Ernesto Diaz-Infante | Ucross Journal

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Jazz: Free Jazz Avant Garde: Classical Avant-Garde Moods: Featuring Piano
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Ucross Journal

by Ernesto Diaz-Infante

Feldmanesque, serene, airy, subliminally gorgeous, beautiful, striking, so softly intense. "Among Diaz-Infante's prolific oeuvre, this is one of the "should haves" --Noah Wane, Splendid E-zine.
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
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Tracks

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1. the big sky
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1:02 $0.99
2. yellow fields, yellow hills
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1:18 $0.99
3. the high plains landscapes
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1:37 $0.99
4. road through the Ucross Ranch
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2:30 $0.99
5. Piney Creek
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1:29 $0.99
6. Sunday afternoon showers
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1:38 $0.99
7. Wyoming grey skies
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1:48 $0.99
8. East Alum
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2:33 $0.99
9. 16 to clearmont
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3:24 $0.99
10. immense and mesmerizing blue
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1:57 $0.99
11. allow the love to take shape
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2:14 $0.99
12. the passing of the clouds
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1:46 $0.99
13. Sheridan: 152: county
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1:56 $0.99
14. vast field / ray of universal moment
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1:29 $0.99
15. snow / feldmanesque
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1:37 $0.99
16. untitled
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2:10 $0.99
17. play through
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2:16 $0.99
18. don't play harmony til end
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2:21 $0.99
19. untitled
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1:53 $0.99
20. roll harmonies
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2:03 $0.99
21. retrograde
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1:30 $0.99
22. break up notes / feldmanesque
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1:52 $0.99
23. untitled
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1:28 $0.99
24. untitled
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1:31 $0.99
25. untitled
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26. Ucross Improvisation I
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27. Ucross Improvisation II
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28. Ucross Improvisation III
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29. Ucross Improvisation IV
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30. Ucross Improvisation V
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Ucross Journal is a collection of improvisations for solo piano by San Francisco-based composer Ernesto Diaz-Infante. The Ucross Journal is comprised of 25 short pieces, written one each day the composer was in residence on the Ucross Foundation Ranch. Each daily entry bears the composer's impressions of that particular day. The Ucross Improvisations are a series of five free improvisations, based on the journal material.

Born in Salinas, California, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, is Chicano (of Mexican descent). He received his MFA in Music Composition from California Institute of the Arts (studied with Wadada Leo Smith and Stephen L. Mosko) and has created musical compositions that span a broad perspective: transcendental piano, noise, avant-garde guitar, field recordings, lo-fi four-track manipulations, and experimental song. ED-I has performed throughout Europe and the United States, and his music has been broadcasted internationally. He has recorded more than 15 CDs of music and collaborated with numerous musicans. In 2000, his composition, I/O (for chamber ensemble), was performed by the California EAR Unit. He has been awarded residencies at the Centre International de Recherche Musicale (CIRM) in Nice, France, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Villa Montalvo, The Ucross Foundation, among others. He runs Pax Recordings record label which is dedicated to the documentation, preservation, and contagion of music from the margins of our culture and psyches. He lives in San Francisco with the filmmaker/video artist Marjorie Sturm and their son and daughter.


Reviews


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Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews

I really love this; I really want to underline that...
From the first rich chord:

How is it that beauty flourishes in the midst of all these troubles, all these worries of everyday life? How can one kind thought grow in a barren and wasted landscape? This is a mystery, and something to dwell on.

The chords continue, form a line, and then a pattern, an atmosphere, a certain scent in the air, a special kind of nourishment to thrive on, right in that lonely spot in the middle of these vast spaces, where everywhere is here, and all times now.

These short, almost pointillistic piano pieces by Ernesto Diaz-Infante really slow you down; hey, hey, hold on there! Take it easy, no one is going to remember or care in a hundred years: “It’s never to late to do nothing at all!” (Allen Ginsberg).

If the pieces on Diaz-Infante’s “itz’at” are haikus from a misty Japanese landscape, then these moments out the “Ucross Journals” are silvery aphorisms out of an old-timer’s far-eyed plains of Wyoming, etched on leaves of grass by the early winter frost. So delicate is the touch that it fondles the keys of the piano, which floats in the sounding space in front of you as you play this CD in your room.

I see that some of the pieces are characterized as “feldmanesque” by the composer and pianist, and that certainly is the case here. I’m glad that Morton Feldman really did give younger composers and musicians the incentive to create music in this fashion, not measuring time, but giving ample room for time, making time obsolete, unimportant. Nobody watches their watches in these sonic surroundings. We’re in Wyoming in this music, but we could as well be in a Japanese rock garden with raked sand and rocks that sit completely still – and of course it all comes down to a state of mind.

Diaz-Infante composed these structures - or structured these compositions - while in residency at the Ucross Foundation in Ucross, Wyoming. He says that pitch and harmonics were used as spring-boards for improvisations inspired by the wide-open, spacious Wyoming landscape – and anybody who has traveled those expanses knows what he means, and that those open skies reduce your thoughts to essentials: who am I?, why am I?, what is life?, is there a purpose? – and so forth.

Ernesto Diaz-Infante has structured the pieces on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis. I suppose his residency lasted four weeks, for he has composed – or improvised – a piece for each day of those weeks, even though week one starts on a Tuesday, and the last week ends with the piece for the Friday of that week. The composer even gives the time of day for the pieces, like “Su 4/5 10:43 am; Sunday afternoon showers / rhythmically detached / feldmanesque”.

I really love this; I really want to underline that. This is so beautiful, so softly intense…

Noah Wane, Splendid E-zine

Among Mr. Diaz-Infante's prolific oeuvre, this is one of the "should haves"
Ernesto Diaz-Infante is back with more of the subdued solo piano music we've come to expect from him. Ucross Journal documents the composer's month-long residency at the Ucross Foundation in Ucross, WY. Each of the CD's first 25 tracks represents a day and time of his stay there. These works are loosely structured, formed around an "idea" more than a precise collection of pitches and rhythms. They are short (1-2 minutes in length) and sparse, like fleeting glimpses of the wide open Wyoming landscape. The last 5 tracks of Ucross Journal are improvisations. They are slightly longer and more verbose than the "journal" pieces but maintain the trademark Diaz-Infante subtlety and grace. Among Mr. Diaz-Infante's prolific oeuvre, this is one of the "should haves"

Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz

Ucross Journal is serene, airy, subliminally gorgeous...
Pianist Ernesto Diaz-Infante composed these 25 short pieces while he was an artist in residence at the Ucross Foundation Ranch located in Wyoming. On Ucross Journal, Diaz-Infante creates briefly stated tone poems while utilizing space and depth to his advantage, as he indicates in the liners: A strong sense of location and the influence of a particular setting are vital to my work. Throughout, these pieces are interwoven and somewhat contiguous as vivid imagery of the beautiful Wyoming landscape is interpreted through peaceful, quiet and to a degree introspective and somber passages. Here, Mr. Diaz-Infante celebrates the earth we inhabit as this writer contemplated the fantastic black & white portraits of the western landscape by the late photographer Ansel Adams. In summary, Ucross Journal is serene, airy, subliminally gorgeous and is certain to capture one�s imagination via Diaz-Infante's lucid portrayal of this very special place! * * * *

François Couture, All Music Guide

Diaz-Infante's music on Ucross Journal is striking.
Ucross Journal is Ernesto Diaz-Infante's third release in his series of solo piano music, after Itz'at (1997) and Tepeu (1998). While the previous two comprised improvised material, Ucross Journal mostly consists of short pieces written during the pianist's residency at the Ucross Foundation in Ucross, Wyoming. From March 31 to April 24, Diaz-Infante kept a musical journal of his impressions. The 25 resulting pieces are very short (between one and two and a half minutes) and minimalist (the music arches back to Itz'at). Notes are delicately touched, arpeggiated three or four at a time, making up a chord that is held a few seconds before another sequence comes in. The piece is over before the idea had time to wear out. The last five pieces are a little longer (three to four minutes) and are improvisations based on the journal material. Stylistic differences are minimal.

Diaz-Infante's music on Ucross Journal is striking. This minimal, very tonal and reflexive approach destabilizes the hard-core avant-garde music fan and yet one couldn't argue that it isn't new or avant-gardist. The influences range from Erik Satie's most delicate pieces to some of Olivier Maessian's piano works. But still, the listener may remain uncertain: is this stripped-down playing a daring aesthetic choice or the result of a lack of technique (a feeling reinforced by the pace at which the pieces were written — one per day)? This question was to be answered by Diaz-Infante's next solo album Solus.