The 1st CD
Click on image to see it full sized  Stich Wynston's Modern Surfaces is a trio comprised of saxophone, guitar and drums/percussion.  Drawing on the avant-garde groundwork of fellow Canadian Paul Bley, the musicians, in the absence of the bass and strict meter, are compelled to explore improvisation and sound from a different perspective, in the process, re-evaluating the traditional roles of the instruments in the context of improvisation.
        The natural choice of musicians for Stich to complete his trio were Mike Murley and Geoff Young.  For the past 20 years, Stich, Geoff and Mike have been playing together in many different musical contexts.  The wide-ranging experience of these three musicians makes them well equipped for the challenges that Modern Surfaces presents.
       The objectives and long term goals of Stich Wynston's Modern Surfaces involve the continued musical explorations of this idiom as well as the release of a second CD and extensive touring on an international level.

The Musicians

Stich Wynston
Stich Wynston, drummer/composer is one of the most creative musicians in Canada.  Stich has honed his skills by working with such diverse artists as: Julius Hemphill, Holly Cole, Daniel Janke, Tom Walsh, Hemispheres, Vektor, Lorne Lofsky, Phil Dwyer, Jon Ballantyne, and alternative-pop artist Jane Sibbery.  Stich is also one of the founding members of the Shuffle Demons.  From 1985 - 1994 he toured throughout Canada and Europe extensively with the Shuffle Demons playing clubs, concerts halls and festival stages.
Geoff Young
Born in 1960, guitarist/composer Geoff Young has been an active participant in the Canadian music scene for over 20 years.  Geoff has performed/recorded with a wide range of Canadian and international artists including: Paul Bley, Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Tasa, Quarenta Graus, Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, Graeme Kirkland, John MacLeod Big band, Five After Four, John MacLeod Quintet, Phil Nimmons, Phil Dwyer, Stich Wynston's Modern Surfaces, The Henrys, Lenny Solomon Trio, Dave McMurdo Quintet, Guido Basso Orchestra, Carol Welsman Quintet.

Geoff has also been on the faculty at Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology for the past 15 years as a guitar teacher and Jazz Workshop leader.  He also taught guitar at McMaster University from 1990-1996.

What the critics say:
     ...raucously expressive.
     - The Globe & Mail

     ...Young has a well tuned sense of dynamics.
     - Downbeat

     ...fluent and swinging in everything he touched.
     - Hamilton Spectator

     ...percussive and turbulent.
     - Toronto Star

Mike Murley
Canadian saxophonist Mike Murley has emerged as one of the country's finest jazz artists since moving to Toronto from his native Nova Scotia in 1981.  His critically-acclaimed work as a leader and a sideman has placed him at the forefront of Canada's jazz scene for more than a decade.  Since winning the Juno Award (Canada's Grammy equivalent) in 1991 for his "Two Sides" album, Murley has appeared on seven other Juno award-winning recordings.

Murley's latest CD, "Live at the Senator" won the 2002 Juno Award in the best mainstream jazz album category.  This Cornerstone recording finds the saxophonist in an intimate trio setting with legendary guitarist Ed Bickert and bassist Steve Wallace at Toronto's premier jazz club.  A collection of  six standards and two idiomatic originals, it captures Murley at his lyrical best.

Murley is also a member of the Juno award-winning (2001) Rob McConnell Tentet.  Their latest album was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award and features some of Canada's finest jazz artists playing masterful arrangements by the legendary valve trombonist.  A new recording is scheduled for release in the fall on Justin Time Records.

Canada's premier electric jazz group, Metalwood, has featured the more robust side of Murley's saxophone since the quartet's inception in 1996.  The two-time Juno winners ('99 and '98) in the best contemporary jazz album category were signed by Verve/Blue Thumb for their latest recording, "The Recline".  Featuring special guests John Scofield, Mino Cinelu, and DJ Logic, this CD was recently released in the US on the Telarc label.

Murley has released six critically acclaimed recordings as a leader.  His last quintet CD, "Conversation Piece", received the 1997 Jazz Report Award for best album.  He is also a four-time recipient of the Jazz Report Award for tenor saxophonist of the Year.  Most recently he received the 2002 National Jazz Award for saxophonist of the year.

Murley's playing experience on the international level includes performances with a diverse cross-section of artists including Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Jack McDuff and Doctor John.  His recording credits include sessions with John Abercrombie, Paul Bley, and Sonny Greenwich.  He has also appeared as a featured soloist on four different CDs with trumpeter/composer Wheeler, including the latest two Maritime Jazz Orchestra CDs featuring John Taylor's Azimuth.  In addition Murley has worked with some of the most well respected New York musicians of his generation including trumpeter Dave Douglas, pianist Renee Rosnes, and drummer Bill Stewart.  Other Canadian artists that Murley has recorded and toured internationally with include Stich Wynston's Modern Surfaces, Time Warp and the Barry Elmes Quintet.



Tune Name Track No.      Time Composer
Kolbo Track 01        6:54 Geoff Young
Mermonator Track 02        4:40 Geoff Young
Catharsis Track 03        2:04 Stich Wynston
Environments I Track 04        4:11 Stich Wynston
Hamentosh McFarfel Track 05        4:40 Stich Wynston
Ravenna Track 06        3:59 Paul Bley
Unaware of the Sound
She Was Making
Track 07        5:51 Geoff Young
The More Things Change,
The More They Stay the Same
Track 08        6:49 Stich Wynston
Self Sacrifice Track 09        6:18 Stich Wynston
Portal Track 10       5:25 Paul Bley
Feeschler Track 11       6:53 Stich Wynston
Looking Glass Track 12       1:24 Stich Wynston
Vertical Man Track 13       2:29 Geoff Young
What Do You Want Track 14       3:20 Stich Wynston
All tunes SOCAN/ASCAP Total time    65:02


Composer's Commentary
Stich discusses each of his eight compositions, as they appear on the CD.

Track 03
  This is a solo piano piece which was inspired by the great 20th century German composer Arnold Schoenberg.  In my fourth year at University, I took a music seminar where we studied the Schoenberg piano piece 'Opus 11', which is still one of my favourite pieces of music.  I have a wonderful recording of Glenn Gould performing this piece as well as the complete piano works of Schoenberg.  I chose this particular title because I composed this piece of music at a time in my life when I was purging of the effects of emotional stress.

Environments 1
Track 04
  This piece was inspired by Dave Liebman and a group he used to have in the 70's called 'Open Sky' with Bob Moses on drums and Frank Tusa on bass.  The title is self explanatory as you can hear the backdrop of birds which came from an environmental recording I have.  I wanted to incorporate a pleasant and beautiful aspect of the environment in which we live.  After the theme is stated there is an open improvised section where we attempt to play off the birds.  So, we had the birds playing in our headphones while we recorded the music.  They were not superimposed after the fact.

Hamentosh McFarfel
Track 05
  This piece is a dedication to my late grandfather who used to entertain my sister and I when we were kids by telling us funny stories about a fictional character that he invented named 'Hamentosh McFarfel'.  As you can hear, the theme is very angular and the performance is quite intense.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
Track 08
       This is a ballad I wrote which is a nice contrast to some of the other pieces which are much more aggressive and dense.  I particularly enjoy the nice relaxed pace of the performance.

Self Sacrifice
Track 09
  At one point during the recording session, Paul Bley suggested that I do a solo improvisation on the drums.  I took him up on his suggestion and this is what came out.  The title refers to the sacrificing of the ego.  While it would have been tempting to try and do a piece of flashy drum gymnastics to try and impress the drummers and other musicians who may be listening, I decided to sacrifice that for the benefit of the music.  I tried to allow the music to unfold slowly and organically and to focus purely on sound and texture.  I also tried to utilize a lot of space in the music.  As they say, the spaces in between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves.

Track 11
  Geoff Young is not only the guitar player and an important composer in my trio, but he is also my best friend.  We obviously share a lot in common, including our sense of humor.  One day several years ago, Geoff was driving around in the neighborhood when he came across a sign that read 'Vote for Vic Feeschler'.  He found this name so amusing that he began calling his little daughter by the same name (a nickname of course).  I think that one can find humor in this musical theme which is a good illustration of my and Geoff's sometimes twisted sense of humor.

Looking Glass
Track 12
  Inspired by the stories and nursery rhymes of my childhood, particularly 'Alice in Wonderland'.  I feel that the music evokes a sense of innocent mystery and make believe.

What Do You Want
Track 14
  This is a poem that I composed several years ago.  I used to perform it regularly as a encore with a Toronto based group that I co-founded and played with for 10 years called 'The SHUFFLE DEMONS' (see resume page).  I always would perform it as a solo piece at the end of Shuffle Demon gigs and it became somewhat of a cult hit.  For this recording, Geoff and I decided to set it to some abstract music and make kind of a performance art piece out of it.  Judging from the reactions of people I have played it for, I think the cult status could continue and perhaps even grow.


Reviews & Comments

"Dear Stich,
     Thanks for sending along your CD.  I really enjoyed it.   Great playing and great writing.  I think you've ingeniously woven Paul Bley's playing into your own ensemble.  Great to hear it.  Good luck"
  Dave Douglas, world renowned trumpeter/composer
  Fax to Stich's home
  June 1999
"Dear Stich,
     Great and creative music!!  My compliments!!"
  Dave Liebman, legendary saxophonist
  Fax to Stich's home
  July 1999
"Dear Stich,
     I thoroughly enjoyed this CD.  The musicianship is wonderful!"
  Keith Tippett, renowned British Avant-Garde jazz pianist
  Fax to Stich's home
  May 1999
"Dear Stich,
     Thanks for your call yesterday.  I've now had a chance to listen to the album and think it sounds excellent!"
  John Surman, ECM recording artist
  Fax to Stich's home
  July 1999
"... (The disc) seek(s) new form and content, often succeeding in enigmatic, wry, extravagant and imaginative ways."
"... percussive and turbulent, symbolizing this intelligent foray by four inquiring minds."
  Geoff Chapman, jazz journalist
  Toronto Star
  August 1999
"... it's on "Self Sacrifice" - Wynston's drum solo that ears prick up.  He has Tony Oxley's ability to use timbral contrast to suggest an avant-garde percussion ensemble."
"... shows how nervy, creative musicianship can stem from a sense of confrontation."
  The Hi-Fi News
  April 10, 1999
"... As a percussionist, Wynston is concerned less with metre than with creating textures and building atmosphere, while the absence of a bass player allows for untethered harmonic exploration.  In investigating the possibilities inherent in this particular line up and while maintaining an exploratory agenda, the musicians for the most part eschew individual virtuosity in favor of a considered, coherent group sound, making for effective sonic juxtapositions."
  JazzWise Magazine
  U.K. Jazz magazine
  September 1999
"... all stop-go structures, glittering spaces, pregnant harmonies, sudden flurries emerging from lyrical rests.
... genius..."
  The Wire
  August 1999
"... a combo that takes great delight in mixing, matching, cutting, pasting and reinventing this beast called jazz"
  Music Diary, U.K. publication
  August 1999

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