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The Alchemical Mass

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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
Tuba: Mark Weaver * Bass: Jim Connolly * Prepared Acoustic Guitar: Ernesto Diaz-Infante * Acoustic Piano: Wayne Peet
Percussion: Brad Dutz * Drum Set: Richie West * Jeff Kaiser: Conductor, Flugelhorn

The Ojai Camerata:
Sopranos: Diane Besocke, Candace Delbo, Eleanor Land,
Laura Johnson-Bickford, Lu Setnicka
Altos: Gwen Erickson, Lisa Gordon, Katherine Halsey,
Holly Mitchem, Zoe Pietrycha
Tenors: Carla Aiello, Jaye Hersh, J.B. White
Basses: Dave Farber, Jim Halverson, Kurt Meyer, Bill Wagner
Dr. Wyant Morton, Director

The Alchemical Mass
Conducted by Jeff Kaiser and Dr. Wyant Morton
1. Introitus 10:28
[Eric Barber, Soprano Sax * Vinny Golia, Sopranino Sax]
2. Kyrie 3:00
3. Collecta and Gloria 2:33
[Kris Tiner, Flugelhorn]
4. Epistola and Graduale 1:44
5. Offertorium 9:03
[Jeff Kaiser, Flugelhorn * Jason Mears, Alto Sax]
6. Ave Maria and Commune 7:16

Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet
Trumpet/Flugelhorn: Jeff Kaiser * Prepared Acoustic Guitar: Ernesto Diaz-Infante
Trombone: Scot Ray * Bass: Jim Connolly * Percussion: Brad Dutz * Drum Set: Richie West

Suite Solutio
7. Part I 2:38
8. Part II 1:25
9. Part III 5:06
10. Part IV 5:49
11. Part V 4:19
Total Playing Time 53:21

All compositions and arrangements by Jeff Kaiser * (C)2004 Jeff Kaiser Music, ASCAP
The Alchemical Mass was recorded 4.26.03 at the First United Methodist Church in Ventura, CA
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Wayne Peet
Suite Solutio was recorded 2.25.01 at Zircon Skye in Ojai, CA
Recorded by Jeff Evans * Mixed and mastered by Jeff Kaiser
Photographs by Michael Kelly * Design and layout by Jeff Kaiser
pfMENTUM CD019

The Alchemical Mass is dedicated to Keith McMullen for his friendship and unending supply of prima materia.
In Stercore Invenitur

Liner Notes:

"Obscurum Per Obscurius."
[Explaining the obscure by the more obscure.]

-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.

Introitus Missae:
Fundamentum vero artis est corporum solutio quae, non in aquam nubis, sed in aquam mercurialem resolvenda sunt, ex qua generatur verus lapis philosophorum. [The basis of the Art is the dissolution of the bodies...]
Versus: Introitus vitrioli, et salis vitri, aequales partes, dans solutionis testimonium: Gloria patri, et filio, per spiritum sanctum.

Kyrie:
Kyrie, fons bonitatis, inspirator sacrae artis, a quo bona cuncta tuis fidelibus procedunt, Eleison.
Christe, Hagie, lapis benedicte artis scientiae qui pro mundi salute inspirasti lumen scientiae, Eleison.
Kyrie, ignis divine, pectora nostra juva, ut pro tua laude pariter sacramenta artis expandere possimus, Eleison.
[Our Lord, fount of goodness, inspirer of the sacred art, from whom all good things come to your faithful, have mercy. Christ, Holy one, blessed stone of the art of the science who for the salvation of the world hast inspired the light of the science, have mercy. Our Lord, divine fire, help our hearts, that we may be able, to your praise, to expand the sacraments of the art, have mercy.]

Collecta:
Deus largitor totius bonitatis, qui maxime in fine temporum; sola tua bonitate et sapientia famulo tuo. N.N. non suis meritis praecedentibus: sed tua ineffabili pietate, et gratia praeveniente, lumen sacrae artis alchemiae inspirasti, praesta quae sumus, ut quod ex tuae maiestatis dono accepit, ad salutem corporis, et animae eius prosit, in ipsoque omnia vitia mortifica, et gratiam virtutis infunde, ut eandem sacram artem solum modo ad laudem, et gloriam nominis tui, et fidei Christianae propagationem, fideliter expendat, per dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Amen.
[May thy servant N.N. practice the sacred Art of alchemy to the glory of God...]

Gloria in excelsis

Epistola:
O altitudo divitiarum sapientiae, et scientiae Dei.
[O profound, wise and knowledgeable God.]

Graduale:
Surge aquilo et veni auster: perfla hortum meum, et fluant aromata illius.
[Arise north wind, and come south wind, blow through my garden and let the aromatical spices flow.]

Ave Maria:
Salve, O caeli iubar speciosum, mundi lumen radiosum; hic cum luna copularis, sit copula martialis, et Mercurii coniunctio. Ecce res est una, radix una, essentia una...qui est lapis philosophorum. Hic est thesaurus thesaurorum, summa medicina philosophorum, caeleste secretum antiquorum, beatus, qui hoc invenerit.
[Hail beautiful lamp of heaven, shining light of the world! Here art thou united with the moon, here is made the band of Mars and the conjunction of Mercury. And behold it is one thing, one root, one essence...this being the stone of the philosophers. It is the treasure of treasures, the supreme philosophical potion, the divine secret of the ancients. Blessed is he that finds such thing.]

Commune: Regem nostrum venientem ex igne, illuminatum, et diademate coronatum, ipsum honorate in perpetuum. Amen.
[Glory be to our king who comes out of the fire, who is illumined, and crowned with the diadem, for ever and ever. 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.

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Reviews

"Deep, complex and tasty!"

-JazzLoft.com

"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.
Filling out the remainder of the CD, Kaiser presents “Suite Solutio,” an earlier outing with a sextet co-led with Ernesto Diaz-Infante. More improvisational in nature, the piece builds complex structures as they unfold from the imaginations of the participants. Both bands include SoCal stalwarts Vinny Golia, Richie West, Eric Barber, Jason Mears, and Michael Vlatkovich, among others.
Opening with Golia and Eric Barber on sopranino and soprano saxes respectively, the reedists’ pops and swoops are joined by an etheric vocal chorus, and after a pause the ensemble bursts forth. They retreat to again open space for the chorus, this time including male voices singing the text with the women’s voices imitating wind song. West and Brad Dutz create tribal rhythms, with Golia raving wickedly. The richly written “Kyrie” features the voices with wind chime accompaniment. “Collecta and Gloria” has Kris Tiner’s flugelhorn exploring over whispering voices, with tuba and bass undercurrents.
The shrill fanfare of “Epistola and Graduale” kicks up a variegated vocal response, giving way to the percussion and gongs of the “Offertorium.” A swirling theme of reeds and horns parts for Kaiser and Mears to spar like old martial arts masters. Their rapid-fire interplay turns into serenely nuanced vibes from Dutz. A sequence of small group improv clears for Vlatkovitch’s sliding ruminations. A mystical “Ave Maria and Commune” reprises the eerie vocal arranging with just tightly rhythmic small gongs ringing. The chanting loses the gongs and gains the reeds, and the vocals sweep upward.
West keeps cool on brushes to open “Suite Solutio,” Connolly dropping low tones with Diaz-Infante sliding curlicues on his strings. “Part II” has Scot Ray on trombone and Kaiser each reaching for extended highs. Kaiser walks a different tightrope, muted, peering through the transtonal wisps of Diaz-Infante’s prepared guitar on “Part III.” “Part IV” launches on a figure conceivably built on Woody Woodpecker’s laugh. The woodpecker morphs into an SST with West fueling inhumanly fast. Connolly stays in speed or rubberizes around the maelstrom. Singing gongs and cymbals, small flute and plunger muted trumpet and trombone create “Part V,” with Ray getting enough room to turn lyrical.
Jeff Kaiser again shows himself to be a free improviser with striking compositional sense and excellent taste in traveling companions.

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.
The Kaiser/Diaz-Infante sextet is where Jeff Kaiser unleashes his trumpet lines (in the OCkodektet he is conducting) which are the center of the improvisations here. Diaz-Infante creates his incredible noises and sounds with the guitar while the bass creates some atmospheres using less notes and suspending them, such as in "Part III". The percussion is soft, preferring a background role letting Kaiser and Diaz-Infante develope their ideas more clearly.
This is an album full of master improvisation and any lover of this type of music should listen and learn here.

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.

-jck.http://www.skratchmagazine.com/cdReview/CDreviewsDEC04.php

"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.
Throughout, swirling, raucous free passages give way to a choir voiced in a manner that would make any contemporary choral composer proud. The Introitus opens with what sounds like a wolf call—don’t worry, Paul Winter’s nowhere in sight here—and developing with slap-tongued saxophones. The voices of the Ojai Camerata enter softly, blending with the horns; a sound not very different from that opening howl. But that moment of calm is disrupted by an explosion of horns. The voices return with sopranos sustaining a long note and the males chanting underneath.
Kaiser gets a sound from the choir redolent of ancient sanctuaries. Yet he seamlessly ties this with contemporary technique, as on the Introitus, when he calls on the voices to start swooping, which he then underpins with a hell-raising bass drum tattoo.  This shift from the heavenly to the hellish is true to the tradition where the promise of paradise is set against the threat of the inferno. Heavenly is not too strong a word for Kaiser’s opening of the Kyrie, nor for the Camerata’s execution of the tightly voiced harmonies. The same holds true for the final amen. Kaiser links the free form with the liturgical form by using variations of bell-like sounds that are at home in both settings, whether a ride pattern played on triangle or the boom of a gong.
“ Suite Solutio”, played by a sextet co-led by Kaiser and guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante, is a less ambitious work, but certainly no less successful. The suite is no more a slave to accepted form than the Mass. It’s a mélange of color. Diaz-Infante wrenches an impressive array of effects from his prepared acoustic guitar. He squeals and squawks with abandon, skittering over the fretboard with glancing strokes.
Kaiser on flugelhorn and Scot Ray on trombone peck at their horns and distort their sounds with a variety of mutes. Brad Dutz on percussion and Richie West on drums contribute to the kaleidoscope. Bassist Jim Connolly seems to be assigned the role of the voice of reason as it were, adding a rich, steady counterpoint that comes to the fore on Part III when he bows a deep, lyrical line. The final section employs the same kind of bell sounds that are so important in the Mass: The piece, and the session, end with a solitary bell ringing for a full 30 seconds."

David Dupont, 21 December 2004, OneFinalNote.com

"Jeff Kaiser’s Ockodektet has appeared before (2002_15 - it doesn’t seem that
long ago!) and now the variable sized and composed group returns with 13
Themes for a Triskaidekaphobic (pfMentum cd013, www.pfmentum.com). 13
tracks, each with a title from Tristram Shandy, it is a continuous work that
shifts in structure and focus. Constantly on the go, it is a protean work to
try and describe. Horns and saxes ululate, flutter, purr, chatter and
twitter throughout dominating proceedings while bass and drums keep things
moving. Different instruments get their chances at solos, providing varied
textures and densities - flute, organ, guitar, drums. Mellifluous moody
monolithic were words that came to me - it is not always possible to pick
out the instruments - where was that theremin? However, overall a dramatic
work that carries you along.
Accompanying it comes a split disk. The Ockodektet, in a smaller version - I
am not sure if ockodektet is numerical - joins with the Ojai Camerata on The
Alchemical Mass, to provide half of this release (pfMentum cd019). And it is
marvellous - combining the composed-improv music with modern classical
choral work is inspired. The band shimmers and pitters, builds and sways,
occasional screaming and drones as the voices sing, mutter, whisper, build
the hymns. Some components are played as almost straight hymns, others the
voices and instruments weave around each other. A significant work.
The other half of the album is the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante sextet (yes,
Diaz-Infante, a doyen of the improv scene heard often across these pages is
in the orchestra also) adding trombone, bass, percussion and drums to their
trumpet/flugelhorn and guitar. The closer focus here works well, the parts
moving from a jazzy swing through squeaky and thumping percussive, to
chittery trumpet and guitar scrabbling with the percussion over a stepping
bass, bebop and brass duets, rainsticks and gongs in a final evocation that
fades in a tone. Completing a compelling disk."

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."

DowntownMusicGallery.com

"The Alchemical Mass/Suite Solutio
The Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet and the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet | pfMentum
Two progressive artists lead these ensembles in a creative affair. Quiet spaces are interwoven with loud cacophony. A group of orchestral instruments can be made to sound like many things. Here, Jeff Kaiser and Ernesto Diaz-Infante light creative fires and push their ensembles to the limit.

“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 composer Jeff Kaiser's latest work, "The Alchemical Mass," is a contradiction in musical terms. Classical musicians will think it's jazz, but jazz musicians will say it's classical. Conservatives will consider it avant-garde, but the avant-garde will call it conservative."

-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


    Pfmentum's split release, featuring Jeff Kaiser, may not be as lively and melodic as West's, but it is certainly their most interesting to date, as well as one of my personal favorites. The first half, featuring the Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet and the Ojai Camerata, is entitled The Alchemical Mass.  Actually recorded in 2003 in the First United Methodist Church in Ventura, CA, all eleven musicians and the two conductors perform a musical interpertation of a church mass.  In conjuction with the Ockodektet, the 18 vocalists of the Ojaj Camerata perform, in Latin, the hymns and prayers of the mass. The classical improv, along with the stunning vocal performances, both work together to bring about a deeply ethereal, wonderfully lasting, listening experience. The second half of the album - the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet, is five tracks of moving jazz improv that fits nicely back to back with The Alchemical Mass. An older recording from 2001, it brings horn blower Kaiser together with guitarist Diaz-Infante, trombone player Scot Ray, bassist Jim Connolly, percussionist Brad Dutz, and drummer Rich West.  All musicians have been involved in Pfmentum recordings, as well as other labels, and this early recording is a nice archival piece of comparision with newer works and projects of these artists. Both of these recordings are excellent and well representative of the talent and diversity of the musicians.

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.
Comentario: The Alchemical Mass es, como su nombre indica, una misa (Introitus; Kyrie; Collecta e Gloria; Epistola e Graduale; Offertorium; Ave Maria e Commune), que inspirada en la obra homónima, escrita en algún tiempo entre 1490 y 1516, funde la forma clásica de la misa con elementos de una cierta religiosidad primitivista, presentes a través del canto (Ojai Camerata) y reforzados con los motivos afro-exóticos que dan a la música un colorido fascinante, al mismo tiempo erudito y popular. Kaiser es el hombre adecuado para este tipo de grandes producciones de “new music”, donde los aspectos convencionales se unen con un tipo de escritura innovadora y una ejecución experimental.
La segunda pieza del disco, interpretada por el Kaiser/Díaz-Infante Sextet (Jeff Kaiser, Ernesto Díaz-Infante, Scot Ray, Jim Connolly, Brad Dutz y Richie West) es muy diferente de la misa. Lo que aquí tenemos es una grabación de 2001, incluida en el mismo CD, tal vez para llenar el espacio libre. Qué bien que Kaiser tomase la decisión de juntar ambas piezas, dando la magnífica oportunidad de escuchar a un sexteto de jazz (trompeta, guitarra, trombón, contrabajo, batería y percusión), el de Kaiser y Díaz-Infante, que improvisa en un estilo free-bop experimental, apoyado por las buenas composiciones, propias de Kaiser y demás músicos, con un destacado papel para los guitarrazos de Díaz-Infante, que infunden respeto, dado la forma en que trabaja con las seis cuerdas. Común a ambas piezas es asimismo el tono sombrío que las envuelve y les confiere un aura de misterio, algo que procede de tiempos inmemoriales y que se desarrolla en directo frente a nosotros. Bello y escalofriante.

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.
Entrambi baciati dal sole della California si sono incontrati molte altre volte lungo produzioni votate quasi sempre all'obliquo puro, ora deviano ancora di più le proprie angolosità e si concedono un lungo dialogo fitto che, nel caso di Kaiser; si avvale anche dell'utilizzo del gruppo vocale The Ojai Camerata.
Ne scaturisce un lavoro complessissimo che trova il proprio campo di azione naturale in quella zona di confine che è a mezza strada fra contemporanea e nuova visione del jazz. Lavoro densissimo ma senza nessun estremismo, profondo ed oscuro con un'attenzione rivolta alla scrittura complessiva invero mirabile.
Oscuro per umori oscuri senza ombra di dubbio, soluzione alchemica ben congegnata come il titolo recita.
La metà intestata a Kaiser muove abilmente sottili atmosfere religiose ben supportate dall'ottimo lavoro svolto in fase di mixaggio nell'equilibrare il mirabile lavoro del coro con la parte strumentistica per un risultato finale di notevole spessore visionario.
Da parte sua invece Diaz-Infante si accontenta di far viaggiare la sua chitarra perennemente in disordine con tutta una serie di ritmiche strascicate quasi da sbornia ancora in fase attiva che si tramutano come per magia in un fascinosissimo affresco noir poco meno che splendido per gli umori blues e jazz disturbato che rilascia tutto intorno.
Scontro/incrocio fra i più riusciti; e brava la nostra Pfmentum!
Aggiunto: December 4th 2004

Recensore: Marco Carcasi, http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1509

rbd‘s Bad Alchemy Favourites 2004:
ABSOLUTE ZERO Crashing Icons (ReR) - JOHN BISSET Smithy (2:13) - FAUST vs. DÄLEK Derbe Respect Alder (Klangbad/Staubgold) - GUAPO Five Suns (Cuneiform) - JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON Virthulegu forsetar (Touch) - JEFF KAISER OCKODEKTET The Alchemical Mass (pfMentum) - SQUAREPUSHER Ultravisitor (Warp) - DAVID THOMAS & TWO PALE BOYS 18 Monkeys On A Dead Man‘s Chest (Glitterhouse) - WIWILI Latitude 13°37‘ - Longitude 85°49‘ (Vand‘œvre) - XIU XIU Fabulous Muscles (Tomlab)
Bad Alchemy
Rigo Dittmann
Franz-Ludwig-Str. 11
97072 Würzburg
Germany

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.

Bad Alchemy
Rigo Dittmann
Franz-Ludwig-Str. 11
97072 Würzburg
Germany

 

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.
The second and more effective part of the program combines Kaiser's trumpet and flugelhorn with the rest of the Kaiser/Diaz-Infante Sextet. This crew, headed by Ernesto Diaz-Infante on prepared acoustic guitar, takes Kaiser into more ambient, and ultimately weirder, territory than usual. For those familiar with Kaiser's typically unpredictable work, you'll realize that this is really saying something. The key to the difference is that the five-part "Suite Solutio" is actually less chaotic than Kaiser's standard material, which leaves more room for a spider-like creepiness to skitter through the music's open spaces. This relative cohesion may be due to the more pronounced presence of bassist Jim Connolly, with whom Kaiser worked on The Circus Doesn't Stop at Gove, as well as "The Alchemical Mass". Alternately, it's possible that for Kaiser, working with a scant six musicians as opposed to the twelve on "The Alchemical Mass" simply reduces the excess clutter. Regardless of the reason, "Suite Solutio" is some of the finest music that Kaiser has produced.
Jeff Kaiser's music will never gain widespread appeal, but as pieces like "Suite Solutio" demonstrate, his work is important to the continued evolution that's happening at music's outer fringe.

-- Ron Davies, http://www.splendidezine.com/review.html?reviewid=1102677376319014

 

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