Renga Ensemble @ BOP STOP

When: Mar 01, 2015, 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Renga Ensemble @ BOP STOP

The Renga Ensemble was convened by clarinetist and composer James Falzone for a series of concerts and a recording in April, 2013 in Chicago. The ensemble was handpicked by Falzone, drawing together some of the most diverse and adventurous clarinet and saxophone players working in jazz and improvised music today:

James Falzone: Bb and Eb clarinets
Ken Vandermark: Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone
Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, contra Bb bass clarinet
Jason Stein: bass clarinet
Dave Rempis: Bb clarinet, contra Eb alto clarinet
Ned Rothenberg: Bb clarinet, alto saxophone

The conception of the project is rooted in persona: how do diverse musical voices converge and find common ground, especially in a setting where composed and improvised elements coalesce? The intention in assembling such diverse players, most of whom had never played together before, was to allow space for each voice to be heard yet challenged and shaped by another, equally strong voice.

James named the group Renga after a centuries-old form of collaborative Japanese poetry, where two or three poets blend their words into a single meditative work. James' compositions, written especially for this project, were conceived around a haiku by American poet Anita Virgil. The titles of the 5 main compositions make up her stunningly clear poem:

Not Seeing
The Room Is
That Red Apple

Six other shorter pieces were conceived as soundscapes for each member of the ensemble to improvise within, the written material assembled by James as a personal statement on the soloist's musical vocabulary. Additionally, the group creates fully improvised pieces making use of the full spectrum of clarinets, from the low contrabass to the high Eb.

The concerts in Chicago took place at The Chicago Cultural Center, The Hideout, and the Elastic Arts Foundation and received preview articles in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and Chicago Music.

The ensemble entered Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago at the end of it's week work together to document the music. The recording was made in a very direct and organic way: 6 musicians sitting in a circle, tapes rolling, no overdubs and just a few post production edits. The resultant recording, entitled "The Room Is", is a focused document of music made "in the moment" and will be released in January 2015 on James' Allos Documents label.


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