Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
The Variable Density Sound Orchestra is veteran Boston-based guitarist/composer Garrison Fewell's newest working ensemble. Whenever possible, this international group features charter members Roy Campbell (trumpet and flute), Achille Succi (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), Eric Hofbauer (guitar), John Voigt (bass) and Miki Matsuki (drums), all of whom appear on its self-titled February 2009 debut.
As the band’s name implies, its original music, composed and conceived by Fewell, explores a wide range of textures and musical interactions. “The goal,” he explains, “is to create balance, not allowing individual soloists, collective instant composing or pre-composed material to dominate for too long.”
Fewell actively shapes the ensembles music with the other musicians. The 10 tracks on their debut, which range from completely improvised to original compositions with a stronger framework for individual expression, take their inspiration from longstanding interests such as ancient cultures, spirituality, and the music of Albert Ayler, Anthony Braxton and Sun Ra.
Guitarist Garrison Fewell has never stopped moving forward on his musical journey from accomplished post-bop guitarist to free-jazz explorer, writes music journalist Ed Hazell in the liner notes for Variable Density Sound Orchestra. Here, on his most fully realized and personal recording in the free jazz idiom to date, you can still hear the thoughtfulness, tenderness, and intimacy; careful listening; and the rigorous construction of line and feel for melody that have marked all his albums. The Variable Density Sound Orchestra is a group well suited to realizing Garrison's concepts and compositions.
--Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
Recommended New Release (February 2009)
--Laurence Donohue-Greene, AllAboutJazz-New York
An intense two-guitar chamber group led by the Boston guitarist, whose
output with colleague Eric Hofbauer is looking more and more essential.
--David R. Adler, Lerterland
There’s one strange and wonderful event after another in Fewell’s pieces --
eloquent solo statements, serendipitous combinations of clang and sigh, the
beauty of his guitar set across the soundstage from Hofbauer’s slightly
harder-edged sound as the two support the other players. At times, the bed
of complimentary guitar sounds acts like a pine-needle-covered path
through a shady forest.
--Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
Delights abound on every track and while there is no doubting the serious
intent, this recording must have been as much fun to make as it is to listen
--John Sharpe, AllAboutJazz.com