In June 2007, Chris Janzen handed Jesse Nathan a CD with a series of wordless musical compositions. Janzen had put the pieces together while completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting at the University of South Dakota.
Nathan, in turn, wrote a series of poems – lyrics growing out of and responding to the sounds Janzen had created – that narrate the story of a fantastical dinner party hosted by Virginia Woolf and populated by famous (and some not so famous) dead eccentrics.
The poemsongs were first performed at Bethel College in Kansas in late 2008, and a chapbook (published by Milk Machine) appeared then that included roughly half the poems.
In spring 2009, the full suite of poems and songs was published in a second chapbook that included collages Janzen had made – one “portrait” of each guest at the party. This book was released at an actual dinner party at Electric Works gallery in San Francisco, which was catered by Christine Manoux and held within an installation by Ian Huebert. “Dinner” was subsequently performed elsewhere in San Francisco and also in Berkely, Fresno, and Reedley, California.
This record is the sonic apex of this constantly evolving collaboration: Here is the fully developed studio recording of most of the poemsongs that comprise “Dinner,” plus a newly composed piece relating the sudden appearance at the party of Gertrude Stein. It was released in June 2011, coinciding with a series of performances at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
The vinyl was pressed in an edition of 300. Each copy is hand-numbered.
Jesse Nathan – words, mouth, typewriter, clarinet, kitchen percussion
Chris Janzen – music composition, guitar, bass, charango, keyboards, electronics, percussion, voice
Curtis Buettner – tenor and soprano saxophones
Brad Kalebjian - drums