Periodic Trespasses (The Saul Cycle)

Sam Bardfeld

Periodic Trespasses (The Saul Cycle)

Fresh Sound New Talent

Personnel:
Sam Bardfeld (vln), Ron Horton (tp), Tom Beckham (vib, slide whistle), Sean Conly (b), Satoshi Takeishi (d, slide whistle), Danny Blume (p, perc), Curtis Hasselbring (megamouth)

Reference: FSNT-239

Bar code: 8427328422390

Who is that Sam cat? He's a busy guy. He's a member of the Jazz Passengers, Roy Nathanson Quartet, D.D. Jackson's Octet, and Septeto Roberto Rodriguez. He's played with John Zorn and Bruce Springsteen, and a lot of folks in between: Ray Anderson, Johnny Pacheco, Nancy Sinatra, John Cale... Sam's debut as a leader and composer was "Taxidermy" (CIMP), which got 4 stars from Downbeat and made the top-ten lists at Coda and Cadence Magazines.

The raw materials of Periodic Trespasses come from the same vein. There's an angular melodicism reminiscent of Eric Dolphy, and a dolphyesque delicacy of texture and spacing in the arrangments - here with trumpet, vibes, rhythm section and his inimitable violin. There are the Afro-Cuban rhythms Sam has honed in New York's Latin scene. There's a playful humor in the tunes that Sam's work with Roy Nathanson has encouraged. But it was also there in the surrealistic ska tunes Sam played back in the day, when he was the coolest nerd in high school. For a modern jazz period, Periodic Trepasses is incredibly easy on the ears. The long melodies, clear themes, ebullient rhythms, and to-the-point solos ought to reach an audience beyond jazz buffs like you. And yet this is one of the boldest jazz records we've seen in years. Who uses music to tell a story any more? Whether free, improv, neoswing, or postbop, most jazz today is about jazz.


Tracklisting:
01. Chapter I (Good&Evil-Bardfeld) 0:40
02. Saul's Long Night (parts 1,2,3 & 4) (Bardfeld) 7:39
03. Chapter II (Good&Evil-Bardfeld) 0:17
04. Beal (Bardfeld) 5:01
05. There Could Have Been More of It (Bardfeld) 5:07
06. Chapter III (Good&Evil-Bardfeld) 0:49
07. I Was Basking in It (Bardfeld) 5:55
08. Je t'aime... moi non plus (Gainsbourg) 3:50
09. Chapter IV (Good&Evil-Bardfeld) 0:50
10. I.M.M.A.T.R.I.D. (Bardfeld) 6:51
11. Chapter V (Good&Evil-Bardfeld 0:23
12. Portrait of Jessica (Bardfeld) 6:13
13. Harry's Mambo (Bardfeld) 6:27
14. Chapter VI (Good&Evil-Bardfeld) 0:26
15. Flood (Bardfeld) 3:45
16. Chapter VII (Good&Evil-Bardfeld) 0:51
17. Dream of the Doppelgänger (Bardfeld) 4:57

Total time: 60:08 min.

Personnel:
Sam Bardfeld (violin); Ron Horton (tp); Tom Beckham (vb; slide whistle); Sean Conly (b); Satoshi Takeishi (d; slide whistle). Special Guests Danny Blume (piano; percussion); Curtis Hasselbring (megamouth).
Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY, August 31 and September 1, 2004

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Reviews:

"Ask most artists and theyll tell you their albums tell a story. The idea of musical narrative is nothing newlisten to any ECM disc, where emotional arcs often transcend any collection of discrete pieces. Rare, however, are the recordings where theres an all-encompassing theme. Rarer still are those that tell a specific and self-contained story. Percussionist Brad Dutzs Nine Gardeners Named Ned (pfMentum, 2005) was one such record; New York violinist Sam Bardfeld tells the story of the imperfect but always sympathetic Saul on Periodic Trespasses.

Through Bardfelds periodic spoken narratives were taken on a trip through Sauls psyche as he attempts to master the Renaissance krummhorn, while regularly sidetracked with diversions into areas of love and doppelgangers. But the music tells the real story; Bardfeld ahs fashioned an album thats unequivocally modern and occasionally edgy in its approach, yet completely enticing.
Bardfeld has proven himself to be as comfortable with the confluence of Jewish and Cuban music on Roberto Juan Rodriguezs Baila! Gitano Baila! (Tzadik, 2004) as the surprisingly successful pop music of Nancy These Boots are Made for Walkin Sinatras Nancy Sinatra (Sanctuary, 2004). His music is occasionally whimsical, yet never insubstantial. Here he's created an album that explores contemporary concerns but doesnt neglect tradition.

Sauls Long Night begins with Bardfeld and trumpeter Ron Horton layering an abstruse yet lyrical fanfare over vibraphonist Tom Beckhams abstract chords, bassist Sean Conlys light ostinato and Satoshi Takeishis metronomic pulse. But it quickly evolves into a more insistent swing where Bardfeld joins tradition with innovation. His solo devolves into an anarchistic interchange with Horton, only to shift into a more dark-grooved space where his long tones provide a foundation for Beckhams outré, yet approachable solo.

Horton, an alumnus of bassist Ben Allisons Medicine Wheel and the Herbie Nichols Project, also doesnt ignore what came before in the pursuit of what comes after. On one hand he can be mellifluously toned (listen to his thematically sure-footed solo on the gentle Beal); on the other more acerbic, as on I Was Basking In It, where Conly and Takeishi keep a fluid groove despite the tracks more oblique melodicism. Hes an intriguing textural match with Bardfeld on the front line.
Bardfelds episodic writing often uses unexpected methods to tie together seemingly disparate ideas. Portrait of Jessica begins abstract yet engaging, with Bardfeld evolving a folkloric theme over Conlys arco pedal tone. But thats only a setup for Hortons entry, where the ambience becomes distinctly cool and Beckham creates an ethereal cushion that makes even the most out of Hortons notes feel somehow in.

If music is meant to communicate, it sometimes fails when an artists vision is too opaque to reach any but the most intrepid of listeners. Periodic Trespasses is layered enough to appeal to those with unconventional dispositions, yet it's easy enough on the ears to appeal to those whove yet to make a leap beyond the mainstream."

-John Kelman, All About Jazz
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"With his second release as a leader (and first for Fresh Sound), violinist Sam Bardfeld presents an album full of modern Jewish intellectual reflection, as practiced by such diverse artists as Saul Bellow and Woody Allen, but couched in terms owing more of a debt to Frank Zappas Joes Garage.
But given those two foundations, this album is neither radical Jewish culture a la Tzadik nor progressive rock. It is instead another fine entry into the seemingly endless pool of releases by young New York composers/conceptualists.

Bardfeld plays the role of Central Scrutinizer here, narrating the tale of the main character, Saul, as he pursues his dream to play medieval krummhorn (a curved wooden horn which does not make an appearance on the album). The quirky narrations (seven in total) introduce songs and suites of songs (all but one are originals by Bardfeld) and should be appreciated for their literary merit, rather than read as linear explanatory notes.

A concept album is only as strong as the music that it rests on, though. Bardfeld, along with a quintet that includes trumpet (Ron Horton), vibes and slide whistle (Tom Beckham), bass (Sean Conly) and drums (Satoshi Takeishi), has written music that exists simultaneously in the realms of the accessible and postmodern. These pieces share a romantic quality, which is not surprising given the sonorities and textures that Bardfeld is used to working with as a violinist, but they also have a dramatic flair and unity that is absolutely crucial if the disc is to hold together as more than a collection of tunes by a guy with a band. At the end of the disc, you still might not know who Saul is or what he represents, but he can be thanked for his inspiration to Bardfeld."

-Andrey Henkin, All About Jazz
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"The cover certainly does grab at your attention. It's hard to say what that thing is. A War of the Worlds creature gone goofy? It does give you a clue that New York-based violinist Sam Bardfeld doesn't take himself too seriously. Another clue in this direction is the spoken word intervalsThe Saul Cycle inserted throughout and incorporated into Periodic Trespasses.

Working with the concept of all music tells stories, Bardfeld spins a whimsical tale about a guy who doesn't know whether he should pursue a career in periodontal surgery or dive into the unknown seas of his long-repressed dream, to become a master of Renaissance krummhorm.

The stories may be whimsical, but the music, with Barfeld's violin stretching its long notes around Ron Horton's trumpet and Tom Beckham's vibes, gets a serious treatment that results in a sometimes lighthearted romp that hints at Eastern Europe in spots, flirts with Cuba on Harry's Mambo, and at times gives off a Steven Bernstein/Diaspora Hollywood mood.

Saul's Long Night opens the set with Ron Horton's stuttery, then fluid trumpet solo over a light vibraphone glow, joined by Bardfeld, who injects some elasticity into the group interplay. And while the front line has a lighter than air feeling, the bass/drum rhythm of Sean Conly and Satoshi Takeishi provides a firm tether.

Periodic Trespasses offers a playful and ebullient sound, full of stretchy textures and airy, engaging melodies."

-Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

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