Noertker’s Moxie | Sketches of Catalonia Vol. 2: Suite for Miro | Edgetone Records

Bill Noertker – contrabass | Annelise Zamula – tenor saxophone, flute | Jason Levis – drums | Jenny Maybee – piano | Jim Peterson – alto and baritone saxophones, flute | Niels Myrner – drums | Yehudit – 5-string electric violin | Hugh Schick – trumpet

All music composed and arranged by Bill Noertker. © © 2007 Deuh Jauh Music BMI, Jazz on the Line Publishing BMI. These are recordings of live performances by Noertker’s Moxie from 2001-2005 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, except track 4 recorded by Daron Key. Mastered by Andrew Scott at Studio 401, San Francisco www.thestudio401 .com | Billy icon by Jeff Left from a photo by Monika Romero. Art layouts by David Norfleet. Produced by Bill Noertker. Executive Producer – Rent Romus. Special thanks to the Giraffe

Tracklist: 1. Dutch Interior [ 2:49] 2. Burnt Picture [6:14] 3. Ladders Cross the Sky in a Blue Wheel of Fire [ 7:13] 4. Dona del Cantir [9:34] 5. Dancer [ 5:42] 6. the Red Sun [5:38] 7. Harlequin’s Carnival [6:23] 8. Catalan Peasant in the Moonlight [7:00]

Bill Noertker

Catalonia is the birthplace of many innovative artists, among them Joan Miró

Antoni Gaudí, and Salvador Dalí. In 1995, and again in 2005, I was able to make a pilgrimage to Catalonia to see the works of these great artists in person. Out of these experiences came an extended suite of music, Sketches of Catalonia. This CD is the second part of this suite and is inspired by the life and work of Joan Miró. A CD based on Dalí is already available on the Edgetone label. A CD based on Gaudí will follow.

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) 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 Joan Miro, Antoni Gaudi, and Salvador Dali. In 1995, and again in 2005, I was able to make a pilgrimage to Catalonia to see the works of these great artists in person. Out of these experiences came an extended suite of music, Sketches of Catalonia. This CD is the second part of this suite and is inspired by the life and work of Joan Miro. A CD based on Dali is already available on the Edgetone label. A CD based on Gaudi will follow. Here’s some information about the works that inspired this suite. Included are the dates of completion of the paintings and sculpture.

1) Dutch Interior (1928)
Joan Miro’s painting Dutch Interior //was based on a postcard replica of Cats’ Dancing Lesson, a painting by the 17th-century Dutch master Jan Steen. Miro attempted an exact transformation of all the details of this painting into the realm of the fantastic. In this composition the Dutch national anthem, “Wilhelmus van Nassouwe,” undergoes a similar transformation.

2) Burnt Picture (1973)
Miro’s painting, executed with broad movements and with a large gaping hole burnt into the middle, is an extreme example of the use of sparseness and openness in his late paintings. This composition consists of two spacious open-ended motifs for flute and violin linked by improvisation. Zamula chooses, wisely, to reform the coda, altering the last note to form a minor chord.

3) Ladders Cross the Sky in a Blue Wheel of Fire (1953)
In this whimsical painting, Miro includes once again his usual escape ladders leading into heaven—symbols of the artist’s relationship with the powers of creation. Inspired by Mingus’ long forms, my composition is 46 bars of written music with the final section opening out into free improvisation.

4) Dona del Cantir (Woman of the Earthenware Jug) (1970)
A cantir is a typical Catalan jug. This sculpture is not a representation in the usual sense of the word. The jug has become the woman and the woman has become the jug. When I first saw this sculpture in 2005 at the Fundacio Joan Miro in Barcelona, I hummed the beginnings of this melody. Later that evening I completed the melody and added the harmonically ambiguous bridge. I attempt in this tune to convey my feelingsabout Catalonia.

5) Dancer (1927)
Miro’s painting shows both the dancer and the dance with very simple lines. The dancer’s head is a ball modeled in light and dark shades, linked by a thin line to a flashy heart with symbolic genitals attached to its tip, and legs which seem like stylized musical notes. The dance is represented by dotted circles which add up to a surging spiral enhanced by a wavy line at the top. Running through the dance is a straight uninterrupted line. I hear the dance and the dancer each as three-bar phrases: head, heart, legs; spiraling dots, wavy line, straight line.

6) the Red Sun (1948)
In this composition I attempt to catch the shimmering and melting colors of Miro’s painting through the use of space and extreme intervals by Zamula and Schick.

7) Harlequin’s Carnival (1924/1925)
“I’d go to bed, and sometimes I hadn’t any supper. I saw things, and I jotted them down in a notebook. I saw shapes on the ceiling . . .” says Miro. The two flutes of Zamula and Peterson blend with each other and with Maybee’s piano to create a carnival of Miro-like sonic shapes.

8) Catalan Peasant in the Moonlight (1968)
This simple and evocative painting is one of my favorites. Four bright colors are contrasted against each other, and against a black area at the bottom of the painting. The painting’s horizontal division evokes the land, the sea, and the sky. A peasant holds a yellow sickle—or is it the moon?

Noertker’s love of the artists and the atmosphere of Catalonia is clear, and in addition to being a labor of love, these releases are also able to stand in their own right as adventurous and inspiring jazz. – Mike Wood, Foxy Digitalis

Intriguing contrapuntal combinations and disguised virtuosity help to find the way to an instant comprehension of Noertker’s intention. It’s difficult to name a favourite track, although the double whammy of “The red sun” and the subsequent “Harlequin’s carnival” deserves a place in the light – truly great music, independent from genres.  – Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

…quiet, reflective music… – RKF, Dead Angel

 

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