Josh Roseman: Reimagining the Constellations
"I've had an ongoing exercise where I'm challenging myself to come up core pieces very quickly. The challenge is to do it quickly. Write it once. No revisions. And have it be totally useful. And just spit the stuff out and don't think about it afterward. That's not my normal work flow. Usually I build pieces and layers until there are tons of detail and texture and contour to it. This has been wonderful though, it's kind of an antidote."
JRU is staring to get more gigs around New York City. Meanwhile, another ventureWater Surgeonswith three trombones and keyboards (though the trombonists play other things like bass, accordion and guitar), is also active, playing around Brooklyn. That group, with Roseman, Hasselbring, Garchik and McAll, will have a recording out next year.
"We're in the middle of a second round of creative work to the session, combining, distilling ... juxtaposing elements," Roseman explains. "We're pickling it. We recorded it and now we're stuffed it into a mason jar and buried it in the backyard a little while. We're letting it interact with the different types of mold that are on it. That was an incredibly rich project to work on, because it combines three-trombone, trombone choir writing on it. There's something very special that happens when you get a bunch of trombones in the same space. When you play harmonies together with these instruments, the overtones do very unpredictable things because of the register and the harmonic richness of the instrument. You get wolf tones. You get notes you didn't actually play just sort of appearing. They're like UFOs. Unidentified sonic objects. Wonderful nonlinearities. It's quite unique. It's great stuff to write for and to perform."
He adds, "We're combining the trombone choir concept with the makings of a rock band, because we all double. I'm playing bass. Hasselbring, guitar and trombone. Garchik plays keyboards and accordion and trombone. Barney McAll is the lone non- trombonist in the group. He's playing piano, electronics and samples. I also have an extensive electronic setup as well. Triggering sequences, analog sense and analog drums and things of that nature. All this stuff is baked into the compositions. It's specified that we're switching from one type of a lineup to another. To be able to do that live is amazing. To be able to do that live in a studio with an audience, which is the way we recorded it, was really cool."
He says the inspiration the band came from a Roswell Rudd group he played with some years back at New York City's Knitting Factory. "The range of context that (Rudd) hooked up for himself was incredibly inspiring. He went from Ellingtonia to a Herbie Nichols-kind of situation to more Caribbean music to church music. This in one concert, mind you, and he was switching background groups. To cap the experience off he had Sonic Youth come up and he fronted Sonic Youth for the duration of a 15-minute extended freak-out piece. It was absolutely mind-blowing. He's a guy who is constantly inspiring me."
Yet another project is a group called Stool Softeners, which features drummer David Treut, vocalist Areni Agbabian and guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, as well as a bassist, which varies but, at times, is Roseman. "That's a real no-holds-barred, super open context," he says. "The idea is that we're trying to deal with things that aren't really hearable but to do it in an extremely powerful way. Everybody in that group is very intuitive. But it's exemplified by this one approach I'm working on, on bass, where I have everything that's discernable totally removed from the bass. So it's a gut experience. You're not going to perceive anything that's going on above your ribcage, but you can't deny that it's happening either.
"Areni has an approach to vocals and melody that's really wonderful because she's a very intuitive musician. She tends to hear melodies and is able to react to situations even if it's just based upon the intent of the context. She doesn't actually need to hear anything to react to it. We're all kind of dancing with each other. The core to the music isn't obvious to the listener, but the actionswhat's lefthas been really engaging and really fun. Everybody in that group is very independently minded. I have to give very minimal direction. The fun thing about it is setting up conditions and contexts, no matter how unreasonable, and observing how the reactions unfold."