Ken Thomson’s Sextet @ BOP STOP
When: Oct 03, 2018, 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Where: BOP STOP
Brooklyn-based clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer, Ken Thomson has put together a new band for his latest project, Sextet, out on New Focus Recordings’ Panoramic imprint on September 7. Thomson is a staple within NYC’s contemporary music and jazz communities, known for his playing with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and composing and playing with the bands Slow/Fast and Gutbucket. He has written music for the JACK Quartet, Ashley Bathgate, American Composers Orchestra, and others.
Thomson is known for a unique voice that blends a variety of styles, with the Chicago Reader exclaiming that “few musicians travel as assuredly and meaningfully between jazz and new music as saxophonist Ken Thomson.”
Guided by a desire to create music in which composition and improvisation are equally important and codependent, this project is the latest in a series of recordings the composer has made unifying these traditions. Most clearly indicating Thomson’s creative road to Sextet are the two albums with his cross-genre ensemble Slow/Fast. The most recent of these, Settle, was praised by the New York Times for its “intricate long-form compositions,” and garnered a five-star review in All About Jazz.
For Sextet, The Bang on a Can All-Star reedist expands his ensemble to include alto and tenor saxophones (Thomson and Anna Webber), trumpet (Russ Johnson) and trombone (Alan Ferber), and dropped the chordal instrument, leaving bass (Adam Armstrong) and drums (Daniel Dor). With four horns, the palette is bigger, broader, and more dynamic.
Sextet is an homage to Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Music LP, where Monk focuses on his originals but begins with a chorale from the church, “Abide with Me.” Here, Thomson takes a similar approach, drawing a parallel between his music and its influences -- using a György Ligeti harpsichord passacaglia from 1978 as the opening statement, which he arranged for four wind instruments, as a prelude. The Ligeti provides a foundation for the album, with Thomson’s music fusing the intensity, complexity, and thematic cohesiveness of modern composition with the spontaneity and openness of jazz.
- Ken Thomson, alto saxophone/compositions
- Anna Webber, tenor; saxophone
- Russ Johnson, trumpet
- Andy Clausen, trombone
- Adam Armstrong, bass
- Daniel Dor, drums