SONG FOR OWEN
Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day
Live at Cornelia Street Cafe
D:O exclusive : 2010
HI, drums; Nate Wooley, trumpet; Matt Bauder, tenor sax; Chris Dingman, vibraphone; Elvind Opsvik, bass.
After a winter hiatus, D:O is excited to be restarting our Loft/Loft series this Thursday, April 14th with a special performance by Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day. The show celebrates the release of their excellent new album Canada Day II on Songlines. To get a taste of the music, check out the two exclusive live tracks from the band, recorded at the Cornelia Street Cafe on Nov. 29, 2010.
Best of all, they’re debuting a special octet version of the band, adding horn players Ray Anderson, Joe Daley, and Jason Mears. This is a one-time opportunity to catch this special version of the group! The gig earned a starred pick in this week’s New York Times.
Canada Day is is known for its mix of smart composition and fearless improvisation, recalling the adventurous Blue Note records of the mid ’60s while adding post-rock grooves and West African influences. We saw the quintet version tear it up in N.C. last week and have no doubt this will be an extra special show. Please come check it out – and bring a friend!
So, the details:
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Destination OUT’s Loft/Lab jazz series presents:
Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day
Thursday, April 14 at 8 pm.
1158 Broadway, 5th Floor
Entrance is on 27th Street
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And, from Harris:
I’m here guest posting from a hotel room in Baltimore, MD. Our six-gig southeast U.S. tour ends tonight, then D:O presents an octet version of the band in New York Thursday October 14 at Salt Space Gallery. I’m going to discuss three topics: first, what it was like getting the music together for Canada Day II, our new record out this week on Songlines; second, the tour we’ve been on this week; and third, the process of arranging the new quintet book for the octet gig on April 14.
We recorded Canada Day II after a year and a half of periodic rehearsals and gigs. We did some festivals, short tours and gigs every few months in New York to learn the material. I wrote the music for Canada Day II on either side my wife giving birth to our son in June 2009. The pre-Owen songs are more complicated then the post-Owen ones, which are simpler and dreamier. By the time we got the studio in December 2010 the music needed to be documented in order for me to get on with writing the next book. We had played the tunes many times and let them gestate long enough that we could improvise and deal with the structures seamlessly.
That’s exactly what our tour this week is for. Even though we’re touring in support of Canada Day II, we’re also out here to play a new book of music every night – something that’s very difficult to do in New York. I’ve been writing my first piece for orchestra all year that will be read by the American Composers Orchestra in June. Most of the material for this third Canada Day book actually began life as orchestral sketches. I spent much of the winter mulling over some of these tidbits, tinkering with the parts and eventually re-casting them as pieces for improvising quintet.
If a written score represents the definitive sprouting of ideas from the ground of our imaginations, then bringing the music to life by playing it is the continued growth of that tree of ideas. Each time a composition is played, a musician internalizes how the parts actually sound, not just how they read. A tour with new music is like a crash course in a dialect of a language you already speak. We might not be completely fluent by the end, but we’re quite functional. By the time this third book is recorded in fall 2011, we’ll be fluent.
Which brings me to the task of arranging the music for a specially convened octet performance of Canada Day this Thursday in New York. When the folks at D:O and I discussed this concert, we agreed it should be a debut of sorts. I have documented my work for medium-sized ensembles regularly over the years, beginning with Fight or Flight (Newsonic, 2002), then Ahimsa Orchestra (2005), The All Seeing Eye + Octets (Poo-bah, 2006), and Woodblock Prints (No Business, 2010). In each of these projects, the music consisted of long suites of compositions developed in a relatively short amount of time, rehearsed and performed as a complete unit a handful of times, then recorded.
Realizing this octet music is altogether a different process. Canada Day has been my central focus as a bandleader since 2007, and has always existed as a quintet. The pieces we’ll play April 14 were written for quintet first then arranged for octet. Even though the octet arrangements were prepared before this week of gigs, only five of us will have been playing the music every night the week leading up to the gig. We’ll have one rehearsal the night of April 12 to get together as eight musicians and wrap our heads around the forms. It will be very interesting to have more than half of the ensemble very familiar with the material and the other three musicians thrown into that pre-existing ensemble dynamic.
I wrote the arrangements with just this kind of situation in mind. The tuba parts mostly function as counterpoint to the bass. The alto and trombone sometimes double the tenor and trumpet in octaves, unison, or harmony, and sometimes cross families, but rarely add whole new melodic lines. Since there’s already a lot of counterpoint going on, and since there is so little rehearsal time, these kinds of solutions for the wind and brass arranging seemed the best approach.
I can’t wait to hear how it will sound when Ray Anderson, Joe Daley, and Jason Mears join us. I’ve been a huge fan of Ray and Joe ever since hearing them on recordings from the late 70s/early 80s – Ray with Brahma and Bassdrumbone and Joe in Sam Rivers’ group. I first started playing with Jason Mears when we were students in Wadada Leo Smith’s program at CalArts back in 1999. We’ve worked together ever since.
As for the members of the regular quintet: I’ve been working with Nate Wooley pretty much since I moved back to New York in 2006. He is a consummate musician and constant source of inspiration. I started working with Matt soon after I got here too, and love his beautiful sound on tenor. I met Chris Dingman when were both living in LA, probably in 2005. He provides the harmonic backbone and signature texture for the group. Garth Stevenson played on my nonet record Woodbock Prints last year, and is the newest member of Canada Day. He deals with the bass parts in grounded yet always inventive ways.
If you’re in New York this Thursday, please come by the Salt Space Gallery.