Patrick Arthur, Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts | The Cheap Ensemble

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Jazz: Modern Free Jazz Avant Garde: Structured Improvisation Moods: Type: Improvisational
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The Cheap Ensemble

by Patrick Arthur, Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts

A tenor-guitar-drums trio inspired by the famous Paul Motian Trio, playing ambient and exploratory jazz that is spacious, seeking, interactive, romantic, subtle, lyrical, and at times provocative and restless.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Free Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ithaca
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
5:20 album only
2. Poor Butterfly
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
6:38 album only
3. Volkslied
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
7:53 album only
4. Pure Imagination
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
6:44 album only
5. Matrix
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
5:27 album only
6. Reflection
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
4:18 album only
7. Front
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
4:24 album only
8. Fortunate Son
Patrick Arthur , Dana Fitzsimons & Chris Otts
8:19 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
On a recent visit to Atlanta’s High Museum, I stood in front of a large abstract painting and my mind flooded with middle-aged emotions– melancholy, nostalgia, agitation, frustration, romanticism, and restlessness. I became sharply aware of my failure to make, and put into the world, music that is personal and not the product of trying to satisfy the expectations of others. I decided to attempt to make music free from concerns about rejection or acceptance. This is the first step. I hoped with this first recording to capture the feelings the painting evoked in me and make music dominated by melodicism and space, rather than rhythmic density.

My wife, vocalist Amy Munson, has taught me over the years that the path in pursuit of a right decision is usually clear of obstacles. Shortly after my museum experience, I played at a local jam session with saxophonist Chis Otts and immediately enlisted him as a collaborator – bringing into the project his warm and broad tone and compositional talents. Chris is an award-winning performer, composer, and arranger, and received the BMI Future Jazz Masters Scholarship for his debut album Layers. All inquiries about the right guitar player to complete this group led to Patrick Arthur as the ideal choice. In addition to his own group Grüt, Patrick recently appeared on Morgan Guerin’s debut album The Saga (#3 on the iTunes jazz charts).

Before heading into the studio, this new trio performed locally only twice as The Cheap Ensemble. The moniker was inspired by Ronnie Scott’s quote “I play very cheaply, but I don’t play free.” Locating the perfect studios and talented engineers was effortless–the recording and mixing process relaxed and fulfilling. Iconic artist Gerhard Richter even allowed the very painting that inspired this project to serve as the cover art. The path is clear. This recording marks the start of what I hope will be a long journey of musical exploration with these two excellent musicians.

The opening track Ithaca was composed by Roberto Somoza as a tribute to guitarist and educator Steve Brown, who first exposed me to improvised music. It is included here to honor both a musical mentor and also the place where I met my wife. While originally composed as a bolero, it is interpreted here to reflect the cold, grey stillness of the long winters over Lake Cayuga. Even without its lyrics inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Poor Butterfly conveys the longing, desire, regret, and relief that can follow romantic choices. Volkslied is the first of Chris Ott’s two original compositions included here, and retains its lyricism through an evocative acoustic guitar solo and an escalating final section. Offered here as a tribute to Gene Wilder, Pure Imagination attempts to capture both the strange and the sweet from the classic movie. The inclusion of Matrix is a nod to the impossibly hip Roy Haynes who first inspired me to dig into jazz drumming, and is deconstructed to allow the trio to explore both its free and groove tendencies and expand its emotional range. Ott’s second original composition, Reflection, again allows the trio to experiment with time and texture. Arthur’s broad guitar orchestration creates the perfect bed on which to place Ott’s rich tenor tone. Arthur’s composition, Front, sustains a sloshy backbeat feel though metric changes and a rare drum solo. Bruce Hornsby’s composition Fortunate Son is included here in extended form to celebrate Williamsburg, Virginia, where I lived for 16 years and where my children were born, and the people we left behind there when we moved to Atlanta.

-Dana Fitzsimons



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