Racer Sessions

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

Janna Webbon and Sarah Pyle Present this Sunday

We're very pleased to welcome Janna Webbon and Sarah Pyle to present at the Racer Sessions this week. Janna is a regular contributor to the session and Sarah is a recent transplant to Seattle with a history of attending the series as well. Read below for more details about their presentation this Sunday!

"This Sunday will be a culmination of collaboration across the country. We have asked some of our composer friends to write us miniature duets for flute and violin 1-2 minutes in length. Both Sarah and I are transplants to Seattle and our musical connections are spread out in other places in the country. We wanted to feel reunited with these friends.

We are playing:

“For Janna” by Adrienne Steely, Waco, Texas, 2016

“Invention No. 2” by Daniel Webbon, Seattle, WA, 2016

“Of Fact and Fiction” by Meng Tian, Boston, MA, 2016


Sarah and I have also written our own pieces. 


I have a small essay below to introduce my piece that incorporates recordings and live improvisation. These three movements will be first, middle, and last on the program.



I see it! I see it!

Maybe if we’re quiet we can hear them. 


These words are repeated in every part of the zoo. The last words are never spoken unless the animals are obviously making beautiful sounds (or a parent really just needs a moment of peace). 

It's this last level that is the most enriching and emotionally, but you have to go through the first two. Someone or something needs to grab your attention. And then you recognize that you can see it. Once you get to that point, you realize that your screaming is preventing you from fully experiencing that thing. 

We often just get to the “I see it! I see it!” stage. Our society in this century is extremely visually focused. We have 4K TV’s and HD smart phones, but many still listen to music using cheap iPod headphones. Sound is background; music while you walk or work is just the Hans Zimmer soundtrack to your life. It's just there and provides distraction from the annoying people in the coffee shop who are having a creative meeting about the eco-millennial’s instagram account. Few sit and just listen without doing unless you're in a concert, and even then my brain goes haywire and feels trapped if the performance sucks and I have no escape. Listening is difficult.

"Maybe if we’re quiet we can hear them."

This piece is about those three levels. I went to the zoo for fun and was sitting in the rainforest canopy room with no thoughts of art,  but I was just trying to see the birds and maybe take a picture (which is fairly impossible with fluttering small birds far away in a messy background and using my phone camera). In my frustration, I realized I could much more easily capture the environment with my recorder on my phone. As soon as I hit the red button, I no longer craned my neck to see the specific birds the people behind me were yelling about. I enjoyed the sounds and mixture of avian and mammalian calls, both classes using social calls to improve social status, because obviously the first person to see the spangled continga and yell “Lookit!” will be the most popular alpha male in the group. 

My ears opened up. I stopped moving. I became a listener and felt completely removed from the piece I was watching. The people and the birds became actors and performers and musicians and the round cage became the stage and I was the luckiest audience member who got to sit in the middle of it all. 

I hope to capture this with my recordings I've arranged for you. Obviously, it's another degree of removal, but by turning this into a piece with a beginning and an end and a stage, you are obligated to put on your art hat and treat these wonderful actors I've found as artists instead of bystanders and animals in captivity. Enjoy. I challenge you to lookit, see it, and shut up and listen.


From Sarah: 

Continuing with the theme of music based on glimpses of color, I’ve sketched out a couple of short pieces for this show. The first is a graphic improvisation that translates time and pitch structure from textiles. My second short offering is an exercise in rendering hue and transparency in sound: effervescent lavender and gold to opaque and layered dark red."

1. “Listen” (improv with field recording)

2. “For Janna” by Adrienne Steely

3. “Improv No. 1” by Sarah Pyle

4. “Invention No. 2” by Daniel Webbon

5. “I See It” (improv with field recording)

6. “April Snow” by Andrew Stiefel

7. “Improv No. 2” by Sarah Pyle

8. “Of Fact and Fiction” by Meng Tian

9. “Lookit” (improv with field recording)

Improv 1: Andrew Olmstead (melodica), Chris Icasiano (drums)

Improv 2: Zach Burba (roto toms and wood recorder), Tyler Martin (cornet)

Improv 3: Liam Fitzgerald (drums), Jeff Bernhardt (trombone)

Improv 4: Thomas Campbell (drums), Josh Thorsen (voice)

Improv 5: Jimmy Q (drums), Neil Welch (tenor sax), Simon Henneman (guitar)

Improv 6: Mike Gebhart (drums then piano), Dio Jean-Baptiste (piano then drums)

Improv 7: Evan Woodle and Daniel Webbon (cards and piano)

Improv 8: Andrew Olmstead (piano), Byron Svendsen (bass), Jeff Bernhardt (trombone), Keeli McCarthy (drums)

Improv 9: Janna Webbon (violin), Thomas Campbell (drums), Luke Bergman (bass), Neil Welch (tenor sax)

Improv 10: Zach Burba (roto toms), Jeremy Gonzalez (alto sax)

Improv 11: Ray Larsen (trumpet), Andrew Olmstead (piano), Jeff Bernhardt (trombone), Mike Gebhart (drums)

Improv 12: Liam Fitzgerald (drums), Tyler Martin (piano)

Improv 13: Thomas Campbell (drums)