Roger Dean's LYSIS | The Wings of the Whale

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The Wings of the Whale

by Roger Dean's LYSIS

Progressive jazz and improvised music, recorded in Europe and Australia. Features multi-rhythmic approaches, and some microtonal keyboard playing. Includes a tribute to pianist Bill Evans, and a piece based painting of Australian Fred Williams.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Wings of the Whale
13:35 $0.99
2. After Bill
1:57 $0.99
3. Suite 'Time', Part 3
10:23 $0.99
4. Threesome
4:29 $0.99
5. Tuning the Tempers 1
7:25 $0.99
6. You-Yangs
17:59 $0.99
7. Tuning the Tempers 2
6:38 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Roger Dean’s LYSIS: The Wings of the Whale — You-Yangs
Soma CD 784 (first released 1991; playing time 62’ 28”; ADD)

The complete original sleeve/cd insert text:
Roger Dean and LYSIS fly to London, Stockholm and Sydney

Roger Dean’s LYSIS comprising: Roger Dean (piano and synthesizer); Mark Lockheart (saxophones); Ashley Brown (percussion); Mick Hutton (bass).
All compositions by Dean:
1. The Wings of the Whale (13’ 28”)
2. After Bill (1’51”)
3. Suite ‘Time’, Part 3 (10’18”) *
4. Threesome (4’26”)*
5. Tuning the Tempers 1 (7’20”)**
6. You-Yangs (17’54”)
7. Tuning the Tempers 2 (6’39”)**

Recorded Stockholm (1985); *London (1983); **Sydney (1990). The quartet is heard on the tracks from London; Dean, Brown and Hutton on those from Stockholm; Tuning the Tempers 1 and 2 are freely improvised synthesizer solos.

Cover art by Bill Brennan. Layout and Typography by Benevision. All compositions copyright Roger Dean (PRS, MCPS UK). Thanks also to Matt Dickson, Peter Rechniewski and SIMA, Sandy Evans and Tony Buck.

Original CD Insert Notes by Roger Dean ( 1991):

“Suite: ‘Time’ Part 3” and ‘You-Yangs’ are both long works which reflect my particular interest in rhythmic and metrical devices in improvisation. The whole of ‘Suite: Time’ is concerned with contrasting different approaches to rhythms and meter. Part 3 starts with a 6/4 rock pulse, and is very calm rhythmically, but intense melodically. After several solos it begins to move through a variety of improvised rhythmic transitions, which form the centre of the piece. A process akin to metrical modulation, as used by composers such as Elliott Carter, superimposes several different pulses, meters and tempi, at various points of transition. At each transition (some simple, some complex), there is a period of tension in which the layers coexist, and then the group chooses one combination of pulse, meter and tempo and establishes it uniformly. At the final transition, the music shifts gear forcefully to return to the original rhythmic feel.

‘You-Yangs’, on the other hand, is not primarily concerned with rhythmic devices but with the Australian landscape as reflected in the paintings of Fred Williams. It was written after my first visit to Australia, during which I first saw Williams’ work. The piece seeks some of his spaciousness. After a non-metered opening, with sparse and developing sounds inside the piano and on the keys, it uses a protracted rhythmic ostinato to support the build up of a powerful and spacious percussion solo by Ashley Brown. After this, the piece takes on pulse and meter, and again uses some modulations of them. The short ‘Threesome’ follows: a strong triplet pulse, and complex polyrhythms are its key features.

The other long work, ‘The Wings of the Whale’, is based on a poem of the Czechoslovakian scientist-writer Miroslav Holub. It takes some musical ideas form the poem to create the musical material of the work. But it also uses some procedures for improvising on the given materials (such as permutational procedures) which derive separately from ideas in the poem. Some of these procedures are widely used in musical composition, others less so. They are used here in the improvising processes in somewhat unusual ways.

The remaining three shorter items feature the keyboard in various ways. ‘After Bill’ is a romantic tribute to pianist Bill Evans, written in 1980 shortly after his death. It is through-composed, with the intention of representing some of his key phrases and voicings in a gently and respectfully transformed way. The two
‘Tuning the Tempers’ are freely improvised synthesizer pieces (without pre-recorded or live sequencing), which use microtonal as well as normal tunings of the instrument. Tunings other than those of the piano keyboard have always been essential within improvisation and jazz, as in the case of blue-notes. The synthesizer now offers the opportunity to use microtunings with very precise control, and it is a potentiality I find interesting in both solo contexts (as here) and within the ensemble. It can offer an Ivesian ear-cleansing for some musicians and listeners.

About Roger Dean’s LYSIS (slightly updated from the original sleeve notes):

LYSIS was formed by Roger Dean in 1970-73 in Cambridge and London, and has played and broadcast in most parts of the world, and made many recordings. It is concerned both with improvisation, and with performance of contemporary composed music. In improvisation it has developed unusual rhythmic procedures, and other techniques for control of improvised interactions between musicians. Roger Dean’s composition are the core repertoire of the group.

Listeners may be interested in the ideas behind this and related musics. They are discussed in Dean’s series of book on improvisation, commencing with ‘Creative Improvisation’ (1989) and ‘New Structures in Jazz and Free Improvisation’ (1991) both published by the Open University Press, Milton Keynes and Philadelphia. The subsequent relevant books are published by Harwood Academic, A-R Editions, the Australian Music Centre and Oxford University Press, and are detailed on LYSIS’ website,, where there is also more information about the ensemble and about Roger Dean.

Since 1989, Dean has lived in Sydney, Australia, and his group there, austraLYSIS is in a direct continuum with LYSIS, and has performed and broadcast widely. Several recordings of austraLYSIS are now available, as CDs, and as downloads (for example, from the Australian Music Centre website).



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