1 Winter's Deep 11:29
2 The Wanderer 15:15
3 Emerald Walls 14:02
Ron Thomas - Keyboards and Synthesizers
John Swana - EVI Synthesizers
Joe Mullen - Percussion
Engineered and Mixed by Glenn Ferracone at The Music Centre
Recorded November 28, 2006
Production Edits by Ray Ferretti
Produced by Richard Burton
Mastered by Paul G. Kohler
Graphic Design, Photography by Danny Schweers
"Elysium" is the offspring of "Cycles" by Ron Thomas
The close performance relationship developed
by John Swana, Joe Mullen and I for the "Cycles"
pieces is richly explored and further developed
in the "Elysium" pieces. "Elysium" is packed with
emotion for me, primarily for personal reasons.
However, I hasten to clarify that my method of
work, of course, is far from emotional but technical
and pragmatic as succinctly described in the liner
notes for "Music in Three Parts" to which I refer
the interested reader. In addition, the music calls
to mind (for me) my friendship and association since
1964 with Karlheinz Stockhausen who died in May of
2007, a fact that has made my memory of, and my
thoughts about him even more poignant. The three
musical titles are variants of poem titles of
three different poets from the famous Tang dynasty
of Chinese poetry. (This to is referenced in the
"Music in Three Parts" liner notes).
There is perhaps less "geography" and more
"journey" in "Elysium" than in "Cycles" but common
to both is the sense of independent parts moving
comfortably with, through, and around each other,
and in a special kind of overall space. Any beauty
and value these pieces may have is a tribute entirely
to the skill and sensitivity of my colleagues, John
Swana, Joe Mullen, Richard Burton and Glenn Ferracone.
Ron Thomas can be heard on the following
Vectordisc recordings as a leader available at CD Baby.
Cycles - 2007 with John Swana and Joe Mullen
Wings of the Morning - 2007 Solo Piano
17 Solo Piano Improvisations - 2006 Solo Piano
The House of Counted Days - 2002 with John Swana,
Joe Mullen and Tony Marino
Scenes from a Voyage to Arcturus - 2001 with Glenn
Ferracone, Richard Burton, Bob Howell and Bob Meashey
Ron Thomas appears as a sideman on the following Vectordisc recordings.
Playing Live by Mike Falcone - 1997
Music Under the Influence by Kristin Garson - 1998
Simple Major Simple Minor by Richard Burton - 2006
Nice View by Ray Ferretti - 2009
Night Mood by Paul Klinefelter - 2010
Leaf Juice by Ray Ferretti - 2010
Fat Samba by Richard Burton -2011
Lost World Tango by Joe Mullen -2011
REVIEW FROM ALL ABOUT JAZZ
By DAN McCLENAGHAN, Published: August 1, 2009
The sound of Elysium is, in a word, otherworldly. Then throw in the electro-industrial tinge and cold liquid submersion resonance—like the noise of a high tech blacksmith shop on a distant planet with a dense atmosphere and heavier than Earth gravity like Neptune—music of an alien culture, or songs played for cryogenically suspended astronauts slumbering their way across vast expanses of space.
Such are the sounds created by keyboardist Ron Thomas, trumpeter John Swana and drummer Joe Mullen.
Thomas, in acoustic piano outings, is a man of a supple touch with self-proclaimed "deep technical and pragmatic musical ideas" that result in very beautiful and approachable music on discs like House of Counted Days (Vectordisk, 2003), Music in Three Parts (Art of Life, 2006) and Doloroso (Art of Life, 2006). But Thomas and band mate Swana are no strangers to plugging in, with Cycles (Vectordisk, 2007) featuring the same players, same instruments and same sound, but with more of a focus this time around. Pianist Thomas is heard here on synthesizers. Swana uses an EVI, an electronic valve instrument, while Mullen is on acoustic drums that somehow echo with an eerie reverb. With Swana and Thomas, it's hard to tell who is doing what—in an approach that is similar to that of Miles Davis' On the Corner (Columbia Records, 1972), pared down and minus the funk and groove.
Elysium consists of three extended pieces, the titles of which are variants on poem titles from the Tang Dynasty period of Chinese poetry. Whether there is any connection between said poems and the music is anyone's guess. What is certain is that Thomas and company are exploring new ambient territory, and creating an oddly mesmerizing sound.
Track Listing: Winter's Deep; The Wanderer; Emerald Walls.
Personnel: Ron Thomas: keyboards and synthesizers; John Swana: EVI synthesizers; Joe Mullen: percussion.
Record Label: Vectordisk | Style: Ambient