Archive for September, 2014

Earshot Jazz Fest presents John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet, Oct 11


Lil Coop performs music by John Seman (double bass) with Stephen Fandrich (piano), Robby Beasley (trumpet), Kate Olson (sax), and Tommy Zgonc (drums).

Tickets available here.

John Seman’s Lil Coop Quintet
Gregg Belisle-Chi

$14 general; $12 members & seniors; $7 students & veterans

Bassist, composer, archivist and advocate for improvised music John Seman explores composition and free improvisation and musical past and future – in the moment – with his Lil Coop Quintet, featuring Stephen Fandrich on piano, Robbie Beasley on trumpet, Kate Olson on tenor sax and Tom Zgonc on drums.

A fixture on the Seattle music scene for more than a decade, Seman is co-founder (with Mark Ostroski) of nonprofit new music advocacy organization Monktail Creative Music Concern. Additionally, he holds a sound preservation and recording venture, RPM Preservation, and is a co-host of Floatation Device (91.3 KBCS), a program dedicated to highlighting improvised music from the Northwest and around the world.

Born in New Jersey and raised there and outside Philadelphia, Seman eventually enrolled at Oberlin Conservatory as a composition major. Part way through his studies there, he switched to an independent study program focused equally on ethnomusicology and music performance as a double bassist. Seman pursued graduate studies in ethnomusicology, with a particular interest in field recording and archiving, at the University of Maryland before moving to Seattle in 1999.

Sonarchy Radio broadcast recording of Pale Fruit by John Seman’s Lil Coop, 2014.

Pale Fruit is composed of two twelve-tone rows. The first, the bass line, was inspired by David Foster Wallace while reading his novel The Pale King. I took letters from his name (D-F-ACE) as the first five notes of a row, continued at the tritone and wound up with an interesting little chord progression.

The melody is drawn from five non-consecutive major second intervals, the interval of small hands. My daughter started exploring the piano around the same time she started eating stone fruits, plunking out sticky-fingered seconds. This reminded me of Stravinsky’s Les cinq doigts.

While preparing charts for Lil Coop’s Sonarchy Radio session I combined the bass line and the melody and this recording is the result. Lil Coop will perform Pale Fruit at the Earshot Jazz Festival this Saturday, October 11, 8pm at the Good Shepherd Chapel.

Stephen Fandrich is the secret weapon of Lil Coop. The melody of Medlenno is extracted from a violin duet I wrote years ago. I gave it to Stephen and he re-harmonized it several ways. He performs it frequently as a solo piano piece, as he does here, and it is now a feature for his particular talents in Lil Coop. Medlenno is Russian for slowly because if you asked my Russian grandmother how are things going, she replied: slowly.