Western New York’s premiere free-style jazz group makes its UB debut
The unique, ethereal sound combinations of the chamber-jazz quartet resAUnance have been a welcome addition, both to the local jazz scene and even to the much wider regional scene of knowledgeable jazz aficionados. On Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30pm, the members of resAUnance, vocalist Esin Gunduz, cellist Jonathan Golove, pianist Michael McNeill and percussionist John Bacon will make their University at Buffalo debut in Baird Recital Hall on the UB Amherst Campus. Both Golove, who is the Chairman, and Bacon are members of the faculty of the Department of Music at UB, so this event is part of the UB faculty recital series.
Jazz writers have praised the band’s debut release ‘Migration’ (FMR Records) as “a feast for the ears and heart” (Budd Kopman, AllAboutJazz), “highly original” (Eval Hareuvini, Salt Peanuts), and “wonderfully evocative” (Jeff Miers, The Buffalo News). resAUnance began as the trio of vibraphonist/percussionist John Bacon, vocalist Esin Gunduz, and pianist Michael McNeill, at Buffalo’s Pausa Art House in March of 2013. The following year the group collaborated with master brass improvisers Dave Ballou and Adam Unsworth in concerts at Pausa and Villa Maria College. In June 2014 the band became a quartet with the addition of cellist Jonathan Golove for a concert as part of the legendary June in Buffalo New Music festival. The quartet’s repertoire includes music by each member of the group as well as folksongs from the Balkans, each selection interpreted through the lens of each member’s extensive experience with jazz, classical, and improvised music.
“This music is colorful certainly, because of our unique instrumentation”, says Gunduz, a graduate of Istanbul Bilgi University who recently received her Ph.D. in music composition at UB, “and it has improvisational qualities, but it is not restricted to any style or geographical roots. Any music we play, let it be graphic scores, folk songs, jazz originals or improvisations, has some uniformity of sound, naturally, but the only limit to the style of music we play would be that of our imagination. This brings a wonderful freedom, both to the souls of the players and to the audience.”
“If a listener is trying to find something in our music to latch onto”, says McNeil, “I’d recommend listening for the vertical blend of our instruments’ sounds, and for the ways in which each player’s musical lines interact with the others’ and then proceeds in their own direction. We have all brought some of our original music to the band, composed jazz originals or graphic scores for improvisation, and Esin has brought some Turkish folk songs. Fortunately, the decision process for repertoire has been easy so far – somebody brings in music, the others say, ‘This looks great — let’s do it’”.
The program will include new works composed by each musician, including the three-part Sense of Energy by Gunduz, Double Memory by McNeill, Bacon’s Beautiful Flowers: Concert for a Despot’s Ovation, and Here and There by Golove, as well as some folk songs from the Balkans.
Esin Gunduz’s Sense of Energy makes use of very specific instructions for the performers to awaken an involved awareness, embodying the ways we humans experience/sense/know of certain types of physical energy: i.e. contained potential, lift-induced drag, and potential to kinetic. Michael McNeill’s Double Memory twists two melodic strands into one to create an environment for improvisation. John Bacon wrote his powerful poem A Concert for the Despots Ovation after the last presidential election, and its essence is captured in its first stanza:
“Give me your tired, your poor…” Let them weave their lives around my ankles spiral up my legs, encircle my waist grabbing, climbing like a vine of brambles and scent.”
Here and There is the result of a collaboration between poet Susan Lewis and composer Jonathan Golove that began in the 1980’s, when Golove heard a radio commercial for a California-based liquor store in which an outrageously accented speaker, obviously representing a Soviet émigré newly arrived in the USA, hailed the tremendous “freedom of choice” to be found in our plethora of brand offerings. Originally intended to be played on a faux-gamelan of fruit juice bottles, the work evolved into a percussion quartet with female voice. The complete work, in three parts, receives its debut tonight in a new version for the members of resAUnance. Susan Lewis is the editor and publisher of Posit, a journal of literature and art. She is the author of Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize (The Word Works, 2018) and of nine other books and chapbooks.
Tickets: Advance: $15 to $19; at the door: $22. Advance for seniors, UB faculty, staff, alumni/non-UB students: $10 to $14; at the door: $17. UB students: free. Information: (716) 645-2921 or firstname.lastname@example.org