Leron Thomas | Improvsensation

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Improvsensation

by Leron Thomas

Random Truths
Genre: Pop: Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Pass On By
4:35 $0.99
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2. Sand Men
3:26 $0.99
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3. Sanitation Truck
4:24 $0.99
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4. In the Silence
2:50 $0.99
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5. Kitchen
2:57 $0.99
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6. Cut and Paste
3:34 $0.99
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7. Time Travlin' Love
4:25 $0.99
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8. What's Done Happened
3:36 $0.99
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9. When Zelda Replaced G.i. Joe
5:59 $0.99
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10. Dragon's Tales
3:25 $0.99
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11. Pearly Whites
5:38 $0.99
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12. We've Come So Far
0:42 $0.99
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13. En Vino
5:05 $0.99
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14. Fashion
4:16 $0.99
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15. 2:34 Am
4:08 $0.99
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16. Spoils
5:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
I’ve been told that I need to write notes on my projects. I usually think that they speak for themselves. The climate in which this project was produced is interesting to note however, and the position I’ve taken along with others in the midst of this crisis is worth noting. The music industry has made many bad decisions. The problem is everybody wants to blame somebody else instead of switching the blame onto ourselves. WE are all responsible for this. From the listeners to the musicians to the CEO’s of the labels. We all make up the music industry. I believe that in the future this will be different because we usually become quite brilliant in times of obvious flaws in our worldly ways. But somebody has to say and do something in order for this to happen. If each individual looks to themselves as either part of the problem or the solution, that self-realization alone will make big differences in the music industry and more over in the music (as this is usually the chief problem).

I worked with mainly two people while making this project; Craig Magnano and Michael Severson. Up to this third project Craig Magnano was the only one that I worked closely with and was very instrumental in the overall “vibe” of the projects. But there was something that me and Craig didn’t have, that’s when I heard Mike’s material. Mike has a more extensive background in the R&B/Soul and Hip Hop scene than I did as far as sidemaning. He had started getting into production and beat making and was “in house” with some real heavy hitters in the industry. I knew Mike through a great artist that we worked with named Bilal. We also had chairs at different times in other big industry backed bands so we naturally stayed in touch and are good friends. His instrument like Craig’s, is guitar. One day Mike and I were hanging out in his car and listening to some beats he made. His beats like my projects, ranged from different genres across the board but his seemed to be mainly Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, with some Rock. Although he was making some money and getting placements with some “big” names, I did not like the beats at all. I was in the middle of my second project and just didn’t like the overall atmosphere of his music at that time. It seemed like they were clearly beats that were for placement, like they had this desperate aroma of “Hey use me!” “I’m a hit!” written all over them. I personally liked Dark Child and The Neptunes when it came to beat making/production for other artists, at that time. Mike’s beats seemed like they were trying to sound like the ones that were already popular at that moment and I couldn’t stand them. Although he was my friend, at that point I didn’t want to hang out with him much ‘cause I didn’t want that shit rubbin’ off onto me. I’m pretty sure he was in the same head frame about me because I was broke, and getting evicted and still was turning down big industry work that I just did not want to be a part of anymore.

A couple of years went by and I was getting really bored with the New York scene. Every scene I was a part of was starting to get smaller and more pathetic. From the Jazz scene; watching great musicians record with sorry ass players for money and seemingly more over for getting their ego stroked (and a few other things in some cases). Musicians getting gigs and getting signed by using more politics than their music. Ex-groupies managing and booking, controlling the scene and promoting or trying to destroy artists based off who did, or did not treat them as groupies in their “groupie period”. To the soul scene becoming almost completely non existent and being gobbled up by posers that reek of oils and incense and also egos the size of pyramids trying to look like punk rockers now with appropriate mohawks. The Hip hop scene currently seeming to have more of a suburban audience than an inner city audience, but backstage everybody’s hard-core (yeah right) on seemingly weaker side-men. Not to mention the influence of Arabic rapping and their use of some unknown hard core looking rapper on stage for the purpose of validating the performance. After staying home so much and not wanting to go out, I started watching tv and picked up on a local tv station that premiered Electro Pop/ Indie Rock band’s and artist’s videos. Don’t ask me why, but I thought that would be a good scene for me to fit into, BOY WAS I WRONG!! I think I was attracted to the visuals on the videos more than the music. Also the dorky but cool vibes of the artists and bands, like there life was full of luck and they had a sense of nirvana and that’s why ‘they were where they were and I wasn’t’ thing goin’ on. But more than that, I think I was attracted to the artistic freedom it seemed they had, at least visually. When I got into that scene I realized there was a lot of “Group Think” involved. You really have to be on your P’s and Q’s, R’s and T’s in that scene. If you say something politically incorrect or get personally offended and can’t follow up with something ‘office space’ witty like you weren’t bothered, it’s your ass. I was pretty used to that in the jazz scene but the Indie Rock/Electro pop scene had more dorky people who were not as musically inclined. Not just because they were not jazz musicians, it’s just that jazz musicians tend to checkout a lot of other types of music where as this scene tends to exclusively check out other competitors. Jazz musicians do that too to an extent, but they’re, or we’re not in the hot seat as far as being the newest thing out so it’s not as easily detected. This lead me to realize that all the scenes are suffering from the same epidemic; themselves taking themselves way too seriously on the wrong things and not serious enough on the vital things. There’s a word to sum this up…”COWARDS”.

It is a lie nowadays to say that a person only listens to one style of music (at least in most cases). So why do artists still feel the need to perform or market themselves as only one style of music? This alone is a big reason for scenes turning into B.S. I think that this not being called out for so long is starting to be costly to society and individual critical thinking and independence. I’ve tried but just got bored of trying and could no longer fit.

After a year of playing at crappy venues, playing along side crappy bands, dealing with crappy promoters and entertainment groups, I stayed in touch with my friend Mike and noticed that he started gradually coming to his own realizations and cut off many of his industry connects as well. This was a huge surprise to me. We agreed that there was some music to be made. Mike, like Craig had a logic program with some mics and a keyboard. So I started showing up over there with some unfinished ideas, compositions, etc. I could pick up on the fact that Mike did not like to be just the sound engineer/guitarist/bassist, neither did Craig. The music was good enough for him to be interested in, but I started getting irritated with fighting the enthusiasm or lack there of. I almost thought it wasn’t going to work. Then during a little break for a joke he showed me some unplaced beats from his industry period. It dawned on me that this is what I’ve been looking for. My life felt like different overproduced tracks pre-packaged for placement at times and I couldn’t fully express this feeling with the way Craig and I worked. We just didn’t have the know how and really didn’t care to learn how to make those mainstream sounds (I know I didn’t). Mike’s tracks seemed to be more personal than they originally sounded to me. I really got the humor and depth in his different tracks. Sometimes it was like his beats were saying “This is what you stupid motherfuckers fall for right?”. Other times it was like they were saying “I liked this period in music”. And sometimes it was a bit of both. He was basically saying the same thing as me only a bit differently, but I couldn’t hear it at one time. I think we’re in over our heads with over produced bullshit on the radio and internet and in our lives. A kid in elementary school could be the #1 producer in the world if so inclined to want mom and dad to buy a program with some Christmas gifts of a mic, speakers and keyboard. The art of writing/composing a good song or piece far outweighs the art of mixing. Of course me and Craig had been very loyal to that knowledge, but it wasn’t clear because it was all one thing of our type of raw production on the project. So with Mike having certain tracks, I decided to work with that as well. It was just a natural process. I couldn’t hear it two years ago but it was now time to listen.

There isn’t really a label with balls to support this understanding as of now because there are too many desperate people involved in a label, along with too many unnecessary jobs or positions created for these desperados. And although they all might really like the project, they’ll feel stupid if everybody agrees on it because then it looks like the teachers just give the class A’s all the time and someone will loose his or her job. And they’re too lazy and are gonna want the artist to tell them how to market it while acting like they are coming up with the ideas themselves. They do this through intense confrontation and subtle confrontation in extremes trying to find out what it is you believe in about your music. So if they don’t want you, but hear something consistent in the future with your ideas, they will use it in the future as a marketing device or strategy. What has been the trend lately is they’ll realize they passed up an artist/ sound that marks the times and by the time that sound or artist/band is defeated, on to other things, or reached creative burnout from doing everything with no support for years etc. they find some late band with the more “refined” but rather appropriate version of the sound (they usually look and act hipper too), sign and push that act. Now usually this artist or band is about 5 years late. What the labels do not realize is that they’re losing money because this poser band can’t come up with anything original so they’ll only be good for one, maybe two projects. Now with all of the press in the world they might be able to stick out a 5 year career. This is why bands and artists and hits are coming and going so fast and it is not really natural to put all of this on a listener. You tend to get a bunch of non devoted listeners as the result, through lazy scouting and no artist development the listener doesn’t identify with the artist because there is no development to listen to from project to project. There is no realistic auto-biographical life to the artists work, only a synthetic one. So rather the listener learns to identify with only the success of the over marketed artist/band getting somewhere they’re not supposed to be. This promotes every bad word you can think of for society. From socialism to fascism to consumerism, you name it. Some labels just push another unsigned (but great) artist’s sound onto an already big mega superstar artist. That’s really funny to watch. But all of this (like I said) will switch up.


So this was the social climate in which this project was produced and our position in the crisis. I just have a lot of fun on this project with serious overtones and had a lot of fun with the two.







Tracks: 1,2,6,7 music by Michael Severson, lyrics by Leron Thomas.
Tracks: 11&14 music composed by Leron Thomas. Production by Michael Severson and Leron Thomas, Lyrics by Leron Thomas.

All other songs written and composed by Leron Thomas.

Craig Magnano Guitar,Bass/Drums on Tracks 10,13,15,16.
Jamire Williams on Drums, Track 15.
Tracks: 1,2,3,4, 6,7,8,9, 11,12,14 done in Michael Severson’s studio.
Tracks: 1,10,13,15,16 done in Craig Magnano’s studio.
Track: 5 done in Anu Sun’s studio & mastered in Michael Severson’s studio

All Vocal/Lyrics and Trumpet work by Leron Thomas.
Track 14 features Michael Severson yelling “Fashion” at the end.

CD Review: Leron Thomas – Improvsensation
This one is over the map stylistically, which is actually a strong point for Houston-born trumpeter/composer Leron Thomas since he so defiantly resists categorization. The hilarious rant on the cd booklet’s liner notes is worth the price of the cd by itself, Thomas railing knowingly and aptly against the incompetence and shortsightedness of the dying major labels, band managers who are no more than glorified groupies, and the rigid groupthink that pervades so many of the various New York music scenes, from jazz to pop. As with the liner notes, there’s a lot of anger here, tempered with a disquieting sense of humor that nonetheless is often laugh-out-loud funny. There are a couple of indie rock songs here, the best being the opening cut, an insistent indie rock song with raw, eerie harmonies on the chorus by Thomas’ frequent collaborator Michael Severson. Another, Cut & Paste shares a sarcasm with much of the rest of the album: “I just cut and paste my life.”

Sandmen is sardonically minimalist hip-hop, obviously dating from the days of the Bush regime: “When you see that girl’s ass what you thinking about? Oil, baby!” The next cut, Sanitation Truck is more hip-hop, a bizarre early-morning urban tableau. The inscrutable Kitchen blends an early 80s Midnight Starr proto-hiphop feel with Kool Keith-style weirdness. A couple of instrumentals, When Zelda Replaced GI Joe and In the Silence match lo-fi, clangy guitar with Thomas’ balmy, pensive trumpet. Pearly Whites is sarcastic, Beatlesque pop that grows unabashedly menacing toward the end, a feel echoed earlier by the completely bizarre What’s Done Happen.

Time Travelin’ Love is a funny funk/rap number, a broke guy trying to pick up a girl; EnVino is a drinking song – if Bob Marley’s drug of choice was wine instead of weed, he would have sounded like this. The cd winds up with Fashion, lo-fi Prince-inflected funk bemoaning shallowness all around him; the wee-hours rant 2:34 AM and the sly empowerment anthem Spoils. This is a very strange yet a very honest and straightforwardly compelling album. Whatever direction Thomas wants to go in – he may want to bounce between all of these, which is perfectly ok – this cd is a very entertaining way to get to know him.

-Lucid Culture
http://lucidculture.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/cd-review-leron-thomas-improvsensation/

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