Free to Play
Cloud Ludum ensemble was born out of the collision of two somewhat opposite energies: twentieth century classical music and free improvisation. Drifting together, these energies brought to life original compositions, arrangements of contemporary classical pieces, various improvisational explorations based on avant-garde scores and a lot of free improvised conversations. “Free to Play” is a collection of pieces that explores the entire spectrum of this stylistic combination.
The sound and the concept of the ensemble did not appear based on a one-time logical decision, but slowly evolved from the artistic visions of the group members. Growing and changing, it brought together extremely talented, courageous and open- minded musicians who now became like one Family. As much as it is about researching music this album is also about life of the Cloud Ludum family. “Free to Play” is about very deep soul connection between the ensemble members and the universe around. We really hope to pass this energy to listeners through our music.
This is the debut album for Cloud Ludum and we would like to dedicate this work to all our teachers in music and life. This is our most sincere “Thank you” expressed with all passion, wisdom and skill we have.
We hope that you will find some fresh ideas, emotions and humor in the Cloud Ludum world. May all of us experience a spark of connection through music!
In improvisational music, the challenge (or really demand) is to play the truth of who you are. Cloud Ludum does that with a sense of fearless exploration. The line between what is written and what is improvised is not obvious. That is a wonderful success. In my many years of teaching, I always made the point that improvising is composing in real time and that composing is improvising but not in time. I would say that this music reflects this point of view very dramatically. The written passages are superbly crafted and the performers extend the created moods with inventive thematic dialogues that establish a very focused and cohesive ensemble expression. The full ensemble plays only in selected moments and in contrast to those passages featuring various “smaller” alignments (duets, trios, etc.). This gives a sense of variety that keeps the listener’s attention engaged. It demands great skill from all the performers and these players rise to the occasion with a remarkable sense of artistic dedication to the “collective” good.
I am reluctant to emphasize any one member of the group because they are all of exceptional caliber. Instrumental skills are of the highest order as is the ability to listen and respond as the ensemble statements evolve. The sense of punctuation and employment of “breathing” space results in a very coherent conversation. The players make the music happen. That said, I must point out the extremely inventive arrangements and compositions of Olga Karaseva. They are the integral components that create the fundamental character of the ensemble. This music does not fit neatly into a clear category. There are jazzy moments but it’s mostly classical. My advice is to give up the need for having a category and simply enjoy the musical expression. Laurie Anderson used to have a very humorous verbal introduction to some of her pieces when she would categorize what the listener was about to hear as “difficult” music. She was trying to prepare them for a more daring experience. I would say that Cloud Ludum is not a “difficult” listening experience. But, it is music that deserves your full attention. Sit down, close your eyes, and enjoy it!
Former faculty member and Chair of the Jazz Composition Department, Berklee College of Music
Centrifugal Force Suite
This is a three movement atonal piece with free improvisations in between movements. As the title suggests this piece is about centrifugal force and it has a very vivid image behind it: a fly that sits on a playing LP disc. The disk is turning round and round and the fly is experiencing centrifugal force. In music this is achieved mainly through repetitive use of “turning” motives and motivic development. Each movement has different instrumentation: first one is guitar, vibes and drums trio, second one is bass and guitar duet, third one is vibes, guitar, bass and drums quartet. What unifies the movements, besides the centrifugal force idea, is the contrapuntal structure. Throughout the whole piece the role of all instruments is equally important. Nobody is leading and nobody is playing accompaniment or background.
This piece was written as an instant flow of ideas, images and sounds. There was no plan or structure, no thinking or strategy before or while the piece was being created. It grew out of pure inspiration and mood of the moment. The piece turned out to three through-composed sections - contrasting, but very related one to another. They depict various images of forest – from a nice walk via rocky path, to hiding behind the trees, to a pure nature appreciation. What brings these sections together is the mysterious feeling which conveys the composer’s perception of forest as a magical place full of surprises, discoveries, beauty and revelation.
Interaction is the piece that explores how human brain interacts with an object or an idea. I am happy to know one very nice, shining, positive and energetic lady. This lady is a researcher. Her research is to observe little kids in play to find out how they interact with different toys. Through this playful and fun process she and her colleagues are trying to gain more understanding on a very serious matter: how human brain works. This piece has the same idea: it is playful, light and fun and at the same time it explores through music how our brain is challenging a something new and unfamiliar. Our thoughts are going in circles, trying to approach the new object from different angles. It is a feeling of excitement, curiosity and anticipation of a new discovery.
1. Etude No.14 (02.27)
Leo Brouwer, arranged by Olga Karaseva
2. Centrifugal Force Suite (08.51)
3. Free Improvisation (2.21)
Juan Antonio Garcia Illanas / Anastasiya Dumma
4. Mikrokosmos, No. 133 “Syncopation” (1.06)
Bela Bartok, arranged by Olga Karaseva
5. Five Canons on Latin Texts for voice, clarinet and bass clarinet, Op. 16, No 2. (0.50)
6. Tierkreis (Zodiac): Pisces, Aries, Virgo, Leo, Capricorn, Pisces (11.49)
Karlheinz Stockhausen, arranged by Olga Karaseva
7. Four Pieces for Clarinet and Clavier, Op. 5, No. 3 (2.48)
Alban Berg, arranged by Olga Karaseva
8. Forest (7.12)
9. Interaction (04.09)
10. Moving Through (5.28)
Free improvisation by Cloud Ludum ensemble
11. Da Pacem Domine (3.55)
Arvo Part, arranged by Olga Karaseva
(Total time 51.01)
Juan Antonio Garcia Illanas – alto/soprano saxophones
Saki Kurata – vibraphone
Ben Konen – vibraphone
Anastasiya Dumma – guitar/bandleader
Alexandros Trampas – upright bass
Ishaan Chhabra – electronics
Deepak Gopinath – drums
Olga Karaseva – composer/arranger/bandleader
Nathaniel Coe III, Jacopo Penzo, Radmila Markidonova, Matthew Sim – recording
Jared Baca – mixing
Andres Algaba – mastering
Svetlana Albitova-Dumma – graphic works
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