They Eat Trees (2016)
They Eat Trees is a synthesis of microtonal Romanticism and the wild energy of free jazz. There are two distinct worlds in the piece that are developed and transformed in a quasi sonata form before being subsumed by the coda.
The title is taken from the Mohawk Indian word ratirontaks (“those who eat trees” or “wood eaters”). It is the name the Mohawks gave to the Algonquin tribe who resided in the mountains we now call the Adirondacks. These incredible mountains are an abiding inspiration.
Three Songs from Lalande (2015)
Three songs from the song cycle "Lalande" composed for Dollshot: soprano, saxophone, piano/keyboard, bass, percussion.
Mechanizmo is a sonata for marimba and piano, percussive doppelgängers, and in this piece, a composite keyboard of terrific range and virtuosity. I wanted to explore the technical and timbral qualities of this incredibly complex mechanism, whereby one instrument hammers strings while the other strikes wood.
I am fascinated by the drama inherent in sonata form, the sense of conflict between two distinct musical ideas acting on each other, and the journey of increasing tension through which they are ultimately changed. Rather than relying on tonality in the traditional sense, I utilized contrasts of material, style, and musical parameters like density and duration to enact the dialectical struggle. The narrative of the piece has to do with entropy, like a Tinguely sculpture, or Max Dean's 'Robotic Chair', which puts itself together, destructs and then reassembles. Except in this case, because it's a sonata, the final assemblage is different than the original; it's been transformed by the process.
"When the winds of harmony shift, a new song colors the air. The transparency of the quartet's intent and mode of operation allow hearing inside the music, from which details of descent and association emerge. In response, memory, and imagination, memory's mirror, suggest familiar analogies -- such as the guitar's Appalachian folk arpeggios in "Pendulum Music," the tenor saxophone's vocalization and the raga-like development of "Descent," the bluesy edge of "Esther," the multiple meters in "Rat Man." Or the way "Wolves" comes together -- the fluid electric bass fitting hand-in-glove with the guitar's fluttering modalities, the groove and textural incident of the drums, the soprano saxophone's shofar cry. As the improvisational modes coheres, everything relates to melody, even the rhythm section, urging without forcing, alert to alternatives in the moment." -- Art Lange (excerpted from "Descendants" liner notes)