Leppin, Janel - Ensemble Volcanic Ash CD

SKU Rune 499
Janel Leppin – Cello, Keyboards
Luke Stewart – Bass
Kim Sator – Harp
Anthony Pirog – Guitar
Larry Ferguson – Drums
Sarah Hughes – Alto Saxophone
Brian Settles – Tenor Saxophone

"Janel Leppin is a picture of versatility. Not only has she been a pillar of Washington, D.C.’s creative music community for the last 20 years, but the cellist, composer, arranger, and singer has made significant marks in other scenes as well. Leppin leans into a jazz-centric vision on the majestic and occasionally abrasive Ensemble Volcanic Ash, which affirms her place as a boundless musician who constantly leaves the listener intrigued. It’s a puzzle in which jazz, chamber music, contemporary classical, and punk seamlessly coalesce with bracing results. Ensemble Volcanic Ash runs the gamut of the meditative (“Her Hand Is His Score”), the spiritual-jazzy (“Clarity”), and the punkish freakout (“She Had Synesthesia”) with near-effortless command on its dazzling debut." – Brad Cohan / Jazztimes Editor's Pick

A composer and cellist who’s honed a singular synthesis of composition, orchestration and improvisation, Janel Leppin is best known as half of the experimental duo Janel and Anthony, which she co-leads with her husband, guitarist Anthony Pirog. The chamber-jazz Ensemble Volcanic Ash materialized after years of incubation on Washington D.C.’s verdant new music, jazz and improvised music scenes. With this release, she steps forward as a bandleader in her own right, delivering a gorgeous debut brimming with singular musicians. The seven-piece group melds an illustrious array of D.C. talent into a glimmering expressive organism that surges, expands, ebbs and dances in multiple directions at once.
The powerhouse cast gets plenty of opportunities to shine, but it’s Leppin’s compositions that define the group in radiant, Technicolor splendor. Elegant and raw, persuasively logical and thrumming with emotion, her lapidary themes take shape with exquisite detail. Like with jazz’s most consequent composers, Leppin’s writing flows from the idiosyncratic voices in her ensemble, players who imbue every passage with their irrepressible personalities. As an instrumental voice she’s the first among equals, laying down expansive emotional parameters with each striking solo and cello-forward passage.
On an instrument with only a handful of defining improvisers Leppin makes a forceful case for herself as one of jazz’s most original cellists. Which isn’t to say she dominates the proceedings. She creates alluring lines for the entire ensemble, who all shape the music profoundly and often erase the distinction between soloist and accompanist.
"This work is a braiding together of over 32 years of classical and jazz study on the cello with more than 20 years performing in Washington D.C.,” Leppin says. “It is a distinct place to learn and try new things. I've worked with some of these musicians for well over a decade and I think it shows in the music." The group’s expanded sonic palette and vast textural resources unleashed Leppin as both a composer and a player. “It freed me up,” she said. “Having Luke Stewart in the band gave me the chance to step out more comping-wise. I could be in the midrange a bit more and solo more often. With that kind of support I found I could play more assertively like my favorite cellists, Abdul Wadud and Pablo Casals. It was a big evolution to let go of playing the role of bassist in the group.”
  • LabelCuneiform
  • UPC045775049922
Your Price $15.00

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