“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.”
New review of RITUAL INSCRIPTION in the October issue of the New York City Jazz Record:
“There’s something different happening in Bakersfield since the glory days of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. That at least is what would be suggested by the inaugural release from Epigraph Records…”
“Empty Cage Quartet, a tight-knit West Coast avant-jazz outfit including trumpeter Kris Tiner, reedist Jason Mears,bassist Ivan Johnson and drummer Paul Kikuchi, boasts an admirably wide dynamic range, encompassing funkyblare and chamber-style intimacy. This week the group plays two local gigs in support of a new limited-edition, self-titled LP on Prefecture Music. Sharing the bill on Oct 6 are the trios Cacaw and Killer Kate.”
–TIME OUT NEW YORK
The new album was recorded at Jack Straw in Seattle early last year, and includes many of the tunes we’ve been playing on our live gigs over the past couple of years. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies, or you can download the digital album in whatever format you prefer, and you can name your price. Check the embed below to listen and purchase:
On Saturday night we’ll be playing a set at Douglass Street Music Collective in Gowanus, Brooklyn, sharing the bill with CaCaw and Killer Kate. Click here for details. Sunday night is the official LP release show at The Stone, on Manhattan’s lower east side. Great to be back at this world-class venue for creative music. Click here for details.
It’s been a big couple of months for Epigraph Records. RITUAL INSCRIPTION has been pulling in positive reviews at All About Jazz, Free Jazz Blog (Belgium), and El Intruso (Buenos Aires). We were also the subject of a feature article in the Bakersfield Californian.
In addition to releasing our first LP, we have presented four concerts here in Bakersfield featuring a cast of incredible musicians: Michael Vlatkovich Quartet, Jim McAuley and Gongfarmer, Phillip Greenlief/G.E. Stinson/Steuart Liebig Trio, Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet, Nakatani Gong Orchestra, Bakersfield Astral Troupe, and Tatsuya Nakatani/Kris Tiner/Motoko Honda Trio.
Above is a video profile of the label with some excellent footage from our recent live recording at Metro Galleries, shot by Michael Fagans of the Bakersfield Californian. Below you’ll find a few photo highlights from our recent shows. There’s lots to come, check out Epigraph Records on Facebook for updates on future happenings.
2008 was a productive year for the Empty Cage Quartet. During the summer we spent two weeks in Montpellier, France where, with support from a Chamber Music America French-American Cultural Exchange grant, we collaborated with the brilliant French duo of Aurélien Besnard (clarinets) and Patrice Soletti (guitar) on a series of rehearsals and performances of original new music for the sextet, culminating in a three-day recording session at Studio Lakanal in Montpellier. The result of that collaboration is the new recording Take Care of Floating, recently released in Europe on the Rude Awakening label.
Despite limited time and a language barrier that was sometimes problematic, Aurélien and Patrice were an immediate and natural fit with our quartet, and these sessions forge a pretty fascinating union of European free improvisation with American jazz-inspired creative music. While we were in France I documented the collaboration in a fairly extensive photo blog that is archived here and here.
Tech-savvy listeners will appreciate the fact that this CD is being released with two distinct mixes embedded on the disc – one engineered specifically for traditional hi-fi stereo systems, and another that is optimized for mp3 listening (the mp3 files appear in a separate folder when the disc is inserted into a computer drive). This innovative solution to the nagging problem of digital audio fidelity is the result of a process that was created by engineer Pierre Vandewaeter at Studio Lakanal.
Take Care of Floating is available now on the Rude Awakening website, and you can listen to an exclusive preview at Last.fm. The album is scheduled for US release shortly, and will be available on iTunes, eMusic etc. soon after.
Following the France trip, in September of last year we spent a week on the East Coast, giving performances at Bennington College in Vermont, the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY and in Manhattan where we performed a concert that was sponsored jointly by the annual Clean Feed Festival and the Festival of New Trumpet (FONT) Music. Directly following these performances we hunkered down for two days at Park West Studio in Brooklyn to record two new extended works – the Tzolkien series by Jason Mears and my own first series of Gravity compositions. That recording is out now on Lisbon-based Clean Feed Records. Here is the official press release:
Gravity is the new release by the Empty Cage Quartet, a group that The Wire magazine has called “one of the best things in jazz to emerge in the new millennium.” Saxophonist Jason Mears, trumpeter Kris Tiner, bassist Ivan Johnson and percussionist Paul Kikuchi are featured here in one of their most focused and exciting performances on record. The music is comprised of two extended compositions that incorporate improvisational systems based on harmonic palindromes and melodic sequences derived from the cycles of the Mayan calendar. Although these musicians are well-schooled in contemporary and experimental methods of composition, there is nothing overtly intellectual or academic about the musical result. This band is equally at home whether navigating the intricacies of modern chamber music, pounding out a funky groove, or blazing through waves of freebop energy. And they do it all with a bold intensity that is well-honed from years of touring and performing together. This is music that forges a rare union of numerological complexity and visceral groove, brain and guts. And that’s what makes this band so special – their music continues to expand and deepen with each new release, reaching toward, in the words of one critic, an “urban folk music of the future.”
And here’s an early review (a good one, thankfully!), by Troy Collins at All About Jazz.
We are planning several CD release concerts (possibly a full-on tour) for early in 2010. Keep an eye on this site for updates, or become a fan of the Empty Cage Quartet on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.