The Kevin Frenette 4: Connections
Kevin Frenette - Guitar
Andy McWain - Piano
Todd Keating - Bass
Tatsuya Nakatani - Percussion
1) Connections (6:36)
2) Network Theory (8:12)
3) Logic Synthesis (4:00)
4) Correlation Coefficient (6:22)
5) Amalgamation (7:49)
6) Combinatorial Mathematics (9:06)
7) Merger Doctrine (3:49)
Produced by Kevin Frenette and Andy McWain.
Recorded August 27, 2006 by Michael Caglianone at 7A West Studios, Charlestown, MA. Mixed and mastered by Kevin Frenette. All tracks are collective improvisations by Frenette / McWain / Keating / Nakatani and published by Fuller Street Music (ASCAP). Graphic Design by Lisa Frenette.
Boston area guitarist Kevin Frenette has performed throughout the Northeast USA making music that is inspired by both avant-garde jazz and contemporary improvisation. He studied guitar, composition, and music theory at UMASS-Dartmouth where he received a BA in Theory/Composition. He has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Tatsuya Nakatani, Jack Wright, Joe Giardullo, Pandelis Karayorgis, Daniel Levin, Andy McWain, Forbes Graham, Luther Gray, Jane Wang, James Rohr, Curt Newton, John McLellan, Eric Rosenthal, Croix Galipault, Blake Newman, Kit Demos, Gordon Allen, Sarah Weaver, Harvey Sorgen, Brian Melick, Michael Snow, Dan DeChellis, Gwen Laster, Larry Packer, Martha Colby, Lori Freedman, David Gamper, Al Margolis, Ryan McGuire, Jeff Kimmel, Adam Dotson, Joe Moffett, Chris Vellieux, Ricardo Donoso, Jules Vasylenko, Jonathan LaMaster, Andrew Hickman, Eric Platz, Todd Keating and Gabe Cabral. In 2007, Fuller Street Music released Kevin’s first date as a leader: CONNECTIONS. That album featured Frenette with Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion, Andy McWain on piano and Todd Keating on bass. Frenette is also a freelance recording engineer.
Originally from Kobe and Osaka, Japan, internationally renowned percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani has toured extensively throughout the world, having performed in approximately 80 cities and 10 countries. Utilizing drumset, gongs, cymbals, singing bowls, metal objects, sticks and bows, he creates collages of sound, which combine the sense of space and beauty found in traditional Japanese folk music with the extended techniques of New Music, yet with great energy and intensity. Although his music defies category or genre, it can be viewed as a cross-cultural mixture of improvised music, experimental music, jazz, free jazz, and rock. In addition to live solo and ensemble performances, he has provided sound design for films and television projects. The latest of these was the performance of an improvised sound score for silent movie- “The Water Magician” (1933, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi), which was part of exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto Photograph at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He is the recent recipient of The Bronx Arts Council Individual Artist grant. Also he has been seIected PennPAT Artist Roster 2007(Pennsylvania Performing Art on Tour). In addition to his work as a percussionist, Nakatani heads H&H Production, an independent record label and recording studio based in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Boston-born improvising pianist/composer Andy McWain has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Karl Berger, Assif Tsahar, Tiger Okoshi, Santi Debriano, Brian Melvin, Daniel Levin, Tatsuya Nakatani, Joe Giardullo, John Dirac, Jorrit Dijkstra, Hafez Modirzadeh, Reuben Radding, Albey Balgochian, Laurence Cook, Dino Govoni, Luther Gray, Jim Robitaille, Brooke Sofferman, Bruno Raberg, Dennis Warren's Full Metal Revolutionary Jazz Ensemble, and the Zen Bastards, among others. He studied at UMass-Dartmouth, the Aspen Music School, and the New England Conservatory of Music (M.M., composition), and participated in artist residencies at Yaddo (NY), the Atlantic Center for the Arts (FL) with Butch Morris, and the Akiyoshidai International Art Village (JPN). McWain also founded and produces the Audible Think Improvised Music Series in Massachusetts. Recent gigs include three months in early 2006 in a jazz quintet house band at the club _Number Five_ in Shanghai, China. McWain's recordings include his quartet debut STARFISH with saxophonist Assif Tsahar, bassist Noah Jarrett, and drummer Chris Poudrer. In December, the trio recording McWain-Balgochian-Cook: VIGIL was released and features McWain with Albey Balgochian (Cecil Taylor's current bassist), and veteran drummer Laurence Cook (Bill Dixon, Sabir Mateen, Paul Bley). The recording Andy McWain Ensemble: RESEMBLANCE will be released this spring. It features eight musicians (including Sofia Koutsovitis, Assif Tsahar, Rick Britto, Chris Poudrier, Jeremy Udden, David Landoni, and Albey Balgochian) in various combinations from solo piano, duos, and trios to sextet.
"The Kevin Frenette 4 is the collaborative efforts of four like-minded, energetic musicians who approach the spontaneous inventions of Connections with a blank slate. Guitarist Kevin Frenette, pianist Andy McWain, bassist Todd Keating and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani succeed in creating a fresh, enticing collection of free-form improvisations.
Most of the pieces are set in motion by Frenette, who presents quick-witted guitar motifs with plenty of melodic angularity and rhythmic motion to feed the imaginations of his cohorts. Frenette’s bop-inspired opening lines on the title track, arpeggiated statements on “Network Theory” and chromaticism on “Correlation Coefficient” are quickly echoed by McWain who seems to anticipate the guitarist’s every move. The last three tracks on the disc, “Amalgamation,” “Combinational Mathematics” and “Merger Doctrine,” stand out as the session highlights. This far into the disc, the melding of musical thought takes on a natural flow with a complete abandonment of any pre-conceived notions.
Nakatani displays his brilliance throughout the session by combining inventive manipulation of percussive sound with thoughtful moments of silence. He employs a well-stocked arsenal of percussion to create tension in unpredictable ways. There are moments of utter defiance where sound clusters seem to purposefully disregard the melodic developments of guitar and piano. On “Logic Synthesis,” Nakatani sets the mood with eerie cymbal harmonics and sporadic clatter, setting up a reflective backdrop for the others to exploit.
Keating maintains a low-key, yet vital presence throughout. The bassist sticks to the low register, using repetitive loop-type figures to create an illusory notion of groove underneath a wash of sound.
Connections is a dazzling display of sympathetic interactions with truly spontaneous results. Frenette and company combine for a powerful force of open-minded creative energy."
--- John Barron/JazzReview.com
THE KEVIN FRENETTE 4 - Connections (Fuller Street 1781; USA)
"Featuring Kevin Frenette on guitar, Andy McWain on piano, Todd Keating on bass and Tatsuya Nakatani on drums. I am previously familiar with just 2 members of this quartet. Boston pianist, Andy McWain, has had a couple of strong discs on this same label, a quartet date with Assif Tsahar and a trio with Albey Balgochian & Lawrence Cook that I reviewed. Former Boston-based percussion wiz, Tatsuya Nakatani, remains one of the best and most distinctive of all improvising drummers and moved to Pennsylvania a couple of years back. Although Kevin has nice round jazz guitar tone, his playing is quite free and focused. Both he and pianist, Andy McWain, have a special relationship as they swirl layers of notes around one another with a magical connection. The other magic is the way the acoustic bass and drums also swirl freely at an astonishing pace that is sparse and well-connected simultaneously. It is as is there are two incredible duos playing at the same time yet they are subliminally always connected. I had to play the first piece again, since there was so much going on to hear in one sitting. I dig that Tatsuya is not a jazz drummer per se and never worries about having to swing, instead he keeps up an ongoing dialogue that is fresh and often surprising. Tatsuya unique approach features much, rubbing, bowing and thin sticks on the drums and cymbals. He is ever so restrained and crafty, never covering any of the other sounds that the rest of this magical quartet provides. I find this music to be rich in colors and textures, like a wonderful dream world being revealed. It never ceases to amaze when incredible music comes from voices mostly unknown."
--- Bruce Lee Gallanter - Downtown Music Gallery (NYC)
The Kevin Frenette 4 Connections (Fuller Street Music)
"Frenette plays guitar, but his backing trio of piano, bass and percussion fits right in to jazz tradition. The music, of course, is anything but traditional, breaking most improvisational jazz rules--and yet still managing to connect quite easily with the audience. These songs range far and wide, but they're wonderfully engaging. Quite a bright set."
--- Jon Worley - Aiding & Abetting
KEVIN FRENETTE - CONNECTIONS (FULLER STREET MUSIC 1781)
Given the track titles it comes as no surprise that (1) is very angular and mathematical sounding music. Kevin Frenette plays guitar in the stabbing, busy style of Joe Morris, spraying notes all over these tracks usually with pianist Andy McWain skipping wildly alongside and bassist Todd Keating and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani pinballing off the both of them. The group spends the majority of the CD playing in a jangly, stutterstep motion that is constantly moving. Some variety is provided on "Amalgamation" where Frenette breaks off into echoing trebly riffs against his bandmates' randomness and "Logic Synthesis" which goes into a quieter form of abstraction with eerie bowed bass and cymbals and weeping guitar sustains. This is one of those CDs that seems random on the surface but reveals its inner logic the more you listen to it. It is an interesting set of agitated, active music.
--- Jerome Wilson – Cadence Magazine
KEVIN FRENETTE FOUR – CONNECTIONS (FULLER STREET MUSIC, 2007)
"Boston is just a stone's throw from New York, and yet the two cities are worlds apart, as far as music is concerned. While the spirit of jazz has haunted the streets of New York for a hundred years, jazz music is more of an intellectual affair in Boston. (...) Nevertheless, musicians such as Joe Morris and Joe Maneri have managed to develop an idiom whose unmistakable unification of intellectual calculation, uncompromising desire for independence, expressive fire and introverted nobility could only be possible in Boston's musical climate". The words are not mine, but those of Wolf Kampmann on the liner notes of Bostonian Jeff Platz's Bright Light Group of several years ago, yet the same text could have figured on guitarist Kevin Frenette's debut album, on which he is joined by Andy McWain on piano, Todd Keating on bass and Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion. You don't have to look far for the intellectualism with track titles such as "Network Theory", "Logic Synthesis", "Correlation Coefficient", "Combinatorial Mathematics", etc. ... which are as far removed of the soul and blues tradition of jazz as can be imagined. Despite it's abstract nature, the quartet's musical approach is interesting. Without clear compositions, it brings nervous and agitated music, intense and busy. It often reminded me of a Jackson Pollock's approach to painting : the whole canvas is full with streaks and splatters of paint. There are no clear reference points or figurative possibilities, yet the overall effect is coherent, balanced and even symmetrical. There is structure, but not in a melodic, rhythmic or temporal sense. The four musicians play together, almost all the time simultaneously, with short bursts of notes and phrases, almost unconnected within the playing of the individual instrument, yet very much connected to the whole, built around a tonal center. The third track "Logic Synthesis" brings a little bit of a breathing pause in the album, leaving more space and openness in the music. The longest track "Combinatorial Mathematics", is also quite open too, and probably emotionally the most expressive, if that notion is applicable to this kind of music. The skills of the four musicians in delivering the goods is excellent, making this highly unusual approach something worth listening to. Because of the music, Frenette, McWain, Keating and Nakatani all individually create interesting new explorations of their own instruments. But you will need some open ears at times. To end with a more famous quote by Thelonious Monk : "You know, anybody can play a composition and use far-out chords and make it sound wrong. It’s making it sound right that’s not easy" (although I'm not sure in which category Monk himself would have put Frenette's music, I would put it in the latter).
--- Stef - freejazz-stef.blogspot.com
THE KEVIN FRENETTE 4 - CONNECTIONS
A new CD from the small Fuller Street Music label, specialized in jazz and improvised music. This time they give room to guitarist Kevin Frenette to make his first step with his quartet. It has Andy McWain on piano, Todd Keating playing bass and Tatsuya Nakatani on percussion. Frenette studied guitar, composition, and music theory and has performed with people like Jack Wright, Dan DeChellis, Michael Snow and many others. With his quartet he presents seven collective improvisations, recorded in august 2006. Their music is constantly moving with a restless speed and intensity and seems to drift in every possible direction at first hearing. But repeated listening makes clear that these improvisations are very focused and that the improvisors know where they are heading at. All the lines and patterns they play are woven into consistent improvisations. In many surprising ways, this is intelligently interconnected music. Technically all of them are very advanced and the interplay of the four is very good. All four play in function of the whole. Percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, originally from Japan, uses, so to hear, an extended set of percussion and learned his techniques from very different backgrounds: folk, jazz, new music, etc. Of all four, his playing surprised me most. He always has an answer, and always a different one. He adds many colors and makes these improvisations multi-dimensional. The playing of Frenette comes definitely from the world of jazz, which is also the case for the pianist. But as the percussionist abandoned the swing, these improvisations never become pure jazz. To conclude, this quartet offers some very rich improvisations. There is a lot to hear and to discover. An excellent work. (DM)
--- VITAL WEEKLY
THE KEVIN FRENETTE 4 - CONNECTIONS
"Using the conventional instrumental lineup of bass, piano, guitar, and percussion, the Kevin Frenette 4 – a Boston-based free jazz quartet - manages to produce some mighty distinctive music on their debut CD, Connections. Frenette is a new name to me. He plays fleet, darting, effortless lines with a clean tone and a pronounced jazz sensibility – not unlike fellow avant-guitarists Bruce Eisenbeil and Joe Morris. Like Frenette, pianist Andy McWain is a technically accomplished player with a busy, aggressive style. He's recorded with drummer Laurence Cook, and tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar, amongst others. On the opening track, the piano and guitar trade salvos of notes, chords and clusters over a constantly shifting background of odd percussive sounds and harmonics produced by bassist Todd Keating and the world-renowned percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani. Similar confrontations between McWain and Frenette occur throughout much of 'Network Theory,' which also features some quite radical arco bass work from Keating, a fleeting moment of surprisingly orthodox jazz drumkit playing from Nakatani, and an all-too-brief passage of solo guitar.
Though the CD is dominated by hyperactive piano / guitar / percussion interplay, the quartet settles in to utilize a number of different approaches, making Connections a pleasantly varied free improvisation recording. 'Correlation Coefficient' unreels at a markedly slower pace which imparts a pleasant sense of space, reflectiveness, and patience to the proceedings. Nakatani's restless, ever changing percussion work on this track brings the playing of great European free jazz drummers such as Paul Lovens and Paul Lytton to mind. By contrast, 'Logic Synthesis' is a spooky, slowly-developing piece with Nakatani's expertly manipulated bowed percussion and Frenette's legato, volume-swelled guitar out front. Frenette steps back to play a heavily tremolo-ed repetitive line which forms the backbone of 'Amalgamation,' largely a vehicle for fevered duets and solos by McWain and Nakatani until the leader steps out for a particularly incisive solo as the piece comes to an end. The CD closes with one of its strongest tracks - 'Merger Doctrine' - a spooky, yet eloquent wash of sound and acoustic static."
--- Dave Wayne/JazzReview.com
Kevin Frenette 4. Connections.Fuller Street Music –
The timbrel, melodic and sonorous potentials sleeping in the aggregation of guitar and piano has had few thorough investigations and these tend to bring out the best in the participants. The 70's Jazz Rock Boomer Bombast experiments with Jan Hammer or Pat Metheny were generally a saccharine toxin to my ears although the latter's versions became perfect back ground music to local info feeds on the Weather Channel and probably landed him some fat residuals.
The Magellan of this particular ensemble exploration would surely be Mr. Joe Morris , who has been thinking about guitar and piano issues since his earliest salad days alongside Lowell Davidson. It is gratifying to see other capable innovators seek to sail these seas.
These people have astonishing ears which surely makes the solid foundation for the architecture of improvisations gathered on this one low key disc. They have also put profound effort into absorbing the wealth of the past several decades that innovators have brought to the idiom. They wholeheartedly endorse the discoveries of their older predecessors and fully engage themselves in extending the treasure hunt.The ensemble as comprised already has a timeless feel to it.
An aspect of the collective improvisation aesthetic is this interesting churning of dueling dual antiphonies. For example, a piece might find a close doubling interaction between Kevin and Andy contrasted by another between Todd and Tatsuya. These sub unit exchanges shift deftly and organically with very innovative uses of timbrel elements as interaction prompts.
A funny aspect is the contrast between the somewhat stark titles from the worlds of mathematical and systems abstractions with the totally organic interaction present in each of these pieces. I have found over time that the best way I can find to describe these dense, intensive expressions is to borrow metaphors from life sciences and nature writers.
A typical iconoclast improvising ensemble could be heard as a sonic ecotone, a margin meeting point. Event and species densities increase at margins like a Cardinal on a Striped Maple alongside a mountain stream and trail clearing. Move to a pure stand of striped maple or a wide river or an open expanse and the density diminishes. Life likes the edges of things and not the middle of them.
My crutch, thus, is making the description model for these approaches to music in a way that shares characteristics with describing natural or urban activity convergences and how thhe parts complete the moment, the whole.
Kevin Frenette , Guitar, favors an unadorned tone for his guitar and generally avoids electronic crutches. He is making inroads and innovations in all of the more exciting areas of guitaristics, intervallic melody improvisation, really subtle timbrel interactions and discoveries, majestic sonic movements comprised of tiny staccato tone washes, deft shifts to frequency sounding to contrast other ensemble events and seeming telepathy.
Andy McWain , Piano, is another innovator of international stature who maintains a local focus near New Bedford. He is one of a generation of pianists under 50 who have brought unusual wealth to the instrument at a time of material impoverishment for the idiom. Matthew Shipp , Steve Lantner , Pandelis Karayorgis and Eric Zinman each have poured their considerable imaginations and capabilities through keyboards into the idiom's common wealth. He has also done his part as a concert presenter for the Audible Think series in New Bedford.
Todd Keating Bass, is a skilled practitioner of subtlety with a well equipped array of capabilities from a fluttered flow of melodic pluckiness to bow work that carries on an interesting banter with the metal bow parallels of the drummer. He fully rises to the occasion of interval melody asymmetry and a lexicon of percussive bass inventions.
Tatsuya Nakatani , Percussion. A particularly striking Nakatani innovation is an upending of drum kit relations where the epicenter is occupied by the metal and the periphery belongs to the wood. This works astonishingly well with the ensemble line up. Mr Nakatani is a wealth of subtleties. He also makes bowed metal work a core element of this sound in the way kick drum pumping is a core element of wood based drumming.
Mr Frenette does a micro exposition of a melody figure before Mr McWain joins in an interesting zig zag contrast of rising and falling figures in a diagonal lattice work. Mr Keating does a compelling flutter lope with his bass joining Mr Nakatani initially in framing the melodic elements rising from guitar and piano.
2. Network Theory.
This one is a good example of the shifts in ensemble gravity and recombination over time, (although it is an element of every piece). Lets see if I can provide a reasonable reflection of these sequences without it coming out like an Abbot and Costello 'who's on first shtick'. Mr McWain and Mr Frenette lead off in interweaving the full capabilities of the fretted guitar and piano linearity. Mr Keating and Nakatani form a contrasting sonic framework with lots of bowing on bass and metal. Then the gravity shifts to a Frenette and Nakatani center poised by and juxtaposed against an interlocking McWain and Keating. And this just as readily darts in and out of sudden Frenette and Keating alliances. Jeeze, I'm dizzy and I bet it's wrong anyway but you get the idea...right?
3. Logic Synthesis.
A notable facet of this piece would be the Frenette and Nakatani sonic frequency interplay with a contrast from McWain and Keating weighted to melodic washes of interval intricacies.
4. Correlation Coefficient.
Mr. Nakatani comes a bit closer to kit usage conventions here and one can hear a bit more of the wood side.He also evokes the 'little instruments of AACM yore through basic kit use in new applications. There is a subtly rhapsodic sense if that doesn't seem like an oxymoron like an understated Yankee Rhapsody with otherworldly austerity in the drum kit.
The use of long tone frequency movement and tremolo loop counterpoint are among Mr Frenettes striking contributions to this one. There is much understatement and whole other applications of subtlety. Mr. McWain occupies some compelling real estate in the mid section full of flight and shuddering clusters.
6. Combinatorial Mathematics.
We have a full ensemble entry here. The sonic fabric here is woven of bowing from Mr Keating and Mr Nakatani as Mr Frenette and Mr McWain embroider melodic elements. Mr Frenette then lends himself to a solo that might be a modern echo to a vamp with astute block clusters as Mr. McWains punctuations. Mr Keating revs up dense asymmetric bass flights and then it all subsides into reflective minimalism where timbre interweaves become a focus.
7. Merger Doctrine.
Inside piano sounds make up part of Mr McWain's opening as Mr Frenette focuses on melodic development. The piece is wrapped in a summer thunderstorm rumble with a calm before storm opening solo from Mr Frenette stating a melody figure before Mr. McWain arrives with a contrapuntal opening of some precision before heading for a kitchen sink toss conclusion punctuated by Frenette long tones that continue to the end. Mr. Keating holds up the demanding flutter rumble of distant thunder roll and Mr. Nakatani leads the way home with a lightening bolt run of percussive surprises enveloped in sly silences to enhance a sense of startle.
All in all, Connections is one of the more compelling examples of the efforts made here to participate in this demanding idiom at a very high level and it is available at CD Baby.
--- Chris Rich/Brilliant Corners – Boston Jazz Blog
* WNUR 89.3 FM, Evanston, IL "Chicago's Jazz Experiment", Top Ten List for weeks ending May 18, 2007 and June 22, 2007.
* Taran's Free Jazz Hour (Euro Radio 101.3 RM Nantes)
* KUNM 89.9 FM Albuquerque, Santa Fe "The House That Jazz Built"
* KFJC 89.7 FM Los Altos Hills, CA "The Jazz Collective", Top Plays List for weeks ending October 3, 2007 and October 10, 2007.
* KBGA 89.9 FM Missoula, MT
* free103point9.org Online Radio, October 2007 Top 40, November 2007 Top 40, December 2007 Top 40
* CKUT 90.3 FM, Montreal, Canada
* WZBC 90.3 FM, Boston, MA, “Rare Frequency”
* WXDU 88.7 FM Durham, NC
* WMBR 88.1 FM Cambridge, MA “The New Edge”