Modern Surfaces (1999)
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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 YoungFor over 2 decades, 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
The men behind the music.
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.  He has been touring internationally with The Shuffle Demons for over three decades performing in clubs, concert halls and on festival stages worldwide.
Geoff Young
Canadian guitarist/composer/arranger/educator Geoff Young has improvised at festivals and clubs on three continents. Out of 30 years experience gained as a freelance guitarist Geoff has developed a unique approach and voice on the instrument. This concept is embodied in the debut CD from the Geoff Young trio : [in between] romhog 108 which was rated four stars by jazz critic Mark Miller in Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail.

Remarkable for his ability to play in a multitude of musical styles, Geoff has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists and ensembles including Marilyn Crispell, Kenny Wheeler, Paul Bley, Keith Tippet, Nick Marchione, Donny McCaslin, Maryem Tollar and many more. Geoff’s arrangements and compositions for the band Random Access Large Ensemble were nominated for the 2009 Juno Awards in the contemporary jazz album of the year category.

Mike Murley
An engaging, lyrical saxophonist, Mike Murley is one of Canada’s most celebrated and well-respected jazz artists. Currently active as a leader in various formations from duo to septet, Murley also maintains a busy schedule as both a sideman and an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto Jazz Program.  He has played on fourteen Juno Award-winning recordings since 1990, seven as a leader or co-leader, seven as a sideman.  His most recent Junos include The North (2018), Metalwood’s Twenty (2017) and his trio’s Test of Time (2013).

Since moving to Toronto from his native Nova Scotia in 1981 Murley has enjoyed a career that has spanned a wide stylistic spectrum.   Recordings with legendary Canadian artists such as Ed Bickert, Guido Basso, and Rob McConnell showcase the saxophonist’s talents in the mainstream standard repertoire.  On the more contemporary side, Murley has collaborated frequently with the younger generation of improviser/composers including pianist David Braid and guitarist David Occhipinti.  He is also well known for his work with the three-time Juno Award winning electric jazz group Metalwood.  In addition he has recorded and performed with numerous other Canadian and international artists including John Abercrombie, David Liebman, Paul Bley, John Schofield and Kenny Wheeler. for more on Mike!

All track info.
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


Track Commentary
Stich discusses all 14 of the tracks, 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
Some choice feedback that came in (in the 90's, often by fax!)
"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 -- U.K. music magazine
  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 -- US music magazine
  August 1999
"... a combo that takes great delight in mixing, matching, cutting, pasting and reinventing this beast called jazz"
  Music Diary -- U.K. music magazine
  August 1999

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