Riemann Surfaces

by Leap Of Faith

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    Leap of Faith with Steve Swell - Live at New Revolution Arts - Brooklyn, NY - 15 August 2015
    Leap of Faith does not travel light, and if you have a chance to see them perform, you are in for an multi-sensory experience. From the incredibly detailed discography and many CD's available at the well stocked merch table to the rich visual spectacle of instruments festooning the playing area, this is a group that comes prepared.
    The show begins with the start of a timer - a large digital clock that counts up for the next 40 minutes, indicating the length of each of the three sets of the evening. The concert then follows this pattern: a guest artist opens, then Leap of Faith plays, and finally, the two groups combined play. It is within all of this set-up and structure that the planning gives way to the pure improvised music (and some unusual sounds) that pours forth.​
    On this night, trombonist Steve Swell opened with two reflective solo pieces. Abstract and quiet at first, both improvisations unfolded to the ticking of an internal metronome. Towards the end of the first piece, Swell locked into a pattern that the audience responded to with satisfied and knowing smiles.​
    ​Next up, the Leap of Faith quartet worked thorough a constant flow of ideas, a spectrum of sound that toyed with consonance and dissonance. Comprised of woodwind players David Peck (PEK) and Steve Norton, cellist Glynnis Lomon, and percussionist Yuri Zbitnov, the group acted as a unit, creating a unique sonic world of textures and combinations of timbers and sonorities. The two woodwinds, sometimes butting up against each other, other times in complete agreement, kept things flowing, while the cello was often a focal point. One particularly effective passage occurred when both Norton and Peck reached for their Eb contra-alto clarinets and created a lush sonic bed for Lomon's dissonant double stops. The set was one long improvisation, with a series of climaxes, and ultimately an extended percussion solo passage brought the whole event to fulmination.
    ​The evening's final set, with Swell joining the group, took on its own character, and though the trombonist was very much an ensemble player, his impact was palpable. The joint set didn't quite reach the volume or density of the previous one, rather, the group stayed in a more melodic mode and broke out some tiny instruments - recorders and wood flutes - towards the end.
    ​To me, the show was a visual event as much as an aural experience. The improvisation goes beyond what notes and rhythms they play, and to what to will they make them with. PEK and Norton are constantly changing instruments, and both percussive and vocal 'events' seem to bubble up throughout. Anticipating and watching what comes next is an event itself from which you can hardly avert your gaze.
    This was a show that was as perplexing and challenging as I hoped it would be. I must admit I found the vocalizations, which seem to spontaneously occur and signal a shift in the groups energy, to be a bit hair-raising, but that goes part and parcel with the memorable sights of PEK playing exotic horns or blowing into three slide whistles simultaneous; or Zbitnov playing cymbals strung up on rope.
    If you're looking for sonic adventure, if you're looking for something you didn't know you needed, and if you think you're ready, then yeah, take the leap of faith. This genuinely nice group of musicians transform into something completely otherworldly as they start digging into the dozens of instruments that festoon the stage.
    Leap of Faith's Bandcamp page is well stocked. Within three days of the concert, the event was packaged up and ready for download. From this show, 'disc 1' one is called Factorization (LoF w/Steve Swell and Swell solo) and the second is Reimann Surfaces (featuring Leap of Faith's set).
    CD Review by Bruce Lee Gallanter
    LEAP OF FAITH - Riemann Surfaces (Evil Clown 9077; USA) Featuring PEK on clarinets, saxes, double reeds, metal & voice Glynis Lomon on cello, aquasonic & voice, Steve Norton on clarinets, saxes & metal and Yuri Zbitnov on drums, metal & voice. This disc consists of two sets, both recorded in August of 2015, one at New Revolution Arts in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the other at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, MA. I was at the set in Brooklyn and I recall it very well since it was one of the most intense music experiences I've attended in a long while! This is the regular Leap of Faith quartet with no guests and they are in wonderful form here! Both sets are long (35+ & 32+ minutes) and wind their way through a variety of sections. Dave Peck brought with him a relatively small number of reeds than his usual mass at home, perhaps a dozen here. Mr. Peck would start with one reed at a time, working his way through them all over the evening. The night also consisted of a solo trombone set from Steve Swell plus Mr. Swell sitting in with LoF on their second set. This was the first set that night and it was a gas! Ms. Lomon played mainly cello (immensely well!), standing up with occasional weird vocals and something known as aquasonics which is like a metal vase which is bowed. Mr. Norton also just played one sax or a couple of clarinets, taking his time on each one. Mr. Zbitnov is one of the best (lesser known) drummers I've caught in a long while and was integral to the group magic/dynamic. Things build here to an intense frenzy which is almost too much at times yet is still transcendent its own weird way. Both of the sets here capture Leap of Faith at their best, focused, spirited and likely to blow your minds inside-out! This is my favorite of the dozen or so discs I've reviewed of their so far!
    - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
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Manifolds 32:29


Evil Clown 9077
1) New Revolution Arts, Brooklyn, NY - 8/15/2015
2) Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA - 8/4/2015


released August 19, 2015

PEK - clarinets, saxophones, double reeds, aquasonic, metal, voice
Glynis Lomon - cello, aquasonic, voice
Steve Norton - clarinets, saxophones, metal
Yuri Zbitnov - drums, metal, voice

Concert Review By Paul Acquaro


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Leap Of Faith Boston, Massachusetts

Leap of Faith is a long-term collaboration active from 1993 to 2001 and resuming in 2015 between Glynis Lomon (cello, voice) and PEK (clarinets, saxes, double reeds, voice) with various other regulars (Mark McGrain trombone, Craig Schildhauer bass, Yuri Zbitnov drums, James Coleman theremin, Steve Norton saxes, clarinets) + many guests. Pure improv with little or no planning prior to performance ... more

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