Mattias Laga: clarinet, bass clarinet
Michel Mast: tenor saxophone
Walter Verschaeren: guitar
Xavier Verhelst: bass guitar, compositions
Tom De Wulf: drums
Recorded February 2009
Layout: Johnny Bekaert
I have some vague plan to write a series of compositions around the 12 months, or more specificaly about the aspect of light in these months. For the time being, I've completed only 2 pieces: "August sky" and "December lights" (also on this cd).
There isn't a lot more to say about it. Perhaps this picture is more eloquent:
Or for those interested in musical analysis: the piece starts with a freely interpreted pentatonic melody, concluding in a chord in an other pentatonic mode, over which one solist improvises shortly. This system is repeated 3 times, each time with a new pentatonic mode an a new soloist. Michel, Mattias and Walter each have their moment in the spotlight. They are also the featured soloists in the more extended improvisations further in the piece.
I start a transition, playing a bassline and arpegiated chordtones, Tom joins me with a nice latin-fusionish groove.
The of the rest of the piece consists of a 40 bar harmonic scheme - AABCA' - in which each section lasts 8 bars.
The A-part has a chromatic descending bass line. The melody - switching from clarinet to sax - is imitated by the guitar part.
The B-part also has a chromatic descending bass line, but in major mode in stead of minor. In the first 4 bars, the guitar is taking the lead, the winds providing a background with lines, referring to the end-transition of the intro. In the latter 4 bars, clarinet, and then saxophone are playing the melody.
The C-part starts with a pedal over which the bass imitates phrases of the winds; the next 4 bars are alternating guitar+bass riffs and drum breaks.
Normaly one would expect a repeat of the A section now, and that's what's happening indeed. But now it's transposed one tone higher and clarinet and sax parts are interchanged. In a repeated classic 32-bar scheme (AABA) there are 3 consecutive A parts, while here there's a nice shift at each repeat.
Time for some improvisations now: Walter takes AAB, Mattias C and A', Michel AAB; de remaining C and A' are played as in the beginning theme.
I don't want to give such detailed analysis of each piece, but I like the way this composition is structured without it being obvious.
Fact nr. 1: I called this piece "Squirrel" at first, fitting with it's brisk and jumpy character. You might like the vague Balkan flavor, just as I like this region.
Fact nr. 2: I'm a fan of cartoonist George Herriman (1880-1944). I just can't help it: Krazy Kat is my hero. He (or she, that's not completely clear) is not very bright, but - maybe just because of that - so philosofical. His language a pecurial mixture of Shakespearian poetry and Herriman's own native New Orleans dialect.
As you can see, Krazy Kat has a rather personal pronounciation/orthography for 'squirrel'.
Ergo: who am I to correct Krazy Kat?
There is another Krazy Kat related composition on our first cd: "Coconino Beach".
Mattias and Michel each have their turns over the alternating metric paterns (7/8=2+2+3 and 8/8=3+3+2)
De begeleiders wachten
In the mid '70ies, there was a sunday morning program for pigeon competion on the official Flemish radio. It was nice to wake up hearing "St. Quentin, 7 uur, stijve bries, zwaar bewolkt, de begeleiders wachten..." (St. Quentin, 7 a.m., strong wind, cloudy, the accompagnists are waiting (i.e. to release the pigeons)
I thought it makes a nice title for a piece in which the silence between the tones is as important as the notes itselves. May I quote the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer? Silence is a pocket of possibility. Anything can happen to break it.
Silence is the most potentialized feature of music.
Even when it falls after a sound, it reverberates with the tissue of that sound and thus reverberation continues until another sound dislodges it, or it is lost from memory.
Ergo, however dimly, silence sounds.
Soloists here are myself (with very subtle and inventive drumming from Tom), Mattias on bass clarinet and Michel.
"Lineair Bb" starts with a polyphonic composed part in Bb. Linear music so to say. When the drums enters the complex game is over and emphasis shifts to a bluesy groove in which the bass part is based on a motif from the beginning. After a short bass feature, Michel puts on his funky shoes. Mattias enters the end theme which combines the polyphonic-linear stuff with the bluesy groove.
Linear B is an alphabet, discovered in Knossos in 1900 by archeologist Sir Arthur Evans. It was used to write an archaïc form of Greek, nl. Mycenic. Linear B uses 88 signs, each being a symbol for a vowel or an open syllabe (ta, po, ...). This is what linguîsts call a syllabic alphabet, and Linear B is supposed to be the oldest of its kind (1450 a.C.). It's been deciphered only in 1953 by Michael Ventris.
Texts in Lineair B are mostly lists of goods, inventaries of food reserves, a.o.
I hope you find the music more fascinating...
I confess: I don't bother stealing a bit from music that I like. Most of the time, no one hears where I got my inspiration, even when I say it explicitly. Does anyone find bits of Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians's "What I Am" in "Bossa bossu"?
Nice guitarsolo by Walter.
This is music with a 70ies afro hairstyle!
"Eza Kitoko" is Lingala, meaning ‘cool, nice, fancy, super, ...’.
When I was a kid, I had a notebook with a portrait of our (Belgian) king Boudwijn with a caption: 'Bwana kitoko' (= nobel/respectful white man).
the brass section that added some 'couleur locale' to "Eza kitiko"...
The other piece from my 12-months series. For me, december has darkness but also cosiness, cold wind outside, the warmth of an open fireplace inside, lights on the christmass tree switching on and off at different cadances.
It's a bass oriented piece: first a bass guitar solo, then bass clarinet.
Schnitzel with noodles
I admit, it's not easy to guess where this title came from.
Unless you are member of the Von Trapp family or a hard-core fan of "The Sound of Music":
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things...
So the title could have been "Whiskers on kittens" as well.
There is not so much musical in common between "Schnitzel with noodles" and Julie Andrews. Not that I don't like her or
Richard Rodgers (quite the opposite), but it was more my aim to write something with the drive and energy of the John Coltrane versions of this song.
Tweed: I'm fascinated by all kinds of textile. When doing background research for my Jules Verne project, I found this marvelous songtext on a cd, "Pérou - Musique Quechua du Lac Titicaca" (Ocora C580015): "Nous avons dansé comme on tisse une étoffe.
Dès lors ils ne seront plus célibataires.
Ils ne seront plus jamais seuls.
Et vivront toujours ensemble.
Nous les avons cousus comme un vêtement
Une fois uni, jamais défait"
Surge (dance of the two families at wedding ceremonies of the Taquilenos)
The idea of music as a fabric of sounds and melodies appeals very strongly to me.
Tweet: following fine feathered friends made their contribution to this cd: at the beginning there is a chiffchaff; at the end of the music, and in order of appearance: a robin, then a great reed warbler but very soon a blackbird is taking the lead; at 8min.45 a nightingale enters. It's very unlikable that you will ever hear a similar bird concert in nature: the blackbird will be asleep when the nightingale sings, the warbler lives in marshes, the chiffchaff in woodlands.
Thanks to Serge Hoste for his recordings.
Tweedt: this is a pun, impossible to translate. It has to do with our local Ghent dialect and number 2 (this is our 2nd cd after all...).