With the help of the Special Initiative Grant funds, Music for People will partner with and co-present the Connecticut Improvising Composers Project; advising and coordinating the commissioning, presentation and documentation of new musical works from four Connecticut composers created for improvising chamber quartet, performed in a range of settings across the state of Connecticut.
As artists, we often have difficulty finding professional work where we live. CICP members work and perform internationally. We have made a conscious decision to make our home here in Connecticut, thereby enriching the cultural lives of our communities and positively impacting the revenues of our state. One might think of CICP as a cultural parallel to the local food movement: cultural localvorism. Presenters and audiences often evidence a bias towards importing their cultural diet: 'it has to be better if it is from far away.' CICP aims to change that pattern, working with presenters, funding partners and audiences to develop productive linked pathways to local and regional production and consumption of the arts.
Music for People will partner with and co-present the CIC Project; advising and coordinating the commissioning, presentation and documentation of new musical works from four Connecticut composers created for improvising chamber quartet, performed in a range of settings across the state of Connecticut. The proposed project has three components: commission and rehearsal of new work from four CICC member composers;multi-media documentation of the commissioned work; public performance of commissioned work in venues across the state coordinated and co-sponsored by Music for People.
Review by Dan Barry in the Hartford Advocate
Locally grown avant-chamber jazz levels a packed Real Art Ways
The long relationship between Hartford's Real Art Ways and musician/composer/educator Stephen Haynes has been a fruitful one. But they outdid themselves this past Saturday when RAW hosted the Connecticut Improvising Composers Project, with whom Haynes has been writing and rehearsing for the past year. The group, which features Mario Pavone on bass, David Darling on cello and vocals, Peter McEachern on trombone, and Haynes on cornet and trumpet, put on a magnificent concert that was clearly the product of both love and labor.
The reasoning behind the Project is as sound as the music itself. All four musicians are internationally renowned, and yet they rarely get a chance to play here in their home state. Haynes suggests it's a twist of fate that may come from our "bias towards importing [our] cultural diet: 'it has to be better if it is from far away.'" The idea of reinforcing the relationship between CT artists and audiences is so natural that even the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism got on board, awarding the Project a Special Initiative Grant.
All that said, the music itself has quite a separate life of its own. The bulk of Saturday's music was impeccably cool, even criminal, with a delicious sinister edge suffusing every move. The early portion of the set was full of urban dread and leakiness, with Haynes' heavily muted cornet evoking Miles Davis's untouchable calm. Later in the evening, Darling emerged as the lead figure in the group's sonic palette, notably because of his encyclopedic range of techniques. He would bounce the bow on his cello's strings; play skittering harmonics that sounded like birds singing; or strum and pluck his strings to make them sound deceptively like a piano or guitar. But most impressive was his singing, which I can only guess employed overtones and other musical calculus to make him sound like four or five voices in chorus.
My only lament is that stellar percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, as a non-CT artist, is unable to be a full member of the project (he was billed on Saturday as a "special guest"). His bold rhythmic backbone was well-matched to Pavone's percussive style, and his solos always held the listener's hand, even when charting abstract territory. I walked out of the concert feeling like I had just cracked a casino safe. Kudos to RAW, Darling's organization Music for People, and the CICP for collaborating and conspiring to build such a great event; hopefully the evening's substantial crowd will spread the word. You absolutely must attend the CICP's next concert, which takes place Sept. 12, at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford.
Review by Chuck Obuchowski in the Hartford Courant, June 16, 2009
The Connecticut Improvising Composers Project made its debut at Real Art Ways Saturday with a piece that neatly encapsulated the group's modus operandi. The majestic melody of "Oh Yeah," written by cellist David Darling, emerged from a freely improvised introduction to which all five musicians contributed. The theme segued smoothly into several engaging solos, then returned, enhanced by scintillating variations, for an ensemble conclusion.
The project's name — CICP, for short — may be unwieldy, but it accurately defines its unique marriage of improvisation and composition. One could argue that virtually all jazz bands seek to combine the two; however, the CICP works with a broader musical palate. Elements of blues, contemporary classical, world rhythms and folk songs swirled through the sonic soup concocted by this new quintet in Hartford.
Cornetist Stephen Haynes, bassist Mario Pavone and trombonist Peter McEachern each chipped in a pair of compositions. Like Darling, all are Connecticut residents who don't get to play in their home state nearly as often as they'd like. The CICP was created to help rectify that situation, and to create a forum for original works. Given the strength of this collaboration, and the positive reception Saturday, new opportunities are bound to arise.
The four composers were augmented by percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. Not an official CICP member, since he hails from Japan by way of New York, Takeishi nonetheless proved indispensable to the group's energy. His arsenal of frame drums, cymbals, bells and shakers gave the quintet a distinctive rhythmic feel.
McEachern's tunes were closest in structure to mainstream jazz. The funky blues of "Southern Exposure" and the Latin textures of "Waxing" offered pleasant contrasts to some of the evening's more challenging pieces.
"Iskmix," penned by Pavone for his recent "Ancestors" recording, provided powerful solo opportunities for everyone. It also demonstrated one of the ensemble's unique facets: the symmetry of two strings and two horns. The horn players engaged in powerful interplay, as did the bassist and cellist. For those who only know Darling's more meditative work, his scorching work here, both with and without a bow, was a revelation.
Darling also displayed an appreciation for African songs on his soulful "Rub-a-Dub." The cellist accompanied his dancing pizzicato figures with inspired vocal chants, again with a nod to traditions of the African continent. Haynes sounded positively euphoric during his cornet solo.
The CICP closed with Darling's playfully titled "Obama Mama." The lilting melody, initially sung and bowed by its composer, was picked up by the rest of the group for a festive "good night to all" groove.