Ecstatic Music (2008)

Flute, 2 clarinets, 2 trumpets, 2 tenor saxophones, 2 trombones, violin, prepared piano, bass and drums. 30:00.

An outgrowth of earlier works for prepared piano (Wallpaper Music, Other Planes) which have explored dense, cascading textures for extended durations, Ecstatic Music expands the intimate microcosm of prepared piano into a technicolour explosion.

At the start a series of intricately interlocking scales or modes slowly expand across the range of the woodwinds and piano. Each performer improvises energetic, jagged rhythms which, combined together, create a blurred, pointillistic effect. Suddenly the brass and piano trio burst in with an harmonic wall of arrhythmic syncopation, fusing elements of free jazz and minimalism. After a series of shifting duo improvisations, the piece somehow transforms into a gospel refrain, which slowly comes into focus at the conclusion.

Taking cues from composers as distinct as Terry Riley and Cecil Taylor, Ecstatic Music creates intense, cascading sound textures in which one can lose oneself - in a good way.

"Griswold is a highly inventive player and composer, and his imagination was on display in every aspect of this remarkable piece. No matter how dense the sonic layers became, the effect was one of epic grandeur rather than mayhem. The horn players' harmonies began to blur as though they were playing under water, calling across the stage in soulful waves before the entire ensemble merged into a subdued, satisfying unison." - The Age, April 2008, Review by Jessica Nicholas

Premiered by Erkki Veltheim (violin), Belinda Woods (flute), Brigid Burke, Karen Heath (clarinets), Ben Carr, Phil Bywater (tenor saxophones), Tristram Williams, Peter Knight (trumpets), Shannon Barnett, Adrian Sherriff (trombones), Erik Griswold (piano), Mark Shepherd (bass), Rory McDougall (drums).
Recorded at BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne April 25, 2008
Engineered, mixed & mastered by Myles Mumford
BMW Edge, Melbourne, 25 April 2008

Commissioned by Melbourne Jazz Fringe Festival

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