Rhythm Abstraction: Ruby
Slither; Dogmented; Apparitions, Gerbil Juggling; Impending Doom, Acceleration; Hallucination.
Additional Personnel / Information
Frank Macchia: orchestrations, piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, contrabass flute; clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, saxophones, penny whistles, ethnic flutes, ocarinas, synthesizers; Brock Avery: drum set and more percussion modes than you can shake a stick at, including: pandieros, frame drums, tamborines, pods, metal bells and plates, shinclang, buffetonium, pipanafone, cymbals, stackers, bulb horn, varied sticks, brushes, mallets...and on and on.
Rhythm Abstraction: Ruby is the third and final volume of new compositions created as a follow up to our 2018’s release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion solos. I then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Ruby is the third of three extended play albums of 7 compositions which will be released starting in January and followed up in April and July. In Ruby we have a created a group of pieces that continue our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of composition, where I reacted to whatever Brock created with his drum improvisations and continued to pursue the use of tone rows and motifs to create a music journey that ebbs and flows with the rhythm and takes the listener on a journey through rhythm and sound. The opener, Slither is a bluesy, New Orleans second line feel piece where Brock laid down a groove and I simply followed with whatever blues melodies came to mind in the moment. I played just saxophones, clarinets and flutes with no other keyboards so this is truly a drum/woodwind “duet” and I used the soprano sax as the main solo instrument. I used a lot of Duke Ellington voicing concepts in this one and Brock’s drumming guided me throughout. I came up with the title Dogmented as the piece was based on a “double augmented triad” as I call it, with C, E and G# and then above it B, D#, and F##. These six notes comprised all the vertical voicings in variations and transpositions. It’s a fast paced intense rhythmic adventure that starts with an irregular tom pattern and a “wah-wah” effected alto sax solo that changes feel half way through going into a fast intense swing feel with a flute solo. Since the tune had the word “dog” in it I created a little video on YouTube that showcases the escapades of my dog Cloud as she runs and struts to the music! Apparitions starts with lush voicings accompanying Brock’s dancing cymbals and bells. This ends up as a waltz and the voicings and feel reminded me of floating ghosts based on Brock’s brush work. A heavy usage of bass flutes and clarinets attempt to convey the ghostly quality of the dense chords along with the soprano sax’s solo, followed by a group of bass flutes collectively swirling freely over Brock’s dancing drums. I hope you feel the mystery in this one. Continuing in the tradition of Piglets On A Trampoline from the Rhythm Kaleidoscope project, Gerbil Juggling is the follow up to that bouncy ditty! Once again Brock mesmerizes with his complex rhythms interpreting what it would sound like to hear a group of gerbils be juggled, getting more and more complex in the juggling. A heavily effected alto clarinet solo ensues after a jagged introduction over a slightly “bent” samba section and then wraps up with more “juggling” and a final ascending chord as the gerbils get tossed upwards but never land! I asked Brock to do a solo that was dark and abstract and Impending Doom is what he came up with. A lot of low bass and contrabass clarinets work along with a group of prepared piano samples. I hope we achieved the abstract and dark quality we so wanted to express, especially in these weird and scary times. The alto clarinet is the soloist again on this piece. I particularly love Brock’s tom-tom work on this piece – foreboding!! Acceleration was a second take of the concept of starting a piece with no click and then having Brock just get faster and faster and more intense. The first take ending up being Impatience from Rhythm Abstraction: Gold, the second volume of this trilogy. Both takes were so good I felt I had to write music to both solos and they ended up quite different from each other. I do a piccolo solo early on then go to an extremely distorted alto sax solo, where I tried to channel my best Jimi Hendrix impression. The piece ends in a frenzy as you’d expect. The final track of this project is Hallucination which I composed to Brock’s dazzling use of cymbals and bells and I added a lot of orchestral sounds to this one. The bass flute plays the theme early on and then the orchestra follows Brock’s journey through the wild rhythms in his head! More intense electrified bass flute soloing continues as Brock alternates between soft and crazy drumming and flute flurries build to a final climax where the bass flute ends our journey with the questioning melody statement. Brock and I hope you’ve enjoyed our rhythm and sound explorations for the last three volumes on this series. We have tried to create something which while not the “normal” music experience, we hope the music entertained and took your mind off the day to day life we live and took you on a new sound journey! Thank you so much for listening to our ideas. We are eternally grateful! -Frank Macchia July 2020
- Rhythm Abstraction: Ruby by Dan McClenaghan