In August of 2012 I backpacked from north to south across the Wallowa Mountains with my son Carson and my nephew Tim Binford. It was a trip I had wanted to make for years.
The Wallowa Mountains, an outlier of the Rockies in Northeast Oregon, are home territory for me. My parents came from small ranching communities on the south side, and I’ve been exploring the range since I was a boy: hiking, fishing and hunting, working on trails and climbing peaks.
I had been up most of the drainages and across many of the passes on previous trips, but crossing the entire range was a different experience. There were new passes to cross and places I had never seen, but more importantly, it gave a sense of the mountains as a whole, as a unique entity with its own character and logic, changing through time and the seasons. Some of the photos from our trip are on the album jacket.
The music on this recording was also a new experience. Most of the compositions were written in 2012 and I was trying to explore some new musical territory, both for myself and for the band. Some of the compositions are challenging, with lots of meter changes and contrasting sections. Others combine diverse stylistic elements in ways that are new for us.
Michael, Clyde, Carson and I have been playing together regularly for a number of years now and over that time the group has evolved a certain voice. Michael plays very compositionally and often brings a bit of humor to the proceedings. Clyde connects things and creates pivots that focus the music in new directions. Carson provides fire, drive and counterpoint, but always in the context of making the music work as a whole. When we perform, everyone puts the music first. I feel lucky to be able to play with these guys.
Our music is strongly rooted in the jazz tradition of telling a story. And we are always extending that tradition, trying to find new ways to work with the core elements to spontaneously create music that is both exciting and rewarding for us as well as our listeners. Here are some new stories we hope you will enjoy.