow. In May I made a new record with Mike Baggetta – our fifth duo project as Tin/Bag – which should be out next year on Big Ego records.
Other highlights include gigs in Idaho and LA with Cathlene Pineda‘s Quartet, Sacramento and Oakland with a new trio with bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and percussionist Nathan Hubbard, and an epic gig atop the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook organized by SASSAS and my friend Dan Clucas.
“In one speaker, Philip Glenn’s Hammond organ laps and trickles; in the other, Cathlene Pineda lays down Wurlitzer chords that recall Alice Coltrane’s spiritual exultations on ‘Oh Allah’. When the familiar six-note motif makes its entrance, it’s through trumpeter Kris Tiner, who rejects the original’s studied blankness in favor of lyrical, expressive vibrato, unfurling the riff and reaching its tips out in new directions.”
Two – two! – new records from Psychic Temple are set to drop in the next few weeks, and I’m happy to once again be included in Mr. Schlarb’s plan for global music domination. Psychic Temple Plays Music for Airports comes first, later this month on Joyful Noise Recordings…
Psychic Temple, led by band/cult leader Chris Schlarb and featuring Mike Watt (Minutemen), Sheridan Riley (Avi Buffalo), Paul Masvidal (Cynic, Death), jazz trumpeter Kris Tiner and more, has reimagined Brian Eno’s 1979 ambient landmark Music For Airports. The group’s own version of “Music for Airports 1/1” was recorded in one afternoon, live in the studio without headphones, overdubs, edits or effects.
The album’s flip side features the fiery original “Music for Bus Stops,” conceived as a working class commentary on Eno’s preferred method of transportation.
From Greg Burk’s liner notes: “Psychic Temple approaches Airports from a fresh angle, rescuing it from its ‘dark, boring fate’ of becoming a museum piece to be analyzed by select musicians inside expensive concert halls. Where Eno’s distant, static masterpiece doesn’t seem to fit the real-life chaos of what goes on in an airport, Psychic Temple’s version adds a human touch and a dose of reality, showing that we’re all in it together, we can make room for one another, and we’re calm.”
This was such a fun and beautiful session with a stellar lineup of mostly LA-based musicians, some of my favorite people around. Here’s a trailer for a quick taste:
Psychic Temple III is out in May on Asthmatic Kitty Records, and it will be epic – check out that “Deluxe Altar Edition” LP gatefold above…
Psychic Temple ‘III’ completes the transition from avant-jazz solo project to a working band constructed around timeless songs that draw upon the rich history of classic American soul, blues, and folk. Equally immersed in the sound of California’s canyons and the swamps of the deep South, Psychic Temple’s cult leader/guitarist Chris Schlarb steps out of the shadows and up to the microphone for the first time with astonishing results.
Maintaining Psychic Temple’s affinity for nuance and delicate minimalism, ‘III’ exhibits a new directness centered around Schlarb’s agile guiding voice. While the album places his unfolding vocal melodies and narratives in the foreground, ‘III’ subverts easy categorization by sustaining the collaborative, exploratory spirit of ‘Psychic Temple’ and ‘II’.
Culled from sessions recorded at home in Los Angeles and the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama – ‘III’ includes contributions and performances from Spooner Oldham (Neil Young, Bob Dylan), David Hood (J.J. Cale, Aretha Franklin), Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Avi Buffalo, Nedelle Torrisi (Sufjan Stevens), Elliot Bergman (Wild Belle, NOMO), Dave Easley (Brian Blade Fellowship) and many more. Coming together quickly and intuitively, the album was mixed over three days with Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson).
It also comes with a recipe for pancakes:
Cathlene Pineda Quartet CD Release Tour for Passing: A California Suite
Cathlene Pineda, piano, compositions
Kris Tiner, trumpet
Tina Raymond, drums
David Tranchina, bass
Passing: A California Suite was written after a commission received by the Los Angeles Jazz Society to compose a piece about Los Angeles for the Angel City Jazz Festival in 2014. The music is inspired by the poetry of LA’s first poet-laureate, Eloise Klein-Healy, and each piece is based on an excerpt of her work.
For more info: www.cathlenepineda.com
More about Orenda Records: www.orendarecords.com
The four members of The Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet formed in 2010 while studying music at Bakersfield College in sunny Bakersfield, California; a region known (musically) for the twangy, steel-guitar sound popularized by hometown heroes Buck Owens & Merle Haggard. IAHRQ take a decidedly different approach, reaching skyward toward the cosmos & the outer reaches of cosmic, spiritual jazz & Ethio-centric long-form jams.
“2” is the aptly named second album from the quartet (the first was released in late 2013 on noted composer & trumpet player Kris Tiner’s Epigraph Records) was recorded & produced by Chris Schlarb (Psychic Temple). “2” finds the ensemble digging deeper and reaching further out than before, honing their mixture of Ethiopian funk, spiritual jazz & cosmic psychedelia to a finer point. The album starts with “Praise One” & “Praise Two”, a pair of complimentary jams that begin in a free & loose cloud of cosmic dust, before honing in on a loping mellow groove that would fit perfectly next to tunes by Mulatau Astatke or Hailu Mergia. The rest of “2” populates the same headspace, pulling funky drum breaks (”Lifetime”), heady brass arrangements (”Headways”) & proggy psychedelia (”Cosmic Loneliness”) toward and over the event horizon.
This record is going to really blow some minds. I’m glad to have contributed to the brass arrangements along with saxophone hero Phillip Greenlief and Bako trombonist Omar Murillo. It’s not out till November 13, but you can preorder the very limited edition vinyl now at Trouble in Mind Records.
This week the Empty Cage Quartet reconvenes for performances at the Angel City Jazz Festival in Los Angeles (with Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri), Studio Grand in Oakland (with The Lost Trio), and Dagny’s Coffee Co. in Bakersfield. From there we head into the studio to work on material for our next album.
More info on the events page at emptycagequartet.com.
Jack Wright – alto and soprano saxophones
Ben Wright – double bass
Kris Tiner – trumpet
Known for decades as the “Johnny Appleseed of Free Improvisation,” saxophonist Jack Wright has forged a singular path, touring throughout the US and Europe in search of interesting partners and playing situations. Jack’s son Ben Wright came up in the Philadelphia punk scene but has spent the last 25 odd years exploring the double bass, and now lives in Taos, New Mexico. The father-son duo performs regularly, and their West Coast tour in early 2014 brought them to Bakersfield for an unforgettable performance at Dagny’s, with Epigraph Records founder Kris Tiner sitting in on trumpet.
This session was recorded the next morning. The music is completely improvised and presented as it was created, in four sections, without alterations and with very minimal editing. As such, we witness a fascinating musical dialogue being established, with moments of mutual agreement rising from nowhere and dissolving just as quickly into further debate, reaching nearly symphonic scope, three sonic explorers engaging the shared moment, sparring a bit, open to any possibility yet leaving much to the imagination, for instance…
For Instance is the third release on Bakersfield-based Epigraph Records, and it is the first in a series of digital albums we will be releasing this year. We have some amazing recordings in the works, featuring new and improvised music from Bakersfield locals and stellar visiting artists from around the world.
I’m glad to be able to share this recording. Ben is an old friend, and we’ve played together a number of times, but I had never played with Jack Wright before that night at Dagny’s. He is a legend of free music, now in his 70s, and his improvisations are as strong and profoundly beautiful as ever. We all enjoyed the trio so much that we reconvened the next morning at the house where they were staying. Ben set up a few mics and we were off. The whole thing was finished in under an hour, and then they were on the road.
For Instance is available now exclusively on our Bandcamp page. Download the full four-track album in the format of your choice for $5.99, and if you enter the discount code “june” at checkout you’ll get 15% off, good this month only.