-Monday at The Enfield Tennis Academy-, x2 LP of free improvisational length based on lyrical rhythms by acclaimed guitarist and songwriter Jeff Parker, ETA IVtet is finally here. Recorded live at ETA (in a nod to David Foster Wallace), a bar in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with plenty of backstage space for Parker, drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Anna Butterss, and alto saxophonist Josh Johnson to enjoy an extraordinarily deep and atmospheric. The environment that investigates musical production can bring together. Compiled from over 10 hours of vivid two-track recordings made between 2019 and 2021 by Bryce Gonzales right down to the hardest-hitting side cuts, "Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy" is a somber, brilliant session on an album packed with hypnotic, melodic, and patience and grace in its own beautiful strangeness. Ambient sound, electric fields, ambient noise, ceiling echo, live recording, Monday, Los Angeles. Jeff Parker's debut double album and debut live album Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy joins the ranks of canonical live double albums recorded on the West Coast, including Lee Morgan's 'Live at the Lighthouse' and 'In Person Friday' by Miles Davis. & Saturday Night at the Blackhawk, San Francisco & Black Beauty, & John Coltranes -Live in Seattle-.
Although IVtet sometimes plays standards and, also on this recording, their own compositions, as already mentioned, it is a free improvisational group, but not in the genre-specific sense of the term. The music is more free composition than free improvisation, more mixing than Discord. It's stretchy, yet roomy and relaxed. Granted, the four musicians have spent a lot of time in the planetary system known as jazz, but relationships with other music across many scenes and eras—dub and dilla, raw-source psychedelia, ambient, and drone—permeate the action. Listening to the backing tracks, Parker humorously commented instead, "We sound like the Byrds" (to some ears, the Clarence White-era Byrds who really crossed the line).
A foundation of all great ensembles, whether they're basketball teams or bands, is the ability of each member to move seamlessly and fluidly into lead and supporting roles. Building on the lines of communication they established in Parker's The New Breed project, Parker & Johnson maintains an ongoing dialogue of leadership and support. His sampled and repeated phrases move seamlessly throughout the song, layered and alive, adding depth, texture and pattern, reminiscent of birds in formation, sea creatures floating below the photic zone. Or the two musicians simulate these processes by weaving together their concise and clear performance in real time. Bellerose's stop/start flow also simulates the sampler, reminiscent of the drum parts in Parker's beat-based projects. Bellerose's bouncy phrases in particular offer the inimitable instant feel of creative live drumming. The range of timbres he evokes from his extremely ancient drums and shake drums, as distinctive a sonic signature as we have in contemporary acoustic percussion, gives the aesthetic topicality of IVtet's language almost folkloric qualities. A wonderful revelation in this band is the appearance of Anna Butterss. The strength, wisdom and humility with which she navigates the bass position cements and elevates the group's egalitarian sound. As IVtet's rhythms flow and cut, repeating and repeating, the elements of the ensemble are reconfigured, a terrarium of musical cultivation that grows under controlled variables, a rigorous experiment in harmony and intuition, deep concentration and freedom.
For all its diverse sonic persona, Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy appears immediately and unmistakably as music drawn from Jeff Parker's unique sonic world. Generous in spirit, succinct and disciplined in execution, Parker's music has earned respect for itself and for its place in history, which it conveys to the listener through the musical event. Many moods and shapes of heart and mind will find utility and hope in music that unites in substance and resistance the autonomy and community we want to see together in our world.
Personal tip: This has always been my favorite show, a lifeline from the Santa Barbara Hermit Records years. Mondays on the 101 South, dodging tasks and screens and sickness, ordering a double tequila at the bar an hour later, the band a foot away, knowing he was in good hands, knowing he'd be back another Monday. Finding life on scales beyond the human body is the collective dance to the sound of music and contemplating its beauty together. –Michael Ehlers and Zac Brenner
Pressed on premium audiophile quality 120 gram vinyl in RTI finishes by Kevin Gray / Cohearent Audio. Mastered by Joe Lizzi, Triple Point Records, Queens, NY. First hermitage edition of 1799 copies. First 400 direct-order LPs come with Einsiedler-exclusive retro audiophile inner sleeves, hand-cast by Alan Sherry, Siwa Studios, in northern New Mexico. CD edition and EU x2LP edition available through our EU partner Aguirre Records, Belgium.
Jeff Parker synthesizes jazz and hip-hop with a light and catchy touch. Tortoise's longtime guitarist has a silky clean tone, but his production is more influenced by DJ Premier than a classic mid-century jazz sound. In the early 2000s, as Madlib introduced a boom-bap sensibility to the hallowed halls of jazz label Blue Note, Parker conducted his own experiments with genre-blending in Chicago outfit Isotope 217, infusing upbeat rhythms. of hip-hop in the Top scene. The scope of computational abstraction. More recently, Parker has animated quantized beats and sliced samples with live instrumentation, both as the leader of New Breed and as a sideman for Makaya McCraven. Reversing rap's longstanding reverence for jazz, Parker gradually codified a new language for what has been called the "American art form", using a vocabulary drawn from America's next great contribution to the musical universe.
Parker's latest double LP, Mondays Live at Enfield Tennis Academy, was largely recorded in 2019 while his star was on the rise as a solo artist. The CD captures some intimate nights with drummer Jay Bellerose, bassist Anna Butterss and New Breed saxophonist Josh Johnson at ETA, a cozy Los Angeles cocktail bar, and previews their 2020 opus with New Breed, Suite for Max Brown . Yet Mondays 2022 is something new: it features drawn-out spiritual jazz, intricate melodies, and effortless soloing over a slow base that's as consistent as an 808. The results are as compelling as a wonderfully lush ambient record, but at the same time, with eventually it becomes clear that all of this is happening within the inherently confusing confines of an impromptu concert.
On four side tracks of about 20 minutes each, Parker and Johnson trade ostinatos, merge, split again into polyrhythmic calls and responses. Butterss rules the bag with a photographic negative of his lead lines, often relieved of rhythmic responsibilities by the relentlessness of the drums. Bellerose exhibits a similar feel of consistency to Neu!, with only a few BPM. His kit sounds as dusty as an old sample and his hypnotic rhythms are reminiscent of drum machine humanizers like J Dilla or RZA. One could spend the album's 84 minutes just listening to the beats; Each pattern change introduces a new movement into the compositions and transfers a period of time from bottom to top. Yet Bellerose's sensitive and reactive touch is unmistakably alive. We can practically see the sweat running down her arm as she sits on a staged cymbal for minutes or plays an entire side of the LP in a cocktail shaker.
The subtle opener "2019-07-08 I" opens with soft brush strokes, but sets the pace for Monday on the second cut, when a simple bell pattern gives way to a leisurely rhythmic ride. Thirteen minutes later, the mood changes. Bellerose plays some heavy black notes on her hi-hat; Butterss leans towards a fat bass line; The saxophone arpeggios, probably in a loop, float in front of us like smoke rings suspended in the air. It's a moment of glory, punctuated by the clinking of glasses and a distant "Wow!" placed so perfectly that we notice not only the scenery, but also the smooth curves of engineer Bryce Gonzales in post-production. Anyone who has heard great improvisations in a bar in the company of jazz fans and stunned spectators knows this dynamic: for some, the music was secondary. Others experienced a revelation.
Embedded in this familiar situation is the question of what such "ambient jazz" is supposed to accomplish: whether it wants to occupy the center of our consciousness, or whether it wants to settle for low flame. The perpetual solo on the album offers an answer. Never loud, irritating or aggressive, each performance is nonetheless highly individual. Even as the quartet settles into a prolonged groove, Johnson, Butterss and Parker shine in the spotlight, constantly illuminating a timeless sense of invention. Their interplay feels almost traditional, reminiscent of the bandstands of yesteryear, but the open structure of their improvisations keeps it unconventional.
Mondays works in turns: its metronomic rhythms are soothing, but the performers and their idiosyncratic expressions provide ample material for those interested in swapping young luminaries and seasoned veterans in a group. In 2020, Johnson released his self-titled debut, the excellent and boldly melodic Freedom Exercise, while Butters' recent debut as a bandleader, Activities, is one of the most exciting and little-known jazz releases of 2022. Parker's Experiments with Tortoise and the Chicago Underground, Johnson and Butterss's recordings revel in electronic textures, each representing the other as a collaborator. Mondays captures them as their mature playing styles take root on Parker's guitar shell.
The only track recorded after the pandemic began, the closest "2021-04-28" shapes the curved structure of the record and retroactively shapes the atmosphere of the previous hour. Midway through the song, Parker's guitar is reduced to a yawn; the drums sound. After a few minutes of buzz, Bellerose slips back into the mix along with an elaborate guitar line strummed with precision on the upper frets, punctuated by saxophone accents that scream with the vigor of a rousing enthusiast. The album starts with a murmur and ends with a moving statement, a passage articulated to sound really spoken.
Mondays wander determined and leisurely through genres and ideas marked by the passage of time. The intentional pulsing rhythm of its beat is a reminder of duration and, as with so many live albums, it reminds us of how circumstances have changed since the sessions were recorded. Life really is different than it is in 2019, and not just in terms of world politics, climate change, the threat of disease, or the reality that making a living from music is harder than ever. Seemingly catalyzed by the deadly and isolating scourge of COVID-19, jazz has transformed, hybridized, and weakened well-worn arguments for musical stratification and fundamentalism. Even calling Mondays a "live" album is an understatement considering how Parker and other jazz greats have increasingly used the studio, including Mondays in sparing but dramatic ways.
Towards the end of the first track, the tape abruptly slows down. The music plane opens up to another dimension: this set, Parker seems to say, can be manipulated with the ease of a vinyl tablet under the fingers of a DJ. Parker's latest album may be his first live album, but it's also the product of a mad scientist cracking up on a mixer. Time expands, heals, edits and intertwines, and the liveliness of a concert recording is complicated in fascinating and fruitful ways, even when the lead performers are four musicians partaking in the age-old custom of playing together in one space. --Daneil Felsenthal, Pitchfork, 8.4 Best New Music
Visit Enfield Tennis Academy on Mondays and you will be in a different world. Recorded live (apparently Parker's first live recording) between 2019 and 2021 at a bar in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, named after the main set of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (and Parker's ETA 4tet called To the Bedroom). As producer Michael Ehlers notes in a press release, it is "very much a free improvisational group, but not in a genre-specific sense." Mondays... includes everything that free improvisation omits, modes, melodies, keys and regular (although often multiple) rhythms; In fact, musicians are free to include those conventionally excluded.
It's the perfect antithesis of Eastside Romp, if you will: clean melodies rarely define a track, no order of solos, few solos in fact, no formal beginnings or endings; instead, he replaces prolonged improvisation with tight-knit songwriting. It's a two-LP set, each side a snippet of a long collective improvisation, a sort of electronic jazz take on hypnotic minimalism, in which both Parker and saxophonist Josh Johnson use loops to create interlocking rhythmic patterns and a sort of timeless, floating music, Layered Construction 'During' Bassist Anna Butterss and drummer/percussionist Jay Bellerose laid flexible foundations.
Often and beautifully responsive to the listener's specific aural needs, a brilliant, ever-changing soundscape that can begin in the middle of a sentence and eventually fade without beginning without ending, like Heaven's Muzak or the abstract decorative art of the Alhambra. Sometimes it may seem that fifty years later, Grant Green added his clean lines to the kind of work that Terry Riley spent more than 50 years filtering into jazz, rock and minimalist musicians. Although the songs are described as snippets, we often have what appear to be beginnings, the slight murmur of babble and background noise giving way to music in the first few seconds, but the 'beginnings' sound timid, like hints or hints. The clearest music here is the slow, galloping line back and forth between Parker and Johnson beginning on side C, 2019 May-05-19, first recording here.
Music is a constant that does not mind omitting its beginnings and endings, but it is also an organism, a type of music that many of us always carry with us and that is always within us. All kinds of music stimulate us in every way, but fortunately for that listener, Jeff Parker's ETA Quartet poses a fundamental question: What is comfort music, what are its components, and could there be universal comfort music? Or is comfort music a universal element of what we can hear in sound? Modality, rhythmic and melodic figures/motifs, drones, compound relationships and also a changing mosaic that cannot be encapsulated. What happens is that any music we look for is a consolation in our search, be it a need for structures so complex that we can get lost in the mapping, be it a random one that the music is about, we get rid of any specificity, but something that may have healing properties.
It's not just bar music, it's music for a bar with a stage name that further resonates with the band's moniker. Socialization is anchored here. There is also another crucial fiction, perhaps closer, The Scope, the bar in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, with its "only electronic music policy". Also think about the social roots that reverberate in distant musical ancestors, like this Riley session with John Cale, the Church of Anthrax... or the healing music of the Gnawa... or the Jajouka Master Musicians with Ornette Coleman dancing in your head. And what is more "natural" for us in the first decades of the 21st century? … Jamming, looping, drones… So maybe an ideal musical state is a regular Monday night session with guitar, sax, loops, bass and drums… guitarist and saxophonist use loops, expanding the palette and multiplying the range of tempo repeating the Possibility of mutation or constancy. A perfect look back at a burgeoning era of filming and recording, Jay Gatsby remarked, "Can't you repeat the past? Of course you can!"
We can even repeat the present or the future. --Stuart Broomer,www.freejazzblog.org