|Sunset Park Polyphony Liner Notes, by David Bindman, June 25, 2011|
In Sunset Park, Brooklyn one hears a polyphony of multiple languages, children playing, airplanes, traffic, music, and birds singing. I composed most of the pieces on this recording after moving to the Sunset Park neighborhood in 2006. The sounds are inspired by dreams and images of life and were only quantified during the notation process. In this music we offer paths to wander, to dance, to follow threads of imagination...
1. Shape One is set in a 15-pulse grouping that can be heard/felt in 7½ beats, with multiple layers of time expressed as five, three, and one. Saxophone, trumpet, and drums state the initial themes; then all layer in to reveal the underlying harmonies and song form. This piece is dedicated to our friend, poet and activist Tyrone Henderson (1947-2011).
2. Long Line Home remembers the home and community of my childhood in Englewood, New Jersey - the sights and sounds of Belmont Street, the hot sun on a baseball field, friends and teachers, my mother drinking tea in the early morning light...The piece continues in the 15-pulse cycle began in Shape One, slower and with a different feel.
3. Sunset Park Polyphony - The introduction, without metric time corresponding to the Indian alapana , is set in the Pantuvarali raga , a Hindu devotional modality. Melodies rise from the space created by the raga, crossing each other in multiple meters and converging on a single point that launches the drum solo. The first theme is stated over a simultaneously slow and fast 7 cycle, derived from the Karnatic (South Indian) misra eka tala (time cycle). A second theme spans a 21-beat cycle with inner subdivisions written as 10 ½ beats, with underlying layers of 7. The saxophone solo section is grouped around the ancient tirripugar tala : in this piece with 7 beats expressed in three successive levels of speed, regular time (four pulses per beat - 28 pulses), double time (two pulses per beat - 14 pulses), and quadruple time (one pulse per beat - 7 pulses), whose overall duration is 49 pulses. A piano solo moves to a fast 7 adapted from the Karnatic misra capu tala , then into a slow 7 kala (speed) with trombone and trumpet improvisations before a return to the themes.
4. Robeson House Echoes - Robeson House, a former carriage barn at Bennington College overlooking the Green Mountains of Vermont, resonates with the sounds of all who have made music there. This piece is dedicated to Bill Dixon (1925-2010), who was the founder and leader of the musical family that came together at Robeson House. The introductory theme, stated by the saxophone in non-metric time, is then expanded and deconstructed by the ensemble. A 23-note phrase returns later, voiced in four parts and played at varying speeds. The underlying rhythm for the trumpet solo is a 60-pulse cycle felt in progressively faster groups of five: as quarters, dotted eighths, eighths, and three repetitions of sixteenths. We focus on the way notes, shadings, shapes, and tonalities come together spontaneously.
Landings Suite follows a young person, Eyepod, as s/he rises to great heights, wanting more and more while turning a blind eye to the resulting injustice and environmental devastation all around. Ultimately s/he humbles herself and returns to work for the best that is humanly possible.
8. RH Reprise - an impromptu improvisation based on a 13-pulse phrase from Robeson House Echoes. The rhythmic cycle can be heard/felt in 6½ beats.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jon Rosenberg at Systems Two, Brooklyn NY, Rich Lamb second recording engineer, cover drawing by Laura Lambie Wallace, photo by Steve Johnson, graphic design by Malin Abrahamsson