Album To Be Showcased @ CD Release Gig @ Korzo Brooklyn on 02/11/14
Formed in 2011, trumpeter/composer Josh Deutsch’s Pannonia plays “traditional folk music from an imaginary place.” The band features the unusual frontline of trumpet, trombone and violin, creates a distinctive sound that blends the improvised spontaneity of jazz with forms and textures characteristic of early 20th-century classical chamber music and the infectious rhythms and melodic lyricism of folk music from around the world. Whether romping through a Balkan-inspired blues, buzzing through a song about bees or playing a tender ballad about dirigibles, Pannonia’s engaging and intriguing music is eloquently showcased on its debut recording Another Time, Another Place (Alternate Side Records 007) which is set for release on February 04, 2014. Deutsch and Pannonia will showcase the album at 9 pm Tuesday 11 February 2014 as part of the Konceptions Series @ Korzo (667 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 between) 19th & 20th Streets). There is a $10 suggested donation and more information is available at 718-499-1199.
“Much of the music and art that excites me isn’t easily definable by category,” Deutsch explained when asked about the genesis of Pannonia. “I’d been thinking a lot about the connection between storytelling and music and how if the music serves a story, it doesn’t matter whether it’s ‘jazz’ or ‘classical’ or ‘folk.’ I had the idea of music telling a story rather than standing on its own in mind from the beginning of this project. One of my all time favorite pieces of music is Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (Soldier’s Tale),” he continued, “which is composed around a narrated text and can be performed with or without it. I ended up being influenced not only by this concept, but also by the piece’s instrumentation which uses pairs of instruments from the brass, woodwind, string families plus a percussionist. For practical performance issues, I decided not to use woodwinds but I kept the pairs of brass (trumpet and trombone) and strings (violin and bass) and percussion.”
As Deutsch started writing for these instruments, a sound started to take shape influenced by his love of brass bands from the Balkans and New Orleans and works by Stravinsky and Bartók. “The first set of music for this band was written in a one-week span that was one of the most productive and effortless composition sessions of my life,” Deutsch recalled. “Roughly six months later, I was re-reading one of my favorite books, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, and the idea of creating a soundtrack for certain characters and themes from that story inspired another set of music. Another Time, Another Place was recorded after Pannonia had performed all of this music around New York City for over a year.”
Deutsch is grateful a composer and bandleader living in New York City can not only conceive of but actually put together a working band of virtuoso instrumentalists and improvisers playing trumpet, trombone, violin, bass and percussion. He met violinist Zach Brock, recognized by Downbeat as the top Rising Star on his instrument in 2013, when both were attending the Banff International Jazz Workshop in 2003. Deutsch had been playing with Israeli percussionist Ronen Itzik in a variety of settings and his versatility and creativity made him a natural choice for the group. “Ronen plays a huge part in the sound of Pannonia,” Deutsch said. “On our very first gig he played a standard drum set however we talked afterwards and agreed the music called for a more unique range of percussion so he created a Franken-kit of instruments from around the world, including dumbek, tambourine and cajon.”
While Deutsch and trombonist Brian Drye had many musical friends in common, they first played together in Pannonia. “I was looking for stylistic range on the trombone because the music requires the brass players to sound lyrical, raucous and everything in between. I’d heard Brian several times and he covers all this ground with ease.” Rounding out the band is bassist Gary Wang with whom Deutsch first played around the time he was putting Pannonia together. “Gary’s an all-around stellar musician who provides both gravity and energy to anchor the band and moves seamlessly from making a simple groove sound effortless to playing a bowed melody to improvising a beautiful solo.”
Five of the 10 tracks on Another Time, Another Place were inspired by the Robbins book Jitterbug Perfume. “Bingo’s Bees” is a feature for trumpet which is backed by a driving bass and percussion groove and swarming interjections from trombone and violin. “Erleichda,” which means “Lighten Up,” is a feature for the full ensemble whose underlying 6/8 rhythm is carried throughout by the violin and tambourine. The trumpet and trombone introduce a recurring melody that returns throughout the piece with detours into a shredding violin solo and a long, building collective improvisation. “K23” is the name of the long sought after perfume that is a theme running throughout the novel. It starts with a three-part counterpoint between the trumpet, violin and trombone until the bass and percussion lead the band in an accelerando that leads into the brisk and challenging heart of the tune. “Serious Beets,” which Deutsch thinks of as a Pannonian drinking song (i.e. imagine the band leading a toast around a fire) was inspired by the following excerpt from the Robbins book: “The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire if the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious. An old Ukranian proverb warns, “a tale that begins with a beet will end with the devil.” That is a risk we have to take.”
Two of the five remaining tunes belong to what Deutsch humorously describes as an “unusual modes of transportation suite.” The melody to “Dirigible” is based on an extended descending chromatic line passed between violin, trumpet and trombone and was inspired by Billy Strayhorn, the trumpeter’s favorite composer of ballads. “Funicular,” which features trumpet, violin and percussion, “Funicular,” which features trumpet, violin and percussion, paints a musical portrait of a trip up the side of a mountain to a vista overlooking all of Pannonia.
Of the three remaining tunes, “Kek Szin” (Hungarian for “Blues”), which provides an opportunity for most of the band to stretch out on extended solos, is based on the traditional 12-bar form and represents music Deutsch imagines Bartók would write were he composing for a small jazz group while “Ramekins,” which features a tricky 11/8 meter, is a tribute to Balkan folk music. The album concludes with “Memories Recalled From a Blurry Photograph” whose heart is an idiomatic solo harmonic violin outline similar to a partita by Bach. After an extended improvised violin introduction, the music slowly moves from a hazy and nebulous rubato feel into a sustained groove before fading away. A cyclical motion by the bass places the violins arpeggios in a context while a simple motivically driven melody is stated by the brass.
ABOUT JOSH DEUTSCH
Trumpeter/composer Josh Deutsch has established himself as a versatile and unique voice on New York City’s contemporary music scene. where he performs regularly as a leader and sideman and is a founding member of the Queens Jazz Overground, a collective dedicated to making the borough where he resides a destination for live improvised music. He is also known nationally and internationally through performances around the U.S. and in Europe, Canada and Asia.
In addition to his work with Pannonia, Deutsch also performs in a duo with guitarist Nico Soffiato that has toured extensively in Italy and the U.S. Guitar International hailed their recording Time Gels (2011) as “an elegant, fresh take on the timeless (duo) tradition” and praised the duo’s ability to “perform as a cohesive unit with improvisational vigor and mature musicianship.” Deutsch and Soffiato host 2x3, a nomadic concert series in which they are joined by two other duo projects each evening, highlighting each duo project alone before ending in spontaneous inter-duo collaborations.
The trumpeter plays regularly and has recorded with Argentinian singer/composer Sofia Rei Koutsovitis, Pedro Giraudo’s Expansions Big Band, the Australian soul/funk band The Hipstones and Nathan Parker Smith’s Large Ensemble and has performed with Michael Bates’ Outside Sources and the Duke Ellington Big Band directed by Victor Goines. He has presented his own projects at Dave Douglas’s Festival of New Trumpet Music as well as at the Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle and the Outpost Summer Music Festival in Albuquerque and has appeared at such leading venues in the U.S. as Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, The Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery and The Stone in New York City and Yoshi's in Oakland.
Deutsch writes music in multiple genres and his compositions and arrangements have been performed by artists ranging from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and cellist Ruth Marshall to the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, Ron Miles and Danilo Pérez. He has received commissions from the NPR radio program “From The Top,” the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Music Northwest and the Head-Royce School. In addition to having composed hundreds of pieces for various performing ensembles, Deutsch has also written several long-form pieces including “The Ligeti Project,” a 12-movement, cross-genre work for jazz septet that has been performed on both the East and West Coasts that is based loosely on Györgi Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata.
Deutsch is an active music educator with experience teaching students and ensembles at all levels and has appeared as a clinician and conducted master classes throughout the U.S. He was on the faculty of the Oregon Festival of American Music’s Summer Jazz Academy from 2007 through 2009 and of the University of Oregon Summer Jazz Camp from 2007 to the present. In 2008, he received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Oregon for his work with large and small jazz ensembles and private improvisation students. He currently offers private instruction in trumpet, piano, improvisation, composition and music theory in New York City where he is on the faculty of the Queens College CPSM and a mentor in the Young Composer and Improviser Workshop.
A native of Seattle, Deutsch started playing piano and composing music at the age of five before discovering an affinity for the trumpet as a member of award-winning jazz bands at Washington Middle School and Garfield High School. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he studied with Danilo Pérez, Bob Brookmeyer, John McNeil, Allan Chase and composer Lee Hyla. A three- time participant at the Banff International Jazz Workshop, Deutsch worked closely there with Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas and Kenny Werner among others. In 2006, he was awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship from the University of Oregon from which he received a Masters of Music in Jazz Performance and Composition in 2009. He won the Reno International Jazz Festival’s Outstanding College Trumpeter award in 2008 and 2009 and is also a winner of a Downbeat Student Music Award as a College Jazz Soloist in 2008.