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Jan 312015


What happens when you assemble a quartet of tenor saxophone free improvisers? Battle Trance happens. As record label NNA Tapes describes it, Travis LaPlante woke up one morning with the vision that he needed to start a group with three other tenor saxophone players: Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, and Patrick Breiner.

They all agreed and Battle Trance was born. For the composition Palace of Wind, which they will play in its entirety Sunday, February 1st at Emma Bistro, “the rehearsals were much like martial arts training.” More from NNA Tapes:

Intricate sounds were rigorously copied and repeated by the ensemble members until they perfected the techniques. Many hours were spent building the sheer strength required to sustain continuous circular breathing for extended periods. Likewise, a steady focus on physicality was required to repeat rapid note patterns for long periods without sacrificing speed. Palace of Wind is such a demanding composition that there is a high risk of physically burning out before the piece concludes, as once it begins there is no opportunity for rest or even a quick drink of water. There was also extensive training in dissolving the distinct individual identities of the players into the greater collective sound: The band did various long-tone exercises, similar to group meditation, the purpose being to blend together into one sound, so that the origin of the collective sound’s components is completely impossible to discern – even by the members of the ensemble.

Palace of Wind does embrace both the cerebral nature of composition and the visceral act of performance, but immediately locates itself, the musicians and the audience in a purely spiritual space. It is a new kind of music and therefore modern, and yet it’s absolutely primordial, the transformative act of human beings blowing air through tubes and producing something timeless

Travis LaPlante played Noa Noa house a few years ago (in the living room), and I’m including a video of that performance below. Also be sure to check out the Theatre Intangible improv he did with Peter Evans, Craig Schenker, and Jamison Sevits.

The Sunday show is presented by FMRL Arts, the experimental arts company of Chris Davis and Tate Eskew. Also performing are jazz keyboardist Matt Endahl and euphoniumist Cody Carter. More info on the Facebook event page.

FMRL presents Battle Trance, Matt Endahl, and Cody Carter
Sunday, February 1st, 9 p.m., $12
@ Emma Bistro, 11 Lea Avenue, Nashville, TN