First of all, if you're in the Northeast, we hope you and yours are all safe after the storm. And that any damage to homes etc can be dealt with as quickly as possible.
On October 20, Larry Ochs and Marc Urselli spent 8 hours mixing the sound for Electric Ascension in New York. We are not done yet, but we got far enough to know that we really have something very special on tape. (Sorry, showing my age with the phrase “on tape” but you know what I mean.) Yes: we did hear the enthusiasm of the audience on the night of the concert; we heard it again the whole next day from individuals who had been in the audience and were not shy to come up to us at the hotel or in the streets of Guelph and enthuse. And we felt great about it after it was over. But none of that guarantees that the music will come across in a recording. So it’s nice to able to confirm that the music is there. Wow! The Blues according to John Coltrane - that feeling - really comes through on this take of the piece.The process of mixing though takes time.
My main observation upon listening to each player’s contributions - listening to the individual on her/his own track - was that I could easily pick certain trios, quintets etc. out of the group and just create a recording from one of those configurations that would be amazing/beautiful/profound. So there are choices to be made during mixing as to what to feature and then what exactly to collectivize into “the firmament of sound” that bubbles along like a beautiful orchestral voice. I’m speaking now of the ensemble improvisations mostly, when more than five or six people are involved. The duo, trio, quartet and quintet sections within the larger piece are beautiful now (…maybe a few minor tweaks left to do on each small grouping.) And one of the very exciting parts of this recording of Electric Ascension is just how musically different in feel it is from the recording made of the first performance in 2003 (released by the Chicago label Atavistic in 2005). Which makes it another example of how cool the Coltrane composition Ascension is. That the piece could accommodate both versions performed by 12 musicians, ten of whom were there at the first performance, and be so different. Quite cool.
And then there’s the video: it looks great even at this early stage in production. High definition video is a great invention. John Rogers continues to work on editing the picture to best show the music-making and, hopefully to capture some of the magic. The process of editing from five synched cameras is made tremendously easier by multi-camera editing software, but still takes a lot of work. How did they do this stuff in “the old days”? Once the picture cutting is completed the next step for the video will be to bring in a specialist to do the final color correction.
Hope to have the music download available sometime in January, early February … As for the video: late spring sometime, as a download.
The photo diary however, shots of the load-in, rehearsal and show, is almost ready to deliver. Toronto based photographer Marek Lasarski was kind enough to spend the whole day with us. Most of the shots in this photo diary (over 90%) are his, with a few added shots from the tech people showing you the recording set-up and the cameras in the audience. Plus maybe a few stills from the video footage. That will be online for download in November.
Finally, it seems to make sense, as I talk about full ensemble versus smaller ensemble sections: here below we show you what we call “The Map” of the piece as performed in Guelph; it shows you what you can anticipate hearing and seeing as the audio and video are completed next year.
The Map simply shows which players are performing in each section. The complicated thing is cueing the sections in and out in real time as the piece develops onstage; mostly “phased in or out,” one player at a time…. primarily these cues were made by Jon Raskin, who did a fantastic job on this performance. From my perspective, it’s possible that any one of these instrumental combinations could perform an entire set of music based on the EA theme all by themselves, so deciding when to cue sections out and bring in the next one is a series of tricky decisions that determines the overall arc of the piece and really makes or breaks the show. And those decisions are improvised as the piece develops
Here below is the Map for Guelph, somewhat modified due to this update form:
PREMONITIONS: HAMID - IKUE = add CHRIS add FRED or NELS add NELS or FRED
HEAD (the notated music) and CHORUS (chord progression) into GROUP IMPROVISATION
1. OCHS with NELS - FRED – HAMID – CHRIS - IKUE // followed by CHORUS and/or GROUP IMPROVISATION
2. NELS with FRED – HAMID – CHRIS - IKUE
3. IKUE – CARLA - FRED // add HAMID // followed by CHORUS and/or GROUP IMPROVISATION
4. JON – ROB – HAMID // followed by CHORUS and/or GROUP IMPROVISATION
5. JENNY – NELS duo // add CHRIS
6. add BRUCE / add FRED and HAMID / phase out JENNY (BRUCE with NELS-FRED-HAMID-CHRIS) // followed by CHORUS and/or GROUP IMPROVISATION
7. CHRIS with IKUE, ROB
8. JENNY – CARLA – HAMID
9. add NELS cycler / add FRED / add CHRIS and IKUE cyclers // followed by CHORUS and/or GROUP IMPROVISATION
10. STEVE with NELS - FRED – HAMID – CHRIS - IKUE // Group Improvisation
11. HAMID and FRED (Ochs = COLORS cues)
12 GROUP IMPROVISATION and Final reading of HEAD
(from Larry Ochs and John Rogers)