Ariadne’s Notes: On January 10, at 1:30 PM PST the World Poetry Café Radio Show CFRO 100.5 FM welcomed the talented drummer-Composer Devin Gray celebrating the second album, Dirigo Rataplan II, with performances in Belgium, the UK and Switzerland. Featuring his all-star quartet Dirigo Rataplan with Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek and Dave Ballou. for more info: http://devingraymusic.com/ Also, a gentleman frim Switzerland wrote in to tell us that he attended their European concert and he really enjoyed it and was excited about Devin coming on the show! This was really exciting!
It was a fascinating show, delving into the intricacies of composing and the personal attention to detail and the need to put mind, body and soul into each composition. Also discussed was the difficulty of making a career out of it at this time when it is so hard to make a living creating and playing Jazz. This show is a MUST Hear for composers , musicians and creators.
There are times when music lovers can just feel a talent coming into his or her own, when that artist is someone to catch onstage or on record at every opportunity. Drummer-composer Gray has arrived at such a moment. The Brooklyn-based artist made his leader debut in 2012 with the Skirl Records release Dirigo Rataplan, which featured him fronting the eponymous band with Eskelin, Formanek and Ballou, each a master improviser renowned far and wide among fans of creative music. Cadence magazine declared that initial disc to be “fantastic,” while JazzTimes said that Gray’s debut represented “the work of a young artist who knows who he is.”
Now, after six years of intensive experience as a leader and sideman on both sides of the Atlantic, Gray has reconvened this all-star group for Dirigo Rataplan II, released on CD, vinyl, digitally and for streaming via Rataplan Records on Sept. 21, 2018. Time Out New York has praised Gray’s compositions for balancing “formal elasticity with a meticulous sense of pacing.” The new album brims with more earworm melody, richly implied harmony and a loose-limbed sense of rhythm as something physical and flowing – as blood, as breath. Fans of jazz from Ornette Coleman and Henry Threadgill to Dave Holland and Craig Taborn will dig this organic mix of composition and improvisation, structure and freedom, atmosphere and dynamism.
About the evolution of Dirigo Rataplan and his writing for the band, Gray says: “I’ve become more at ease with following my natural artistic impulses. The experiences I’ve had over the past six years have been so inspiring – in the intense, ultra-energized New York jazz scene, of course, but also in Europe, where players in improvised music are so open to different genres and have this holistic approach to art and creativity. With Dirigo Rataplan II, there is more free improvisation in the music, but I also think the melodic fluidity between the composition and the improvisation is more seamless, with one flowing into the other in a way that I really like. This music is personal for me, but I want Mike, Ellery and Dave to do what it is they do, to maximize the pieces in the way that I know they can.”
About working with Gray, Formanek says: “Devin has grown as a composer since that first quartet recording session in 2011, but most important, he has a much more evolved sense of who he is as a musician, and also of who we are in the band as improvisers. These instincts take time to develop, and it has been great to see that process unfold in both his playing and his composing. This music is free and open with a lot of room for improvisation, but the tunes also have an intrinsic rhythmic and melodic character to them, a color and energy. With the quartet having played together more now, the sessions for the new album felt even better.”
For Gray, what is most vital about Formanek “is not just that his tone and sense of time are so incredible. It’s also that he cares so much about doing whatever he can to ensure the quality of the music in front of him. He’s a composer’s improviser, in that way. I feel this total, unspoken trust with him.” About Eskelin, Gray says: “Ellery sets the bar so high for improvisation. The fluidity of his solos, the intense forward motion – that’s what New York musicians have more than anyone else.” Regarding Ballou, the drummer adds: “I’ve known Dave’s playing intimately since I was a kid. I don’t think he has ever sounded better, with that beautiful tone and wide palette of expression. He brings a strong interpretive sense to my music in that he anticipates what I’m looking for, yet via his own sensibility. Working with cats like this, you don’t have to worry about individualism – it’s in everything they do. They bring what are just notes on a page to real life.”
Reflecting further on Dirigo Rataplan II, Gray concludes: “I don’t set out to make jazz records, per se. I set out to make music, period – to capture the moment, the contemporary feel of the music, hoping that it can reflect in some small way how we live now and what we all have to deal with as human beings in the world.”
In addition to Dirigo Rataplan, Devin Gray leads the quartet Relative Resonance, featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis and Chris Tordini. Reviewing that band’s eponymous Skirl Records album, All About Jazz said: “The vitality of Relative Resonance can’t be denied… the music here literally sparkles with wit and resourcefulness.” On record, Gray has also led his Cloudsounds trio (with Ingrid Laubrock and Corey Smythe) and his quartet Fashionable Pop Music (with Tordini, Jonathan Goldberger and Ryan Ferreira). He recently released a hard-grooving digital single fronting his quartet Meta Cache with Jeremy Viner, Elias Stemeseder and Kim Cass.
As a sideman, Gray has recorded recent albums as part of Nate Wooley’s Argonautica sextet, trumpeter Daniel Levine’s trio Knuckleball (with Marc Hannaford) and a trio led by pianist Santiago Leibson (with Drew Gress). Of late, the drummer has played with Dave Liebman and Tony Malaby, along with touring Europe at the head of a trio with Speed and Gress. Gray’s recent collaborators also include Gerald Cleaver, Uri Caine, Andrea Parkins, Satoko Fuji, Richard Bonnet, Daniel Guggenheim, Marc Ducret, Frank Gratkowski, Jacob Anderskov, Eve Risser and Susana Santos Silva.
All About Jazz gave the recording four stars and called it “a high-flying, breathtaking slice of up-to-the-minute jazz from four musicians at the top of their games.”
Ariadne’s Notes. The World Poetry Café Radio Show welcomed our popular co-host and noted author Diego Bastianutti , November 29 , 1:00 PM PST in a special launch of his new book, Lost in Transit now available on Amazon.It shows the effect on changing countries as well as when he met his wife, she rescued him from being lost. Also on the show, at 1:40 PM PST Darrel Katz with his new CD, Rats on No Evil Star , a beautiful combination of music and a tribute to his late wife the talented poet Paula Tatarunis .
The opening poem ACADEMIC TESTS by Sahaj Sabharwal, who is a student. He writes: “I love writing poems and thoughts. I am from Jammu city, Jammu and Kashmir, India.” His poem was read by our great tech Victor Schwartzman who keeps our show on the air. We would also like to welcome three new countries to our listening audience: Bhutan, Melawi and Kazakhstan bringing our total to 118.
Diego Bastianutti, from Fiume, Italy, has crossed many borders separating States as well as “states of being.” He is at ease with various languages and cultures. A retired Professor of Spanish and Italian literature, and former Honorary Vice Consul of Italy.The recent joint exhibition on the theme of Vancouver Downtown Eastside has been received in Vancouver and in Italy with deep sensitivity and appreciation.
He has received wide recognition here and abroad for his work as a writer, poet and translator. Among his works he counts five volumes of poetry and his awarded book A Major Selection of the Poetry of Giuseppe Ungaretti. Currently he is a Canadian correspondent for an Italian literary magazine in San José, Costa Rica, and a member of various writers’ associations. His writings have become material of study in a graduate course offered at the University of Toronto. A forthcoming book published by the University of Toronto Press will feature an entire chapter on Bastianutti the poet and writer.
Above the Horizon
In never-ending thirst the desert dances on thorns of love shadows upon shadows entwining flesh over enfolding flesh
She lets him take her like the night swallows the sun in the lunar tidal heartbeat with his sky planted in her body she howls like the moon melting into the sea a lashing whip, a swirl of colors on its fevered tip
Becalmed she brings him in whispering his name as he reads forgotten messages on her veined wrists
Ariadne’s Notes. On November 15, CFRO 100.5 FM, The World Poetry Café welcomed the amazing Peter Nelson who called in at 1:30 PM PST to talk about his own journey of healing from a debilitating illness and his new CD Ash, Dust and the Chalkboard Cinema which beautifully illustrates healing through his music and brings a message of balance , listening to the body and spirit. This interview meant a lot to me since I had gone through a difficult recovery from polio for many years which gave me ongoing challenges. Peter’s story has given me ongoing hope for recovery. Peter comes to us courtesy of Braitwaite and Katz. World Poetry Contributors: Alaha Ahar from Afghanistan and the US with tips and a poem by regular contributor Jeanne Probst. The team: Ariadne Sawyer, MA, Host and producer, Victor Schwartzman super tech and special volunteer Sharon Rowe completed the team.
Peter Nelson Born in Lansing, Michigan, Peter Nelson discovered the trombone at age 10. Earning a bachelors degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University allowed him to study and perform with some of today’s top jazz artists, including Rodney Whitaker, Etienne Charles, Diego Rivera, Michael Dease and Vincent Chandler. After spending a year after college producing and recording his second album as a leader, Nelson moved to Brooklyn, NY where he currently performs, composes, and teaches in a number of settings. Nelson has been a finalist in every major North American jazz trombone competition and in 2012 was awarded the prestigious Sudler prize in the Arts. He leads multiple groups and is also a sought after section player, having performed with jazz orchestras backing the likes of John Hendricks, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Jamie Cullum and Terence Blanchard. As a composer, Nelson has amassed a body of work that includes everything from jazz ensemble to contemporary pop. His versatility as a performer has led to a wide variety of performances and recordings with artists such as Christian McBride, Verve Pipe, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Jamie Cullum, The Hudson Horns, Marianne Solivan, the Dan Pugach Nonet, Matt Wilson, Grupo Ayé, The George Gee Swing Orchestra, Fleur Seule, Valerie Ponomarev, Michael Dease Big Band, and a score of others. Peter Nelson
“This is an exciting and unusual contemporary jazz album, one with many layers of meaning, and definitely one you should discover.” –Marc Phillips, The Vinyl Anachronist.
Through vivid compositions and enthralling playing the album retraces Nelson’s five-year struggle with a debilitating condition that threatened to end his career as a musician just as it was entering its ascendancy.
Nelson enlisted three different ensembles to tell this story: an ethereal trio featuring vibraphonist Nikara Warren and the wordless vocals of Alexa Barchini; a hard-swinging quartet with pianist Willerm Delisfort, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and drummer Itay Morchi; and a brilliant septet supplementing the quartet with alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, trumpeter Josh Lawrence, and bass clarinetist Yuma Uesaka.
Trombonist/Composer Peter Nelson Triumphs Over His Five-Year Struggle with Mysterious Chronic Pain on Stunning New Album Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema, out August 31 on Outside In Music, features three ensembles taking listeners on a narrative journey through suffering, discovery and healing.
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Nelson earned his degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, where he studied with heavy hitters like bassist Rodney Whitaker. After recording two albums in his home state he decided to move to Brooklyn in 2013, and soon found himself performing with longtime heroes like pianist/bandleader Orrin Evans and drummer Matt Wilson. Almost simultaneously, however, he started to develop strange symptoms while playing. At first the issues were minor: small, localized pain and subtle feelings of anxiety. Before long, the symptoms escalated to include chronic hyperventilation, severe shortness of breath, and excruciating pain in the face down his back and arms. “Here I was playing with a lot of my heroes, in musical settings that I’d dreamed about and I spent a lot of time trying to cultivate,” Nelson recalls. “And it became very difficult to be on the bandstand while at the same time fighting my horn and fighting my body. It felt like a physically violent way of losing my medium for relating to the world, and was emotionally and spiritually crippling.” Nelson sought the help of innumerable doctors, physiologists and educators, failing to find satisfactory answers from any source. After more than a year and a half of intense pain and frustrating questions, Nelson found his way to physiologist and trombonist Jan Kagarice, one of the world’s leading authorities on musicians’ health. Kagarice diagnosed him with focal dystonia, chronic hyperventilation and Chvostek sign, and in a single lesson reversed 60% of his pain, immediately allowing him to play again. His symptoms, it turned out, were the result not of some curious illness but of bad pedagogy – bad habits inherited from teachers working from a misunderstanding of the human body and the physical process of making music. “The stereotype is that brass players have chops problems and difficulty with endurance,” he explains. “But the entirety of brass pedagogy is not only physiologically destructive but physics-wise has very little to do with how sound is actually made.” Five years after the onset of his symptoms, Nelson is fully recovered and playing as beautifully as ever, pain-free. Writing the ten compositions on this album meant excavating a number of difficult feelings, but the trombonist was intent on engaging fully and honestly with the full spectrum of his ordeal. He brings his experiences vividly to life with the help of his gifted collaborators, each of whom have played an important part in his life in one context or another, from the bandstand to the classroom. Nelson is hesitant to reveal the meaning behind his somewhat cryptic album title, but a few themes emerge: Ash and Dust make obvious references to things crumbling away and left behind, referring perhaps to the composer’s symptoms or incorrect approaches. The Chalkboard Cinema, meanwhile, suggests the somewhat illusory nature of education, jazz education in particular – lessons taught as gospel but more akin to the flickering images of the silver screen. Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema traces each step along Nelson’s road to recovery, from the creeping onset in “It Starts Slowly (First in Your Heart)” to the confounding spiral of “Cyclical Maze (Round and Round We Go)” through the zen-like mantra “Do Nothing (If Less Is More),” a tribute to Kagarice and her life-altering teachings. “Behind Kind Eyes (Thank You)” is a meditation on the loss of a loved one, a nod to the tragedies that can occur around us while we’re struggling through our own, while “Closure is a Wasted Prayer (Release, Relax)” ends with the ambiguous acknowledgment that expecting any chapter of life to neatly draw to a conclusion.
With the evocatively titled Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema, trombonist/composer Peter Nelson retraces his five-year struggle with a debilitating condition that threatened to end his career as a musician just as it was entering its ascendancy. The album’s vivid compositions and enthralling playing draw the listener in to experience the grueling emotional journey that Nelson undertook, from the onset of mysterious symptoms through the isolating battle with physical and mental pain through the rigor of healing and the joy and revelation of recovery.clusion is a fool’s errand.
“We always want closure,” Nelson says, “but it’s an almost laughable concept. I’m always going to be dealing with dystonia, but it’s not something that controls my life. The idea of putting a cap on this whole process does a disservice to the process of excavating these feelings and dealing with them. Everything that I learned about brass playing — and more importantly about myself and what music-making really means to me –those lessons are priceless and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“Peter Nelson is an exciting and creative trombonist making waves on the NYC jazz scene. If his name is on it, you know you are getting something good! With the music world brimming with talent more than ever, Peter’s one to keep an eye on.” – Michael Dease, award-winning trombonist and educator
“Nelson has a sweet, stutter shuttled virtuosity on his valveless instrument of mystical musical astronomers, floating on deep rhythmic currents.” – Kitty Montgomery, Chamber Music America
Due out August 31 via Outside In Music, Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema enlisted three different ensembles to tell its compelling story, all featuring Nelson on trombone: an ethereal trio featuring vibraphonist Nikara Warren and the wordless vocals of Alexa Barchini; a hard-swinging quartet with pianist Willerm Delisfort, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and drummer Itay Morchi; and a brilliant septet supplementing the quartet with alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, trumpeter Josh Lawrence, and bass clarinetist Yuma Uesaka.