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Neil Leonard: Timaeus

Mark Corroto By

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Saxophonist Neil Leonard presents a series of diverse computer-interactive solo pieces that range from seemingly free to thoughtfully composed tracks. Leonard’s experiments and performance with electronics and composition began in 1989 and he has written music and software for video, art installations and clarinetist Don Byron. His musical direction begins with the experiments of George Russell and is paralleled only by fellow saxophonist Luc Houtkamp.

Timaeus comprises the saxophonist’s compositions utilizing various software instruction he also wrote. Each track was recorded in real-time and not overdubbed as the computer responded to Leonard’s saxophone. His Powerbook ran various electronic instruments including a Roland CD-40 acoustic sensor, Kurzweil K2000R, Alesis HR-16, Roland R-8 sound modules and Lexion PCM-80 effects processor. Take away the liner notes and the listener would certainly believe this record was make by a small ensemble of highly creative interacting improvisers. The music travels from the jazz influenced “M87” and “Legacy: San Lazaro” with it’s clear references to the music of Steve Lacy to the title track parts one and two composed in the modal framework of George Russell’s musical conceptions. Leonard is tossing random bits of sound about here, he is a deliberative composer and this music is engaging. His soundtrack “Sacred Bath” in three parts for the video Bano Sagrado is based in part on the algorithmic variations of Cuban percussionist Ernesto Rodriguez. The music, call it ‘world sounds’ fit nicely in Leonard’s software score. At first listen, I was tempted to dissect the music to figure the computer’s role. Subsequent spins allowed for simple enjoyment of a well-crafted musical statement.


Title: Timaeus | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Cedar Hill Records


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