Noertker’s Moxie | Sketches of Catalonia Vol. 1: Suite for Dali | Edgetone Records

Bill Noertker – bass | Annelise Zamula – saxes/flute | Jim Peterson – saxes/flute | Niels Myrner – drums | with special guest Hugh Schick – trumpet

All music composed and arranged by Bill Noertker. This is a recording of a live performance by Noertker’s Moxie at the SIMM series, held bi-monthly at the Musicians’ Union Hall in San Francisco, CA. Recorded to 2-track DAT by Karen Stackpole, Stray Dog Recording Services on 10 June 2001. Mastered by Myles Boisen at The Headless Buddha Mastering Lab on 12 March 2002. Billy Icon by Jeff Left from a photo by Monika Romero. Cover design by David Norfleet. Produced by Bill Noertker Executive Producer – Rent Romus

Special thanks to Marianne DeSnoo, Harry Fix, Tom Griesser, Dave Mihaly, Annelise Zamula, and Tom, Jain, and Marlowe Mclntyre

Tracklist: 1) Galatea of the Spheres [8:53] 2) Portrait of My Dead Brother [5:20] 3) the Hats [6:41] 4) Exploding Head in the Style of Raphael [8:08] 5) Telephone Grilled Sardines at the End of September [7:20] 6) the Chemist of Figueras Looks for Nothing at All [7:48] 7) Family of Marsupial Centaurs [6:17]

Bill Noertker

Inspired by the paintings of Salvador Dali

and bassist Bill Noertker’s journeys through Catalonia, Sketches of Catalonia takes the listener to a place were jazz melts into surrealism. What Dali did for painting, this CD does for jazz. Deep swing morphs into circus melodies. Beauty fades into cacophony. At times raucous, at times pensive, always soulful, this CD takes you on an aural pilgrimage to Catalonia, birthplace of many innovative artists.

In the last decade, Bill Noertker has composed over 150 original pieces of music for jazz ensemble. His compositions point to the continuity between the jazz tradition and the avant-garde. His use of group improvisation and his attention to the individual voices of each of his bandmates call forth the human element so sorely missing from much of today’s jazz.

Catalonia is a region of the Iberian Peninsula

that lies just south of the Pyrenees mountains. During the Spanish Civil War, this region was one of the last to fall to the Fascists. The Catalan language (a separate language, not a dialect of Castilian) was banned by Franco, but has become the official language of the region since his death.

Catalonia is the birthplace of many innovative artists, among them Salvador Dali, Antoni Gaudi, and Joan Miro. In 1995 I was able to make a pilgrimage to Catalonia to see the works of these great artists in person. Out of this experience came an extended suite of music, “Sketches of Catalonia.” This CD is the first part of this suite and is inspired by the life and work of Salvador Dali. CDs based on Miro and Gaudi will follow. Here’s some information about the works that inspired this suite. Included are the dates of completion of the paintings.

1) Galatea of the Spheres (1952)
Dali was preoccupied with the atomic structure of matter. In this painting he uses molecules in the manner of a halftone to create a portrait of his wife, Gala. My composition alludes to Thelonious Sphere Monk, who, to my mind, used similar pointillistic devices.

2) Portrait of My Dead Brother (1963)
Three years after the death of Salvador Dali’s elder brother, his mother and father gave him the same name they had given his deceased brother, Salvador, which was also his father’s name. In his parents’ bedroom was a majestic picture of Salvador, his dead brother, next to a reproduction of Christ crucified as painted by Velazquez. These three Salvadors (Salvador means “saviour” in Spanish): the dead angel (his brother), Jesus, and his dominating father, according to Dali, “cadaverized” him. I also had a brother that died young. This composition is an attempt to come to terms with his death and my family’s unnerving attempt to canonize him and cadaverize me.

3) the Hats (1936)
In 1936, Dali designed some hats for Schiaparelli: the cutlet hat, the shoe hat, the inkwell hat. He came under fire from other artists because of the commercial nature of this work. Breton created an anagram of his name: Avida Dollars. He had always blurred the line between fine art and kitsch. Although he was considered a surrealist at the beginning of his career, he was formally excommunicated from this group. My little ditty is based on an extremely common chord progression. It is utterly conventional.

4) Exploding Head in the Style of Raphael (1951)
In this painting, Dali attempts to reconcile the religious and the scientific in a kind of nuclear mysticism. The detritus of an atomic explosion forms the image of Raphael’s Madonna. The inside of the Madonna’s head is the interior of the Pantheon at Rome. Some of the particles of the exploding head are the same shape as a rhinoceros horn, which Dali saw everywhere. I attempt to combine the exploding rhythm section with the trance-inducing horns. Is it nuclear mysticism? Who knows?

5) Telephone Grilled Sardines at the End of September (1939)
In the late 1930s, Dali painted a series of works in which the telephone is prominent. The imagery relates to Dali’s preoccupation with the threat of world war in the autumn of 1938, and Neville Chamberlain’s attempt to avert conflict by making concessions to Hitler. Chamberlain’s phone calls to Hitler resulted in the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which was annulled when Germany invaded Poland; subsequently Britain and France declared war on September 1, 1939. In Dali’s painting, the repast has barely been touched: one of the sardines has been only partially eaten. The telephone receiver has been cut off from the body of the box. My composition starts with an ominous bass/drum tango. The horns play a plaintive theme. They begin a celebratory clarion only to be cut off by the return to the mournful tango.

6) the Chemist of Figueras Looks for Nothing at All (1936)
When you look for something, you might find it, but you’ll surely miss a lot of other things. In the improvisation following this composition, the band looks for nothing at all, and ends up finding many unexpected things.

7) Family of Marsupial Centaurs (1940)
Someone asked Dali, “Why are there holes in the stomachs of your centauresses?” To which he replied, “It’s exactly the same as a parachute, but less dangerous.”

Arriving out of left field…this CD offers up West Coast jazz of unexpected verve and originality from a hitherto uncelebrated composer. – Ken Waxman, Jazz Weekly/Jazzword

… the feel is very inviting… Each piece is named after (and inspired by) a Salvador Dali painting… the complexity of the writing is more than enough to give a good sense of the visual originals. – J. Worely, A&A

… some excellent stuff. – KZSU FM radio

These are much more than random sketches, though, fully fleshed-out abstract paintings, that Dali would have been proud of (if he dug jazz, that is). – Rotcod Zzaj

Good chamber jazz with a slant; what else would suit this hommage to the great Catalan surrealist by bassist Bill Noertker’s ensemble? – Steve Koenig


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