clifford_thornton

Recording my father and his music

20 posts in this topic

Dear All,

It gives me great joy to announce that a recording session took place on Saturday, November 9, of my father's jazz compositions. It's been my dream for years to do something like this, and as his 75th birthday is coming up in December, we booked a day at Scholes Street Studio in Brooklyn helmed by René Pierre Allain and got over three hours of music, with my dad joined by bassist Ken Filiano and percussionist Andrew Drury. We had a small live audience of family members and family friends for part of the proceedings. It turned out really beautifully, running the gamut from more straight-ahead piano trio music to very open-form material. The recording quality is stunning and it was also videoed. The wonderful photographer and bassist Reuben Radding documented the day with his still camera as well. We will be having the music mastered and hope that eventually an album or two can come out of it, but for now, the experience is still shimmering in our minds -- a first time meeting where the music fit like a glove, a true hours-long conversation about the nature of improvisation and creativity from three amazing human beings.

The journey of this session is particularly impactful for me, as though I grew up around jazz and my dad played locally in Kansas throughout my childhood, I did not particularly like the music until I hit college and started to check out people like Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, and got heavily into the so-called avant-garde. At that time my dad was not particularly into the free music scene and I was not all that deeply into mainstream or 'modern jazz.' Of course that eventually changed and this session crystallized a conversation where the music talked to and through both of us -- him as composer, improviser, and performer, and me as the observer who put together the date. But if you'd told me 20-plus years ago I would be organizing a session with my dad of his compositions and having two of my favorite contemporary improvisers as his partners in creation, I would not have believed it.

Here's the copy that went out as a soft announcement of the session some weeks ago:

ABOUT THE MUSICIANS:

Jon G. Allen, PhD (b. Dec. 12, 1944) is a Clinical Psychologist, author, educator, and jazz pianist, with a decades’ long love for modern jazz and 20th Century composers. Curiously, he went to high school with Darius Brubeck in Connecticut and had the opportunity to play piano duets with the master himself, Dave Brubeck, while visiting the Brubecks' home. In addition to playing jazz piano, he has created more than 100 compositions, including blues, ballads, and classical pieces. For many years, he was a co-leader of small jazz groups in and around his home base of Topeka, Kansas. However, very little of this music had proper release at the time. His pieces can be characterized as bluesy post-bop romanticism with nods to open form textures—think Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett into the realms of Paul Bley and Burton Greene. Since relocating to Houston, Texas in 2003, he has been rehearsing regularly and occasionally gigging in a trio with bassist Barton Jones and drummer Chris Grimes.

Bassist, composer, improviser, and teacher Ken Filiano (b. 1952) performs around the world, collaborating with leading artists in multiple genres, fusing the rich traditions of the double bass with his own seemingly limitless imagination. Ken leads two quartets, Quantum Entanglements and Baudolino's Dilemma, and is co-leader of The Steve Adams/Ken Filiano Duo. His extensive discography includes a solo bass CD, “subvenire” (NineWinds), and his quartet's “Dreams From a Clown Car" (Clean Feed). For these and numerous other recordings and performances, critics have called Ken a "creative virtuoso," a "master of technique" and "a paradigm of that type of artist...who can play anything in any context and make it work, simply because he puts the music first and leaves peripheral considerations behind.” (JazzValley.com / Robert Rusch / Chris Kelsey). Ken has performed and/or recorded with Karl Berger, Bobby Bradford, Anthony Braxton, Connie Crothers, Bill Dixon, Ted Dunbar, Giora Feidman, Vinny Golia, Lou Grassi, Taylor Ho Bynum, Jason Kao Hwang, Joseph Jarman, Raul Juanena, Joelle Leandre, Frank London, Tina Marsh, Warne Marsh, Dom Minasi, Hafez Modirzadeh, Barre Phillips, Roswell Rudd, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Paul Smoker, Fay Victor, Andrea Wolper, Pablo Ziegler, and many more leading artists in jazz and improvised music.

What is rare among today’s arco soloists is Filiano’s mixture of absolutely pitch-perfect intonation and precise bowing hand motion alongside an openness of phrasing that is beholden to very few of his predecessors. His staccato is furious, his legato weeps, and he is able to alternate within the space of a few measures. (Charles Walker, JazzReview)

Ken Filiano is without a doubt one of the best bass players around, not only because of his technical skills (his arco playing is unbelievably precise), but because of the feeling he puts into it, often bluesy, with lots of soul, and because of his creative musical approach. (FreeJazz).

Andrew Drury (b. 1964) is a percussionist, composer, improviser, and cultural activist who has performed in over 30 countries and on 70 recordings with Jason Kao Hwang, Alan Braufman, Frank Lacy, J.D. Parran, Thomas Buckner, Stephanie Richards, Aruán Ortiz, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, Ingrid Laubrock, Jack Wright, and many others. Starting from his Soup & Sound house concert series—now in its 10th year—in 2016 he co-founded a non-profit organization, Continuum Culture & Arts, that facilitates international cultural exchange with artists from 40 countries and that presents concerts around the US and abroad, including at the Lincoln Center Atrium in December 2019. A long-time student of Ed Blackwell, Drury also photographs drum solos in desert and other outdoor settings, and has led over 1,500 percussion workshops in schools, communities, prisons, homeless shelters, universities, Indian reservations, and with Kurdish refugees in Germany.

So this is what's happening -- we should be getting the un-tweaked music back from the engineer in a few days and then we'll try to corral all of the material into a proper demo package and see what can happen from there. I'll be sure to keep you all apprised and, where appropriate, send teaser clips so you can get a taste.

Have a great day and thank you for reading this far!

Cheers,


Clifford Allen

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Clifford, congratulations and blessings.  So happy for you and your father on so many levels for this.  Not just the music, but the love, the experience, the affirmation, the memories created.  Look forward to seeing/hearing some in the future.  I've heard Filano, he's a monster on the bass.

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Wow! What a great thing to do for your father! Putting all that together for him is something you should be very proud of!

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That sounds like it was a fantastic experience!  Thank you for sharing it with us!  :tup 

And, yes, please keep us updated as things progress!

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Congrats Cliff! What a great experience.

Edited by jazzbo

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Very nice, even if commercial release doesn't end up in the cards, a great keep sake of your pop playing with world-class sidemen plus wonderful memories. You're a good son Clifford.

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Nice, very nice!

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You are so lucky to have been able to do this for your dad. It's a memory you can cherish forever.

If you do go with a commercial release, times are tough. You might want to go the boutique route to get the most out of it. Maybe release it on vinyl or SACD? I've participated in several music-based Kickstarter campaigns recently and the success rate has been pretty low. Maybe you could get Steve Hoffman to master it. That would garner you quite a few sales from his forum members.

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Yeah, if I can get a commercial release it'll be a pretty small run. Have a few ideas, though... and luckily I know a couple of mastering engineers who are very, very good at what they do.

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4 hours ago, bresna said:

 Maybe you could get Steve Hoffman to master it.

What would that cost?

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27 minutes ago, JSngry said:

What would that cost?

That is the question, isn't it? I certainly have no idea. However, he hasn't mastered anything recently and he is in his mid-60's by now. Maybe he isn't doing it much these days so you could get a deal? :)

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Or maybe he's comfortably wealthy and is like, if you have to ask, you can't afford it?

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42 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Or maybe he's comfortably wealthy and is like, if you have to ask, you can't afford it?

Well, his kids have all gone Hollywood, so maybe he's settling into a new role as a patron of the arts. :) 

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Yes, his forum strongly suggests that he's all about fostering different and new perspectives.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

What would that cost?

$100 and you buy lunch. His fanboys act like he's the god of mastering engineers but I've never seen his name on any CD I own. I see Inglot/Hersch, Bob Ludwig, Ted Jensen, Vic Anesini, etc over and over, but I never see any big label trusting him with their major artists.

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Just now, Captain Howdy said:

$100 and you buy lunch. His fanboys act like he's the god of mastering engineers but I've never seen his name on any CD I own. I see Inglot/Hersch, Bob Ludwig, Ted Jensen, Vic Anesini, etc over and over, but I never see any big label trusting him with their major artists.

You're going to get some pushback on that, I'm pretty sure. Much of it fact-based, at least as it pertains to remastering.

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Isn't there a Steve Hoffman thread already?

anyway, happy to share excerpts of the music we recorded soon...

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Looking forward to it!

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