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The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet: The Alchemical Mass
The Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet: Suite Solutio
The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata
Woodwinds: Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Jason Mears *
Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Kris Tiner * Trombone: Michael Vlatkovich
The Ojai Camerata:
The Alchemical Mass
All compositions and arrangements by Jeff Kaiser * (C)2004
Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP
The Alchemical Mass is dedicated to Keith McMullen for
his friendship and unending supply of prima materia.
"Obscurum Per Obscurius."
-Anonymous Alchemical Quote
"It is true that alchemy always stood on the verge of heresy and that certain decrees leave no doubt as to the Church's attitude towards it, but on the other hand it was effectively protected by the obscurity of its symbolism, which could always be explained by harmless allegory...The alchemists ran counter to the Church in preferring to seek through knowledge rather than to find through faith, though as medieval people they never thought of themselves as anything but good Christians...But in reality they were in much the same position as modern man, who prefers immediate personal experience to belief in traditional ideas, or rather has it forced upon him...For this reason there have always been people who, not satisfied with the dominants of conscious life, set forth - under cover and by devious paths, to their destruction or salvation - to seek direct experience of the eternal roots..."
-C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis - chaplain and court astrologer to Ladislaus I (King of Hungary and Bohemia) and then Louis II - wrote the text of The Alchemical Mass between 1490 and 1516. Following the death of Louis II in 1526, Cibenensis fled to Vienna...where Ferdinand I would execute him in 1531. The original text is quite long and has been paraphrased for this composition.
Gloria in excelsis
Commune: Regem nostrum venientem ex igne, illuminatum,
et diademate coronatum, ipsum honorate in perpetuum. Amen.
I wish to thank Dr. Wyant Morton and the Ojai Camerata for commissioning this work and The City of Ventura's Office of Cultural Affairs for a grant to fund The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet. I would also like to thank Adam McLean, author of over 40 books on alchemical and hermetic literature, who took the time out of his busy schedule to send me the complete Latin text of The Alchemical Mass with translation. Visit his web site at: www.levity.com/alchemy/ for text and art on all facets of alchemy.
"Deep, complex and tasty!"
"Excellent, inventive compositions combined with some great improv."
Ben Bostwick, http://zk.stanford.edu
Straight out of Ventura, California, Jeff Kaiser releases
the CD version of his recent performance with his Ockodektet and the
Ojai Camerata, The Alchemical Mass. A riveting exercise crossing modern
composition with improvisation and choral arrangements, all in the service
of an authentic 15th Century alchemical text, its author having passed
from royal court astrologer to executed heretic fugitive.
Rex Butters, http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=16460
You can not have Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante
on the same album and not expectr the best improvisational and spontaneous
music. And even better if they are playing in large ensambles like this
one, cause they interact heavily with talented musicians as them. On
the first six tracks we have here the Ockodektet full of atmospheres
and using noises and even vocals. The Ockodektet uses a main idea and
starts improvising from this principal idea (this is more evident in
tracks like "Ave Maria", with this vocal choruses that sound
really medieval). This six tracks are different from other music played
by the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet because they emphasize certain atmospheres,
principally with the vocals thata re different from other type of improvisation.
Federico Marongiu/ Music Extreme, Feb 2005
The title of this album has devoured a significant portion of my strictly-enforced word limit, so here's the bare facts with little garnish: Kaiser, a trumpeter of great acclaim (who is featured on the opening of the HBO series DEADWOOD), accompanied by 15 other musicians, offers a jazz interpretation of a centuries-old religious text inspired by the ancient (now new-age) practice of alchemy, a medieval philosophy concerned with the prolongation of life. The music is atonal, inspired (at least in some way) by the works of once-radical composers such as John Cage, as well as various other pioneers. If you appreciate the "experimental" works of John Zorn, trumpeter Dave Douglas, or violinist Eyvind Kang, or if you're just looking to expand your musical horizons, check out this disc.
"Jeff Kaiser isn’t the first composer
to endeavor to write jazz-flavored
liturgical music—Mary Lou Williams beat him to the punch by a half-a-century—but “The
Alchemical Mass” is still an unusual undertaking. Kaiser makes it more
so by using as his text the heretical Mass written by 16th century astrologer
and scholar Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis. Kaiser shows a boldness fitting to
the text with his blending of avant-garde jazz and classically inspired vocal
writing. And he succeeds at both.
David Dupont, 21 December 2004, OneFinalNote.com
"Jeff Kaiser’s Ockodektet has appeared before
(2002_15 - it doesn’t seem that
jeremy, ampersand et cetera
"THE JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET/THE KAISER/DIAZ-INFANTE SEXTET - The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio (pfMentum 019) The collective personnel features Jeff Kaiser & Kris Tiner on trumpets & flugel; Vinny Golia, Eric Barber & Jason Mears on woodwinds; Michael Vlatkovich on trombone; Mark Weaver on tubs; Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared guitar & piano; Wayne Peet & Jim Connolly on percussion and Brad Dutz on drums. LA trumpeter, Jeff Kaiser, just launched his new label pfMentum with some eight CDs from a number of LA's finest jazz & new music players. Jeff has collaborates with Vinny Golia and can be found on some Nine Winds releases. Mr. Kaiser presents two different ensembles here. His Ockodektet includes 11 musicians plus The Ojai Camerata, a modern classical vocal ensemble with some 17 singers. "The Alchemical Mass" is a suite of six pieces and is a serious work, closer to contemporary classical than to modern jazz. The layers of spooky voices and chanting (in Latin) are utilized just right, never too much with superb soprano (Eric Barber) and sopranino (Vinny Golia) saxes sailing on top. Although being Jewish myself, I haven't heard much Church music in my life, but I must admit to digging the layers of dark, chanting voices with those twisted horns squealing on top. The Latin and English translation is printed in the booklet, but it is the overall sound that fascinates me. There some really intense and explosive moments found here that fit within the grand scheme.
The Kaiser/(Ernesto)Diaz-Infante Sextet perform "Suite Solutio" for the second half of this CD and you might recall Ernesto from his prepared guitar work with local guitarist Chris Forsyth, they've played at DMG a couple of times in the past. 'Suite Solutio' is another (5 part) suite. The instrumentation for the sextet is trumpets, prepared acoustic guitar, trombone (Scot Ray, CD on Crypto), bass & two percussionists. This music is again very spooky, sometimes stark, like an abstract painting with the well-placed paint splattered on the canvas. The writing is strong and focused with some impressive muted horns, free-guitar rambling and intricate rhythm team work. The production and recording is especially well done, all the music is well-crafted. An impressive and auspicious beginning for a fine new label."
"The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio
“The Alchemical Mass” combines the formal sounds of church with the kinds of natural motifs that are commonly found in native religious rites. Primal chants and tribal drums are mixed with the delicate performance of a refined chamber choir. The Ojai Camerata bends and shapes its vocal stylings in a search for new and creative ways to indicate religious zeal. Respects are paid as the choir and eleven-piece instrumental ensemble shed their reins. Emotions are bared, and the artists are given ample freedom. Solo voices include trumpet, trombone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, and piano. While the mass follows traditional norms, it contains much free motion and a fair amount of noise.
“Suite Solutio” swings gently with a fluid motion and relaxed freedom. Diaz-Infante's prepared guitar provides the ensemble with a natural timbre. While the five-part suite contains some noise, it proudly showcases freedom in creative jazz. Kaiser's expressive trumpet moans and wails with searing emotion. Jim Connolly's bowed bass mourns, while Diaz-Infante's guitar drives with upbeat energy. In part IV, the sextet distinguishes itself with the kind of blinding speed and virtuosic articulation that recall jazz's earliest pioneers. Scot Ray's trombone aria and Kaiser's tightly muted trumpet sequences prove effective in depicting the ensemble's driving forces.
Diaz-Infante and Kaiser are dedicated explorers."
~ Jim Santella, AllAboutJazz.com
"The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata - THE ALCHEMICAL MASS and The Kaizer/Diaz-Infante Sextet - SUITE SOLUTIO: Two quite different sets... "Mass" seems to focus more on the ethereal, while "Suite" anchors itself (more) in the "downbeat"... darker shadings, but both highlighting the life that well-played music brings to the soul. That contrast was best illustrated by the superb vocal explorations on "Kyrie", on the "Mass" section, as opposed to my favorite cut on the album, "Part I" of the "Suite". Light & airy vocals on the first, deep walking bass lines on the second. If you're more inclined to "fast improv", check out cut 10 ("Part IV")... radical, but (definitely) under control. Jeff's recordings have gotten better & better every time we've heard a new one, & this is no exception... super recording quality. Don't try & scope this one on th' living room speakers - do it with headphones th' first time around... there are lots of nuances you'll miss unless you zone yourself into the "concentration" zone. Even (some) "regular" jazzheads will enjoy this, but it will be an especially delightful & sumptuous treat for fans of improv who have been waiting to hear the sound quality bar raised. This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears - a definite KEEPER! Contact at http://pfmentum.com Rotcod Zzaj"
Improvijazzation Nation #67, http://home.comcast.net/~rotcod/
"Nicholas Cibenensis, the chaplain and court astrologer to the King of Hungary is credited for writing the text of the alchemical mass. The alchemists were misunderstood and condemned by the Roman Catholic church as heretics. Yet many consider alchemy as the beginnings of chemistry.
On this album the always daring JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET perform the lengthy Alchemical Mass. It parallels the traditional mass in many ways and honors God, Christ, and the virgin Mary. Clearly it is not blasphemous. But here beyond the mysterious Latin we'll go to the highly creative and mystical and even somewhat avant-garde and experimental sounds and music of the talented band.
This performance brings in many talented artists that incorporate many instruments. Saxophones, horns, trumpets, percussion, etc. are joined by the OJAI CAMERATA and then with the The KAISER/DIAZ-INFANTE SEXTET. Performed at the First United Methodist Church in Ventura, California, the feel is that of a mass, but the experimental and creative parts contribute to a surreal feel. The 'Intriotus' or opening plays for over 10 minutes with the dueling saxes of Barber and Golia. A truly epic battle.
THE ALCHEMICAL MASS is an album that offers a sense of the mystery of the past, updated and performed by talented singers and musicians. Should be of interest to music teachers, church historians, students of church music, old European (Latin) culture, and New Age and gnostic fans.
Clearly this is an interesting musical experience."
-Copyright 2004 A. Canales [The CRITICAL REVIEW]
"Kaiser's mass appeal:
-Ventura County Star
This CD contains two interesting experimental works: The Alchemical Mass" and "Suite Solutio". Most of the pieces can be labelled within the New Music, although they also have Jazz and Psychedelic characteristics. Some of the pieces have an Industrial style, others are quite minimalist. The themes are interpreted with a great number of acoustic instruments.
VALERIANO GUIOL, http://www.amazings.com/reviews2004.html
The only moments where "The alchemical mass" effectively sounds as such is during the extremely dissonant choral parts sung by the Ojai Camerata, whose intervention brings some measure of "sacred relief" in an otherwise lively, acute and positively chaotic composition. Shirking any responsibility about any possible audience reaction, the Ockodektet breaks ancient rules and pushes contemplation away, respelling both chamber wording and free jazz idiomatic juggles with no shortage of introversion and useful fake errata. The piece has natural escalations and sudden mementos but, when the choir enters the scene, my personal vu-meters measure the highest emotional intensity. On the other hand, "Suite Solutio" is a new look on the results of cross pollinating free swinging and gradually maturing virtuosity; sometimes it seems like the musicians are mocking "straight" jazz's accents and nervous tics, but if they're really doing it I couldn't care less, as the level of interplay is top rank. More a divertissement than a "serious" composition, this is a perfect tractwalker to a road leading far out of quick-setting cliches.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
This disc includes two sections. The first (The Alchemical Mass) is presented by The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet with The Ojai Camerata and the second (Suite Solutio) is presented by the Kaiser/Diaz/Infante Sextet. Both pieces were composed by Mr. Kaiser. One might easily come to the obvious conclusion that this is not a collection of modern power pop (!). No, instead these pieces are complex modern classical compositions thick with heady arrangements that include traditional and modern sounds. Kaiser's provocative, complex music is not meant for the masses...but rather for that small segment of the population seeking the truly strange and unusual. The moods range from soft and surreal...to obtuse...to gothic and cerebral. While this is a difficult album to describe...it is a strangely inviting and rather eerie spin. Kaiser is one of the true originals in modern classical music. Eclectic and esoteric. (Rating: 5+)
http://www.lmnop.com/ , Nov 2004
Jeff Kaiser's most ambitious project to date, "The Alchemical Mass" is a 33-minute work for a large group of avant-garde musicians/improvisers (the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet) and mixed chorus (the Ojai Camerata, which commissioned the piece). Based on fragments from a Latin text written by Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis at the turn of the 16th century, the work combines elements of Gregorian chant, Verdi's thunderous Requiem, and conducted texture-based group improvisation. The result is striking (to say the least), powerful, mysterious, and profoundly unique. Some free-form passages seem to lack purpose (especially "Introitus"), but otherwise the interaction between ensemble and choir is highly evocative of the mysteries of Magick. Listeners familiar with the Ockodektet's previous two albums will recognize Kaiser's approach to massed improvisation, but the music here is much darker and solemn (although it never even brushes the kind of rigidity usually found in liturgical music). "Ave Maria and Commune," where Kaiser draws captivating vocal textures from the Ojai Camerata, is his most singular piece of music to date. The sound quality is fine, especially considering the shoestring budget such large projects are recorded on, but better separation between the instruments is still to be hoped for. "Suite Solutio," the second piece on this album, is a very different thing. Performed by the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet, with Kaiser on trumpet (he only conducts in "The Alchemical Mass"), Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared acoustic guitar, trombonist Scot Ray, bassist Jim Connolly, Brad Dutz on percussion, and Richie West on drums, the five-part suite includes fast-paced avant-swing passages, brief Latin American grooves, and extended ad libs. A little bit of the previous work's mood has been carried over, mostly in the pace of each section. The up-close recording of this piece allows one to focus much more closely on individual performances. The interplay between Kaiser and Ray, Dutz's endless resourcefulness, and Diaz-Infante's equivocal contributions are what drive the piece forward, but after the grandiloquence of "The Alchemical Mass," "Suite Solutio" requires several listens before leaving any kind of impression.
Francois Couture, All-Music Guide
JEFF KAISER and ERNESTO DIAZINFANTE constitute the nefarious masterminds behind THE ALCHEMICAL MASS/SUITE SOLUTIO (Pfmentum 19). Properly annotating the disc for inclusion in the pages of Cadence is a reviewer’s minor nightmare. Two long-form compositions break the program into halves. The Alchemical Mass: Introitus/ Kyrie/ Collecta and Gloria/ Epistola and Graduale/ Offertorium/ Ave Maria and Commune. 4/26/03, Ventura, CA.) employs Kaiser’s Ocktodektet augmented by the supplementary choir the Ojai Camerata. The entire 30-piece orchestra sized unit (Vinny Golia, Eric Barber, Jason Mears, woodwinds; Kris Tiner, tpt, flgh; Michael Vlatkovich, tbn; Mark Weaver, tba; Jim Connelly, b; Diaz-Infante, prepared g; Wayne Peet, p; Brad Dutz, perc; Richie West, d; Diane Besocke, Candace Delbo, Eleanor Land, Laura Johnson-Bickford, Lu Setnicka, sopranos; Gwen Erickson, Lisa Gordon, Katherine Halsey, Holly Mitchem, Zoe Pietycha, altos; Carla Aiello, Jay Hersh, J.B. White- tenors; Dave Farber, Jim Halverson, Kurt Meyer, Bill Wagner; Jeff Kaiser, cond; Dr. Wyant Morton, cond, director.) is both daunting in size and design. The liners contain annotations for each section of the mass scribed in Latin and reflect an odd gothic bent to the project. The music seems to be seeking to reflect an aural approximation of the alchemical process, calibrating constituent elements to create catalytic reactions that result in new alloys of music. Hearing the large phalanx of instruments interact with the chanting body of voices is both unsettling and enveloping as jagged themes and rhythms boil out of the mix. Moments of stirring beauty are also regular constituents as during the ghostly vocal harmonies of “Kyrie.” Recorded in a church space, the natural acoustics of the environment also conspire to shape and influence the music. Soloists arise, but are largely anonymous in the greater scheme of the pieces. The disc’s concluding half pares down the ensemble into the Kaiser/Diaz- Infante Sextet (Kaiser, tpt, flgh; Diaz-Infante, prepared g; Scot Ray, tbn; Jim Connelly, b; Brad Dutz, perc; Richie West, d). to bring the five part “Suite Solutio” ( 2/25/01, Ojai, CA 53:24) to life. The music is more in line with the previous efforts of the joint leaders, lumbering rhythms pocked by bursts of droning noise and jangley string and drum punctuations. Discordant and excoriating on the surface there’s still a definite method behind the madcappery. Both portions of the program illustrate the sort of ambitious work that’s regularly funneling out of the Left Coast even if the results are sometimes uncomfortable to the naked unprepared ear.
Derek Taylor, Cadence, December 2004
Jeramy Ponder, JackalBlaster, Nov. 2004
Comentario: Fuera de bromas y en un registro
mucho más serio, Jeff Kaiser nos ofreció un tiempo después
de 13 Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic dos bellas piezas musicales: The
Alchemical Mass, con el Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet y el conjunto vocal Ojai
Camerata, y Suite Solutio, con el Kaiser/Díaz-Infante Sextet.
Eduardo Chagas, Publicada en Portugués originalmente en http://jazzearredores.blogspot.com/ and http://www.tomajazz.com/
Doveva succedere, due agitatori agitati
come Kaiser ed Ernesto Diaz-Infante hanno partorito il loro piccolo e
ritorto bambino storto.
Recensore: Marco Carcasi, http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1509
rbd‘s Bad Alchemy Favourites 2004:
Eine scheinbar ganz andere Welt streift THE JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET mit The Alchemical Mass (pfMENTUM CD 019). Als Eingangsportal gibt es aber erneut ein Zitat von C.G. Jung: „...there have always been people who, not satisfied with the dominants of conscious life, set forth - under cover and by devious paths, to their destruction or salvation - to seek direct experience of the eternal roots...“ Für Jung zählten dazu die Heretiker und die Alchemisten. Vielleicht wurde am 26.4.2003 in der First United Methodist Church in Ventura, CA überhaupt das erste Mal die okkulte Messe gefeiert, die Nicholas Melchior Cibenensis, der 1531 in Wien hingerichtete einstige Hofalchemist Ladislaus II. von Böhmen u. Ungarn ca. 1516 komponiert hat. FUNDAMENTUM VERO ARTIS EST CORPORUM SOLUTIO QUAE, NON IN AQUAM, SED IN AQUAM MERCURIALEM RESOLVENDA SUNT, EX QUA GENERATUR VERUS LAPIS PHILOSOPHORUM singt der 17-zungige Chor der Ojai Camerata zum Introitus. Nach Kyrie, Collecta und Gloria, Epistola und Graduale, dem Offertorium und Ave Maria schließt die Messe mit dem Commune: REGEM NOSTRUM VENIENTEM EX IGNE, ILLUMINATUM, ET DIADEMATE CORONATUM, IPSUM HONORATE IN PERPETUUM, AMEN. Für mich ist Musik das merkuriale Medium per se, Unruhestifter, Lösungsmittel, Hoffnungsträger und Vorschein für Altered States. Es muss alles anders werden, damit alles anders wird. Kaiser öffnet die Flaschenpost von Cibenensis ohne falsche Andacht. Der heraus sprudelnde Geist ist ein quecksilbriges Medium, das als kakophoner Stachel gegen die Trägheit der Masse angeht und dem Status quo Beine macht. Die Einzelstimmen von Soprano- & Sopraninosax vertreiben im hellen Intro den Geist der Schwere. Die funkelnden Klangpartikel des Chores transformieren die Madrigaltechniken Gesualdos und Marenzios ins Avanciert-Modernistische eines Dallapiccola, Berio und Nono. Das auf 11 Mann reduzierte Ockodektet summt dazu dunkel im Hintergrund, flackert aber - bei Gloria & Epistula - furios auf und schießt empor als mitreißender Feuersturm. Das Offertorium flackert im Wechselspiel von Flügelhorn und Altosax. The Alchemical Mass ist weniger Third als Sub-Stream, ein Zeitparadox, ein inspirierender Wegweiser. ‚Trobar clus‘, etwas Dunkles finden durch... Suchen. Ein nächster Schritt könnte darin bestehen, bei www.levity.com/alchemy anzuklopfen oder Gustav René Hockes Abracadabra über Sprach-Alchimie und Esoterische Kombinationskunst nachzublättern. Kaisers nächster Schritt ist die 5-teilige Suite Solutio, eingespielt mit Flügelhorn, akustischer Gitarre, Posaune, Kontrabass, Percussion und Drums. Sie nimmt Bezug auf den Kernsatz der wahren alchemistischen Kunst, die Auflösung und Verwandlung des Grobstofflichen ins Merkuriale, auf eine Taufe nicht mit Wasser, sondern mit Geist. Kaiser operiert auch hier nicht mit pythagoreischem Sphärenklang. Richard Crashaws metaphysischem Musizismus „All things that are... are musical“ frönt er als Manierist, als ‚musicien maudit‘. Er schürt den Läuterungsprozess mit der fiebrigen, aber immer reflektierten Kakophonie von ‚Capricci stravaganti‘. Das ist Musik, wie sie bad alchemystischer nicht sein könnte.
Jeff Kaiser is always up for inviting
a few likeminded musical madmen to join his party. On The Alchemical
Mass/Suite Solutio, he gives his free-form, indefinable experimentation
a bit more definition by splitting the content into two parts. The first
segment, "The Alchemical Mass", pairs Kaiser's Ockodektet with
the Ojai Camerata. The six-part piece is typical for Kaiser, inasmuch
as seemingly random collisions of tones and instruments can ever be considered
typical. Leaping from a quiet tone to clashing horn runs and back again,
the piece takes modern, atonal chamber music to kinetic heights.
-- Ron Davies, http://www.splendidezine.com/review.html?reviewid=1102677376319014
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