THIS DISC ONLINE AT AMAZON
About the artist:
of the highlights of Stich's musical education took place at Toronto's
York University. First was his study of South Indian Classical music
with Trichy Sankaran,
second was his study of 20th Century Classical music with James
Arnold Schoenberg's piano piece 'Opus 11'. Another major inspiration
for Stich was maverick filmmaker Robert
specifically his rejection of commercialism. Stich puts a high premium
on the unconventional.
About the music:
Modern Surfaces transfers
thought, through music, directly to the listener without style identifications.
Modern Surfaces conveys an unusual and subtle form of excitement which
draws the listener in. The group's mandate involves the exploration
of abstract expression. Modern Surfaces utilizes several parameters
of music which are absent from most creative improvising music groups.
This gives Modern Surfaces a richness of expression, nurturing the musical
palate of both the musicians and the listener alike. Rhythm, melody,
harmony and texture are all present in the music of Modern Surfaces.
For the past four decades, Stich, Mike, Geoff and Jim have been playing
together in many different musical contexts. The wide-ranging experience
of these four musicians makes them well equipped for the challenges that
Modern Surfaces presents.
by Barry Romberg
Producer - Peter Schmidlin (TCB Music)
at - Lydian Sound, Richmond Hill, Canada
/ Mixed by - John Baily, Sept 9, 2003
by - Charlie Gray, Saluki Music, Toronto, Canada, Aug 14, 2004
painting and poetry by - Andy Berman
artwork by - digisign gigi schmid-huetiger, ch-6006, lucerne
and C 2005 by
Music SA, Grand Rue 92/5e
+41+21 981 15 45
+41+21 981 15 46
Wynston’s “Modern Surfaces”
of "Transparent Horizons"
here to see the original copy at All About Jazz Website
of "Transparent Horizons"
here to see the original copy at All About Jazz Website
of "Transparent Horizons"
The men behind the music.
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 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.
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!
Jim Vivian moved to Toronto from
St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1979 to pursue classical studies on the double
bass at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory with Thomas
Monohan who was the principal bassist with the Toronto Symphony.
He spent several summers at the Banff Centre studying with Mr. Monohan
(1978) and Stuart Knussen (1979) (principal bassist with the London Symphony
for 18 years) and also the summers of 1980 and ‘81 with the National Youth
Orchestra studying with Thorveld Fredin (principal bassist with the Royal
Stockholm Opera). It was a masterclass at the Banff Centre with Dave
Holland in 1982, however, that was to bring Jim’s earlier interests in
Jazz back into focus.
Jim’s first steady gig was with the well
known Jazz/R & B/Rap group, the Shuffle Demons, with whom he played
from 1984 to 1989. Also during this period, he developed associations
with a group of musicians who were starting a co-op Jazz record label called
Unity Records. This group of people included Brian Dickinson, Mike
Murley, Jeff Johnston, Barry Romberg, Barry Elmes, Roy Patterson and Bernie
Senensky, all of whom recorded for Unity using Jim as a sideman in their
bands. A number of these records were nominated for Juno Awards and
two of them, Mike Murley’s “Two Sides” and Brian Dickinson’s “In Transition”,
won for Best Jazz Album. After leaving the “Demons” in 1989, Jim
continued playing and touring with the Toronto musicians mentioned above
and continues to work with them to the present. In 1991 he
was awarded an Art’s “B” Grant from the Canada Council to study in New
York with Dave Holland and Marc Johnson.
Throughout the 1990s Jim remained busy
on the Toronto scene, across the country and abroad. In 1993 he joined
Rob McConnell’s Boss Brass. Over the next 5 years he appeared across
North America and in Europe and made 6 records with them including one
featuring Mel torme. In the late 1990s he became involved with the
Maritime Jazz Orchestra, which is a big band based in Halifax, run by Greg
Carter (Music Department Head at St. Francis Xavier University).
It is devoted mostly to playing and recording the music of Kenny Wheeler
and has released three records two of which feature JohnTaylor, Kenny Wheeler
and Norma Winstone. Jim appears regularly in clubs with great Toronto
players like Mike Murley, Don Thompson, Ted Warren and Brian Dickinson.
He has also accompanied visiting musicians such as John Abercrombie, Jery
Bergonzi, John Handy, Sonny Greenwich, Sheila Jordan, Ira Sullivan, Norma
Winstone and Kenny Wheeler.
To date, Jim appears on over 70 records
and CDs and has recorded with such internationally renowned artists as
John Abercrombie, Jerry Bergonzi, Mick Goodrick, Sonny Greenwich, Tim Hagens,
Joe Labarbara, David Liebman, Bob Moses, Adam Nussbaum, John Taylor, Don
Thompson, Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone as well as Canadian artists
such as Stefan Bauer, Brian Dickinson, Jeff Johnston, Oliver Jones, Rob
McConnell and Roy Patterson. He has been on faculty at both Humber
College and the Banff Centre and presently teaches at the University of
Toronto Faculty of Music Jazz Program.
All track info.
|I Think This Party's Over
|All tunes SOCAN/ASCAP
Stich discusses each of the eight compositions, as they appear on the
Bound (by Stich Wynston)
This piece starts with an arco bass line
which I composed. The darkness of the line and the effects on the
bass give it an ominous feeling which sets the vibe for this piece.
the bass line comes to a close there is a short moment of silence
before the entire ensemble enters with a dark, intense, cacophonous, spaceage,
open-ended improvisation. The bass and drums lay down an open pulse
while the effects laden tenor saxophone and guitar synth erratically hover
above. There's a very abstract relationship between the four musicians
which is unsettling while the spacey sounds of the instruments give this
piece an ethereal, otherworldly quality.
Think This Party's Over (by
This Geoff Young composition starts off with
an open soundscape which eventually breaks into a dark theme that is punctuated
by the tenor saxophone and drums. I like the concept of this piece
which is very reminiscent of Wayne Shorter's Nefertiti where the melody
is played repeatedly throughout and acts as a drum feature with Tony Williams
improvising over top, embellishing the theme.
Departures (by Geoff
This Geoff Young composition has a very beautiful,
yet bleak quality with an open, free, rubato feel. The instrumentation
is of paramount importance with Geoff on acoustic guitar, Jim on arco bass,
Stich on brushes and Mike on tenor saxophone. I particularly enjoy
the use of space as the piece unfolds slowly and organically. The
ensemble really takes it's time with nobody in a hurry to get anywhere.
I also really enjoy the dynamics, the sensitive interplay and acute listening
that the ensemble displays on this piece.
Aces (by Geoff Young)
This metrically shifting line written by
Geoff Young is played in unison by the ensemble. It then goes into
a tenor saxophone solo in 6/8 time with a nice, open feel where the band
phrases across the bar line which gives the improvisation a nice sense
Nebula (by Stich Wynston)
This is a solo piece that I composed and
play on which is very much in the European concert piano idiom.
The bass and drums establish an open vibe
on this Geoff Young composition with the theme stated by the tenor saxophone
and guitar. The guitar solos first followed by the tenor saxophone.
The musicians improvise with a nice sense of space, dynamics and interplay.
This is a composition of mine which is a
drum feature. The tenor saxophone, guitar and bass loosely state
the line in unison with accompaniment by the drums and then lay out while
I play an extended timbral solo before the theme is restated.
Entry (by Geoff Young)
I love the mood of this Geoff Young composition
and the 'pass the torch' concept. It starts off with the guitar stating
the theme behind mallet drum accompaniment in a duo format. Then
the arco bass joins in for the guitar solo in a trio format. The
guitar then lays out as the arco bass takes over the theme behind the drum
accompaniment in a duo format again. The tenor saxophone then joins
in and solos in a trio format behind the drums and pizzicato bass.
Now it's the tenor saxophonist's turn to state the theme behind drum accompaniment
in a duo format. Then the tenor saxophone solos in a trio format
with guitar and drum accompaniment. Finally, the entire ensemble
join together to state the theme and bring the piece to a conclusion.
Spheres (by Stich Wynston)
This composition of mine has a looped synthesized
line as the backdrop for an open soprano saxophone melody accompanied by
guitar synth, bass and drums. This piece is similar to the first
track in that it has an otherworldly quality, but with a different vibe.
One (by Geoff Young)
An absolutely gorgeous composition by Geoff
Young with a ballad type feel featuring beautifully lyrical solos by Mike
on tenor saxophone and Geoff on guitar.
Some choice feedback that came in (in the 90's, often by fax!).
Review of "Transparent
The intro emerges
as heavy bowed bass—buzzy, ominous, sustained. Suddenly there's a thunderstorm,
rock drumming, electric guitar, and tenor saxophone. A synthesizer (seldom-used
here) wails, but less than the guitar and saxophone, then makes bell sounds
and more while the bass goes thudding and bells like a stag before things
devolve into the slower, quieter space of the original mood.
Thus develops Stich
Wynston's “Outward Bound.” “I Think This Party's Over” seems a faintly
sardonic title for the second track's doomy storm noises, bleating tenor,
and integration of textures in which it's hard to say who does what as
the group surges into movement, booming backgrounds to the tenor, burgeoning
guitar, and bass together in the underlying storm. Is this “party” the
whole modern world?
This music favors
intros. Jim Vivian's massive, buzz-edged, echoey bass, punctuated by Wynston,
opens Young's “Existential Departures.” Drums supply rhythmic patterns
below a three-man bass cembalom imitation. A quasi-oriental theme, thundercrack
drumming, bowed bass, and amplified guitar and gentler tenor slow into
meditative interplay. The bass swells above, gigantic. Undramatic this
ain't. The three melody instruments harmonize and play ominous lines, cut
and tempered at times by crack-of-doom drumming. Superficially more playful,
with a darting guitar/saxophone/bass prelude, “Surf Aces” becomes a tour-de-force
upper register tenor saxophone feature. Passionate stuff.
with pedalled, echoing solo piano, is a firmly struck etude, three-plus
minutes of European concert music. “Evanescence” opens with the three front
line instruments together, intense yet again. Behind the subsequent guitar/bass
duet, Wynston helps the bassist sound doomier before the tenor/bass duet
lightens things a little. Wynston belabours his drum kit, like the voice
of fate. Bass and drums stalk the closing guitar/tenor unison.
It's all exciting...
darkness with spirit. “Caboose” is a complex work for solo percussion,
preceded by a band intro. What is Wynston hitting, scratching, and playing
drumrolls on (or maybe inside)? Solo percussion with tone colour? Yes!
The ensemble ending is like the twanging of a vast string.
Guitar, bass and
drums open “Automatic Entry,” with a bow applied to the strings of the
upright bass. And when guitarist Jeff Young decamps, the bass goes way,
way down, rising undefeated to support a tenor excursion, with Wynston
the tragedian's drums. The guitarist picks up on the tenorist's feeling
for beauty in desolation, creating organ chords unaccompanied before the
bass comes back from below into a mighty conclusion.
features a minotaur yowling, a sustained pedal note, and a chiming music
box figure repeated and re-repeated as the saxophone rises into high weaving.
“New One” hints at Bach before turning into a religious-sounding ballad
a shade like Lovano/Motian/Frisell, but supercharged with gargantuan bass.
The guitarist's more hymnal section suggests mainstream jazz credentials
before a passage in tenor unison, in fugal business with bowed bass.
[...] The CD insert's
yellow spine means that this set belongs in TCB's ”contemporary series.”
It's music for black days, sustaining undefeated spirit: there's no discouragement
Review of "Transparent
Stich Wynston takes drumming about as far from its timekeeping role as
it can possibly go on Transparent Horizons, his first CD since his 1999
eponymous debut on Buzz Records. Wynston and his group Modern Surfaces
(saxophone player Mike Murley, guitarist Geoff Young, and bassist Jim Vivian)
maintain almost the same lineup as the previous album—only guest pianist
Paul Bley is missing. Here they dispense with a pianist, with the exception
of “Spiral Nebula,” where Stich himself plays a Debussy-esque solo piano
étude, and “Intergalactic Spheres,” where the group plays around
a looped piano arpeggio that provides the recording's only rigid time.
Wynston is obviously
influenced by Jack DeJohnette and Paul Motian; he’s got DeJohnette’s muscularity
and Motian’s painterly approach. Like fellow Toronto drummer Barry Romberg—who
produced the CD—he uses rolling fills and explosive accents to adorn musical
space, not to provide metronomic time. Wynston and Young share the compositional
credits (four and six tracks each, respectively), and their pieces are
of a similar intuitive, impressionistic hue. I’ve sung the praises of Young
many times, and his distinctive, spidery lines have never been more appropriate
than in this ensemble. Vivian (who plays in Young’s own trio) contributes
ruminative lines and rich, resonant arco statements, and Murley’s tenor
and curved soprano add an otherworldly, keening presence.
Because this is otherworldly,
even cosmic music. It is not, however, a New Age kind of cosmos; it’s too
unsettling. Young’s long “Automatic Entry” may be the sparsest tune here,
with Young’s almost spaghetti-western, twanging guitar cagily stating the
theme against Wynston’s no-time fills before Vivian (on arco bass) and
Murley (on curved soprano) play meditative, glacial solos; meanwhile, Wynston’s
drums and hand percussion fill in space, like a painter putting blue here
and magenta there. The players seem to be toying with Monk’s “’Round Midnight”
in the theme and solos.
solos aren’t common here, though; there’s really nothing that qualifies
as comping in the traditional sense. Instead, we get the simultaneous four-way
interplay of, say, “Existential Departures,” where all the musicians are
in a sense soloing at the same time—a sort of space polyphony. This actually
requires an acute awareness of what the other musicians are doing; this
is a listening band. This peculiar polyphony is also utterly unclaustrophobic:
the fifth member of the group on this album is silence.
The overall impression
is often a contradictory one of past and future intersecting. Wynston plays
a fascinating, visceral solo on kit and what sounds like sheet metal on
“Caboose” (although the song's bookended with a tenor/guitar/rattling-popcorn-drums
theme, the solo's in essence the tune) that is both deeply modern and oddly
atavistic—like Yanomamo Indians armed with Blackberries and samplers.
The disc ends with
Young’s gorgeous “New One,” an absolutely lovely, melodic (and comparatively
conventional) Spanish-tinged number that gently lowers the listener back
to terra firma after sixty minutes in an eerie and occasionally frightening
deep space. It’s not a journey for the timid—but it’s one very much worth
Review of "Transparent
Modern Surfaces comes
to us with a certain amount of pedigree, as their guitarist is Geoff Young
of Barry Romberg's very notable over - there - somewhere jam band, Random
Access (reviewed by yours truly in the June 2005 Jazz Now and favorably,
I might add).
Recorded and produced
in Ontario (by Romberg), we begin "Outward Bound" with a lengthy bowed
largo intro from Jim Vivian that draws us into a sound world parallel to,
say, later Roscoe Mitchell's, and once Wynston kicks in with no small authority
Young and saxophonist Mike Murley enter as well.
I like the spacing
of the instruments here [...] It's a sort of rotating shattered Y arrangement:
Wynston occupies, amoebalike, the center of the tone field, Vivian bubbles
and cooks beneath him in the mix, and the two melodic instruments splutter
(Murley) and float (Young) around them.
Murley tests his
tenor's capabilities sparingly with scraped pedal points of a kind, while
Young prefers to let bowedlike chords drift across the improvising. Very
strange. In but not in. Out but not out.
There was some sort
of presagement to this on Random Access 3 (see the June issue): one track,
"Serenity Now," (Is Romberg a Seinfeld fan? No, I asked that one before)
had Young radiating clouds of notes from the center of the piece, fitting
willy-nilly through barlike clicks of synthesized marimba.
It was a bit like
we've heard British guitarist Brian Godding do in his band Mirage [...]
or with the Mike Westbrook Orchestra. Again, very strange. To quote Danny
DeVito in Taxi, "But memorable!"
Young's "I Think
This Party's Over" is a strangled Eliot Sharp-like blues that opens and
closes with a distant if approaching gale of industrial noise. Murley and
Wynston flurry at the edges of this massive tube train of sound, Vivan
slipping in-under with slow-picked, dreamy figures, and Wynston's double
downbeat sort-of coalesces the actual tune. But only sort of. It's a nervous
sort of detente that the musicians here have worked out, and the not -
exactly - nailed - down air of the music makes it singular.
Anyone who reads
too many of my reviews (you'll decide how many or few that is) usually
notes that I moan comically how bassists are usually undermiked. Not so
here, and Vivian's dark, Schnittke-like tone does the continuum many good
turns. One such is his atmospheric picking during the slow antibossa section
of "Surf Aces," under Young's neutral-drive Jazz-club phrases and Murley's
relatively peaceful alto. Love that head melody, kind of Monk - meets -
Laurindo - Almeida.
I also go for this
group's sense of time. "Existential Departures" runs over eleven minutes,
and here it's Vivian and Wynston's turn to hover at the edges; Murley and
Young (on acoustic guitar) do long, twinned, serpentine phrases à
la Terje Rypdal's 1980s ECM releases (especially Descendre). Beautifully
odd. Again, in but not in, out but not out. Not clinically so, either,
not like, say, Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht.
The closing ditty
"New One" also has a tentative air, thanks to Wynston's commenting melodically
as much as anyone else on the wintry central chorale trotted out by the
remainder of the band.
[...] there's lots
more good stuff up ahead, like Young and Murley holding "Evanescence" together
while Wynston and Vivian wig out around them; or Wynston's hail of dropped
baseballs detonating all around and through "Caboose"; or the piano ostinato
that gives one something to hang onto for dear life as Young's ballooning
sustained synclavier notes strain to contain multitudes.
Here it's Vivian,
Murley, and Wynston who overlap, converse, and talk past one another in
a hunt for common ground of the sort you'd see in a Joe McElroy novel.
Missed connections, indeed. But memorable.
It's all really good,
really weird stuff that shows the quartet form isn't dead just yet. Care
must always be taken in the finding or re-exploring of new or familiar
ground, but this CD shows that the ragged space between in and out also
has a few more secrets to cough up.
by Ken Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive
September 2005 Vol 15 No. 5
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