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Free Jazz and Improvised Music

FM41  New Music for Clarinet and Piano
Eric Mandat / Greg Mills
1. Chance Dance 5:31
2. Journey to Charon 7:01
3. Tag Team 4:32
4. Orbital Resonances 6:25
5. For M. Feldman 15:51
6. Bass is the Place* 3:44
7. For K. Penderecki 5:45
8. Three Steps on the Horizon 4:34

Total time 63:31

Recorded September 19, 2016
at Jackson Pianos, St. Louis
Special thanks to Joe Jackson
and Kristen Pettinelli
Recording and Mastering: Tazu Marshall
Mix: Tazu Marshall and Jay Zelenka
Produced by Jay Zelenka/Freedonia Music
Cover Photo by Chandra X-Ray Observatory:
Abell 1689, a galaxy cluster 2.3 billion light years from Earth

Eric Mendat: clarinet, bass clarinet (track 6)
Greg Mills: piano
Improvised duets with a strong avant classical flavor revealed in a broad variety of forms, moods and themes. These well defined spontaneous compositions are played with elegance and flair revealing a near-telepathic rapport. A mature vision delightfully rendered.


Eric P. Mandat

For more than 35 years, clarinetist/composer Eric Mandat has been at the forefront of clarinet extended performance techniques exploration, particularly multiphonics, microtones, and timbral modulations. Through his numerous performances, compositions, and master classes worldwide, Eric has had a profound influence on the way an entire generation of clarinetists approaches playing their instrument. The Chicago Reader writes, “Mandat is exploring new worlds…with a unique combination of virtuosity and a creative use of multiphonics...he uses them to create highly personal and expressive compositions that...are loaded with musical meaning.” Writing for the Village Voice, Kyle Gann notes the “suave physicality” of Eric’s presence as a performer, and finds his style to be “riveting.” The Clarinet states that his “process at writing and playing is bound to leave any listener in awe… (One) is constantly challenged and surprised by gorgeous tone color changes, exciting rhythmic action and 21st century clarinetistry,”

Ann Starr, in her, writes, “Most remarkable to me about Mandat's writing in forms of any length, is the inherent drama. His music conjures images that are never static. It invokes a natural world of rocks and mountains, trees and forests, stars and the Milky Way, all united by the movement of light and sound. His music suggests dancers—not dancers on a stage, but the people whom dancers represent—people who respond directly to their immediate circumstances, wherever they are in space and time.”

Eric’s artistic mission is to invite listeners to explore the deep and delicate inner worlds of self through their experiences of the micro galaxies of clarinet multiphonics and subtle timbral and pitch modulations in his compositions and improvisational commentaries. His work is inspired by the relationships between the vast external universes and the micro worlds of subatomic interactions and processes, which provides a context for the expression of his personal intimate feelings he experiences through his interactions with the external world.

Eric has also enjoyed an extremely diverse performance career as a chamber musician and collaborator. He has been a member of the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW ensemble since 2000, working with eminent composer/conductors such as Pierre Boulez and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He performed the title role in quarter-tone composer John Eaton’s heralded opera for instrumentalists, Don Quixote. Since 1989, Eric has been a member of Tone Road Ramblers, an eclectic sextet specializing in improvisation and experimental music. Option magazine finds the Ramblers’ work “filled with wit, joy and creative sparkle.” Eric has performed with many other improvisers, including Greg Mills, Gino Robair, Tomeka Reid, George Sams, Michael Zerang, Kyle Bruckmann, Tracy Andreotti, James Falzone, Fred Tomkins, Jim Hegarty, and Francois Houle.

Eric is recipient of numerous honors and awards for his innovative and groundbreaking contributions to contemporary clarinet music, including multiple Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowships for Composition. He received the 1999 Southern Illinois University Outstanding Scholar Award, the university’s highest honor for research/creative work.

Eric Mandat received his education at the University of North Texas, the Yale School of Music, and the Eastman School of Music. He is Visiting Professor of Music and Distinguished Scholar at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where he teaches clarinet and graduate courses in musical analysis.

Greg Mills

Greg Mills studied classical piano performance at the St.Louis Institute of Music and privately with Gail Delente and Jules Gentils. Mentored in jazz performance and theory by St.Louis Black Artist Group bassist Carl Arzinia Richardson, he gigged with Richardson performing jazz standards as the duo Epoxy in the mid 1970's. In the late 1970's he was associated with James Marshall's Human Arts Ensemble.

In 1980 Mills teamed up with Jay Zelenka and for the next ten years performed and recorded as the multi-instrumental improvising duo EXILES, amalgamating influences of the musical cultures of India and Africa with free improv and elements of the Euro-classical avant-garde. Exploring exotic tunings and extended raga-like duet performances for kalimba led Mills to adapt the Indian raga form to piano, creating a unique body of work in performances and recordings. During this time Mills pursued interests in mallet keyboards, drum set, percussion and began developing what is today a virtuoso command of the melodica, a wind keyboard usually treated as a novelty instrument.

In 2015 Mills co-founded the Perihelion groups (trio, quartet, and ensemble), and curated a series of performances for solo improviser (Soliloquy) and duo improvisation (Just The Two Of Us). As leader of the Perihelion groups, Mills organized numerous public performances in 2015-2016 while recording his solo work, Mosaique, A Day At The Circus (Perihelion Quartet), Triopolis (Perihelion Trio), Duets and New Music for Clarinet and Piano with Eric Mandat. In 2017 Mills continued his prolific output, recording KUVUKA as one half of The Glen "Papa" Wright Greg Mill Duo and a new solo work, The Dark Passanger.

Throughout his thirty plus years of public performance, free improv on solo piano has been his mainstay while continuing to explore directed or structured approaches to improvisation as diverse as ragas and tone rows. Mills says his work is "about the continuing discovery and exploitation of new approaches to improvised music and the development of new techniques for improvising on the piano."
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