The configuration of this group started with improvisation. Originally the concert was planned as the collective quartet Ticonderoga with the multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, Jamie Saft and Charles Downs. I was supposed to play bass. Joe had to cancel so we improvised a solution on short notice. I switched to guitar and Brad Jones came in to play bass. Brad, Charles, and I had never played together before this. Charles and Brad had never met before this. Working with new people on the fly is a normal thing for all of us, but there is usually some sort of familiar understanding about what might happen with new people, in this case not as much.
Most improvised music has some kind of technical default—a structure or foundation to build the music on, a familiarity with the way the others play, even if that is noise, sound, or something that might seem lacking in substance, that is a kind of substance. But this situation had only the structure of our collaborative engagement, no discussion or particular expectation about what we might do. And so we did a sound check and within a minute or two we could hear each other and we could try things out to see how we responded. This is when the structure becomes the mutual respect we share and the determination to make it work and deliver something special, something unique for the audience. We listen for pitches, for phrasing, for the way the groove is stated or implied. We consider basic musical things like, the group sound, sustain, articulation and the way we generate form. We signal with our own playing and with body language that we hear what the others are doing and we accept it and respond with complementary or contrasting material. In this case it quickly became comfortable and we knew it would work. But we also knew it was different, so in the break before the concert we were excited.
The sound of a chord on a Fender Rhodes piano, a walking bass line, or a guitar plugged straight into the amp are things we’ve heard before. The challenge is to re-contextualize all of it so that it has less to do with what we know and everything to do with how we can make it something else. In some ways a group like this is the most difficult to work in because every second of playing is demanding and there isn’t a rest point. But these situations are also among the most satisfying because you get to use your knowledge, skills, and especially your creative voice to change a known format. It requires honesty, being yourself, and trusting that you and your colleagues share the same goal.. And then it’s done. Over. Felt right. Fortunately this set was recorded. Now it’s a thing. Done as described above. Similar to other quartets like this, and also very, very different. The expression is ours, the impression of that is yours.
released July 10, 2020
Jamie Saft - Fender Rhodes, organ
Joe Morris - electric guitar
Bradley Jones - acoustic bass
Charles Downs- drums
Recorded live by Randy Thaler at Atlas Studios, Newburgh, NY
Mixed and mastered by Jamie Saft at Potterville International Sound, NY
Art and design by Ramona Saft
All songs written by Jamie Saft, Joe Morris, Bradley Jones, Charles Downs
All songs published by PAIN MANAGEMENT (ASCAP) and RITI publishing (ASCAP)
Special thanks to James Keepnews, Ben Young, Atlas Studios, and Craig Nixon
Jamie Saft is a virtuoso pianist, keyboardist, producer, and composer from NY. His work has been featured with Iggy Pop,
Beastie Boys, Bad Brains, The B-52's, Roswell Rudd, John Zorn, John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Antony & the Johnsons, and more. He scored the Oscar-nominated "Murderball" and Sundance winner "God Grew Tired Of Us." (Photos: Michael Bloom Photography c. 2017 and Vin Cin c. 2015)....more
Total mastery of patience, time, and drama create a constantly engaging journey that never gets tiresome or same-y: in fact the harder you listen the better it gets! Somehow Sorey et al. find a way to combine the deep listening and spontaneous interaction of the best jazz with the sense of every tone and sound being worth a universe of listening, which could be equally from Cage and Feldman or the accompaniment to an ancient ritual.
The recording/engineering is absolutely perfect as well. Giles
Mary Halvorson is a genius composer and guitarist who has developed her own musical language, and with Code Girl she has incorporated poetry into that language. Incredible compositions and lyricism (each track is a different kind of poem). Halvorson's playing is as great as usual, and all the other members of the band sound great. Robert Wyatt's singing in particular works extremely well in the tracks he's featured. Highly, highly recommend. rat
Two fifths of the acclaimed group Irreversible Entanglements create a revolutionary LP celebrating Latin and Afro-Caribbean influences through intricate drum and brass arrangements. Bandcamp Album of the Day Oct 21, 2020
I am not surprised at how good this is. Thumbscrew are terrific and Anthony Braxton's music is always interesting and moving in different directions. I can not stop listening to this. The recording itself is so well done. It is a deep sound to crawl inside. liclon