A New Dawn: Self Produced Artists In The Digital Age

Mark Corroto By

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If musicians were instead writers or visual artists, their self-produced recordings would fall under the valued category of chapbook or artist book. In this 21st century, musicians are able to produce studio quality digital music with very inexpensive tools and software. They can also create a traditional manufactured product, printed and packaged, yet often they eschew the high costs of CD production, packaging and distribution for either CD-R or digital-only releases. This allows artists to deliver their sound without mortgaging their house. In turn, listeners can discover new music and artists without waiting for them to have acquired a national audience.

Patrick Cress' Telepathy
Alive And Teething
Self Produced

This live session, to be released digitally, is the fourth release by the San Francisco Bay area band known as Telepathy, whose previous discs were released on the Odd Shaped Case record label). Formed in 2002 by saxophonist Patrick Cress, the band draws comparisons to New York's downtown music of the 1990s and the West Coast's towers of power and funk. The interplay between Cress' saxophone and Aaron Novik's clarinet gives the music its distinctive sound and engaging style. Be it an alto saxophone and bass clarinet or baritone saxophone and clarinet combination, their playing goes hand in glove. The 11 original compositions are indeed crowd pleasers, presented as they are with an enduring groove throughout. But please don't call this jam band music: Cress brings a sophistication to the writing that allows for the tracks to stretch out, but never dally. If there are changes written into this music, they are purposeful and magnetic.

Jenkins / Abbs / Jewell
Inability To Fly
Ice Recording Company

This CD-R revelation of talent comes as quite the surprise. Midwest based guitarist L.A. Jenkins recorded this spontaneous session with percussionist Ryan Jewell and the infamous bassist Tom Abbs (Triptych Myth, Frequency Response, and Yuganaut) in 2007. And while this unrehearsed recording was seemingly made on the fly, it delivers a fully formed statement of purpose. Jenkins has an encyclopedic knowledge of music stored in his brain and can seemingly call forth phrases and styles at will. He recalls a young Bill Frisell playing in his downtown years or perhaps Nels Cline-meets-Steve Tibbets. In fact, without reading beforehand, listeners could surely be fooled that this was a thoroughly composed affair. That misconception is credited to the sensitive playing of the trio. Ryan Jewell's stick work, like Abbs' pulse, is attentive and always of the perfect measure. At times the music is improvised funk, then stripped down Miles Davis electric voodoo, or obliging minimalism, all filtered through Jenkins' effects-driven melodies. This is quite a find.

Kyle Brenders
Flows And Intensities
Self Produced

Toronto saxophonist Kyle Brenders has created works for both large and small ensembles. He came to a larger audience's attention with a collaboration with reed player Anthony Braxton on Toronto (Duets) 2007 (Barnyard Records, 2008). Here he plays eight solo saxophone compositions ranging from meditative pieces to extended saxophone technique showcases. If you were to cite Braxton or Evan Parker as influences on Brenders' sound, it would be a tribute to his tone, emotion and creativity. These pieces, pressed into a traditional release, are a fountain of information and each a saxophone clinic. Fans of solo saxophone will rejoice, but more than that anyone with an eye, ear or mind for the meditative qualities which sound can evoke may find great solace in these tracks.

Tracks and Personnel

Alive And Teething

Tracks: Teething; Powder Monkey; Optischmism; Metal Telepathy; Cold Slaw Process; Cyberia; Hi Hi Pizza Pie; Annika's Lullaby; The Workout; Mini-piphani; Southern Disposition.

Personnel: Patrick Cress: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone; Aaron Novik: Bb clarinet, bass clarinets; George Ban-Weiss: upright bass; Tim Bulkley: drums; Jamie Moore: drums.

Inability To Fly

Tracks: Stop That's Funky(we don't do that); Never Stop The Blue Light; Frisel' Mo G; Inside Out Of Time Man; Prancing Man; Silence Of Noise; Through The Right Eye; Unknown Man "Paradox".

Personnel: L.A. Jenkins: guitar; Tom Abbs: acoustic bass; Ryan Jewell: drums, percussion, tabla drum.

Flows And Intensities

Tracks: Hansom Expo; Code; Composition 362; (re)configuration; Measure Stress Pressure; Untitled; Streptopedia Risoria L.; Oyu.

Personnel: Kyle Brenders: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone.


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