Simon Henneman Quartet record release 9/20 at Josephine

Simon Henneman and Monktail Creative Music Concern present

debut performance of the Meridian Big Band & Simon Henneman Quartet record release, Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Monktail Creative Music Concern presents one night of compositions by multi-instrumentalist/ composer Simon Henneman at the Josephine in Ballard, on Saturday, September 20th at 7:00 pm. The evening begins with a celebration of the release of the Simon Henneman Quartet’s cassette Sermons from Science, includes the debut performance of Meridian Big Band, featuring fourteen of the Pacific Northwest’s premier new jazz and experimental musicians playing new material, and closes with a DJ set by DJ aus dem land der schinken und kase (formerly one-half of highly underground experimental electronic duo Are You a Cat?).

Formed in 2011, Simon Henneman Quartet features Kenny Mandel on sax, John Seman on bass, Mark Ostrowski on drums, and Simon Henneman on guitar. The songs on Sermons from Science were recorded in a hundred year old house in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, now on its way to being destroyed for condo development. The album includes liner notes by the legendary American poet, activist, and provocateur John Sinclair which are included below. Sinclair writes of the Quartet, “Telepathy is a good word for what these four musicians do together. They’ve known each other for a long time, they know the music inside out and they know how to play it. The songs are well-made and swinging and the players interpret and extend them with vigor, intelligence and fiercely personal instrumental expression. What more can we ask for?” This is outsider jazz, played with a love of the form and the history, but with a decidedly garage rock aesthetic; a jazz take on Pacific Northwest bands of the 1960’s like The Sonics or The Wailers who, in trying to play R&B, created a raw, unique, and personal music all their own.

The Meridian Big Band takes this idea further, expanding to a fourteen piece band with two drumsets, two upright bass players, four reeds, four brass, and vibes. Henneman will join them on guitar for the last song only. Players range from the aforementioned John Seman and Mark Ostrowski of Monktail Creative Music Concern, to Master Musicians of Bukake and Diminished Men’s Dave Abramson, to experimental saxophonist Kate Olsen of Ask the Ages, and Table and Chairs and Racer Sessions founder Neil Welch. Clips from the Meridian Big Band in rehearsal:

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Simon Henneman is a long time mainstay in Seattle’s creative and improvised music communities. He is the bass player for the post-surf trio Diminished Men and serves on the board of the record label and new music presenter Table and Chairs. His previous solo work, including the limited release LP Black Magic & Moustache on Assophon Records, was lauded by The Stranger’s Dave Segal for its “chops and flair for alluring arrangements and nocturnal moods,” and called “cinematic, dark, beautiful and liberating” by the British music review blog Digital Fix.

The Monktail Creative Music Concern is a collective of composers, musicians and artists based in Seattle, WA who thrive o­n the atypical and exigent; the real weirdo stuff. Monktail ensembles have earned a reputation as new music powerhouses up and down the west coast and across the country as Seattle-area music ambassadors. Their critically acclaimed independent record catalog, Monktail Records, has garnered awards in the nation’s top jazz periodicals and exposure through jazz radio nationwide. Monktail have fans in Seattle as well, earning three Earshot Golden Ear Awards and numerous accolades from local media and artist support organizations including 4Culture, Allied Arts, and The City of Seattle.

 

Simon Henneman Quartet: Sermons From Science

Sermons From Science is an album of extraordinary music by Simon Hennemen and his Seattle henchmen. From the stunning cover design illuminating the album’s title to the last note of the evocative “Sermons from Science,” this package provides a top-flight artistic experience rarely found in today’s ugly cultural environment.

I trust you will be able to hear this for yourself, but the playing on this recording is filled with the excitement of discovery and accomplished self-expression as the ensemble works its way through a suite of Henneman’s imaginative compositions, led by Simon’s muscular guitar and the powerful saxophonics of Kenny Mandell and propelled by the unfailing support and deep sensitivity of bassist John Seman and drummer Mark Ostrowski, a 20-year rhythmic partnership elsewhere noted as “in all likelihood the most telepathic musical combination in Seattle.”

Telepathy is a good word for what these four musicians do together. They’ve know each other for a long time, they know the music inside out and they know how to play it. The songs are well-made and swinging and the players interpret and extend them with vigor, intelligence and fiercely personal instrumental expression. What more can we ask for?

I can’t say enough about the level of playing thoughout. Henneman has an approach strictly his own and his solos are consistently compelling, dense with feeling and drive. Kenny Mandell is a brilliant soloist in every setting and sounds strictly like himself, sparring and blending with Simon and discoursing on the composer’s themes with remarkable coherence. And again, the splendid rhythm section is right there with them every step of the way.

I’ve really enjoyed my repeated listenings to this album and commend it to imaginative music lovers without reservation. Seattle is very fortunate indeed to have an ensemble of this high caliber in residence.

-John Sinclair
London
December 15, 2013