Leonard, Skrowaczewski, Zappa | Visions

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by Leonard, Skrowaczewski, Zappa

"Abridging customary delineations of foreground/background, or concerto grosso layout, the group has found means to telescope complex interactions into brief and concentrated spans."
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Teredo Navalis
1:38 $0.99
2. Artificial Vision
2:17 $0.99
3. Reconstructed Topography
2:49 $0.99
4. Atomic Swerve
1:36 $0.99
5. Increase and Ornament
1:36 $0.99
6. Along the Breakwater
4:34 $0.99
7. The Geometry of Change
3:44 $0.99
8. Pavor Nocturnus
3:17 $0.99
9. Endless Highways
3:04 $0.99
10. Ye Olde Mitre
3:08 $0.99
11. Forgotten Language
3:49 $0.99
12. Premonition
2:39 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
With VISIONS, Mark Leonard, Nick Skrowaczewski and Stanley J. Zappa reveal an aesthetic and methodology informed by the music of the 60's that later supplanted "Jazz." The trio looks to John Coltrane, rather than John Cage as being the principal architect of today's improvised music. This aesthetic orientation is evident in VISIONS. VISIONS is further informed by the trio's longevity, resulting in a sound that is elusive to many of the "ad hoc" ensembles performing and recording today.

VISIONS is the first recording by the trio. It was recorded for Archive/Edition, Bill Dixon's own label dedicated to his projects (Odyssey being the first) and those projects by musicians somehow related to his life as educator and artist.

After hearing the first 5 tracks on VISIONS, Bill Dixon responded enthusiastically, suggesting the trio release that material on Archive/Edition. In light of this invitation, the trio decided to record again with the intention of creating a more substantial document for both the trio's debut and the first non Dixon Archive/Edition release. The final seven tracks were recorded by Steve Lobdell of the Davis Redford Triad and Faust.

VISIONS features original artwork by Bill Dixon as well as a liner essay by Ben Young.

The trio (Bassist Mark Leonard, Percussionist Nick Skrowaczewski and Saxophonist Stanley J. Zappa) met at Bennington College in 1991. There they studied with Bill Dixon and played in his ensemble. The trio later moved to New York City. In addition to their own work, Stanley and Mark were sidemen in groups led by Rashid Bakr (Cecil Taylor's drummer of many years) with principal performances at the Knitting Factory, NYC.

Towards the end of his stay on the East Coast, Stanley began performing with Lawrence Cook, with performances at Bennington College and the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eventually Mark, Nick and Stanley left the East Coast and now live in California, Minnesota and Oregon respectively.



to write a review

Jerry D'Souza, AllAboutJazz.com

At the end of it all this band makes a pressing claim for attention
Hark gentle reader, and gather around for a lesson in history. The team of Mark Leonard, Nick Skrowaczewski and Stanley Jason Zappa studied under Bill Dixon, played in his band, and recorded on his label after Dixon heard the first five tracks from what would become Visions. Knowing that these five songs were not enough for a record, they went into the studio and added seven more. That was a good move, because it challenged their ability to play authoritatively in different contexts.

The call of the avant-garde and free expression, with the avowed spirit of John Coltrane upon them, is but one side. The other is a calmer plain, a more linear progression and an emphasis on melody. One cannot argue with the split: the music testifies! Zappa is a hard blowing tenor man, his voice in command and in control of the elements. Oh yes, he does honk and gives vent to the squeal, but he is loquacious in the writing of his dictionary: bold, brusque and vibrant. Leonard is not only responsive to the call of Zappa, he is constantly churning ideas, pithy injects that can invoke and create a shift in tide. Skrowaczewski attunes dynamics in his accents on the cymbals, the prancing patterns on the snares and in the swish and jingle of percussion.

From the earlier work, “Atomic Swerve” stands out for the interjections of sound from the clarinet where melody and atonal lines straighten out seamlessly before the discourse is continued through “Increase and Ornament.” The heated manifestation of “Along the Breakwater” harkens back to the music that came out of their first foray into the studio. The rest of the tracks clasp the warmth that emanates from the tuneful "The Geometry of Change” to the waltzy, melancholic “Ye Olde Mitre.” At the end of it all this band makes a pressing claim for attention.

~ Jerry D'Souza

Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Magazine

This is a strong debut recording by a trio of ex-Bennington students, bassist Mark Leonard, percussionist Nick Skrowaczewksi and tenor saxophonist and clarinettist (and sometime Bananafish journalist) Stanley Jason Zappa, with liners by Ben Young and cover art by Bennington professor Bill Dixon. Somebody should figure out a way to get these guys together more often (they live respectively in California, Oregon and Minnesota), because they've certainly got something to say: none of the twelve pieces overstays its welcome - the longest clocks in at 4'34" - and each manages to explore a wide range of textures and moods. Zappa once wrote an extended polemic for Bananafish on the much-criticised award of the MacArthur Fellowship to Ken Vandermark (I happen to remember this as my own album came in for a good swatting, though I was flattered to be compared to the Ganelin Trio), not surprisingly suggesting the cash should have gone to Dixon (I'll have to part company with him on that one, however). Thankfully he can play just as well as he writes, articulating strong ideas with clarity and precision. I like to think even KV would approve. Bassist Leonard is rugged and muscular, and drummer Skrowaczewki, who presumably passed through the hands of Bennington's other notable educator, Milford Graves, is fantastically inventive. If you're getting fed up of the tired New York and Chicago-based cliques of American free jazz (it ain't all that free anymore), do yourself a favour and get a copy of this.