The Tale of the Twelve-Foot Man
Release Date: June 26, 2020
“There’s a raw and honest spirit and a highly refined sense of detail in the music of Dylan Jack. There’s also a roiling spontaneity and brilliant clarity in the sound of his quartet…” - David Adler
On The Tale of the Twelve-Foot Man, percussionist, composer and improviser Dylan Jack showcases the raw and honest spirit and refined sense of detail that combines to create the magic of his eponymous Dylan Jack Quartet. Jack presents a bold collection of compositions that speak to the human experience while exploring the artist’s rhythmic intelligence and compositional prowess with thoughtful dynamic contrast, gripping melodies and supple harmonies. A follow up to 2017’s Diagrams, the quartet returns with master trumpeter Jerry Sabatini as its new featured horn. The steadfast rhythm section of guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Anthony Leva and Dylan Jack on the kit remains.
“The Twelve-Foot Man...does not necessarily represent a positive or negative figure,” notes Jack, “Instead, it represents a challenge that we individually face; a tall figure looming over our shoulder as we go about our lives.” The Twelve-Foot Man referred to in the title might be termed conscience, or subjectivity, that looming and unshakeable presence of the self: sometimes a hindrance, sometimes simply an existential fact. “The music is not easy,” Jack says, “but Jerry came in and gave it the respect it deserved. He has a great sound and is a master with mutes. I let him make his own decisions in terms of sounds — I wanted him to make the music as personal to him as he could. That’s the great thing with this band: although it’s under my name it’s everyone’s band. Everyone has a voice.”
The Dylan Jack Quartet offers an array of evocative sounds in this four part release.
The opening “Gauchais Reaction,” as Jack explains, concerns the psychological phenomenon of subconscious mimicry, which in jazz and improvised music connotes band chemistry on the deepest level. The piece opens with drums, Jack musing abstractly before the band enters and Leva establishes a powerful presence with his bow. The trumpet is muted, Hofbauer’s guitar close-miked with tactile intimacy. When Leva switches to pizzicato, the piece begins to groove, at a floating yet perceptible tempo. Sabatini and Hofbauer alternate in the spotlight, with short composed breaks signaling unexpected transitions to duo, trio and full quartet interplay.
Parts I & II of the track “The Twelve-Foot Man” evoke the Man’s presence in differing ways, but they share a reliance on darting and intricate unison melodies and driving rhythms, with a certain open-ended swing energy in the solos. The meters shift frequently here in a seamless way, with melodies and figures changing measure to measure from 12/16 to 9/16 to 7/16, or from 7/4 to 5/8 to 6/4. “My use of mixed meter is definitely inspired by phrasing,” Jack explains. “At first I usually write phrases without bar lines and sometimes no strict rhythm or note values, just stemless noteheads, and a ‘trademark’ of mine is using bars of 3/4 or 2/4 at the end of phrases. Often a 4/4 bar to end a phrase leaves too much space to my liking. Like birds chirping or a train riding by, there is no strict meter to life, and I like to write with that level of freedom.” Part II, at first demonstrates Hofbauer and Jack’s rhythmic like-mindedness with several minutes of duo improvisation building to a driving groove with Sabatini at the front of the sound. The piece demonstrates Jack’s compositional acuity and the precision of the ensemble.
The final track on this release “The Epitaph” represents the portion of our tale when the Twelve-Foot Man dies or is somehow transcended. The melody of this composition is derived from the Seikilos Epitaph, the oldest known piece of notated music, an ancient Greek melody carved into a cylindrical stele in the first or second century A.D. This melody is transformed with bold harmonies and improvisation from the ensemble. Throughout the piece, the ensemble seems to embody the words of the original Epitaph, translated from Greek to mean “While you live, shine. Have no grief at all. Life only exists for a short while. And time demands his due.”
More About the Artist:
Dylan Jack is a percussionist, composer and improviser participating in multiple genres within the Boston music scene. As a performer, Jack divides his attention between playing as a sideman with some of the city’s top improvisors including Charlie Kohlhase, Jeb Bishop, Bill Lowe, Eric Hofbauer, etc and leading his main creative outlet, the Dylan Jack Quartet.
In 2016, Jack launched the Dylan Jack Quartet, a creative music ensemble focusing on combining intricately composed segments that utilize odd meters and phrasing with plenty of space for improvisations with emphasis on each player’s individual voice and in-depth group collaborations. Jack released his first record with the quartet, Diagrams (CNM 031), in 2017 as well as a duo release with guitarist, Eric Hofbauer in 2019, Remains of Echoes (CNM 036) to favorable reviews in the jazz community.
Jack is also an in demand private percussion instructor on the north shore of Massachusetts as well as an Affiliated Faculty member of Emerson College where he teaches The History of Jazz. Jack received his Bachelor degree in music from the McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and holds a Masters of Music in Modern American Music from the Longy School of Music of Bard College.
Derived From Liner Notes by David Adler
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ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"While, in other circumstances, this could make for a disjointed listening experience, the band functions as a single organism, with a fluid cohesiveness which gives the music its fundamental integrity." Read this review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
"Behind the improvisational freedom of these musicians, you continuously hear Dylan Jack’s rolling drum sticks and inspired rhythm patterns that push the quartet to their limit." Review here.
MAKING A SCENE!
"The interplay of these four players is astounding across these challenging pieces that create varying moods, not only through the music but through a judicious use of space, echo effects, and accents, sometimes when you least expect them." Read the full review here.