~Why all the noise?~
I remember listening to Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2 in 2011 and being stunned. At the time I was familiar with many of the techniques he used to create his compositions but I had never imagined that the saxophone could be played with the kind of sonic language and context that he was utilizing. The music that I was hearing in that album was, as a genre, far and beyond what you would hear from a saxophonist playing in a classical or jazz style, but instead seemed to be a wildly imaginative, wholly unique, and idiomatic way of playing the saxophone. I have since learned that this style of solo composition for saxophone has more than a few originators, all with their own personal style; among them Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Peter Broztmann, and Ryo Noda.
It was seeing Stetson perform live in 2013 that inspired me learn how to play the saxophone in that style, with those musical idioms, and find my own voice through my own compositions. When I heard him play I imagined myself in a different world, where all of the laws of physics were the same as our own, but where landscape and evolution had proceeded in a wildly different direction. The soundscape of this music was wild and provocative, filled with swiftly repeating arpeggiated textures, pealing timbres, and unrelenting energy. It could also be gentle, flowing, melodic, and lovely; like a sound metaphor for a rushing stream. Eventually this need to find expression through this genre of saxophone music culminated with my first project Fierce, released in 2015, and would eventually lead to my first full length album of music Into the Day in 2019.
So why all the noise? Why write music for saxophone in this style with all of its timbral peculiarities and tonal differences? Why play the saxophone so much differently than the norm? The answer is beauty.
The idea of beauty in music is often applied to a very limited spectrum of sounds and musical principles. Beautiful melodies are supposed to sound a certain way, beautiful chords are supposed to sound a certain way. Many concepts of tone, timbre, composition, and style all have certain arbitrary expectations placed upon the composer and performer that limit the capacity of music to express emotions within the totality of human capability. Human emotion and its endless expressive capabilities are beautiful, so the question to answer is: can we write beautiful and expressive music for saxophone using tones and timbres that might be considered unusual? The answer is easier than the execution: of course we can.
The music I write for saxophone is (through extreme variances in tone and timbre, with use of rhythmic ostinato, improvisation, multiphonics, harmonics, circular breathing, and singing into the saxophone) to create beauty from what in other contexts might be considered ugly. These songs are, at their core, intended to be highly emotional and spiritual, to shake the listener awake from any preconceived ideas and prejudices of what music is supposed to sound like. This album, Into the Day, is a stylistic and compositional expression of many personal, spiritual, and philosophical journeys that I was making at the time. It is also my creative offering to any soul that yearns to experience something different or unusual. And if this style of music is beyond what you normally associate with the saxophone, I encourage you, do not be afraid of the unusual, the wild, and the extreme.
~For Coming Forth into the Day~
For Coming Forth into the Day is the title of an ancient Egyptian prayer asking for the safe passage of the soul in their journey to the underworld. This prayer is the first of a large collection of prayers that are now known as the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, meant to prepare and guard the soul as the search for a peaceful afterlife begins.
~Running on Water~