All About Jazz writer Jakob Baekgaard
recently called Matthew Golombisky
a modern “renaissance man”. He is a forward moving, fast acting, and busy artist. Between his acoustic/electric bass performing, commissioned compositions (including his work on Australian singer/songwriter Via Tania’s latest album, featuring his Tomorrow Music Orchestra, his film scoring contributions to Argentine director Alejo Domínguez’s feature film, La Soñada
, or creating improvisation teaching supplements for the Institute for Creative Music), directing, filming and editing music videos and/or release trailers (ie. Nate LePine
, Tomorrow Music Orchestra, Quintopus, Matija Dedić
), creating layout design work and/or photography for websites and albums (earsandeyesrecords.com, Matija Dedić
, Hood Smoke, Pedway, Quintopus), conducting, directing and composing for at-risk youth orchestra, Orquesta Creer Es Crear in Buenos Aires where they performed in the tango-famed Teatro Roma, founding/directing Chicago-based indie label, ears&eyes Records (2017 marks ten years), curating weekend- long music/art/film festivals, in the past DJ-ing Chicago’s WNUR 89.3FM, and now releasing his newest double EP cassette, Cuentos Vol. 1 & 2
, just maybe he can back All About Jazz’s forceful claim.
Matthew Golombisky's Cuentos is an ongoing project of composing, recording and releasing music from the various cities he's lived in and become inspired by and with close music cohorts. With Cuentos, or short stories" in Spanish, Golombisky composes simple aural plots" with a couple or few characters" for each story. The Cuentos are meant to humbly encourage that the music comes forth stays within the realm of a short story format and doesn't develop into a full novel, so to speak; they aren't meant to convey visual or physical plots, characters or scenes. Preferring not to interfere with the listener’s own experience of the music, Golombisky did not name the pieces; they are simply numbered in the order composed (six Cuentos per group, with one bonus track).
The structures are meant to be simple and showcase the improvisational precision of each performer on conveying a modest concept with fluidity, clarity, and focus. What the listener is left with is an introspection into a single objective that comfortably emerges over the course of the piece, leaving them with a comprehensible aural encounter. Even the lengths of the pieces represent a briefness, here and gone before a single musician is able to explore every possibility of the story; Golombisky’s intention. Most pieces range in the almost-three minutes to five minutes in length—single ideas presented, explored, and left to the listener for reflection.
So far, he's recorded two volumes; West Coast (Oakland CA)" with Aram Shelton
(alto sax, bass clarinet), Mark Clifford
(vibes), Crystal Pascucci
(cello) and Matthew Golombisky
(acoustic bass guitar); and Third Coast (Chicago IL)" with James Davis
(trumpet), Bill MacKay
(guitar), Jeff Greene
(contrabass) and Golombisky (electric bass).About the music:
The mood of each piece can vary but usually remain with one singular musical gesture, goal or feel. For example, in Cuento #4, he utilizes a slow and simple 15/8 ostinato (3+3+3+2+2+2) that remains throughout with a clear tonality only allowing the musicians to explore their instrument’s range and varying tonality toward the finale as to finally give life to the story. In Cuento #8, Golombisky utilizes a technique he often refers to as “aural pointillism” where the musicians are instructed to only play “specks” of notes with the intention of “painting” the full work from the combination of all four musicians. In this example, Golombisky has the musicians collectively and gradually go through a lush harmonic journey before Davis performs a soaringly haunting trumpet solo over the specks, at that point, sparkling below.
Again in Cuento #7 (the first of the Chicago Volume), the electric bass and guitar repeat a steady ostinato, never straying, while the trumpet seems to always lag behind the contrabass melody/solo as if a little brother was trying to emulate his elder brother, never quite able to accomplish the same. Cuento #11 is a through-composed piece with melodic leaders guitar and trumpet playing the same motif over and over again but not allowing the full realization of where they are tonally. It’s not until the bass comes in some four minutes into the piece and then in the final seconds are we finally at ease with a tranquil mood.
Cuento #10 is an exploration of “openness”, both metaphorically and literally. The open strings of a standard-tuned guitar, bass and contrabass, when heard in total, is an E minor 11, without the 9 (notes: E A D G B E). In this Cuento, the string musicians softly beat and bang their instruments, with the occasionally plucking and harmonic sparking, allowing a blanket of warmth swell up and down as the trumpet solos, eventually all landing on composed melodic figures for self-choosing and selecting, creating a collective musical cohesiveness that seems to bring to a close the openness into a singular identity.
Cuento #12 is probably best a taking a peek at the darker side of the composer, as it very slowly goes through a series of minor chords, never really “going” anywhere as if to say, “where is there to go?”. Contrabassist Jeff Greene performs a delicate and perfectly conceived solo over the padding of aural gloom while Golombisky never reaches mezzo piano, preferring to swell in and out using long tones, possibly furthering the feeling of not being able to reach anything of significance. About Cuentos Vol. 1 & 2:
This release marks the double EP containing the first two volumes in limited edition cassette format with handmade casing (including digital download codes). For his Chicago performance, at Constellation on August 31st, he introduced yet another Volume (the quintet edition) and featured Quin Kirchner
(drums), Naomi Moon Siegel
(trombone), Dustin Laurenzi (tenor sax) and trumpeter, longtime friend, and godfather to his daughter Izzi, James Davis
. He also presented a hometown, Durham NC show at The Carrack on September 15th with local improvisers Dan Ruccia (viola), Carrie Schull (oboe) and James Gillmore (guitar).
Released on Chicago-based independent label, ears&eyes Records, on September 1st, 2017.