Time Being by Tim Armacost
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2. Time Being
3. Sculpture #1 – Phase Shift
4. The Next 20
6. Sculpture #2 – Tempus Funkit
7. One and Four
8. Lonely Woman
9. 53rd St. Theme
10. Sculpture #3 – All the Things You Could Become in the Large Hadron Collider
'Sculpture #1, Phase Shift'
About: Time Being
Official worldwide release date - February 24, 2017
The beginnings of this debut Whirlwind release as leader, from acclaimed Los Angeles-born tenor saxophonist Tim Armacost, tell a fascinating tale. A marquee player on the New York and Japanese scenes for many years, with an extensive discography and countless live and recorded collaborations to his name in the US, Europe and Asia (including the New York Standards Quartet recordings on this label), the clear direction for Time Being arrived, remarkably, out of the blue.
As Armacost elaborates: “I pictured myself playing Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman in the studio with a trio – double bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts. Tain was, in terms of time signature, out on his own, and Bob and I were communicating with each other independently of what he was playing. But what Tain was doing was so incredibly attractive – so fiery and so beautiful – that we both really wanted to go over and be part of that; yet we already had this thing that we had to do together. That whole idea of people relating to each other in the time, but in a non-traditional way, and creating tension which would eventually be resolved by them going over to play together, was something I’d never tried before – and the concept was really exciting. To achieve this, technology might have been the answer. But in the end, we decided to record in Tain’s studio, in an intimate live environment with no separation” (occasional left/right panning helps with the visualisation). “So for my compositions and arrangements, I needed to imagine the ideas happening in real time; and fortunately, with Tain and Bob on board – some of the most swinging musicians on the planet – there was a great, combined willingness for exploration, to make it happen.” Joining the trio on selected tracks is pianist David Kikoski, providing elegant, rippling color to numbers such as ‘The Next 20’ and ‘One and Four’.
Through the dedication of these accomplished artists, such a challenging brief has evolved into a project which is incredibly organic, purposeful and sumptuously swinging. The three ‘Sculptures’ on the album are very much an expression of this structured experimentation. ‘Phase Shift’ is modelled on an ‘X’ formation, as Armacost and Watts converge along the left tempo pathways, with Hurst on the right until saxophonist and bassist change places (an E flat to C piano key-change marks the crossover point) – technical in construction, but an exhilarating listen. In ‘Tempus Funkit’, Armacost independently visits the rhythms of drummer and bassist; and the particle-like conflict of ‘All The Things You Could Become In The Large Hadron Collider’ (based on ‘All The Things You Are’) is also a playful reference to Charles Mingus’ ‘All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother’.
‘Lonely Woman’ – the seed of this album which germinated so many possibilities – features a call-and-response between tenor and bass (with each saying, “Check out the way I’m playing the melody”), initiating their own improvisations until the drums home in on the bassist (as Tim puts it, “He can’t resist”). So the differing musical tensions are intentionally part of the unplanned dialogue present throughout this recording. In title track ‘Time Being’, the trio divides when tenor moves to a different tempo, with Hurst following, and Watts reaching them later – as Armacost enthuses: “When we all come back together, the pay-off is really delicious!” Pacey ’53rd Street’ is inspired by the blues melody of Thelonious Monk’s ’52nd Street’; there’s a fine, percussively buoyant interpretation of Monk’s ‘Teo’; and feisty, original composition ‘Alawain’ says so much about this trio’s collective, impassioned spirit.
Tim Armacost describes the session as being playful, wild and serious: “It has been a real source of joy, for me, to see such open musicians willing to make an attempt at something we’ve never done before; and especially when things got kinda interesting, and we started smiling – that was a really special, even relaxed experience. I hope that, although this has a demanding concept at its roots, listeners can pick up on its lyrical, singing qualities. The audience is very much part of the conversation – we’re doing this thing together, and we invite you in… to have fun!”