Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Bassist/Composer Carmen Rothwell Presents at Racer This Sunday


We're very fortunate to have the ever talented bassist and composer Carmen Rothwell with us as a presenter this week at the Racer Sessions, 8pm this Sunday. Below are a few words about her presentation for this week, which will include a number of works for solo bass and improvisatory "dreams."


By Carmen Rothwell--

"Sometimes I have dreams in which musical sounds feel directly linked to actual events/people/real-life feelings. In some of these dreams, the musical sounds feel so full of emotional information that they could function in place of someone’s speaking voice, even though no words are being said. There have been a few dreamy times when I’ve had that feeling about a piece of music that I’ve written.

Typically when I write or improvise music, I don’t think of it as being directly related to real, concrete, nonmusical things. I usually think of my pieces simply as sounds leading to other sounds that I decide on because I like them for some reason. Perhaps the overall forms have some other types of ideas behind them, but even those are usually fairly abstract. 

"My intention while working on these pieces has been to translate something real from my life into a bit of musical expression." -Carmen Rothwell

This Sunday, I will present several short new pieces for solo bass. My intention while working on these pieces has been to translate something real from my life into a bit of musical expression (not a novel idea, but it’s something that I don’t often do). Each piece is about something: a person, an event, a pet, a figment of my imagination that has roots in reality—all things that feel emotionally charged to me for whatever reason. I am aiming to get close to that dreamlike feeling where, in my mind, musical sounds begin to feel less abstract and more connected to concrete/tangible feelings/things. I do not expect or even necessarily hope for anyone else to feel this way about these pieces upon hearing them. This is just a way for me to try to grasp something that I find to be elusive most of the time. It is a personal process and I have no idea if/how that translates at all to the way other people will hear the music that has this intention behind it.

For these pieces, the titles came before the music. This is abnormal for me. Usually I’ll write something and then take a long time to decide on a title, if I ever do. Each of these new pieces started with a title that holds some sort of meaning for me. The musical approaches are varied. Some of the pieces are mostly composed, while others are almost completely improvised. 

For the jams, I invite you to consider making your pieces about something, whatever that means to you."

Carmen Rothwell presented a set of music for solo acoustic bass:

1. “Being Unrealistic”

2. “Unconditional Loathe / Brotherly Love”

3. “Did I Know You At All?”

4. “Where Are You Going?”

5. “Parenthetical Girl”

6. “Sleepy Turtle”

Improv 1: Evan Woodle (drums), Nick Rogstad (trombone), Levi Gillis (clarinet)

Improv 2: Andrew Olmstead (keyboard), Simon Henneman (guitar)

Improv 3: David Balatero (cello), Marcin Pączkowski (alto sax)

Improv 4: Ryan Beckley (guitar), Michelle Hutchinson (drums)

Improv 5: Haley Freedlund (trombone), Daniel Webbon (drums)

Improv 6: Levi Gillis (clarinet), Keeli McCarthy (drums), Will Hayes (guitar)

Improv 7: David Balatero (cello), Andrew Olmstead (piano)

Improv 8: Evan Woodle (drums), Simon Henneman (guitar)

Improv 9: Ryan Beckley (guitar)