Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda | Re-Imagining Milton Babbitt: A Centennial Celebration for an Exceptional American

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Re-Imagining Milton Babbitt: A Centennial Celebration for an Exceptional American

by Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda

DJ mash-ups with live instruments embarking on improvisational forays over tone rows and electronic sounds in addition to traditional chord changes, obfuscating the lines of both jazz and contemporary concert music leaving nary an idle ear!
Genre: Jazz: Avant-Garde Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Philomel / Shattered Glass on the Beach (Live) [feat. DJ Raully D]
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
4:57 $0.99
2. I Care If You Listen (Live)
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
10:53 $0.99
3. None But the Lonely Flute (Live) [feat. Audrey Boyle]
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
8:37 $0.99
4. Stones (Live) [feat. Doug Davis]
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
9:36 $0.99
5. I Am That Person (Live)
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
7:00 $0.99
6. Vision and Prayer (Live) [feat. Canaan McDuffie & DJ Raully D]
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
3:12 $0.99
7. End Suite (Live) [feat. Jay Smith, DJ Raully D & Canaan McDuffie]
Bakersfield New Music Collective & Ray Zepeda
15:44 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Dear Fellow New Music Advocate and Champion of American Arts & Culture:

I would like to tell you about a new project that I have started in the most improbable of all places, deep in the heart of "oil & agg" country in the San Joaquin Valley of California where streets are named after the likes of country music legends, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. I am speaking specifically of Bakersfield, home of the "Bakersfield Sound" for which the aforementioned are known. What “Bako” is not known for is a kind of serious, advanced, chamber music that I will go into brief detail about.

As the Founder and Artistic Director of the nascent Bakersfield New Music Collective (BNMC), my stated mission of the ensemble is to present exceptional, uniquely American art that inculcates our values, celebrates our identity, inspires us, and enhances American life and, in so doing, to work to form a society wherein such art may thrive. Comprised of Bakersfield's finest and most forward-thinking artists and new music advocates, the Collective recently presented a concert of works by Babbitt, myself, and other BNMC members entitled “Re-Imagining Milton Babbitt: A Centennial Celebration for an Exceptional American” featuring DJ mash-ups with live instruments embarking on improvisational forays over tone rows and electronic sounds in addition to traditional chord changes. The technical and artistic demands are extraordinary for every chair, many of which are held by members of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and the music faculties of Bakersfield College and California State University, Bakersfield. Moreover, audiences are challenged to assimilate an abstract music of a complexity that obfuscates the lines of both jazz and contemporary concert music leaving nary an idle ear. It was a packed house and the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic for something heretofore unheard in Bakersfield. It is that very concert that is recorded here.

In deference to the Kern County city primarily known as California's oil and agricultural engine, I have long felt that there is a cauldron of creative energy and intellectual and cultural vitality in Bakersfield that has not had the voice or outlet it deserves, perhaps due in no small part to its image and stereotypes that have persisted for decades beyond the last grain of truth if there ever were any. With the prolonged downturn in oil prices, the region has fallen on particularly hard times and unemployment has been severe. Far from a panacea for these economic challenges, the Collective could nevertheless provide a badly needed bright light and play a small part in an awakening that will allow local composers and performers to present new works to the local Community and try and build from there. This is only the maiden voyage.

Milton Babbitt (1916-2011), who would have been 100 at the time of this recording, hence the Centennial celebration, is generally considered to be one of the greatest contributors to musical thought in the United States. My piece, "I Care If You Listen [A Critic's Response to Just Artistry]" - a composition for eleven instruments dedicated to Milton Babbitt - is at once a parody of and a tribute to his "All Set" for jazz ensemble from 1957 commissioned for the Brandeis Music Festival which that year was a jazz festival. The aforementioned parody is a titular one, referring to Babbitt’s 1958 article in High Fidelity whose editor gave the unfortunate title, "Who Cares If You Listen?", a foreshadowing of today’s “click bait” faux journalism practices. (Babbitt’s submitted title was "The Composer as Specialist" and the text was originally a Tanglewood lecture entitled "Off the Cuff"). After a slow introduction featuring virtuosic flute writing, a fast pointillistic section ensues. As in "All Set", the percussion instruments then enter as a “canon follower”, playing the same rhythms as the composite ensemble rhythm for this section. Just as Mr. Babbitt has done in "All Set", I have used all six of the all-combinatorial source hexachords for this piece. During the ensuing swing section, players are called upon to improvise jazz over each hexachord and its complement (the entire aggregate). Each soloist takes six choruses, one over each aggregate, treating each trichord as an unordered collection. The bass line is a linear statement of the source hexachord while the 'comping instruments are limited to the pitch classes of its complement. [The soloists here are myself (alto saxophone), Tom Keel (trombone), Rebecca Spickler (vibraphone), and Glen Fong (double bass)]. The solo backgrounds too are limited to the prevailing aggregate. Furthermore, each aggregate employs a different trichord generator to create intervallic variety. The piece closes with a drum solo (Kyle Burnham) with flute accompaniment wherein the flutist (myself) is asked to improvise an accompaniment in the style of the opening section using the aforementioned six aggregates while interacting with the drummer. My "complements" to Milton!

DJ Raully D’s first mash-up juxtaposes the highly-organized pitch class workings of "Philomel" - Babbitt’s seminal piece from 1964 for legendary new music soprano and important collaborator throughout his career, Bethany Beardslee, and synthesizer - with my piece, "Shattered Glass on the Beach", was which was realized at the USC Electronic Music Studio with more of a jazz aesthetic in that it was composed very nearly in real time using a Kawai K3 synthesizer (after programming the sounds of course) and then remixed in real time using a Tascam 246 Portastudio. "Shattered Glass" features spatial motion and heavy use of low-frequency oscillators (LFOs). Disdain for the postmodern minimalist school was the impetus for the title of this piece - a play on a major opera of that genre and its composer. In the middle of my piece, the listener will perceive some tonal pulsating harmonies that are all too commonplace in minimalist music. I have used white noise in the closing section to simulate waves crashing on the beach and washing over a shattered body. DJ Raully D’s musical sensibilities are on full display here in his live ad lib. remix, allowing Beardslee’s vocal to shine through at critical moments while folding my piece seamlessly into the tapestry as though it was part of the original Babbitt as a coloring texture.

Although not included on this recording, DJ Raully D worked his improvisational magic again blending Babbitt’s "Composition for Synthesizer" from 1961 with my "No! – A Drive-By Electronic Drama", in and of itself a remix of electronic sounds and musique concrète - a movement in serious composition that began in the late 1940s in Pierre Schaffer's studio in France and gradually acquired momentum to the point where it even infiltrated popular music (i.e., "Revolution 9" from the Beatles' "White Album"). The objective is to create a sound collage or montage of "concrete" sounds from everyday life by manipulating and combining the sounds in such a way so as to produce an abstract result. To this end, I incorporated street sounds from East Los Angeles in "No!" which Raully aptly orchestrated with Babbitt’s crystalline, analog austerity.

DJ Raully D’s presentations of Babbitt pieces with live instruments include "Vision and Prayer" from 1961 (an electronic tape piece also written for Bethany Beardslee) paired with Canaan McDuffie’s brilliant extended live drum solo, and "None But the Lonely Flute" from 1991 written for and performed by Dorothy Stone, one of the leading exponents of the contemporary flute. In the latter case, an excerpt of Stone’s performance is used as an introduction to my jazz arrangement of the Babbitt piece performed live by flutist Audrey Boyle and rhythm section. My arrangement includes the first 12 aggregates of "Lonely Flute" and is rhythmically adapted for suitability for jazz interpretation and to conform to a standard 32-bar song form, through-composed (A-B-C-D) in this case. Modern jazz harmonies were fitted to the interpreted Babbitt melody which, in conjunction with the jazz ballad rendering, gives it a Billy Strayhorn-like character.

There are three pieces on the program that do not have an obvious connection to Babbitt – "Stones" by BNMC pianist, Doug Davis; "I Am That Person" by myself, and "The End" by BNMC keyboardist, Jay Smith. "Stones", originally written for jazz fusion guitarist, Larry Coryell, who recorded it on his 1971 album, "Fairyland", does have an atonal sounding melody with vast intervallic leaps that give it an arc characteristic of 20th century concert music. This recording features a particularly effective piano solo by the composer whose motivic development and overall shaping and energy are notable. My "I Am That Person" for jazz chamber orchestra is a concept piece in the spirit of Herbie Hancock’s "Speak Like a Child" album that has become a favorite of the Collective and audiences alike. The soft, mellow blend of the horn section, Tony Rinaldi’s perfectly-placed piano fills, and the textural colorings of drummer, Zanne Zarow, combine to great effect to imbue it with this character. Paul Cierley’s atonal electric guitar solo, also featuring vast intervallic leaps, and his sparse fills and effects heighten the ethereal nature of this performance.

Jay Smith’s "The End", previously recorded on the 2011 Jay Smith Group release, "Unashamed Portrayal", is performed here as part of the "End Suite" which, fittingly, closes the concert, so titled as it includes Babbitt’s "My Ends Are My Beginnings" (1978) for clarinet and "An Encore" (2006) for violin and piano which is the last piece he ever composed, the end of his celebrated oeuvre, before his death in 2011. The "End Suite" begins with Canaan McDuffie’s drum solo (coming out of "Vision and Prayer") with me entering on clarinet with a freely-interpreted treatment of the opening section of "My Ends" which segues into "The End". After the head and solos (including a magnificent one by the composer on keyboard), McDuffie’s drum solo re-emerges, this time with DJ Raully D in the fray, mashing up "An Encore" with "Vision and Prayer". This extended drum solo with DJ section comes to an end at which point "The End" re-enters with the out-head, an apotheosis celebrating a man whose music I fell in love with in my early adulthood and whose intellect and character I truly revere – a venerable and, yes, exceptional American.

Very truly yours,

Ray Zepeda
Hermosa Beach, California, USA
September, 2017

"Special thanks also to Nicole (Nalupa) Russell and Kris Tiner of the BNMC, and to Gene Caprioglio, Erik Carlson, Steven Carlson, Micah (Nacita) Chancey, Zack Clark, Kelly Haggerty Joey Hubbard, Lisa Kahlden, Lydia Liebman, Mike Montano, Bob Palmer, James Russell, Leo Sakomoto, Bob West, Rosalinda Zepeda, and the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop for all your support and guidance. I am forever in your debt for your graciousness." – RayZ


One of the most versatile exponents of the latest cadre of young musicians to emerge in the post-“Young Lions” era, saxophonist/composer, Ray Zepeda, differentiates himself not only by his diverse musical background but also by his life story – a sojourn that began in the shadows of oil wells and derricks in Taft, California (35 miles West of Downtown Bakersfield), followed by his formative musical development in Los Angeles’s beach cities which led to a 5-year stint in Boston where he broadened his musical perspective and started composing, only to return to establish himself in the Los Angeles jazz and contemporary scene. The economics of jazz notwithstanding, rest assured that Ray Zepeda has lived the jazz way, improvising a life, as it were, – exploiting every opening, pulling on every thread no matter how tenuous or impossibly thin, and approaching life with a humility that has allowed others to shine and benefit from his gifts – and, undeterred by numerous vicissitudes, did achieve his highest level of success during the most severe economic turndown in memory. This is not as much an artist’s story as it is a uniquely American one.

In addition to his electronic and musique concrète works, Zepeda has written for all combinations of chamber ensembles and for full orchestra. His jazz oeuvre includes pieces for trios, quartet, sextet, Latin ensembles, and big band. When combining the two genres, Zepeda has a penchant for both the Babbitt/Boulez school of pitch class organization and free atonality. His album, "Step By Step" (Soundsketch Records SSR-0001), enjoyed significant radio airplay nationwide and abroad resulting in marked chart movement. It features Bill Evans Trio drummer, Joe La Barbera, and Zepeda’s compositions and arrangements ranging from the contemplative to the aggressive.

A veteran of the Los Angeles jazz, reggae, punk, pop, and house DJ scene, Zepeda has performed/recorded with Lou Rawls, Carl Carlton, Russ Ferrante (Yellowjackets), John Patitucci, Joe La Barbera, Pete Escovedo, Donald Vega (Ron Carter Trio and Quartet), Barbara Morrison, Thelma Jones, Carl Saunders (Stan Kenton/ Bill Holman), Dave Tull (Chuck Mangione/ Michael Buble), Lanny Morgan (Supersax/ Natalie Cole), Mike Bennett (Hillary Duff, Kenny G, JC Chasez, Richie Kotzen), Darek Oles (Dianne Reeves, Brad Mehldau), Johnny Blas (CuBop Records) and many others. Since beginning his professional career playing lead alto in various big bands at age 15, his musical palette has expanded to serious composition and avant-garde, Latin, and contemporary jazz to funk/soul/R&B and pop to punk rock. Mr. Zepeda holds the Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California where he studied with saxophonist, Bob Sheppard, and composer/theorist, Robert S. Moore; and the Bachelor of Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied Composition with Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Grant-winning composer, John Harbison.

DJ Raully D:

Doug Davis bio:

Jim Scully bio:

Jay Smith Group bio:


1. Philomel / Shattered Glass on the Beach [4:56]
(Milton Babbitt, music/John Hollander, lyrics) Associated Music Publishers, Inc. - BMI / (Ray Zepeda) Cambridge West Publishing – BMI

2. I Care If You Listen [10:52]
(Ray Zepeda) Cambridge West Publishing – BMI

3. None But the Lonely Flute (arr. Ray Zepeda) [8:37]
(Milton Babbitt) C.F. Peters Corp. [Edition Peters] - BMI

4. Stones [9:36]
(Doug Davis) Chappell & Co. - BMI

5. I Am That Person [6:59]
(Ray Zepeda) Cambridge West Publishing – BMI

6. Vision and Prayer [3:12]
(Milton Babbitt, music/Dylan Thomas, lyrics) Associated Music Publishers, Inc. - BMI

7. End Suite [15:43]
a. My Ends Are My Beginnings (Milton Babbitt) C.F. Peters Corp. [Edition Peters] – BMI [0:00 – 3:03]
b. The End (Jay Smith) Darrell Jay Smith, Jr. – BMI [3:03 – 11:59]
c. Vision and Prayer / An Encore (Milton Babbitt/Dylan Thomas) Associated Music Publishers, Inc. - BMI / (Milton Babbitt) C.F. Peters Corp. [Edition Peters] – BMI [11:59 -14:03]
d. The End [reprise] (Jay Smith) Darrell Jay Smith, Jr. – BMI [14:03 – 15:43]

Ray Zepeda (Raymond Paul Zepeda), Artistic Director/Founder: Composer [1, 2, 5], Arranger [3, 7], Flute [2], Bb Clarinet [7a], Soprano Saxophone [5], Alto Saxophone [2], Tenor Saxophone [4, 7b, 7d]

Jim Scully (James Scully): Conductor [2]
Doug Davis (John Douglas Davis): Conductor [5], Piano [2, 3, 4], Composer [4]
Audrey Boyle: Flute [3, 5]
Chuck Degan: Bb Clarinet [2], Tenor Saxophone [2]
Jorge Santos: Bb Trumpet [2, 5], Flugelhorn [5]
Mike Raney (Michael C. Raney): Bb Trumpet [2, 4, 5, 7b, 7d], Flugelhorn [2, 5]
Tom Keel: Trombone [2, 5]
Rebecca Spickler: Vibraphone [2]
Paul Cierley: Guitars [2, 5, 7b, 7d]
Tony Rinaldi: Piano [5]
Jay Smith (Darrell Jay Smith, Jr.): Synthesizer [5], Electric Piano [7b, 7d], Composer [7b, 7d]
Glen Fong: Double Bass [2, 3, 4], Electric Bass [5, 7b, 7d]
Kyle Burnham: Drum Set [2]
Zanne Zarow (Suzy Zarow): Drum Set [3, 4, 5]
Canaan McDuffie: Percussion [2, 5, 6], Drum Set [6, 7]
And Special Guest, DJ Raully D (Raully De La Rosa): Live DJ Mash-ups [1, 3, 6, 7c]

Sound Recordings Licensed with Permission:

[1] “Philomel” from Milton Babbitt: Philomel. New World Records #80466-2 ℗ 1977, 1980 © 1995 Anthology
of Recorded Music, Inc. Used by permission.

Babbitt, Milton, and John Hollander. Philomel: for soprano, recorded soprano, and synthesized sound. Bethany
Beardslee, soprano. Recorded c. 1970 (Acoustic Research Contemporary Music Project. Acoustic Research AR 0654 83, 1971), on Philomel, New World Records 80466-2, 1995, compact disc.

Ordering info.: Available at and
Tel.: 1-212-290-1680 / e-mail: / URL:

[3] “None But the Lonely Flute” from None But the Lonely Flute. New World Records #80456-2 ℗1994 ©1994
Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc. Used by permission.

Stone, Dorothy. None But the Lonely Flute by Milton Babbitt. Dorothy Stone, flute. Recorded n.d., on None But the
Lonely Flute: The Music of Babbitt, Feldman, Mosko, Alexander & Cage, New World Records 80456, 1994, compact disc.

Ordering info.: Available at and
Tel.: 1-212-290-1680 / e-mail: / URL:

[6, 7c] “Vision and Prayer” from Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center 10th Anniversary. New World
Records #NWCRL268 ℗ & © 1972 Composers Recordings, Inc. © 2007 Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc.
Used by permission.

Babbitt, Milton. Vision and Prayer. Bethany Beardslee, soprano. Recorded c. May 1970 — Apr 1971 (CRI SD 268, 1971), on Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center 10th Anniversary, Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc. (New World) NWCRL268, 2010, compact disc.

Ordering info.: Available at and
Tel.: 1-212-290-1680 / e-mail: / URL:

[7c] Carlson, Erik. An Encore by Milton Babbitt. Erik Carlson, violin; Steven Beck, piano. Recorded n.d., on Music
for Violin, Erik Carlson, 2014, mp3 digital file. Bandcamp. Used by permission.

Ordering info.:
e-mail: / URL:

Producer: Ray Zepeda
Associate Producers: Laura May Booker, Steve Eisen
Recorded at The Mark in Bakersfield, California, USA on 31 January 2017
Recording Engineer: Brian Boozer
Live Sound Engineer: Peter Wonderly
Mixed and Mastered by Brian Boozer at AUM Studio, Bakersfield, California, USA

Photography by Gulnara Khamatova ( and Jim Scully (where noted)
Art Direction and Design: Lisa Konczal (

Mr. Zepeda plays Powell flutes and Buffet clarinets, Selmer Mark VI soprano and tenor saxophones, and a Buescher 400 “Top Hat and Cane” alto saxophone, all with Rovner ligatures and Vandoren reeds. Reeds: Vandoren #3-1/2 (clar.), Vandoren #4 (sop.), Java #3 (alto), and V16 #2-1/2 (ten.). Mouthpieces: Portnoy BP03 (clar.), Selmer C* (sop.), Brillhart 5* (alto), and Peter Ponzol M2000 (ten.).

Information and Booking:

Soundsketch Records SSR-0002
© 2017 Ray Zepeda ℗ 2017 Soundsketch Records
Soundsketch Records; 2110 Artesia Boulevard, Suite B; Redondo Beach, California 90278; USA
All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Made in U.S.A.



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