KASE "Pop Art"



This was the first time we made music together as KASE. The recording is extremely noisy, raw and unpolished – but it is a glimpse into the beginning of an almost two-year residency, ultimately shut down by the pandemic. You can tell we are not only "feeling it out" but also and most definitely feeling "it". I found these forgotten files on an old hard drive, and while not quite "studio quality" or maybe even "releasable" quality, I decided to just slide this one out there without too much ballyhoo. Why not? I couldn't think of a reason not to.

The SCENE: is The Highbury Pub in Bay View, WI. It is a cozy neighborhood haunt nestled amongst a number of restaurants, comic book shops, diners, wig stores and other Bay View oddities. If NYC has the Village or Chicago has Wicker Park, Milwaukee has Bay View – like those other places but smaller and grittier, probably drunker. As is typical of Wisconsin in the winter, the bar slowly filled in and got heated up as the night carried on. The tall windows steamed and dripped with condensation. In this setting we got the sense that experimentation was OK, simultaneously inside and outside the cultural mainstream. That's the point. Hip, without the 'ster. The crowd was mostly neighborhood folks, a few friends, and maybe a dog or two. Some were there for the music, some were there for the beer, some didn't know why they were there. A crowd in the back shouted "Suuuuuuuper Bowl!!!!", oddly in unison. They were most likely oblivious to the music being made. But that's ok. The overly massive painting of A Tribe Called Quest's "Low End Theory" cover faces the band and provided a steady reminder. By the end of the night, we were all friends.

The MUSIC: it developed through many twists and turns and obstacles and glitches and uncertainties over the course of the night. You can sense a direction forming and taking shape, as if being directed by gravity to a common point. knowsthetime (Ian Carroll) orchestrated the rhythms, textures and forms like a master conductor – all ears and reflexes. Ready to pivot and move in any direction or all directions at any time – all the time. Now's the time. He's not just a DJ, he's a drummer, a designer, a composer, a musician. John started the night out on electric bass, but quickly ditched it for the comfort, familiarity, depth, power and history of the upright bass... guttural, ancient and modern. Creatures of creativity exploring the space. For some reason, I brought a larger than normal setup: my trumpet run through a well-worn and squeaky Dunlop "Crybaby" pedal, a DOD delay and a 70's Fender Twin Reverb – more of a guitar setup. Like Miles, Hendrix is an early and important influence on me; not on my trumpet playing necessarily, but deep in my musical DNA.

KASE is an outlet for expression, an outlet for friendship, an outlet for us to be ourselves.
__

“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
― Andy Warhol

credits

released March 1, 2021

Jamie Breiwick, trumpet/effects
John Christensen, upright bass
knowsthetime, turntables/ableton

recorded by Bryan Mir
Live at The Highbury Pub
Milwaukee, WI
Feb 24, 2018

All compositions by Breiwick, Carroll, Christensen
Cover photo by Jamie Breiwick
Artwork by Jamie Breiwick

© 2021 B Side Recordings.


Practice Room / Dec 2020

listening /
RAINBOW SIGN / Ron Miles
FORWARD / Chad McCullough
ON THE TENDER SPOT OF EVERY CALLOUSED MOMENT / Ambrose Akinmusire
THANKSGIVING AT THE VANGUARD / Jason Moran
MIXING COLORS / Roger and Brian Eno

reading /
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME  / Ta-nehisi Coates
TO BE OR NOT TO BOP / Dizzy Gillespie
GO AHEAD IN THE RAIN: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest / Hanif Abdurraqib
CULTURE IS NOT ALWAYS POPULAR / Michael Bierut & Jessica Helfand
ARTWORK / Virgil Abloh

art & design /
Dechazier Pykel
Richard Neutra
Pierre Soulages
Julian Montague


B Side Recordings

I am excited to announce the launch of 'B Side Recordings'! B Side will be the primary outlet through which I will be releasing my own music. It was a decision I came to as a result of being left to my own devices during the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine. I am restless, musically and otherwise. I am also an incorrigible introvert and love being left inside my own head to ponder, wonder and wander. There were many sources of inspiration +models +templates for starting my own "label". I am just going to jump in, head first

There will be two components (1) the B Side main catalog consisting of full albums and singles and (2) the B Side Bootleg Series, all of which are housed at bsiderecordings.com masterfully built by John Christensen Web Design.

At the moment, the back catalogue is available, plus the most recent addition of the "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" single from 2010. There will be a whole slew of upcoming releases including new singles, a KASE cassette, new bootlegs, and more!

I appreciate you following along this journey and stay tuned!

"B SIde Recordings was created to support the release of my original material, regardless of style or genre and without concern for the hustle and bustle of the modern music industry. B Side is simply me sharing my ideas with the world."


Awake / the music of Don Cherry

Download liner notes/booklet

“Don Cherry’s music has been left in the more than capable hands of Jamie Breiwick as he delivers a touching tribute to Cherry’s monumental achievements.”-Imran Mirza, UK Vibe

"Awake/The Music of Don Cherry" hopefully will push younger listeners to discover the work of Don Cherry (1936-1995) as well as discover the impressive recordings of Jamie Breiwick.‬‪-Richard B Kamims‬, Step Tempest“

This is an excellent evocation of Don Cherry's spirit, as well as a demonstration of the communication that a trumpet trio can achieve.”-Mark Sullivan, All About Jazz

"On Awake, Breiwick has a little more space to work with, and rather than rushing to fill it, he patiently works his way through gently melodic passages and giddy ripples."-Scott Gordon, Tone Madison

"Then “Brown Rice” grounds us ingeniously with a lumbering bass and uncanny trumpet sounds, almost like a serpentine specter emerging from a rice paddy. Throughout this album, a winged reincarnation – unfettered yet purposive, loving life – pushes the music into earthly fecundity, even as it flies."-Kevin Lynch, Shepherd Express

“Yep, a white cat from semi rural Wisconsin can lead a trumpet trio on the works of Don Cherry and have nothing to apologize for. A wonderful note perfect set that captures the hell raiser on the money throughout, this is a fun set that doesn't let you down or leave you feeling ‘if only he...". A solid work out by a real pro, lefty jazzbos ought to do themselves a favor and check this out.”-Chris Spector, Midwest Record


---

liner notes:

One of the most important qualities that a practitioner of artistic endeavors can possess is that of curiosity. The spark that impels one to see what’s out there, to find out and to know more is much the same as that impulse that sets the artist on the pathway towards creation.

This sort of inquisitiveness is a quality that Jamie Breiwick shares with the subject of his musical investigations on this recording, trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist Don Cherry. For the peripatetic Cherry, upending the jazz trumpet tradition as musical co-conspirator in Ornette Coleman’s revolutionary quartet was only the beginning of a wide ranging and well traveled arc of discovery; his explorations resulted in an incredible body of genre-defying music that influenced not only jazz musicians but creators in every corner of the music world. Breiwick has been an intrepid explorer in his own sphere, conducting heartfelt and knowing investigations of the intersection where classic jazz vocabulary and contemporary sensibility meet in band projects such as the Lesser Lakes Trio, as well as most convincingly essaying the music of such an iconic figure as Thelonious Monk in his Dreamland project.

Awake, devoted to the compositions of Don Cherry, is another such accomplished foray by Breiwick. In a program that includes both cherished favorites from the Cherry “songbook” such as Art Deco and lesser-known (but no less influential) works such as Brown Rice, Jamie abundantly exhibits the depth of his understanding of Cherry’s music even as he showcases his exuberant skill and creativity as an improvisor. His command of the the jazz trumpet continuum, from vocabulary-based specificity to the gestural and illusive approach pioneered by Cherry, is comprehensive, organic, and swinging! The imaginative treatment of Cherry’s work by Jamie, in the company of the excellent bass/drums duo of Tim Ipsen and Devin Drobka, similarly shows Jamie’s desire to make fresh, non-cliched music using the full range of what he hears and likes.

Whenever I’m in my hometown of Milwaukee, I make it a point to seek out Jamie on one of his gigs, and each time afresh I marvel at how much music he knows, how well he plays, and how dang enjoyable it is to listen to him. Listening to this album, a most worthy addition to his expanding recorded oeveure, pleasantly reminds me of the brilliance of this estimable musician’s work. I invite you to listen to the music of Awake and enjoy its many splendors, as a prelude to a continuing engagement with the art of this important voice from the heartland.

- Brian Lynch, 2019

All compositions by Don Cherry, Unart Music Corporation (BMI) except for "Race Face" by Ornette Coleman, Contemporary Music (BMI)
Recorded May 31, 2019 at Clown Horn Studios
Engineered by Devin Drobka
Mixed by Daniel Holter at Wire & Vice / Milwaukee, WI
Mastered by Brian Schwab / Chicago, IL
Cover painting "Atmosphere" by Jeff Redmon 

credits

released October 18, 2019
Jamie Breiwick - trumpet, pocket trumpet
Tim Ipsen - bass
Devin Drobka - drums


Header image - Don Cherry with his cornet during the recording session for his Where is Brooklyn album. November 11, 1966. © Francis Wolff


Lessons from Don Cherry

Miles and Wynton both agree... Don Cherry is important.

"Don Cherry, I like..." - Miles Davis
by Leonard Feather, Down Beat Volume 58 No. 12
first published by Down Beat, June 1964

 "I loved Don Cherry." - Wynton Marsalis
interviewed by Will Layman for Pop Matters, April 2016

As a young student of the trumpet, my sound reference was probably the same as most: Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, etc. Long before I understood anything about theory, harmony, and history - the sound and feel of these masters were ingrained in my head. In college, as I discovered more and more music and got deeper and deeper into studying, eventually I came across Ornette Coleman, and thusly, Don Cherry. I did not understand Don Cherry.

To my uninitiated ears, he sounded sloppy, lazy, amateurish even. All I could hear were the missed notes, the blurred phrasing, the out-of-tune pocket trumpet, limited range... I didn't get it. Cherry was the butt of the joke even, kind of a jab, amongst musicians on the scene – inferring he was someone who "couldn't play". Man, was I way off.

The first time I truly appreciated Don Cherry was upon listening to the 1960 Ornette Coleman record "Change of the Century" on Atlantic Records. A particular favorite tune of mine was "Ramblin'" - oddly enough (and an embarrassing discovery) I thought Ramblin' was a David Sanborn tune. Sanborn recorded a funk version of it on 1992's "Upfront", in Eb rather than the original Ornette key of D (presumably much easier on the alto in the transposed key of C than B!). I first realized upon really listening to Change of the Century, indeed, Cherry "could play". Upon deeper listening, tunes like "Ramblin'", "Bird Food", "Una Muy Bonita", and "Free" had all the swing, blues, soul and sophistication of bebop while at the same time allowing the space, harmonic freedom and creativity that fit Ornette's musical concept.

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Another important discovery for me was the 1962 Sonny Rollins album "Our Man in Jazz" at the recommendation of a friend (Barry Velleman, I'm looking at you). On "Our Man in Jazz" it is evident that Rollins is intrigued by Ornette's innovations of the early 60's so much that he hires Cherry and Billy Higgins. It is a live "standards" record, but certainly Rollins is exploring a new improvisatory vocabulary clearly outside the bebop dialect of his recordings to date. Rollins takes long, wildly intervallic, and rhythmically free solos. Contrastingly, Cherry's solos are all extremely melodic, and succinct - each a masterclass in economy and melody. It is almost funny how surprisingly "inside" his solos are. It is clear on this record that Cherry's early influences of Fats Navarro and Clifford Brown are as much a part of his identity as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor.

Read more


No history, no future.

No history, no future.

*an edited version of this essay will appear as the introduction the forthcoming book "Images of America, Milwaukee Jazz" by Joey Grihalva on Arcadia Publishing Co. (preorder the book here: mkejazzbook.com)

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Many have proclaimed  the “death of jazz” since the musical art form began over a century ago. In response to such proclamations, Milwaukee Jazz guitarist Manty Ellis says, “You can’t kill a cultural art form. They try to kill the music, but when they stomp it out here, it grows up over there. They kill it over there, it comes up over here.” It is a disgraceful if unsurprising fact that the music born out of the oppression and suffering of Black Americans has not been fully embraced in the country in which it was created.   

Several years ago I began documenting the history of the under-appreciated, if not completely unrecognized jazz scene in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The impetus for the project was that I had found very little online or print evidence of Milwaukee’s rich and storied jazz history, and little mention of particular notable individuals. Important Milwaukee musicians such as Berkeley Fudge, Hattush Alexander, Manty Ellis, Penny Goodwin, Tony King, Will Green, Jessie Hauck, Bob Hobbs, and Dick Smith, to name just a few, influenced and inspired generations of Milwaukee jazz artists. Speaking of guitarist Manty Ellis, alto saxophone legend Frank Morgan said, “I can’t say enough. There are some bright stars on the horizon who owe their life to him. He’s a legend in his own time. I love him and there should be a monument erected to him in Milwaukee.” Read more


The case for KASE

Unlike the Classical player, the jazz artist must achieve a technique that uncovers the self, that answers the question that Ellison says is the question of American art: Who am I?

-Robert G O'Meally, from the introduction 'Jazz Shapes' to Ralph Ellison's "Living with Music"

I am musically restless. Sometimes I feel unsettled, unprepared, uneasy - maybe a sense of searching is a more appropriate (positive?) way of putting it. There are times when I think this is a good thing, other times - maybe not. I get bored with myself.

Many of my favorite musicians possess this quality of searching and evolution in their music. I am fascinated by musicians who started out playing a certain way, but evolved their style, sound, vocabulary, and musical identities. Keep pushing, keep moving, keep creating.

Maybe this is the way? Maybe this is a way. Maybe this is my way? I am finding my way.

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 1.19.20 PM

I am excited about this most recent project, KASE. KASE is myself on trumpet/electronics, John Christensen on bass, and Knowsthetime (Ian Carroll) on turntables and electronics. We will be inventing textural soundscapes - incorporating live beats, turntablism, electronic elements, and extended improvisations into the music we create. References for this project run the gamut from the contemporary mainstream to the avant guard to the classic ... mixing jazz & hiphop is like mixing jazz and jazz - different branches of the same tree. That said, we hope to create something new and unexpected with this band and invite you to join us on that journey.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 6.22.35 PM
Jazz is the new old hiphop
(header photo by Bryan Mir)

Music is life is music

In Make the Road by Walking I mentioned allowing one's life experiences, personal relationships, childhood memories, visual artistic expressions (ie. the smells, tastes, sights, and sounds of daily life) to influence one's music. Here, I would like to share with you a personal example of this concept put to action and a glimpse into my own compositional mind.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp7X_ckeE00&t=2s]

There are composers who can, on a dime, write endless melodies and complex chord structures without blinking an eye - music based on numbers, mathematical equations, cycles of the moon, quantum physics, on and on. Composers find inspiration from many different places, much like each musician has an improvisational voice informed by their experience. I do NOT have this particular musical gift, however, and when faced with writing for a particular project, band, recording, deadline or assignment, I would often hit a wall. I feel I cannot compose anything unless I have a "story" - a person, an experience, a feeling - basically some sort of narrative. Nearly every composition I write is tied to a memory of a person, place or thing. Duke Ellington makes a validating point for this concept in a 1944 article entitled "The Hot Bach - I", for the New Yorker magazine.

"The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician," he says. "Things like the old folks singing in the moonlight in the backyard on a hot night, or something someone said long ago. I remember I once wrote a sixty-four-bar piece about a memory of when I was a little boy in bed and heard a man whistling on the street outside, his footsteps echoing away. Things like these may be more important to a musician than technique."

-Duke Ellington

The New Yorker, June 24, 1944 Issue / "The Hot Bach - I"
By Richard O. Boyer
newyorker.com/magazine/1944/06/24/the-hot-bach-i


To combat writer's block and help "jumpstart" my creativity I started keeping a compositional journal at the urging of a teacher. I took the journaling one step further, however, to include musical AND non-musical items befitting Ellington's above concept:

• photos from a family vacation, day trip, museum visit
• a particularly profound quote or idea from a video, poem, book, or interview
• a catchy chord progression or melody fragment I've overheard out in public or on TV
• an anecdote from a conversation, gig, lesson
• an inspiring visual art piece

IMG_2326

[As a side note, my "journal" is mostly my iPhone - voice memo, notes, camera, instagram/twitter, as well as a small "field notes" notebook. Above, a screenshot of my notebook/journal, including a quote from the 1969 documentary film, "Ornette, Made in America",  describing Ornette's uncanny ability to sound like Charlie Parker.]


I wrote the piece "Bender Park" based on a wild adventure I had with my three boys, in which we discovered a mysterious and hidden place. The film footage was taken by my then 9-year old son at "Bender Park" in Oak Creek, WI.

"The Good Land" on Shifting Paradigm Records
SPR: http://www.shiftingparadigmrecords.com/lesser-lakes-trio.html 
Bandcamp: http://bit.ly/TheGoodLand
iTunes: http://bit.ly/LLT_iTunes
Amazon: http://bit.ly/LLT_Amazon

 


Make the road by walking

As musicians/artists/humans, it is our ultimate goal to "find our own voice". Finding one's voice is a seemingly endless journey. It is a lifelong pursuit and a beautiful struggle of self discovery. We spend years listening, analyzing, emulating, studying, and we hope that the end result is that a unique identity develops. I often think of Clark Terry's famous "Three Steps" to learning the art of improvisation, "Imitate, Assimilate, and Innovate". This is a complete yet simple distillation of the process we spend our entire careers grappling with. In 2017, we have a universe of music to choose from; limitless paths of discovery - so which direction to choose?

I have swung back and forth wildly (mostly in my own mind), struggling with my identity as a musician - going through phases like an adolescent going through puberty. I have great admiration (jealousy?) for musicians who are secure in who they are. Am I playing enough bebop? Too much bebop? Too angular? Too weird? Not weird enough? Do most musicians struggle with this? I feel like I am beginning to get a grip on these questions, however. It is ok to like Barry Harris AND Cecil Taylor, Clifford Brown AND Don Cherry (who hung out btw), Charlie Parker AND Ornette Coleman, and the result of that might help me to "be me" or you to "be you".

I once had a very important lesson in which a teacher told me not to leave out any influences from my music. "What do you like?". The point being, if you enjoy certain types Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 7.49.11 PMof music (rock, pop, hip hop, polka, etc) you shouldn't try and stifle those influences. "Let it all come through", I was told. I took that bit of advice very seriously and it was incredibly reassuring, comforting and validating - especially considering the source was someone I respected so much. This was something I had already been thinking about and trying to exemplify in my music. It takes courage to "be you" and oftentimes we get in our own way.

To borrow a phrase from friend and author Todd Lazarski, we "Make the road by walking." This phrase passes through my mind regularly.

It’s very important to have non-musical influences I think. You try to put your life experiences in your art no matter what. This is true of anything. Your social life, your romantic life, what you love in general, you know, the stuff you hate, all that stuff should somehow be in the music, or what you do as an artist for sure.
-Ethan Iverson

from  The Bad Plus: On Jazz, Humility, and Finding Your Voice by Todd Anderson

"Not leaving anything out" goes beyond musical influences. Life experiences, personal
relationships, childhood memories, visual artistic expressions - the smells, tastes, sights, and sounds of daily life... the musicians who I am connected to most have this in their music. It can be explicit or implicit - but it can be felt. Can I hear your story in your music? Am I telling my story in my music? I have a need to surround myself, in both study and in performance, with music and musicians that have this personal quality.

Ultimately, it is about the journey not the destination. Never be satisfied, always be searching, and keep pushing. Like LeVar Burton said, "...You don't have to take my word for it."


"I'm trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it's difficult is 'cause I'm changing all the time.
-Charles Mingus

"My music is the spiritual expression of what I am: my faith, my knowledge, my being."
-John Coltrane

"The real innovators did their innovating by just being themselves."
-Count Basie

"Music is your experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."
-Charlie Parker

"When it comes to music, don't lie to yourself; just tell yourself the truth."
-Art Blakey

"Forget about upholding the tradition and just play who you really are."
-Terence Blanchard

"When people believe in boundaries, they become part of them."
-Don Cherry

"A chimpanzee could learn what I do physically, but it goes way beyond that. When you play, you play life."
-Jaco Pastorius

"I find my inspiration in myself."
-Thelonious Monk

"Your humanity is your instrument."
-Wayne Shorter


What have I learned from Ornette Coleman?

"The pattern for the tune will be forgotten, and the tune itself will be the pattern."
-Ornette Coleman (from Ornette Coleman, A Harmolodic Life)

To me, there are certain musicians who deserve specific attention... who require deliberate study.  -- The controversial, the innovative and the revolutionary -- If we made a "Mount Rushmore" of jazz icons, these would be the faces carved in stone: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bird/Dizzy/Monk/Bud, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and certainly Ornette Coleman. Each one made their place by breaking away from previously established conventions and each one providing us with a lifetime of lessons. Despite furious criticism about his unorthodox music & appearance, Ornette pushed forward with deliberate force, making his own way.

What I have learned from Ornette Coleman?

  • Never forget the blues/swing.
  • Always be yourself & be relentless in pursuing your vision.
  • The most gentle souls are sometimes the most ferocious artists.
  • Exploring music is also exploring yourself.
  • Honor your influences without neglecting your voice.
  • Melody is king.
  • Different shouldn't be threatening.
  • Tell a story.
  • We create our own boundaries and our own categories, which only hold us back.
  • Search. Find your path, and follow it.
  • Use music as a conduit to the discovery of one's self.
  • Harmony can be self-created.
  • It's ok to be playful, humor in music is a wonderful thing.
  • Simplicity is difficult, but the goal.

"We’ve all gained from Ornette’s life and explorations."
-Sonny Rollins