Part 1 tales of musical nebulosity:
How many musicians have this story?:
You've paid your dues, learned your craft, played tons of gigs accompanying a wide variety of other people and at some point you decide that you want to 'do your own thing' in addition to playing in all the other fun stuff you do.
It seems to be a pretty common story in the music world. As an upright and electric bassist, that has pretty much been my experience. Since I first started composing and recording my own music it has been a super fun journey to define and dial in the story I want to tell with my music. It has been fun, and I'm really proud of the music, but I haven't exactly promoted it in the most strategic way. In fact it's been downright nebulous!
Every album I have done has been under a different name. My long lost vocal album, Polar Vision (2006) under Steve Uccello, then 2009's Symmetria under Uccello Project, then just after Symmetria the side project "Clarified Bird's" was created and we (my brother, Viatorium Press creator J.F. Uccello) released a music/art combo inspired by Hieronimus Bosch's "The Forest That Hears And The Field That Sees" of the same name.
Part 2: A New Band Name
From there out we felt that the name CLARIFIED BIRDS seemed to fit the vibe of the project more than "Uccello Project". Arriving at the name Clarified Birds is a somewhat symbolic conclusion as I realize that the story I want to tell has to do with nature. Of drastically changing landscapes, the various animals that inhabit them, and the unspoken processes that take place between the hills, trees, rocks, snows, rivers.
Besides the animal/nature aspect of the name Clarified Birds, the name Uccello, means bird in Italian. There are also alchemical implications behind the name Clarified Birds. And without going on too long about an endless subject, alchemy seems to be the art of bettering one's self over time, or "clarifying" one's self. Ok, it's a stretch, but it relates, right?
Part 3: Lots Of New Music For Bass Ensemble
Back track for a second with me to few years ago: I was really fired up about organizing house concerts and had a bunch of really memorable shows, then in spring of 2010 along came the Atalanta Fugiens, a massive project consisting of 50 fugues. I went into a sort of practice/recording mode and after extensive trial and error, found the perfect bass ensemble combination to record the fugues with. I managed to get the project done after about a year. It was so fun and intense, a real experience of growth musically, mentally, and spiritually. Of course I was concurrently doing all manner of gigs, other recording projects, as well as some really fun shows (two highlights: opening for Mike Keneally & Bryan Beller Bands and playing with Nat Grant in the first sung shows) ...and the not so small task of raising two daughters and trying my best to help my wife in her endeavors-needless to say its been *ultra* busy!
So somehow, over the last year and a half or so I've been keeping up a pretty fierce recording regiment up in my little loft (a.k.a. Tortilla Flats Studios) trying to keep up with the inspired flow of music that seems to be bubbling up out of my basses. At this point I have quite a back log of new music for bass ensemble recorded, and am trying to figure out the best way to stagger the release of it all. Honestly, I'm a little intimidated. I really feel proud of all this new music and want to give it it's just due, but I also want to just get it out there, so I've set myself up a little release schedule for the next year.
The album set to be released soonest, on the spring equinox (march 20th) to be exact, is called ARCHAEUS. It was recorded in the summer of 2011. It features bass ensemble plus the Chinese wind instrument: Hulusi. It is accompanied by art from the amazing artist (and my bro) J.F. Uccello. It is inspired by wind and is way more fast and active than some of my previous stuff. It is the result of a test recording I made after finally getting a custom Rick Turner pick up system installed on my upright bass. It was actually an unintentional record. And I was honestly surprised at how well it turned out. But, while I was happy that an improv turned out so well, it created a lot of work after the initial tracking to build it up to it's full potential. It regrettably ended up distracting me from some already existing collaborations, mainly the next sung record with percussionist Nat Grant and another record I'm working on with guitarist David Cooper Orton. I promise I'm back on track now guys! Sorry for the long delay, especially to Nat, who's been so patient while I peck away at all the wonderful parts she's sent me :)
Another record that I have just completed using my two "dream basses" (see the last post about these instruments) features one of my all time bass heroes: Steve Lawson. I know, I know, "how many basses are there on this thing!?!" Also there's Mike Shannon on drums, and the amazing multi-instrumentalist Dayan Kai on keyboards and drums. The main tracks were recorded the the end of January 2012 at sax man/band leader, Roger Eddy's studio in Monterey. This project was also a 'runaway' record so to speak. It was originally going to be only 1 song, but the recording session yielded more material than I thought it would and then another related piece resurfaced from the depths and it seemed to take on a life of it's own! Dayan also generously donated his considerable mixing talents and helped dial in a really nice sounding project-I couldn't be prouder of the way it sounds.
This album is as yet unnamed, but I do know that it will be released in late spring and a significant portion of the proceeds will go to the Food Bank Of Monterey County. More info on this as the release date approaches.
And lastly, an ongoing project that's been in the works for a while, is Michael Maier's Atalanta Fugiens. The music has been done for some time and was mastered by Robert Rich. I have been working closely with Joe (guilt tripping him mostly) and we are (finally!!) getting an entire book of alchemical writings and art together to accompany the music.
These three part fugues, originally written for voices, lay remarkably well on the bass. The music accompanying the book will not only include the fugues, but two other original pieces as well, an "alchemical suite" if you will.
One is called OMNIFORM and the other is a re-edited/remixed/re-mastered version of "The Forest That Hears And the Field That Sees". In keeping with the multi-media spirit of this project, there will also be my first ever movie to the Forest/Field piece, this movie was conceived by me and realized with the help of my good friend Andrew "Ace" Davids. There's more in depth news and the fugues themselves streaming in this blog post. This release is set for December 2012.
Sidenote: We have just begun work on a brand new website for Clarified Birds ( www.clarifiedbirds.com ) with the help of my good friend and great songwriter, MichaelGaither. Pretty soon I'll be switching my blog there, and hopefully maintain a more consistent posting schedule. This blog will remain here as a documentation of Uccello Project's activities but will not be the place to catch the latest news-the new Clarified Birds website will take over as soon as it's ready. There will be lots of free goodies too!