We are Bristle. Take a look around--we've got photos, audio, visual, and news on upcoming shows. Thanks for dropping in. Enjoy!
On Wednesday, September 24, Bristle will be playing at the Center for New Music in San Francisco with the international string trio Hear in Now, featuring Chicago-based cellist Tomeka Reid, New York violinist Mazz Swift, and bassist Silvia Bolognesi from Italy. Cory and I are working on new pieces--they've been slow to coalesce, but are offering rich new vistas for improvising. For me, it's the tricky balance of wanting every new piece to be its own animal, completely different from what's gone before it, while at the same time wanting it to fit into the Bristleverse of sounds and approaches. We've been toying with mixing and mashing the written material with more improvisational transitions and interludes. It's always new, always different with this group of four musicians--Cory, Lisa and Murray are up for anything; it's a delight to write for them, I'm always trying to come up with new challenges for these amazing players. Methinks Hear in Now's improvisational approach will be a nice complement to what we're about. I'm looking forward to the gig--hope you can make it out!
For the next Bristle gig (Sunday 5/25 at Berkeley Arts), premiering a new piece--still finishing up the form, but drawing inspiration from the Mad Magazine Fold Ins. I loved those things when I was a kid--we had a stack of Mad mags around the house, the fold-in was on the inside back-cover. The image was often some elaborate picture, chock-full of detail, with a caption posing a question or description. When you folded in the sides to meet in the middle ("A meets B"), the picture was transformed into something entirely different, with the ends of the caption also joining to form the answer.
My piece is inspired by ragtime compositions, but been working on and off trying to figure out how to vary the form so it's not just a straight read through of some jaunty syncopated licks. The Fold Ins kept coming to mind, take a straight presentation of some material but then truncate it, pick the best parts, twist it around a bit, try to rejoin it in some novel way, see what you get. Could work it in reverse--the listener hears these not-quite-flush arpeggiated, rhythmic bits, that eventually make some kind of sense when the original context for them is presented. We'll see what happens--I hope to make Al Jaffee proud...
Coming on the heels of the April recording session for our next release, Bristle's playing at Sacramento's In the Flow Festival this Sunday, May 13. Murray and I played last night at ITF with festival co-founder Ross Hammond, as Pluck, Vim, Vigour, a short but inspired set. It was a great turn-out, a real community event--the ITF folks did a great job of programming the locals w/the out-of-towners. People come out for their faves, and get to hear other great music they hadn't expected. The camraderie and the kudos are very heartening--as Phillip Greenlief said last night, it's a really noble thing to do, putting on a festival like this in this day and age...
Sunday is jam-packed with great bands: we're scheduled to play at 7:00 at Antiquite, just after Vinny Golia's Sextet and before Scott Amendola Vs. Will Blades, so many others throughout the day. As they say, show up early, stay late. Bristle's continuing to roll out the newest of our pieces in concert, still somewhat teetering on the edge of playability, but as Alvy Singer said, "A [band], I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies...." Heading to KDVS later in the week for Live in Studio A (Thursday, May 17, at 11 PM PST). Show up, tune in, these are our last shows for a couple of months before we disperse for the summer with other projects.
Looking forward to our next couple of shows, this Thurs 4/19 at El Valenciano in SF, and Sac's In the Flow festival in May. Got a couple of nice write-ups today: Craig @ Memory Select takes an informed listen to the new CD, and Ryan Offield @ In the Flow V made me blush (just a little...). Thank you, gents!
Col. MaCaw features the music of Lemuel Crook (and the dazzling Ross Hammond Quartet): Ludi & I played some Crook classics live on the air, and spun Bristle's rendition of "Revolution" from the new CD. You can listen to the interview here. We had a great time. Thanks to Bruce for supporting the music. Enjoy!
Entry 2 of my Bulletproof Composition Chronicles:
One afternoon a couple of years ago I arrived at the Garrett, one of Murray’s many domiciles. It’s a cool little loft located behind Amber’s sister’s house (and the place where many of the photos on the CD were taken, incidentally). I climbed the steep stairs to the second floor, found Murray entertaining his niece and nephew. We all talked a bit, then the kids left to go play elsewhere. I took my clarinet out of its case, Murray his violin, we began to do some free improvisation. 6-year old niece returned, saw us playing, ran back down the stairs, returning in what seemed mere seconds with toy accordion in hand. She promptly let ‘er rip, fervently matching us sound for sound. We were “jamming”—she knew what to do! Then, just as suddenly, she was gone, the still-smoking accordion resting on the wooden floor. Murray and I exchanged conspiratorial looks—got to somehow capture the sound of THAT! Thus, Wheezy Breezy was born.
Cory and I on tenor & alto, Murray and Lisa on violin & bass: we alternate chords in the beginning section, saxes on the “inhale,” strings on the “exhale.” I wanted to imitate the random tempos, the temporary mania and exploratory, slo-mo swells of someone playing an accordion for the first time. In rehearsal, we worked it out so that I would signify tempo by swinging the sax up and down, pendulum fashion (Muray said it reminded him of the Sippy Bird) and Murray would cue when the chords would change.
For the second section, the saxes are up an octave, seesawing between a tonic/dominant, reminding me of a jack-in-the-box or one of those cymbal-crashing monkeys. (It still cracks us up half the time we try and play it.) Lisa comes in with a quasi-majestic folk line, joined by the violin the second time. We then play the opening alternating chords as solid stacks, chorale style, to end the piece. It just may qualify as my most bizarre piece to date...
This one is another fun one to perform, but really challenging to get right: the trick for me is to keep the tempo fluctuations unpredictable and different each time, all the while giving clear cues; the trick for the band as a whole is to keep the strict alternation between saxes and strings of the opening accordion sound. Guess I just need to get out the old squeezebox and practice my reps!