AMH Trio | Alan Lechusza | Mark Weaver | Harris Eisenstadt | Live at Field & Frame | Plutonium Records

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Alan Lechusza – bariton sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax  | Mark Weaver – tuba | Harris Eisenstadt – drums

Tracklist: 1. Pentimento (Weaver) (7:19) 2. There are so many stars in the New Mexico sky (Eisenstadt) (6:20) 3. In Place Of (Weaver) (6:21) 4. Every Cubic Centimeter (Weaver) (11:22) 5. Elements (Weaver) (11:02) 6. Number 5 (Lechusza) (9:08) 7. Stitches (Weaver) (6:45) 8. Pentimento – encore (Weaver) (8:33)

Recorded 4 November 2000 live to 2-track digital tape at Field & Frame, Albuquerque NM. Engineered by Bee. Cover art by M. Weaver

Perhaps a little background on this session would be entertaining.

I met Alan in August 2000 in Portland Oregon where we both had traveled to perform and record with trombonist/composer Michael Vlatkovich (me from Albuquerque, Alan from San Diego). Well we immediately felt an affinity and discussed doing something together in Albuquerque in the fall.

I lined up a couple small performance opportunities, Alan roped fantastic young L.A. drummer Harris Eisenstadt and, with one minor hangup involving a portentious bit of engine trouble in Alan’s pickup, they drove straight across to Albuquerque, arriving about 2:00 am Thursday November 2. I rousted them later that morning at about 11:00 and we dashed up to KUNM-FM to play some live improvised music on Mark Weber’s jazz radio show and promote our gigs. That afternoon we had a practice session in my garage studio until 6:00 when we took off for our coffeehouse gig at R.B.Winning Coffee Co. here in Albuquerque. The next day (Friday) was Alan’s and Harris’ day off — Alan spent it playing music and bonding with local free-jazz personality Jim Hamm, Harris went to Santa Fe to hang with friends there. Saturday it was up to “the Beehive” for a daytime recording session (which turned out to be actually just a rehearsal). That night was the Field & Frame show which is the recording you hear on this CD (live engineering by Bee, master of natural sounding recording). (By the way, Field & Frame is called that because it is primarily a video/film workshop and screening space.)

After the gig Alan and Harris came over with a friend and had a piece of pie with Peggy and I (baked earlier that day by Mark Weber) before taking off at about midnight for California (both had pressing engagements). However they only made it into the middle of nowhere west of Albuquerque before Alan’s truck totally gave up, leaving them to walk for miles in the cold night to the nearest pueblo, arrange for a tow truck, and get back here to Albuquerque Sunday morning about 6:00 am. We got Harris on a Greyhound bus by 9:00 am, and with only one hassle with the bus company about his drums, he finally arrived home Monday in L.A. barely in time for an important interview. Meanwhile Alan’s parents had hopped in their pickup truck, and renting a tow-trailer en route, had driven from southern California straight to Albuquerque, arriving Sunday night about 9:30. Alan’s stepfather Robert yanked the driveshaft from Alan’s truck, come-alonged it on to the tow-trailer and they were off again across the desert before 11:00 pm! What is really amazing is that Alan and Harris both say they are already ready to come play here again! Transportation adventures aside, it was an exhiliarating few days. Most of all we really enjoyed playing music together and we hope you find that it comes across on the recording. Thanks for listening. —Mark Weaver (Dec.2000)

amh trio | alan lechusza | mark weaver | harris eisentadt | live at field & frame | plutonium records

Multi-reed player

Lechusza teams up with Weaver on tuba and Eisenstadt on drums in a loosely configured recording containing substantial free blowing and explosive drumming.  Lechusza is into adventurous improvising spurred throught the prodding of Weaver, who uses his tuba in a dual capacity.  He takes on the bass role and also turns the unwieldy instrument into an improvising tool using highly dexterous fingering and breath control.  While Lechusza is launching the all-original compositions (most of which are by Weaver) with hefty rounds of spontaneity, Weaver is either matching his action with vigorous puffing or laying down a patterned bottom line.  Eisenstadt is a deft handler of the drums, providing significant firepower when needed or simply using shimmering cymbal crashes and brush strokes to supplement the quieter moments.

The recording is from a live session, and all three musicians capitalize on this to produce a highly original set.  Lechusza continually rotates his horns, creating shifting moods and scenarios with the varying tones.  On the slower pieces, he uses the higher-pitched flute and clarinet, while on the more robust songs, the darker baritone and bass clarinet emerge.  In all cases, he is into heavy realms of inspiration spun off the song themes.  Each horn, including the alto, is taken into dense areas as he breaks free with independent and unconstrained action.  I particularly liked his bass clarinet rumblings on “Every Cubic Centimeter” and his aggressive attack on alto on “Elements”, but he is a force on all his reeds.  Weaver’s tuba balances the act with growling efficiency, and Eisenstadt shades all of it with well-adapted and responsive patterns.  This trio listens to the music and responds with a congealing effort.  It is a very rewarding album of challenging and daring playing.–Frank Rubolino (Cadence magazine vol.27 no.9, Sept 2001, p. 41)

amh trio | alan lechusza | mark weaver | harris eisentadt | live at field & frame | plutonium records

Releases like “live at the Field & Frame”

serve notice that free improvisation and outside jazz (…or whatever you want to call it) are alive and well outside of NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. Tuba-ist Mark Weaver encountered San Diego-based multi-woodwind player Alan Lechusza while playing in Portland Oregon, in groups led by trumpeter Rob Blakeslee and trombonist Michael Vlatkovich. To quote Weaver’s own liner note, he and Lechusza “immediately felt an affinity” for each others’ playing, and planned their own project.

Though “live at the Field & Frame” is dominated by Weaver’s compositions (6 out of 8 tracks), there is plenty of variety here. Eisenstadt’s There are So Many Stars… is a floating, free-jazz ballad featuring Lechusza on flute. Lechusza’s Number 5 is a more chaotic, angular piece which wouldn’t sound out of place on one of Anthony Braxton’s LPs from the mid-70s. Though not overly complex, Weaver’s tunes are replete with unexpected twists and turns, space for extended improvisations, and opportunities for all sorts of musical zingers. Percussionist Eisenstadt does a wonderful job of picking up on the latter on Stitches: his instincts are as sure as his reflexes, in this regard. Weaver, though he blends magically with Lechusza on several of the themes and launches a vigorous extended solo on Stitches, spends most of his time providing a pliant ‘air bass’ springboard for Lechusza’s (and Eisenstadt’s) flights of fancy.

Pentimento starts off with a quirky, angular theme over an edgy rockish groove, dissolves into a dialogue between tuba and drumkit, and climaxes with an expressive, Surman-ish, baritone sax solo.  In Place Of is somewhat more somber, with Lechusza’s Klezmer-ish clarinet fluttering over Eisenstadt’s purring snare, and Weaver’s muttering tuba. My favorite track, however, is Every Cubic Centimeter, which alternates duo and trio free improvisations with a choppy 5/4 groove over which Lechusza (on bass clarinet, here) solos magnificently. Alan Lechusza is definitely a name you ought to take note of: he is one of those rare multi-woodwind players who has truly mastered each of his axes. I can’t really say which instrument he sounds best on because he sounds great on each one (…and I am told his primary instrument is oboe!). Finally, the bare-bones “live-to-two- track” digital recording is surprisingly crisp and dimensional, though Weaver’s tuba suffers somewhat at the expense of Eisenstadt’s drums and cymbals.

“live at  Field & Frame”, available directly from Plutonium Records (plutoniumrecords.net), is a great example of what can happen when creative musicians in out-of-the-way places get to have friends in for a visit and stretch out a little. I hope that whatever is going on in Albuquerque is also happening in a town near you.–Dave Wayne (www.jazzweekly.com/reviews/amhtrio_live.htm)

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