Improvisation has long been an essential element of my work as a musician, so it’s not surprising that as I undertake projects as a composer and conductor, finding ways to feature collaborative improvisation remain important to my process.
Over the past five or so years, I’ve grown more involved with the legendary Creative Music Studio (CMS), an organization founded by Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso, and Ornette Coleman that’s hosted countless musicians to teach and learn collectively, and to experiment with new modes of collaboration and improvisation. During this time, while leading musical ensembles at CMS workshops, I’ve found the space to develop and refine my own processes for creating music with others. And it’s unquestionably through Karl Berger that I’ve been exposed to a range of ideas about the work of “conducted improvisation.” Karl has been conducting large improvisational ensembles for a long time and has surely inspired others to pursue similar projects. In addition to Karl’s influence, John Zorn, Lawrence Butch Morris, Matana Roberts, Rakalam Bob Moses, Walter Thompson or Sun Ra (to name just a few) have also shaped my ideas about alternative techniques of musical creation, conducting, and improvising.
There are two stand-alone works that do not originate as conducted improvisations—“Escape” and “Lost in Time”—though they do share with the other pieces my interest in alternative and experimental approaches to making music. These works use my graphic scores included in this CD packaging. Unlike standard notation, my scores are not always intended to symbolize musical sound. These “automatic drawings” are created
using a pen, various architectural and graphic templates I have collected, with some free-handed markings. Most of my graphic scores do not have a fixed or codified system.
As is the case with the concept of conducted improvisation, I did not invent the idea of the graphic score. The graphic works of Earle Brown, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Anthony Braxton, and Iannis Xenakis have preceded my own visual-musical creations.
But, as with any form of art, it’s generally best to let the work itself do the talking.
I hope Meshes speaks to you. - Billy Martin, August 13, 2019
released January 28, 2020
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz • UPRIGHT BASS • OUD
Meaghan Burke • CELLO
Anthony Coleman • PIANO
Carol Emanuel • HARP
Tomas Fujiwara DRUMSET • PERCUSSION
Fung Chern Hwei • VIOLIN
Dana Jessen • BASSOON
Kalun Leung • TROMBONE
Frank London • TRUMPET
Dana Lyn • VIOLIN • PIANO
Billy Martin • CONDUCTOR • PERCUSSION
Ned Rothenberg • ALTO SAXOPHONE • SHAKUHACHI
Joshua Rubin • BASS CLARINET • CLARINET
Kyra Sims • FRENCH HORN
Kenny Wollesen • PERCUSSION
Produced by Billy Martin
Executive Producer • Kenichi Nagatomo
Music and artwork by Billy Martin
Recorded at Oktaven Audio by Ryan Streber Oktaven in Mount Vernon, NY on April 28th 2019 • Tracks 3 and 4 recorded at The Herman House Gallery by Billy Martin in Englewood, NJ on June 20th 2019 • Mixed and mastered by Liberty Ellman July 2019
Billy Martin was born in NYC in 1963. In the late 1970's, he devoted himself to music and dove into Manhattan’s thriving,
eclectic musical landscape.
From the roots of the downtown scene he emerged with Medeski Martin and Wood, bridging the harmonic complexity of jazz, the conversational fluency of free improvisation, and the groove and swagger of classic R&B and funk....more
The mallet percussionist and improviser's solo debut is flush with nostalgic melodies and stirring dissonances—a rich, experimental universe well worth exploring. Bandcamp Album of the Day Jan 15, 2021