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MP3 Cory Combs and the Great Plains Ensemble - Fairfax in the Pacific

Jazz, Americana, Funk and the Avant Garde meet to create raw, unexpected and original sounds. Featuring twelve unique and gifted musicians, the Great Plains Ensemble bounds past stylistic categories, yet remains accessible and entertaining throughout.

17 MP3 Songs in this album (77:42) !
Related styles: JAZZ: Modern Creative Jazz, JAZZ: Free Jazz

People who are interested in Frank Zappa John Zorn should consider this download.

Fairfax in the Pacific – Cory Combs and the Great Plains Ensemble

1. "It takes a hell of a dog to weigh 600 pounds," and other statements, observations, or questions repeated over the years by grandfather John Wells (see definitions below):

2. Cory, do you like peaches?

3. Variation: Cory, do you like chicken?

4. Oh, about a half-a-mile.

5. How’s Charlie?

6. I’m going to stake you down to a red anthill, tie a piece of wet rawhide around your head and let it dry in the desert sun till your eyes pop.

7. Variation: If I get a hold of you, I’m going to get my two fingers up under your ribs, push on through and rip your guts out.

8. Feel of that, Chrisser

9. Chris, that dude would tear you a new one.

10. That’s a Smokey coming down the road. You best slow down or you’re gonna’ get us all thrown in jail.

11. There’ll be some killin’.

These frequent and sometimes puzzling phrase repetitions set the tone of our summer pilgrimages to Fairfax, Missouri, where John and Doris lived. My brothers and I would spend the week driving county farm roads, shooting off bags of fireworks, exploring abandoned farm houses, tearing around the farm on our motorcycle, getting lost in the growing corn fields, and listening to Johnny talk farming. The price of soybeans. The growth of the corn. The predicted rainfall. Whatever Johnny said, we listened.

Fairfax in the Pacific was inspired by recent dreams of this period. Dreams of my childhood, combined with the reality of the present. Dreams of my brother Chris and grandfather Johnny. Dreams of Hawaii, dreams of Missouri, Kansas, and San Francisco. Dreams that slam two places on top of each other; dreams that fragment, shift and juxtapose at will. Johnny appears, but his behavior is strange and confusing, and too often he leaves without word. Chris frequently gives a message, but it’s hard to decipher or understand. I wake nostalgic for the past, when those I’m dreaming about were still here, and confused by the symbolic meaning of the people, places and cryptic messages.

The music for this CD was written to evoke these dream images, and to go beyond. The dreams were the starting point, but I left them to create new stories for my main characters, the imagined visuals giving life and direction to the music as it developed.

The music shifts and turns quickly, changing moods and styles from song to song and within compositions, but returns to sounds that were familiar to me growing up - Americana songs, TV theme music, Hawaiian music, records from our antique Victrola, old western movie music, jazz, rock, esoteric percussion music, adventure music from old kids movies.

The sounds of family voices, recorded in 1986, becomes another layer on the CD, another sound, interacting with the music and musicians.

Conceived as one extended work with a short intermission, Fairfax in the Pacific is a tribute to the mysteries of family, both here and gone.

Fairfax in the Pacific Features:

Cory Combs Compositions, 6 & 7 String Bass,Samples,
Toy Piano
Dan Willis Tenor Sax, Clarinet
John Hollenbeck Drums, Percussion, Glockenspiel
John Gove Trombone
Harry Whitney Piano, Prepared Piano (Track 16)
Kayo Miki Violin 1
Matt Combs Violin 2, Mandolin, Violin Solos,
(Track 1, 3, 8) Voice (Track 1)
Emily Onderdonk Viola
Mark Summer Cello
Allen Biggs Xylophone (Tracks 4 & 14)

1. Said often and for no particular reason. A nonsense phrase. For example, during a commercial break, while rising to get a piece of chocolate candy, he would say, “Cory, it takes a hell of a dog to weigh 600 pounds.” What choice did I have but to agree?

2. Food and the relative like or dislike of it was of great importance to Johnny. “Cory, do you like peaches?” was always asked while I was eating canned peaches with him. Wasn’t it clear that I liked peaches? While I didn’t understand his need for reassurance, I always gave it. “I love peaches!”

3. He would ask about our like of chicken at any time: while eating steak, while driving to the farm, while playing cards. As a child, it was easy to enthusiastically say, “Yes, I like chicken. I love chicken, Johnny!” As a teen, after having been asked food questions for some 15 years, I wanted slam my fork into whatever I was eating and say, “YES! I still like chicken. I still like peaches. I liked them yesterday, and I’ll like them tomorrow!”

4. Said while giving directions. It seemed that whenever he was explaining the location of anything to another farmer, it was always about a half-a-mile up the road. Where did lightning strike the utility pole? Oh, about half-a-mile past the County Road MM. Where was the flood? Oh, about half-a-mile on up.

5. An informal check in, similar to how are you, or how’s it going. It could be a short and crisp, “How’s Charlie?” Or a longer, more inquisitive, “Cor-boy, how’s Charlie hangin’?” We always answered that Charlie was good.

6. A threat delivered to Matt, Chris, or me to pass time while driving country roads. What exactly would happen when the rawhide dried in the sun? Have you ever done that to anyone? Do the ants just crawl on you, or do they eat you? If the ants eat you, do you die first from the ants, or the sun? He had his theories on the subject. From experience? We had to wonder.

7. Said repeatedly during the game of Rip-Your-Guts-Out, a modified game of hide and seek played in the circular basement in Fairfax. My brothers and I always hid; Johnny was always the seeker. Johnny never actually looked for us. He would walk the basement slowly taunting us with such phrases. “Matt, I know you’re close by. I can smell your fear, you rat. I can’t wait to get a hold of you and rip your damn guts out.” Upon exposure from laughter, we had to sprint for the “safe zone” (the bed) or face a gut ripping.

8. While Johnny didn’t have particularly expensive tastes, when he did have an item of quality, he made sure we had “a feel of that.” It may have been a coat, or the leather seats of a new car. Either way, “Feel of that, Chrisser,” meant quality.

9. Said while attending rodeos and looking at the bulls in the pen. He would point out the biggest bull with the longest horns, and tell Chris how after a minute in the ring with that particular dude, he would leave with a torn new one.

10. We all took turns driving Johnny’s red pickup to the farm and back. As we began accelerating and steering with more confidence, Johnny tried to slow us down by threatening arrest from a Smokey. We knew it wasn’t true and sped on. “Chris, look up there. That dude’s a Smokey. You don’t think so, but I know it is. He was here yesterday. Slow it down. I tell you right now, we don’t want a Smokey on our ass.”

11. There were only so many trips to the farm we could make, rounds of Rip-Your-Guts-Out we could play, and hands of gin rummy we could deal. TV had to be watched, and watch TV we did. We’d flip the channels looking for a) a rerun of Hogan’s Heroes, b) a nature show about wolves, bears, leopards, or other predators, c) and old movie or TV show that featured the Wild West, war, or crime. In all cases but Hogan’s Heroes, he would happily say, “Boys, there’s gonna be some killin’.”

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