Leap of Faith Orchestra
- The Expanding Universe
Nave Gallery, Somerville MA - 4 June 2016
2) Leap of Faith Orchestra -
The Expanding Universe 1:16:57
Leap Of Faith Orchestra: The Expanding Universe -
By Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery -
July 14, 2016:
LEAP OF FAITH ORCHESTRA - The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown 9110; USA) The Leap of Faith (LoF) ensemble, which usually has 4 or 5 members, has been expanding over the past year. Often LoF play double bills with another sympathetic ensemble, each group playing their own set which is followed by a combined group set. This set by the Leap of Faith Orchestra took place just last month, June 4th of 2016. The usual Leap of faith cast was there: PEK (multiple reeds), Glynis Lomon (cello), Steve Norton (reeds) and Yuri Zbitnov (drums) was joined by 11 more part-time members: Syd Smart (drums), Charlie Kohlhase (saxes), Andria Nicodemou (vibes), Mimi Rabson (violin), Clara Kebabian (violin), Bob Moores (trumpet), Dave Harris (tuba), Peter Cassino (piano), Tony Leva (bass), Brendan Higgins (bass), and Kevin Dacey (drums, percussion). Rather than be totally chaotic, LoF leader Dave Peck, actually wrote a score which is described here: “The orchestra work (The Expanding Universe) uses a score which is simultaneously a Density and Sonority map prescribing the improvised development of the work. Written English descriptions of the overall sonority desired are given durations for each player on their part along with direction on when to play and when not to play. Players track the elapsed time with a large digital sports clock. This system allows me to compose detailed events without having to notate pitches or rhythms which would require significant rehearsal to accurately achieve. Skilled improvisers, like the ones I have recruited, can easily follow these instructions to create a highly structured improvisation without the need for specific rehearsal even when the ensemble is quite large as it is here.”
The results are pretty extraordinary. The work is very long, nearly 77 minutes and goes through different sections. The music sounds directed since it moves in precise waves with different subsections rising and falling back into the often turbulent sea of sounds. A number of different things stand out: an intense free piano solo (Peter Cassino), a layer of brass waves sailing with another layer of twisted reeds, sporadic double rhythm teams (tablas?), erupting and then disappearing. The balance of more sparse sections with occasional dense outbursts sounds tightly directed. Considering that the Evil Clown label which documents all of the Leap of Faith and their offshoot projects, is closing in at nearly a 100 releases, this disc might just be the best one I’ve reviewed. A completely outstanding effort all the way around. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
August 29, 2016:
Boston is PEK country. The avant reedman-composer is on a mission up there: to turn the world onto free improv music, free jazz. He's been recording prolifically lately with a number of his ensembles. The Leap of Faith Orchestra is no doubt his most ambitious project and can be heard to very good advantage on their album The Expanding Universe (Evil Clown 9110).
The release gives us one very long and rather exciting work for the full ensemble, which at that point consisted of 15 members, including Yedidyah Sid Smart on drums, Charlie Kohlhase on saxes, Glynis Lomon on cello. aquasonic and voice, in addition to reeds, trumpet, vibes, two more drummers, two basses, two violins, trombone-tuba, and piano.
This is a bracing collage of ever-varying sound color universes and at times they kick up a hell of a fuss! Other times they are a bit more focused within.
But all told you are in for a wildly free trip into the nether worlds of the universe. Nice one!
Photo by Rob Miller, Tweek by PEK
Liner Notes by PEK - June 2016:
This was a very special event, so be sure to check it out!
The Leap of Faith Orchestra is a large improvisation ensemble comprised of 5 Sub-Units that can play independently or in combination. Any two or more of these units in combination are the LOFO, but this was the first event with all of the performers and Sub-Units simultaneously.
Those Sub-Units are:
Leap of Faith (an improv ensemble dating back to 1995)
Metal Chaos Ensemble (an expanded percussion section)
String Theory (an expanded string section)
Turbulence (an expanded horn section)
New Language Collaborative (cellist Glynis Lomon's trio)
For the last year we have been preparing for this concert - the first presentation of the Full Orchestra!! Each of the Sub-Units has had two performances with Leap of Faith with a short set for each band and a longer combined set. We have also had several concerts with 9 or 10 performers with short sets by different smaller sections of and a longer combined set... About 30 talented Boston area improvisers have participated....
When deciding that I wanted to create a large improvisation ensemble version of Leap of Faith I reflected on my prior experience with large groups where we tried to gather the entire group and rehearse. I decided to take a different approach and to develop the orchestra slowly over time by working with many smaller sections and combinations ultimately leading to the full unit. Now, all the orchestra members have experience performing with each other in various combinations, and we have created a lot of great work in the process.
This work, The Expanding Universe, unlike the preparation performances, has a score. The score does not contain notated melodic, harmonic or rhythmic information, but is composed of time indices and English language descriptions of the instrument and texture desired which control who plays what at what times during the 75 minute duration of the composition. The score is simultaneously a Density and Sonority map defining the development of the work.
The ensemble tracks the time on the score with a large digital sports clock.
Included in the downloads is a pdf file of the Score.
Track 1 is a Special Bonus track for the Download Edition. Short opening set with Leap of Faith.
Photos by Rob Miller
Photo by Rob Miller
Photo by Rob Miller
Audio CD Evil Clown 9110
Leap of Faith Orchestra ‐ The Expanding Universe
Nave Gallery, Clarendon Presbyterian Church Somerville, MA - 6/4/2016
2) Leap of Faith Orchestra - The Expanding Universe 1:16:57
PEK - dulzaina, sopranino & alto & tenor saxes, oboe, clarinet,
contraalto clarinet, sheng, bass tromboon, fog horn, ms-20,
daiko, chains, siren whistle, boomwhakers, percussion
Mimi Rabson - violin, metal, slide whistle, siren whistle, percussion
Clara Kebabian - violin, electronics, slide whistle, siren whistle, percussion
Bob Moores - trumpet, electronics, tiny slide whistle, percussion
Charlie Kohlhase - alto & tenor & baritone saxes, slide whistle, percussion
Dave Harris - tuba, trombone, fog horn, crank siren, slide whistle, boomwhaker
Peter Cassino - piano, slide whistle
Tony Leva - bass, slide whistle
Brendan Higgins - bass, slide whistle
Yedidyah Syd Smart - edrums, percussion
Kevin Dacey - drum set, balfon, blocks, metal, chains, percussion, crank
siren, taxi horn
first page of the score
Leap Of Faith Orchestra: The Expanding Universe -
By Eric Baylies, The Noise - Boston -
August 1, 2016:
Do not be deceived by two songs. This CD is 90 minutes of pure improvised bliss. Free jazz, noise, rock, it’s all here, but mostly free jazz. This might be among the free-est recordings I have ever heard, right up with Arthur Doyle, Albert Ayler, or Henry Cow. There are so many musicians, and so many instruments, that it is difficult to keep track of what’s going on. This is a fantastic, amazing record. I suggest you check out some of their other recordings online. The Expanding Universe is not easy listening, but the patient listener will be rewarded.
1) Leap of Faith -
Dark Matter - 20:18 (download bonus track)
Photo by Rob Miller, Tweek by PEK
By Karl Ackermann, AllAboutJazz.com - July 8, 2016:
The creative music cooperative known as Leap of Faith had a long initial run from 1993 to 2001 and then re-booted in 2015. At their core, from the beginning, have been multi-instrumentalists David Peck (aka PEK) and Glynis Lomon. PEK, however, assumes a more than democratic leadership role across the many manifestations of the collective that live on his Evil Clown label. On The Expanding Universe the Leap of Faith Orchestra—true the album title—escalates with full (but non-conventional) ensemble of fifteen.
At fifty-thousand feet, one could describe the overall vibe of The Expanding Universe as running the gamut from melodic to shambolic. The latter perception may be driven by the presence of more than four-dozen instruments/devices in the hands of these fifteen artists. The sole track (being the title track) is a sprawling epic at seventy-seven minutes and does indeed deviate between the austere and the chaotic, but as always, composer PEK has a higher purpose. Swerving whistles and a siren usher in the piece with no small amount of urgency building to a crescendo of noise before a lone tuba replaces near-calamity with dark mystery. Later, piano and alternate devices struggle for dominance, lopsided melodies collide with bells, blocks and cymbals in a musical representation of the album's stated theme.
PEK and the Leap of Faith Orchestra collectively have the gift of being able to discover music where it lives and one would be justified in believing that they could find aesthetic value in the rhythm of windshield wipers as certainly as with a saxophone. The Expanding Universe only marginally revolves around recognizable spheres like the bass, vibes or cello. There are nebulas of boomwhakers, fog horns, sirens and pieces of metal attracted by the gravitational pull. Like any uncharted exploration, attention to detail makes this experimental journey a memorable experience.
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff