This teaser for my show tonight at Jazz Central Studios includes a handful of snippets from my rehearsals of the electroacoustic piano pieces I’ll be performing. It’s all acoustic piano with processing that includes delays, live looping, freezing reverb decay, and reverse. The last snippet also includes the use of a felt mute between the hammers and the strings. The tone is much darker, softer, and subdued.
Dear ACB readers, I am pleased to announce my first solo album in seven years, Isosceles. This one is an eighty minute long departure from my usual esoteric experiments. Instead it is full of unapologetically funky and tonal instrumental synth tracks. Many of these were shared as works-in-progress here on ACB.
Years in the making, this collection of tracks was carefully picked from dozens of compositions. Vintage and contemporary electronic instruments and processors were used alongside each other to create a unique yet familiar sound. The album is full of thick analog arpeggios, punchy bass lines, earthy beats, and ballistic leads. The anthology is interspersed with contemplative moments reminiscent of the promise of space exploration and discovery. It is a journey through light years of exploratory sound design, future thought, and galactic musical manifestations.
The gorgeous artwork is by Benjamin Montag and the impeccable mastering was handled by Tom Garneau. The album was released on Unearthed Music and is available on Bandcamp as well as the usual suspect (iTunes, et al). Tonight I’ll be performing at Acadia in Minneapolis to celebrate the release.
Composed and performed by John C. S. Keston
Ablum art by Benjamin Montag
Mastered by Tom Garneau of Audioactive
Bloodline, a trio featuring Cody McKinney, Peter Hennig, and John Keston (myself), has been quietly performing at a handful of obscure venues in the Twin Cities for about a year and a half. On Monday, October 3rd we’ll poke out heads out of the shadows for a set during JT’s Jazz Implosion residency at the Icehouse in Minneapolis.
JT’s Jazz Implosion at Icehouse is one of the hottest jazz scenes in the cities. Featuring bands that study strong jazz composition, the performances consist of a variety of modern jazz songs with an improvisational flair. The bands that perform are emblems of originality in the modern jazz scene, oftentimes receiving national attention for their jazz genre knowledge and assimilation of multiple influences. The series appeals to a variety of listeners, providing multilayered compositions for every jazz fan.
For a taste of what Bloodline is all about, please have a listen to a few excerpts from one of our recent performances at Jazz Central Studios:
Graham O’Brien is an exceptional and inventive drummer, composer, and producer. It has been my privilege to play with him at dozens shows and on at least five separate projects over the last eight years. His latest solo endeavor is a series of five videos titled Drum Controller. Graham had discussed his goals for the project with me, but when I saw/heard the videos I was immediately impressed. I wanted to know more about how he was able to trigger these beautiful and complex electro-acoustic arrangements without touching anything other than his minimal kit of kick, two snares, high hats, and a ride.
Note: Graham will be performing music with his Drum Controller setup and Thomas Nordlund on guitar at Honey in Minneapolis this Sunday, June 5, 2017. Read on for the interrview and a look at his video series. Continue reading
On June 13, 2015 I collaborated with a team of nine students and nine musicians on a project I directed for Northern Spark, an annual, all-night, art festival In Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. We titled the project, Instant Composer: Mad-libbed Music and the intent was to engage the audience into instantly writing musical compositions for an ensemble of improvising musicians.
I discussed the concept here in-depth and also announced the project last June. I had no idea what to expect, but was thrilled with the outcome. Around 115 crowdsourced scores were entered into a database via our mobile application. During the nine hour performance we interpreted nearly 70 of those pieces for the audience.
This video should give you a sense of what went on that night, but no media can fully represent an event like this. I can say that it wouldn’t have happened without the student collaborators, our collective of excellent musicians, the Northern Spark organizers, Art Institutes Minnesota, and the hundreds of people in our audience willing to engage in the process. Please see the video for the full project credits.