is a study in diversity & contrast, a primmer of free music styles influences & confluences. Mining territory previously plundered by the original Exiles duo of Jay Zelenka & Greg Mills there is ample evidence of 20th century Euro-Classicism & World Music Influences filtered thru a free improv sensibility. Essentially a collection of duo & trio collaborations mixing live performances with heavily layered multi-track compositions; the unifying thread is Zelenka's multifaceted vision. The first three pieces are all multi-part live performance. In Cryptic Triptych
an abstract austere meditation for bowed gongs and piano is parenthetically high-lighted by exuberant, almost light-hearted duets on the inside of a "prepared" baby grand piano. Stylistically and structurally the next piece, Stations
, is far removed from this tangential homage to Cage & Stockhousen. Here we have Mills on digital piano, Zelenka on Synths & Dave Stone on a variety of reed mouthpieces, soprano sax and a rare performance on trombone. This series of five short pieces conceived as haiku in reference to length also reflect the poetic art forms poignancy, imagistic sleight of hand & magical transformations through juxtaposition & contrast. Stones warbling winds bring a free jazz playfulness to the mix. In the comparatively lengthy tripartite Unknowing Is
, the free jazz free blowing sensibility takes over with Mills on piano, Stone on baritone & soprano & Zelenka on alto sax in a scorching balls-to-the-walls tour de force. The unrelenting three-way is punctuated by several short piano solos that give no one a chance to "catch their breath". Next Age News
continues the foray into free jazz styling with a multi-track saxophone chorus. While multi-voiced sax improv sans rhythm section is reminiscent of any number of free improve innovators (Rova, Free Jazz Posse) here the concept is turned on its edge as two very empathetic players perform layers of live improv to create the effect of a larger number of reeds playing live. Stone & Zelenka extend this concept even further on their upcoming saxophone summit (scheduled for future release on the Freedonia Music label). Suspended Sentence
with its eerie suspended time-sense is a synthesis of stylistic elements woven thru Exiles earlier oeuvre. Contemplative and lyric influences of various Asian musics meld with modern Euro-centric preoccupations. Woven through this fabric we hear echoes of Exiles characteristic use of non-western percussion in un-metrical expression as color timbre & pulse. In Vernacular
the duet of Mills and Zelenka returns for an extended piece to live improve on the inside of a prepared piano. New Earth Dreams
is the longest and most ambitiously formal piece on Premonitions running almost 18 minutes, structured in seven movements, heavily layered & built on a detailed preconceived structure in which many compositional elements were fixed within strict parameters of instrumental choice, mood & time-feel, duration, level of interactivity or non-interactivity while leaving note choice and phrasing to the improvising musicians. Stone, Zelenka & Mills are all present on this piece.
Accolades for Premonitions
Early Goodies From Freedonia Music
"An underrated (…ignored?) label that has consistently been releasing electrifying records. Do yourself a favour and check them out. These are serious artists who work outside the disgraceful circles of "officially sanctioned" improvisation, expressing fun, excitement and huge heart.
"Improvisation can be an ugly beast, a ho-hum experience, a good way to render an idiot nervous, or the synthesis of everything that's fascinating in a creative process. Premonitions is mostly made of the latter kind of occurrence, and is without a doubt one of the best albums of free music heard in a long time by yours truly. The reason behind this admiration is simple: there's no constriction whatsoever in the playing, yet not for a moment the outcome resembles a disconnected jumble of blast-and-toot clowns, which is usually what happens in similar circumstances. The level of musicianship is incontrovertibly high, and the multiplicity of the creations – expressed via diverse settings and orchestrations – highlights the artists' utter command of the instrumental forces. Mills is a sizzling pianist, able to perform incredible runs maintaining articulated clarity only to leave room to mysteriously resonant shades and zinging shards a minutes later. Zelenka and Stone are predominantly active on reeds but also utilize trombone, percussion and prepared piano; they infuse the interplay with influences between complexly exotic and utterly devastating, tumultuous freedom meets ritual concentration. Synthetic suggestions are delivered with nonchalance and irony, resulting perfectly amalgamated in the overall tissue; if even workstation presets sound intelligent, that should tell something. Get a copy of this pronto."
--Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, February 23, 2011