6 CD Set
Snark Horse is a book of 70 highly-detailed one-bar compositions by pianist / composer Matt Mitchell and percussionist / composer Kate Gentile designed to incite inventive, multi-directional improvisation. It is also the name of a revolving cast of musicians – including Mitchell and Gentile – who have performed this music in various combinations since 2013. Mitchell's prior release, Phalanx Ambassadors, was called by Popmatters "a high watermark for the new jazz... a breathtaking jawdropper from one of the best pianists and composers now working." Gentile's 2017 debut release, Mannequins, was described by The New York Times as "full of stuttering rhythms and teetering intervallic jumps; an array of textures — sometimes chiming, sometimes abraded — disorient you even as they deepen your listening."
For this new recording, Mitchell and Gentile convened eight other singular musicians – all of whom have taken part in Snark Horse performances over the years – in varying combinations. Despite the small nuggets of musical information, their approach is still jazz-oriented: the musicians first play, and then improvise on the tunes. The one-bar compositions can be looped, connected, made into vamps, transposed, inverted, alternated, played together to create other-worldly counterpoint, basically in infinite permutations. Ultimately, Mitchell and Gentile’s intention behind Snark Horse is to make a highly improvisational and expansive environment using compressed versions of the kinds of material they use in their longer pieces. The compositions help foster a unique, highly imaginative universe for the musicians to show off their individual takes on this truly idiosyncratic music. Their energy is captured in over 270 minutes of music, interwoven with 60 additional minutes of electronic material composed and constructed by Mitchell in response to the group recordings. The entire daunting project presents the musicians’ resourceful creativity to full effect.
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