103

The Jeff Kaiser Ockodekete/The Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet: The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
With most peoples' ears attuned to common musical elements such as melody, harmony, and rhythm, free improvisation and contemporary classical composition can sometimes come across like disturbing chaos. There are often precious few recognizable patterns to hang one's hat on, and with extended techniques used by some instruments, it can often be next to impossible to ascertain who is doing what. The challenge, however, is to try interpreting such works by absorbing the dissonances and apparent cacophonies on a gut-instinct level, leaving oneself open to trust one's purely instinctive emotional responses.

Trumpeter/composer/PfMentum label head Jeff Kaiser has managed to create a successful career in pursuit of the juncture between free music and structured contemporary composition. Closely associated with other Left Coast artists, including woodwind multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia, percussionist Brad Dutz, and contrabassist Steuart Liebig, he possesses a remarkable ability to squeeze new and often unusual sounds out of his horn. As a composer, he favours shape over form, creating compositions that are more about texture and ambience than conventional conceits. His Ockodektet is an ambitious group of eleven fearless free improvisers who also understand the meaning of more abstract construction, and where the two can coexist.

The six-movements of "The Alchemical Mass represent, perhaps, Kaiser's most ambitious undertaking to date. The brass and woodwind-heavy ensemble, in this case augmented by the Ojai Camerata choir, traverse Kaiser's often dense and deeply-layered work with a remarkable ability to follow some clearly unconventional conducting by Kaiser and Dr. Wyant Morton. Over the course of 34 minutes, the piece moves effortlessly from spare and diffuse improvisation to a maelstrom of sound that is often unsettling, reflecting a profound appreciation of music as colour. What thematic form can be found comes primarily from the choir and its Gregorian chant-based libretto, which nevertheless echoes influence by the works of 20th Century composers like György Ligeti and sometimes breaks down into apparent confusion. And while Brad Dutz's percussion and Richie West's drums are used primarily to add weight, there are brief periods where specific rhythms do emerge.

Still, despite the piece's overall grave mood, brief moments of beauty do arise from the discord, as in the beginning of the second movement, "Kyrie, which features the choir supported by little more than light percussion.

Revolving more around collective improvisation, the five-part "Suite Solutio is closer to a jazz aesthetic. Bassist Jim Connolly and drummer Richie West open the suite with a light pulse that provides both a rhythmic and harmonic anchor for the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet's more abstruse free play from Kaiser, Ernesto Diaz-Infante's prepared acoustic guitar, and Scot Ray's trombone. Still, this doesn't last long before a darker mood is introduced, leading into the totally unstructured "Part III and the fast-moving "Part IV.

The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio works best when one doesn't try to find an anchor. Broader exploration combines with complex organization to create an album that, while not for the faint-at-heart, manages to create its own unique ambience.


Track Listing: Introitus; Kyrie; Collecta and Gloria; Epistola and Graduale; Offertorium; Ave Maria and Commune; Suite Solutio: Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V

Personnel: Jeff Kaiser, Kris Tiner, trumpet and flugelhorn; Mike Vlatkovich, Scot Ray, trombone; Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Jason Mears, woodwinds; Mark Weaver, tuba; Jim Connolly, bass; Wayne Peet, piano; Ernesto Diaz-Infante, prepared acoustic guitar; Brad Dutz, percussion; Richie West, drum set; plus, the Ojai Camerata: Diane Besocke, Candace Delbo, Eleanor Land, Laura Johnson-Bickford, Lu Senicka, sopranos; Gwen Erickson, Lisa Gordon, Katherine Halsey, Holly Mitchem, Zoe Pietrycha, altos; Carla Aiello, Jaye Hersh, J.B. White, tenors; Dave Farber, Jim Halverson, Kurt Meyer, Bill Wagner, basses; Dr. Wyant Morton, director.

Title: The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: pfMentum


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: November 11, 2016
Read "Silent Voices" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Voices
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Don't Blink" CD/LP/Track Review Don't Blink
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Southern Blood" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Blood
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 17, 2017
Read "Sabiduria/Wisdom" CD/LP/Track Review Sabiduria/Wisdom
by James Nadal
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Not This Time" CD/LP/Track Review Not This Time
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: March 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.