Saxophonist and Composer Michael Mull Digs Deep for the Source on his debut Octet album, Source Code!Michael Mull
is a saxophonist and composer of surprise breadth and depth and to say his music is chameleonic is an understatement. On Source Code
, the debut album of his flagship ensemble, the Michael Mull Octet, he shows just how cutting and poignant a paradox can be. It’s dark yet uplifting, wrenching yet airy, manic yet precise, crushingly heavy and ineffably light—in a single listen the listener is taken on an epic ride through styles and moods, yet the message never strays far from the source.
I grew up listening to classic rock from the 60's, 70's and 80's. As I grew in years and in music, I continued to Miles Davis
and Thelonious Monk
, Pantera and Meshuggah, to electronic film scores by Ulver, to Björk, to Bulgarian women's choirs. This music all means so much to me, and is so varied, I have always looked for ways to distill and filter what I love about each sound into my own music." Michael Mull
Michael’s experience with music as a listener is becoming an increasingly common one. The information age has made the adjacency of previously disparate musical styles almost expected. So why should music not reflect that? In an increasingly unified world culture, our differences diminish and our common language expands. Music and art should, and do, carry this torch.
In songs like Charlie Visits Plovdiv" Mull’s imagined narrative informs his writing in deliciously profound ways. Here he imagines Charles Mingus visiting Bulgaria and playing with the local musicians. But the street goes both ways. While Mingus is enraptured in the bouncing dance rhythms of Balkan folk music, the Bulgarians are swooned by his thumping, urgent, driving blues bass – a ruckus ensues that sounds like Ivo Papasov’s band jumped into the escalating final section of Black Saint and the Sinner Lady! Songs like Sources" or Lonestar" are similarly evocative and often leave the listener wondering, “How did we get here?!” Taking the audience from Bernstein to Pantera, to Zorn, to Monk, and everywhere else, without ever losing clarity or direction. The thing I personally love most about this music is it’s ability to pull you forward. It flows like a river, rushing through myriad landscapes carrying it’s message from source to sea. In Mull’s own words:Motion and physicality in music are attractive to me, and are key elements in the music of the Michael Mull Octet. Music exists in time, and I want my music to always be “going somewhere”, moving forward and directional. The pace might change and shift, the motion may dance or jerk or flow or crash, but it moves. The way a piece moves is, to me, equally important to its identity as the melodic content; you can identify a friend from far down the block from how she carries herself, long before you can see her face or hear her voice.
It’s visions like these that move music forward. That break down barriers and take us somewhere new. It’s music like this that we celebrate at Orenda Records. And it’s artists like Michael Mull that pave the way for future generations to re-envision the way we hear our world.
—Daniel Rosenboom, Founder of Orenda Records
Michael Mull Octet is:
Michael Mull - alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Frank Silva - tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Harrison Kirk - trombone, bass trombone
Will Wulfeck - trombone
Gregory Uhlmann - guitars
Tim Fischer - guitars
Emilio Terranova - bass
Mike Lockwood - drums