haploid 23 started on account of Steve Limpert, who came to Arizona State University in 2006 looking for a way to break his trumpet playing out of the classical paradigm and explore new musical terrain. By the end of the year, he had become proficient in a variety of sequencer programs and had compiled a collection of self-produced electronic tracks in the time when he wasn’t practicing for his weekly lessons in classical performance. Ever busy, Steve had meanwhile put together the first lineup of haploid 23: Austen Mack on drums, Brady Putzke on bass and Todd Martino on keys.
The quartet met once or twice a week for over a year, steadily developing an instinct for form and the execution of coherent improvisations as a single musical mind. Ultimately the group disbanded, but only after many raucous and engagingly creative sessions.
Deciding to reform as a trio, Steve and Todd began playing with Mark Gardner, a drummer from Chicago who studied biohazard informatics and occasionally wandered into the ASU music school. Equipped with Steve’s antiquated minidisc recorder, they collected twenty hours of live improvisations over a period of three weeks. Inspired by the common musical reasoning that had emerged nearly instantaneously, the trio decided on a whim to make an album out of the sessions. Twelve weeks of editing, sequencing, transcribing, rewriting and rehearsing ensued.
In looking for a place to record their work, Steve and Todd came across The Blue Door recording studios and their head engineer, Noah Guttell. At that time, his regular clientele consisted mainly of classical soloists from the ASU school of music and Todd recalls, “[The Blue Door’s] website didn’t have any samples of music like ours that they had recorded, but every instrument on every session had really luscious tone—the nuance of the sound was incredible.” A June (of 2008) recording gig was arranged. Mark flew home, but returned soon after with bass player Nick Jozwiak, whom he had lured with the prospect of following some of the Tzadik cabal on a tour of the Southwest. The tour didn’t materialize, but a bottle of US-grade absinthe and a copy of San Francisco Blues heralded the beginning of two intense, sleep-deprived weeks of recording. The group produced a huge amount of music during this short period, including hours more of new improvised material. Months of production followed and in early 2009, the trio prepared for a midyear album debut.
The final studio cuts that emerge for release are a stunningly accurate representation of the band’s original intentions. The album pulses with the spontaneity and honesty of three artists in their element, infusing compositions with playing styles that juxtapose musical contexts and bridge conventions of many genres. Motifs wrapped in shiny electronic noise and loop-friendly production shape improvisations schooled in the language of jazz.
haploid 23’s self-titled debut is not released in an effort to claim that a new style has been created or that some virgin musical ground has been broken (though these things may be the case). Rather, it is hoped that the record may serve as an encouragement to all that hear it to contemplate how it is that we all listen to, create and think about music. As Steve muses, “it’s not really about what the music itself is or isn’t - it’s about how you feel making the music and how you feel listening to the music. We’ve had such a great time making this music that I can’t imagine anyone hearing it, not feeling that and not being moved by it.”