Patrick Zimmerli Ensemble
Five years after the debut of his Ensemble on Songlines, award-winning New York composer-saxophonist Patrick Zimmerli returns with another radical re-examination of jazz orthodoxies. Like the earlier program, Expansion combines contemporary classical musical elements with a jazz feel and approach, and includes standards as well as original compositions. This time however Zimmerli has organized his thoughts in longer forms. Built on a drone, “Sand” was inspired in part by Hindustani classical music and the dense, steady-state textures of the Japanese Gagaku ensemble; it’s an emotionally compelling and intellectually fascinating piece whose shifting inner complexities reveal themselves slowly (see Kevin Whitehead’s liner notes for a guide to its organization, and then try to keep track of who’s soloing when). “The Elements Suite” is probably the jazziest work Zimmerli has yet recorded: in contrasting/complementary sections, the Ensemble explore together the blues, ballads, and post-bop through techniques (purists might say distorting lenses) of chromaticism, extended harmony, and polyrhythm. In Monk’s “Evidence” and Bronislaw Kaper’s “Invitation” Zimmerli pays his respects to the jazz tradition directly: their more conventional (though still slightly off-kilter) swing and melodic/harmonic departures provide a point of entry to his transformed world, with its often wild leaps, shining textures, and deep moods. Throughout the record Zimmerli and his associates bring advanced performing skills and great intelligence to bear on the interpretive challenges he sets, producing highly polished, exciting, unique music that suggests new creative directions beyond labels.
Born (1968) and raised in the New York area, Patrick Zimmerli received his B.A. in literature and music composition from Columbia College and his M.Phil and D.M.A. (1999) in music composition from Columbia University. He studied with Joe Lovano and has toured and/or recorded with T.S. Monk, Kevin Hays, Bill Stewart, and Don Sickler. His own CDs include Twelve Sacred Dances (Arabesque, 1998, featuring Ethan Iverson, Reid Anderson and John Hollenbeck) and Shores Against Silence (Arabesque, forthcoming). In 1993 he won the first annual BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute Composers’ Competition, in 1995 he directed the Institute’s Jazz Ambassadors, a quintet of past winners that toured Africa (CD on Jazz City), and in 1996 his Ensemble gave eight concerts at the Guggenheim Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Abstraction in the 20th Century: Total Risk, Discipline, Freedom. He has also performed contemporary classical pieces by Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Dolphy and others, created multimedia and video works and music for theatre, and since 1994 has been house arranger/orchestrator for Duotone Audio Group. Among his more than 50 compositions are a Piano Concerto (premiered in April 2000 by Ethan Iverson and the Metamorphosen string orchestra in Boston); a String Quartet; a Concerto for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra; Waves, commissioned by the French jazz ensemble Kartet (co-led by Songlines artist Benoit Delbecq); and a suite for the Belgian 10-piece jazz/new music group Octurn (to be premiered in November).
Ben Monder (b. New York, 1962) has freelanced in the New York area for over 15 years. He has performed with Rashied Ali, Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, Tim Berne, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, the Roland Vasquez Big Band, and the Carnegie Hall Orchestra, and is a regular member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. He has appeared on over 50 CDs as a sideman. The Ben Monder Trio can be heard on Songlines and Arabesque; a duo/quartet CD (co-led with vocalist Theo Bleckmann), No Boat (1996), is also on Songlines.
Stomu Takeishi (b. Mito, Japan, 1964) studied music at Berklee College and the New School in New York. He has performed and recorded with Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band and Dave Tronzo, and performed with Don Cherry, Dave Liebmann and Mick Goodrick among others; currently he performs/records with Henry Threadgill’s Make A Move, Erik Friedlander’s Topaz, Myra Melford’s Crash, Badal Roy, and Cuong Vu.
Drummer/percussionist Satoshi Takeishi (b. Mito, 1962) studied at Berklee where he became interested in the music of South America. He spent four years in Columbia where he worked with composer/arranger Francisco Zumaque, including performances with the Bogota Symphony Orchestra honoring the music of Lucho Bermudes. In 1986 he returned to the U.S., producing a record for flutist Nestor Torres in Miami and studying and performing with oud master Joe Zeytoonian. In New York since 1991, he has performed/recorded with Brian Ales, Ray Barretto, Chris Dahlgren, Eliane Elias, Erik Friedlander, Hector Martigñon, Lucia Pulido (also arranging Columbian folk songs for her forthcoming CD), Badal Roy, and Pablo Ziegler, and performed with Carlos Patato Valdes, Herbie Mann, Paul Winter Consort, and Rabih Abou-Khalil.
**** “Zimmerli’s originals are as abstract and exotic as ever. “Sand,” the opener, begins with a drone note that sets up a strikingly subtle, Eastern-influenced rubato theme. (Kevin Whitehead’s second-by-second analysis in the liner notes is well worth reading.)…Both the originals and the standards bear clear marks of Zimmerli’s highly individual style, in which contemporary classical and ethnic musics mix with…not-so-free jazz. — David R. Adler, Allmusic.com
**** “[the band members] are quite adept at melding fragmented motifs into comprehensive statements that intertwine and redevelop into climactic opuses featuring Zimmerli’s extended notes and richly melodic lyricism…However, the saxophonist employs a shift in strategy as he turns in a softly stated and stunningly beautiful rendition of the time-honored standard, ‘Invitation’…Zimmerli’s impressionistic dreamscapes amid the band’s heated flurries and circuitous discourses signify a mark of invention while the saxophonist pursues a sound and style that is clearly his own!” — Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz.com