I’m starting to get mixes for the forthcoming Small Screens album, Modern Flora, which will be released on LP, CD, and digital formats this fall, likely in September. The six-piece Small Screens carries on, but, because I enjoyed writing for a larger group with lots of colors on hand, I thought it would be fun to work with a still larger palette by expanding to a nonet for an album and a handful of shows. That nonet is made up of Christopher Thomson, saxophones; Bryan Murray, saxophones; Elaine Burt, trumpet; JC Sanford, trombone; Michelle Kinney, cello; Zacc Harris, guitar; Dylan Hicks, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Peter Hennig, drums. (Charlie, a wonderful player, has relocated to New York; Dan Carpel, another wonderful player, has stepped in on bass.) This past summer we recorded five pieces. I wrote draft arrangements for the whole group, getting deeper into the world of notation apps (I still have much to learn both about preparing charts and scores, and about using notation apps, but that’s one of my projects over the next few years). I then turned those drafts over to other members of the group to revise, enlarge, refine, and otherwise bring their ideas to the arrangements. It was a way to pursue the group’s collaborative aims from another angle, and my collaborators, as always, enriched the work tremendously and brought in things I would never have considered. (They also corrected some of my technical errors.) When we got together as a group, everyone, of course, contributed greatly to each performance, bringing the arrangements off the page, and improvising during the open sections. The folks who prepared the final arrangements–of course I’ll credit everyone more specifically down the road–mostly led the group through rehearsal and performance, with me or other folks stepping in from time to time. It was very harmonious and fun. I’m proud of the stuff I wrote, too, including a few very long, largely instrumental pieces that give way to more traditional songs in perhaps unexpected places. I sometimes felt in over my head, but there was enough shore to cling to when I needed it, and the band members are very collegial and supportive. It’s a great environment for experimentation; socially enjoyable, too.
Hope to see y’all soon.