Racer Sessions

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

Bryan Smith - September 14, 2014


Over the past year I have been working on a recording project through the Artist Support Program at Jack Straw Productions. The music for this project is for solo alto saxophone and overdubs, which allows for a uniformity of tone quality and blend that would be difficult to achieve with an ensemble. This allowed me the flexibility to experiment with many overdubs to create various textures, and of course, scheduling was a lot simpler than it would have been with a larger ensemble. Going into this project, my intentions were to explore sonic landscapes and the perception of space by positioning each of my performances in different locations within the studio. Almost the entire recording process was improvised. The only compositional materials that I brought into sessions were conceptual postproduction ideas that I felt would help shape the overall pieces. Some of these included automated reverb or abrupt cuts to the attacks and releases of notes, which are ideas that could only happen in postproduction.

To my surprise, the process of improvising overdubs was a remarkably rewarding compositional experience that I was not expecting to find through this residency. I would improvise my first track in one location of the room, than move to a new location and improvise another track while listening to the previous track just performed. I would do this any number of times until satisfied with the overall product. The fact that everything was improvised, and I’d used my ear and memory from what I played earlier, created compositions that I would have never been able to conceive of if I was just composing with manuscript paper. Because of this process, I have entitled this project The RE: Project due to the fact each overdub track after the first is referring to, or in regards to, the previous. 

As I finished up this recording and residency, I began transcribing particular tracks that would make good saxophone ensemble compositions. On Sunday, September 14th, for the first time, I will be trying out a handful of these compositions with a saxophone ensemble at Café Racer. For the jam, I recommend musicians focus on blend and a uniformity of tone quality.