BB: BHZ has been together for two years. The collaboration started in 2014 when I met Mark in Prague at the Echofluxx Festival run by Dan Senn who I studied with in Canberra, Australia. Mark and I played in a large ensemble and decided we needed to continue collaborating so I was invited to the US for an artists residency at Marshall University with Edwards Distinguished Professor in the Arts in 2015 where I met Steve Hall. We did concerts, toured and spent many hours in the studio rehearsing and recording which resulted in the album Total Harmonic Distortion.
MZ: Yes that’s it. We both also have a connection with Dan Senn who runs Echofluxx. Dan and I both studied with Sal Martirano; I met him at Sal’s funeral and our paths have crossed many times since then.
What is your collaborative process like?
SH: We get together and talk about how to approach each piece. As works develop I can choose to react to the music or video complementing the current texture, or be more pro-active; developing ideas over time. This time around, I am playing more rhythm-based ideas than the last, and thinking more about large-scale form.
MZ: I’ve been performing with Steve since around 2008 or 2009 with my jazz trio; and we have always had a great sympatico. In the jazz setting each individual has a more specific role, but I was always very attracted to Steve’s sense of color, and his ability to place sounds in the “right” place. After I met Brigid, I was sure that this would all work very well. Brigid and I are both composers so we usually bring in material to work with. Brigid’s video work is also a great place to start when we are working on something new; the films often work as visual/graphic scores. I would describe our working/collaborative process as active; we don’t speak much in the beginning, and tend to put pieces together by reviewing rehearsal recordings and discussing approaches. After a certain point, works begin to blossom and grow. That part of the process is exciting because it reveals how much more there is to explore.
BB: The collaborative process is exciting and inventive. Mark and I came together with pieces to perform and Steve adds percussion to the sound world. Each piece we discussed and rehearsed with specific ideas. The overall ideas of most of my compositions when working with Mark and Steve was they added to the overall texture with gestures and in most cases a conversation between the ideas to accentuate the ideas.
What is the story behind your recent album, Total Harmonic Distortion.
BB: Total Harmonic Distortion is a combination of structured improvisations and scored works by Mark and I. The evolution of the works resulted from our openness to ideas and exchanging musical thoughts and sound worlds to each of the pieces. Mark and I had specific ideas to how we should approach Stretching G and Gloss. For Stretching G Steve and I were given gestures we had to enter at specific times keeping movement within the composition and punctuating the gestures played by Mark on processed/looped guitar. With Gloss the score was the video that included nine short movements with a fixed electronic part. The other four works all different were created through improvisational experiments pushing all out individual sound worlds experimenting with different combinations and changing the acoustic sounds electronic in mixing stage which was an exciting time as all the tracks were recorded over such a short intense time.
SH: On Total Harmonic Distortion we went into the studio, recorded and developed things on the fly. As pieces developed we added additional layers; I think this relates well to Brigid’s videos and soundscapes. Overall, I enjoyed the project immensely and am very proud of the end result.
MZ: When I performed with Brigid in Prague, I knew from the start that we would be doing a record. So I started looking for a way to bring her to the U.S. Marshall University’s Edwards Distinguished Professor in the Arts program was a great vehicle making it possible for us to begin working together. On THD we came in with the pieces Brigid mentions above, and then tried some different approaches to improvisation to finish. Pop, Flaming Radio, Silent Endeavors and Total Harmonic Distortion are the result of that work. Brigid and I are both “workaholics” so we finished roughing out tracks on the last day of her residency; that was after teaching for a week, and playing five concerts on a mini tour. Further, we both think alike so the hours of editing were very productive.
Tell us about the tour you are concluding, and the program at Studio Z.
MZ: On tour we will play at Mansfield University in Mansfield, PA, University of Minnesota, SEAMUS National Conference, and Studio Z. I encourage folks to view the promo and BHZ: THD tracks on youtube. The material on this program is eclectic and is a great next step for the group. We are playing really well together and the new works are vibrant and dynamic. I am also very pleased that my dear friend Todd Harper will be joining us at Studio Z. His new work is really great and he is such a talented improviser. The last time we played together was in the late 1980’s with the Seekers of Beauty. So for me it is a bit of a homecoming, and I am looking forward to seeing old friends!
BB: The tour we will be traveling on a bus from Huntington, West Virginia to Minnesota. We are performing a varied program of works by Mark and me referencing many genres. Steve will be adding a wonderful array of percussion to intricate and thought provoking electronics and guitar by Mark, and I will performing bass clarinet, electronics and projected fixed and live video.
BHZ SOUND AND VIDEO IMPROVISATION
Studio Z: 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 200, St. Paul
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