There were two predominant events that informed my awareness and appreciation of music. The latter event was the joint discovery of the AllMusic website and the audiogalaxy file sharing service, which resulted in a series of cross-referencing binges that shed light on the work of Luc Ferrari, Jim O'Rourke, Stockhausen, Eberhard Weber and many inbetween. The earlier event was Record Rama's acquisition of hundreds of jazz CDs from a now -defunct local jazz radio station. Each used CD was $6, but I could buy three CDs for $15. The CDs were not placed in the CD bins, but the owner would let me browse the stacks in the large, connecting back room, which also housed one of the world’s largest 45 collections. As a high school sophomore with expendable cash from a job at Shop 'N Save, I was able to acquire a decent jazz collection. Given that this was the late 90s, the augmentation of "jazz" to include rock forms (fusion), classical influence (ECM), and world musics (third stream) had already occurred and did not seem revelatory. It was simply that jazz was/is. I should mention that my introduction to jazz was a library copy of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue . It took a second checkout of the disc and a subsequent burning of the disc with a photocopied cover (a poor replication) to really soak it in. From there, my interest in jazz grew.
As a child, I trained classically with Dr. Marta Sanchez for four or five years. I abandoned piano to focus on guitar in the fifth grade, eventually playing in bands like Boxstep, Vale and Year, and, currently, Host Skull. In high school, I played bass and guitar in the school jazz bands. Around this time, my interest in piano reemerged. What came out was improvised music somewhere between my classical training and what I thought was jazz piano. A few motifs emerged, one basic bluesy concept using the minor and major 3rds and 7ths in the scale and one faux-classical run where a major E triad descends in halfsteps from the root. You can hear both of those ideas lingering on this record, Deep Ecology.
This music is improvised, but it is improvisation with the goal of sounding like a composition. Jazz scholar David Ake coined the term "Rural American Ideal" when talking about Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny's album output. I would add some of the newer folkinspired Nordic jazz to that list, which has also been an influence. In an abstract way, this collection is trying to represent different conceptions of "nature" the idea of nature without human interference, the isolation of a new terrain, the respect needed when you are a visitor, the idealized thought of "authentic nature" generally fantasized while sitting at a computer (or a piano). Some of the inspiration for this set of music stemmed from a previously forthcoming trip to Big Sur. Unexpectedly, the beauty of Big Sur surpassed the fantasy. The cover photo was selected from the trip's photos, so possibly "Coastal American Ideal." These thoughts on the natural world act as an input visualization to focus the playing. From that beginning point, the improvisations take their own direction.
Deep Ecology was recorded at HEARCorp's storage facility in Pittsburgh, PA. The piano was mostly in tune and has a twangy tone more suited to rock 'n roll. Above the facility on a second floor, it felt like someone was bowling or moving large metal containers, but the resulting sounds provide some interaction with the environment.
released August 23, 2015
David Bernabo, solo piano.
Engineering, mixing, mastering. Photography, design. David Bernabo