MP3 James Falzone - Klang: Other Doors
Chicago clarinetist and composer James Falzone and his ensemble KLANG re-imagine music of Benny Goodman and play Falzone''s originals inspired by Goodman''s life. The music is looks 50 years back and 50 years ahead all at once.
15 MP3 Songs in this album (59:17) !
Related styles: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz, Jazz: Modern Free Jazz, Type: Improvisational
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James Falzone doesn’t have Benny Goodman’s photo on his practice room wall. And he’s not going to pore over a 1930’s–1940’s lexicon. While he had a fun time playing in a swing revival band during the 1990s, he doesn’t need to repeat those riffs ever again. Nostalgia doesn’t enter his mind, whether it’s for a time seven decades ago, or last Wednesday. The same is most likely true for everyone in his group, KLANG, as well as the guest artists on this record.
All of which makes Falzone, and his cohorts, a perfect fit to interpret the King Of Swing’s music alongside his own compositions on Other Doors. He knows that for jazz to continue as a living, breathing art, the essentials must be the same now as they were in Goodman’s time: having a wide palette of resourceful musical ideas and the imagination to make those ideas work together in new ways; and putting together a team of musicians who can respond to quick-thinking changes with complementary thoughts of their own.
This project began when Neil Tesser, representing the board of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, approached Falzone about performing a Goodman tribute at the 2009 Chicago Jazz Festival. It was the 100-year anniversary of Goodman’s birth, and he was a native of the city’s West Side. While Falzone respected Goodman, his legacy, this particular celebration and the festival itself, he initially thought he was the wrong man for the job. While he did have that gig playing retro-swing dances 14 years earlier, Falzone had since studied modern classical composition at the New England Conservatory, become an important part of Chicago’s renowned free-improv scene and investigated many forms of ethnic music traditions.
But the more he listened to Goodman’s music and thought about his life, the more fascinated he became. Falzone saw that Goodman’s insistence on hiring the best musicians regardless of their race and fighting for their equitable treatment was an early step towards the civil rights movement, commemorated through this disc’s title track recalling an incident in the South during the late 1930′s when Goodman defied segregation and demanded that all the members of his integrated band be allowed to use the same door to enter the venue.
Falzone also discovered that Goodman’s community of musicians was very much like present-day Chicago. “Like he and his co-conspirators, (Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, Charlie Christian), we have a community of players in Chicago at the present who are spurring each other on to new creativity both on record and in real-time on the stage. The core members of KLANG (Daisy, Roebke, Adasiewicz) and the guest artist I brought in (Berman, Lonberg-Holm, Bishop, Jackson) are, in my opinion, some of the finest musicians working in jazz and improvised music today, each with a strong and unique voice and their contributions to this record are vital. I set up the arrangements and created new compositions to allow everyone space to be themselves so that you’d hear some of the same spirit as in those classic Goodman small-group recordings I love so much where personality is as important as notes.”
Falzone’s links to Goodman shine throughout the disc: primarily an unquestionable virtuosity on the clarinet, along with a sense of fun to make octave leaps sound not just easy, but joyful. Still, while Goodman led most of his groups through hard driving swing, and others through his commissioning of modern classical compositions, Falzone makes these turns through one group—KLANG—and often during a single tune. Yet, he approaches it all through the kind of minimalism that takes its time to be felt. Except for when he just lets the players in KLANG uproariously duel among themselves. Something Goodman wouldn''t have done, but should have.
What winds up being created from throwing all of this together is Falzone and KLANG’s vision of their current environment. “I’m not trying to pay homage to Goodman nor am I attempting to somehow update his great body of work” Falzone said. “I have no interest in sounding like Benny Goodman and yet I have every interest in emulating what Goodman did in terms of being present in his moment. The greatest thing I can do to pay respect to a jazz musician of the past is to be a jazz musician of the present.”
Associate Editor, DownBeat
December 2010, Chicago
Recorded November 22, 23, 24 and December 1, 2010 at Victorian Recording Studio, Barrington, IL
Engineered by Josh Richter
Produced by James Falzone
Mixed and Edited by James Falzone and Josh Richter
Mastering by Jonathan Horwich of International Phonograph, Inc.
Cover photo by Marion Post Wolcott, 1939, used by permission from The Library of Congress
Photo of KLANG by David Sampson
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Sincere gratitude to Tim, Jason and Jason for their great musicianship and continued commitment to KLANG and to Josh, Jeb, Fred and Keefe for their contributions to Other Doors. How lucky I am to live in Chicago at this time and to cross paths with these great musicians.
This recording was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign where over 50 backers pledged seed money to help me bring Other Doors to fruition. Though each and every pledge was helpful and meaningful, the contributions of ten backers earned special mention: Mike Swengel, Dr. Jerome Langguth, Carol Dubas, Russell “check ‘em” Horvath, Barb Barker, Mike Griffin, Larry Kart, Dr. Jack Shindler, Joe Golan and Donna Tadelman. I’m so grateful for their support. Please visit my website to learn more about how Kickstarter and my supporters helped bring this recording to life.
Additional funding was provided by a generous Faculty Development Grant from Columbia College Chicago.
Further thanks to the superb support team that has made this recording possible including Josh Richter and Victorian Recording Studios, Jonathan Horwich, Oasis CD Manufacturing and Scott Menhinick of Improvised Communications.