Michael Mull Octet

Michael Mull Octet

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hidden Remedies 12/18/13

I had a great rehearsal this morning with Frank Silva, Dave Tranchina and Mike Lockwood for a show at the Blue Whale on Wednesday, December 18th. We are stretching out on a lot of Frank's original compositions, one from Mike Lockwood, and a couple of mine as well. The concert is a triple party: not only a show, but a CD release of Hidden Remedies, recorded in April this year and now a finished product for you to hear! It's also Frank's birthday...so come celebrate with us, we're hanging late! Get those details on facebook here.

Mike, Dave, Frank and me. It took all four of us to screw in that lightbulb.
The quartet show is looking like my last show of 2013, but January will be full of Michael Mull Octet performances as we gear up for our recording session in February. We will be playing in Woodland Hills, a house concert in Highland Park, and sharing what promises to be an amazing night at ArtShareLA with the Baba-Rowan Large Ensemble on January 24th! Dates for the first two shows are TBD, so stay in touch here and follow the Octet on facebook. We will be kicking off the new year with a crowd-funding campaign to help us make the recording, so think about maybe buying yourself a late Christmas present...? Details and more exciting news coming soon!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Works

Wanted to share some news blurbs:

- Michael Mull Octet show at the Blue Whale 10/25 went great, with our friends KROM making the first set a memorable one; it was there last show after a few weeks on the road, so they were tight! I'm compiling some video of the Octet from the show and will slap it up here as soon as I can.

- The following weekend, I found myself playing on my Central Coast home turf with Orkestar MEZE, and then up a bit farther in San Jose. Great crowds for both events, much line-dancing and get-downing, trash-talking (in the van), and gracious hosting in both locales. We'll be back, and next time with the new record in tow (due out in early 2014)!

- Speaking of new records, there is going to be a CD release for a quartet led by tenor saxo-blaster Frank Silva (of Octet fame....?) on December 18th at the Blue Whale. The group is currently in name-limbo.

- Speaking of new records (is there a tape-delay in here?), I'm hitting it hard and getting ready to record the Michael Mull Octet early next year. I will be setting up a fan-funding campaign about a month beforehand (January-ish), so if you like us and you know it, clap your hands (over your wallet)! But seriously folks, it's going to be a doozy...stay on top of things here, and like us on Facebook and follow on Twitter if you're into that sort of thing. We love ya!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October Heat

Been off the ol' Blogger for a bit, sorry to be elusive. A quick update of happened and happening:

I got to help out my good friend and Michael Mull Octet bandmate Tim Fischer on a DMA lecture recital as he completes his Doctorate at USC. Luckily, for me that translated to playing great tunes with an even greater band that included Octet bassist Emilio Terranova and the illustrious Joe LaBarbera on drums! Tim's lecture focused on the music of Miles Davis's first great quintet, styles in which Joe is an expert, not to mention being "two degrees of separation" from Miles himself --- it's hard to describe, but playing with a tight group like that is so "easy"!

Beginning at the end of August, I am fortunate to be teaching Jazz Arranging and coach "combo class" at Cal State University Northridge this semester, and it has been a rewarding experience so far. This is my first time teaching in a full classroom setting, so I'm really trying to do it right and give the students a good balance of structure and freedom.

Continuing the higher education trend, the Michael Mull Octet had the pleasure of doing a masterclass at CalArts, where I did my graduate work. This was an excellent experience all around, playing some new and older music and fielding thoughtful questions from both students and faculty. It was especially interesting for me to answer some of their questions, thinking and trying to describe aspects of my music and writing process for the Octet that I had never really sat down and considered, recognizing some of the reasons for my musical choices. Thank you to David Roitstein and Larry Koonse for hookin' it up, and to the students for being fantastic - hope to see you at a show soon!

SPEAKING OF OCTET SHOWS WHATSTHATYOUSAY? Yes, the Michael Mull Octet is going to de-blubber the Blue Whale once again on Friday, October 25th, this time with the help of NYC-based trio KROM. They play some remarkable and fresh music, so this is a date to make if at all possible! Mark them calendars and cave walls, more details to come. In the near October future:

Fri 10/18 - River Song and Walsh Set Trio @ ArtistShare LA (I'm not in this but GO SEE IT and thank me later) 8pm https://www.facebook.com/events/367428453387824/

Sat 10/19 - Orkestar MEZE @ 4th Annual CalArts Wild Beast Concert Series: In other words, a FREE dance party...https://www.facebook.com/events/515180121898672/ 6:00pm

Thurs 10/24 - Mahadev @ The Crest Bar in La Crescenta: also featuring Fumosonic and Bubbeleh, 8pm (Mahadev around 10pm)

Fri 10/25 - Michael Mull Octet and KROM @ Blue Whale: 9pm, 21+ and only $10 for both sets, no minimum. Check back here soon or on facebook for more details.

Friday, August 9, 2013

MEZE @ El Cid Tonight 8/9/13

Last minute post, folks! Orkestar MEZE is going into the studio next week to record some incredibly grooving new music for our sophomore release! Come celebrate with us and hear some of the new tunes, performed live in public for the very first time. Two other fantastic bands are warming up the room before us, Klezmer junkies Bubbeleh and techy-world-jazz wizards Orange Tulip Conspiracy. The show starts at 9pm, but if you can't make it until "after hours", don't despair!!! Orkestar MEZE takes the stage at 11pm, and we play until last call. Tell them you are here to see MEZE!

Orkestar MEZE/Orange Tulip Conspiracy/Bubbeleh
El Cid
4212 W Sunset Blvd
Doors at 9pm, MEZE at 11pm
$10, 21+ only
Facebook it!

Bring your belly-dancing skills...there are prizes to be won at the classic Orkestar MEZE belly-dancing contest during our set!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Meshuggah pt. 2 - Transfixion

Long, long ago (in January 2012) I did a post where I shared and analyzed a transcription of Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal's solo on a track called "Beneath". You can check that post out here. If this is the first you are hearing of Meshuggah, or of my interest in them, I recommend you read the prior post before diving in here. I am presenting another solo today, with a third on the way (this time I mean it, I swear!).
Today we will look at Thordendal's solo on "Transfixion", a song from the same album as "Beneath", entitled Destroy Erase Improve (1995!). You can listen to the whole track here. The guitar solo begins at 1:40 on the full track. Spend some time just listening to the groove and the solo - follow along with the transcription to get used to how the rhythm guitar part (bottom staff) emphasizes different beats in the 2-bar repeating phrase. This riff is much less complex than a "typical" Meshuggah riff, but it makes for easier following-along on a very complex solo. Let's take a look (I recommend saving the pic to your desktop so you can zoom in with a picture viewing program):
Unlike the previous post, this is a very difficult solo to discuss harmonically, probably because it seems not to be about that at all. To me, this solo is all about shape - there is a lot of twisting and turning, and what you might call spiraling. From my limited knowledge of guitar techniques, I am fairly certain that the middle to the end of the solo (excluding, probably, the last few beats) is performed by tapping, which seems very visual and lends itself toward shapes. Thordendal goes mad-scientist on this one...

Taking a look at the first couple of interjections in relationship to the rhythm guitar riff, Thordendal shifts major to phrygian minor to an Eb/C# sound, and then completely departs. The beginning of m.4 hints at a whole-tone sound and jumps up to what I would call a "funky" phrase that lands on a B on the last eighth-note of the measure. This "lick" could be described in the diminished mode (respelled as C#-E#-G-A#-B, it fits the profile of C#13 with a flatted fifth), and introduces the diminished sound to the solo, to be expanded later. Thordendal hangs onto the "funky lick", an eighth-note earlier and isolated (m.5), and then begins, twists, and replays it once more ("fakeout", m.6).

M.7 is where the plane takes off - dropping almost three octaves from his last note, Thordendal digs into the diminished sound more fully, but with a slightly different selection of tones from the same diminished scale (looks like a tritone away from the previous set, G-B-C#-E-F). Beginning in m.8 we see a definitive 6-note shape appear (slurs are used for discussion and don't indicate any emphasis in the performance). Compare the second and third phrases, marked a and a' respectively - they are identical except that in a' Thordendal switches the first two notes (E and Bb) and places the E an octave higher, setting up the fully formed, prevailing shape for the next 3 measures (note also that here the rhythm guitar "opens up" from palm-muted to ringing notes, highlighted brilliantly by this high-register pattern). This shape continues to develop and alter slightly, as labeled, and upon the introduction of Eb's in the phrase marked c'', the melody departs from the diminished sound to what we can affectionately call "no man's land".

The rest of the solo spirals upward until another shape is revealed in m.14, this time a group of nine that is played three times, transposed up a half step each time. The third time, the final interval is changed to a major 3rd instead of a major 2nd, setting up another wild line that both concludes the rising chromaticism (G to Ab in m.15) and reaches the highest pitch in the solo (4 ledger-line G). It is worth noting that from the G to Ab resolution, Thordendal's line leaps outward (wider intervals), and seems to "close", with shrinking intervals all the way up to the last note.

I'll finish up with a general impression. The lack of a harmonic center in this solo is a highlight for Thordendal's ability to give identity through shape- and rhythm-based phrasing; the first two short phrases of the solo end with an upward leap of a 5th, and every subsequent phrase-ending is a downward-leaping tritone, every time landing on a strong downbeat (with the exception of m.4 ending on the "& of 4). The effect is a solo that is outwardly chaotic with a deeper, funky sensibility underneath. I'd love to hear other ideas, thoughts, and comments from readers. Thank you for reading and keep your eyes here - next up, a Meshuggah "classic" off of the Chaosphere album!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

MEZE Marquee

Only 2 days away! Email names to peasantfunk@gmail.com for the FREE guest list! Orkestar MEZE rocks the stage at 9pm...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

FREE SHOW - Orkestar MEZE at House of Blues

Join Orkestar MEZE for an absolutely FREE show this Saturday 7/13 on the famed House of Blues main stage! Here's the trick - you still have to get tickets to get in. Just email peasantfunk@gmail.com with your address and the number of tickets you want. That's it. FREE! If we can't mail them to you in time, we'll find another way to get them to you at the show! Look what happened last time we explodified the HOB mainstage:

We have another amazing guest this time around - K'noup from VIZA, a longtime friend of Orkestar MEZE and a helluva singer. We will be performing a song of his, a slamming Greek MEZE staple tune, and some edgy Bulgarian pop songs with a MEZE "tvist". Don't miss this one! Details below:

Orkestar MEZE feat. K'noup @ House of Blues Sunset
Saturday July 13th, 2013
9:00pm, one set only
FREE (email peasantfunk@gmail.com for tickets)
ages 18+
8430 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
RSVP on Facebook

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mahadev in Concert 6/22

I've had a great summer so far - got to experience Bjork at the Hollywood Bowl a couple weeks ago! Had a rip-snorting good time playing with my Trio last Saturday for the Blue Whale outdoor concert series, and very cool to play with amazing drummer Gene Coye for the first time. Sticking around after that to hear the Bennie Maupin trio (with Darek Oles and Tootie Heath) was icing on the trio cake...what a sound! Here's a nice shot of my trio having fun, with my bass clarinet nabbing background props.

Tomorrow night, Saturday 6/22, I'm performing at another outdoor concert series, this time in Thousand Oaks and with world music mash-up masters Mahadev. Check this facebook link for addresses, ticket info, and more. Show starts at 7pm at the beautiful Hillcrest Center for the Arts, right up the hill from The Oaks mall area.

Finally, I've jumped on the Twitter-wagon - follow me if you please @mmullmusic. I'll be updating there about shows and events, as well as keeping tabs on the progress of recording a couple different albums throughout the rest of the year, including one for my Octet (in the planning stages), and one for Orkestar MEZE. We have a fundraising campaign, please take a look and watch our video!

That's it for now, stay friendly here, on Facebook, and on Twitter for some great music coming down the tubes!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Michael Mull Trio + Gene Coye, Tempest Twins

Reached my 27th year on June 7th last week, and am ready to keep the ball rolling along with perpetually increasing musication! Orkestar MEZE played some super funky sets down in San Diego, the Michael Mull Octet is sounding incredible on some new music, and the Tempest Twins are officially launched on bandcamp and youtube! Get launched while you read the rest of the post - play the track below:

I'm excited to announce that I'll be playing a Michael Mull Trio gig at the Blue Whale's new outdoor series this Saturday, June 15th at 6:30pm! Shows have been taking place outside in the Weller Court area every Saturday and are ALL AGES and FREE. The Trio will feature a special guest this time around, the illustrious Gene Coye on drums! I saw Gene play shortly after I moved to LA and have been hoping to play with him since...come and see it go down if you are in the LA area. Did I mention it's FREE?! Bennie Maupin Trio is playing upstairs at the Whale after we play, so stick around!

And a shout-out: if you are in the Valley on Saturday the 15th, you might like to go to Barclay's in Northridge and catch Ami & The Marissa Calille Quartet at 7pm!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Summer Begins

Long time since the last post...what a busy Spring it has been! Had a great Octet show at the Blue Whale, played a musical, did some fun sets with Mahadev, and recorded with tenor saxophonist Frank Silva for a new record of his original music. It's going to be a rip-snorting record, and I even got a tune on there, so keep your eyes here for more info as it gets released.

May is flying by, and I have a few shows with Orkestar MEZE coming up. First, this Sunday 5/19 we are playing at the Annual Bulgarian Festival in Culver City. It is a four-hour event with tons of other music, delicious Bulgarian food, arts, dance, and all that wonderful festival stuff! Best of all, pre-sale tickets can be purchased online for only $11. Eleven bucks. Yeah! Still only $20 at the door, but get them early and pick them up at the venue. Event runs from 12:30 to 4:30pm at the Veterans Memorial Complex, 4117 Overland Ave, Culver City 90230.

A week later, on Saturday 5/25, we are driving the plow and mules down to sunny San Diego (albeit with a somewhat downsized MEZE) to play a small daytime festival, and then rock the Turquoise Bar at night! We'd love to meet some new SD Peasants, so please tell your friends and enemies to come check us out.

Lots of other good stuff in the planning stages right now...stay in touch! Here's Orkestar MEZE with the incredible Ellis Hall in March!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Octet @ The Blue Whale this Thursday 3/28/13

Friends, it is my pleasure to "officially" announce the Michael Mull Octet's next show, this Thursday, March 28th, at the Blue Whale in downtown LA. We played our first show there in June 2012, and we have developed as a group over the past months. The Octet is taking over the whole night this time around, so come and enjoy two sets of music, much of it brand new, on Thursday! The band has been putting in a lot of work and is sounding incredible...

Michael Mull Octet is:
Michael Mull, Frank Silva - woodwinds
Harrison Kirk, Will Wulfeck - trombones
Adam Ratner, Tim Fischer - guitars
Emilio Terranova - bass
Mike Lockwood - drums

Michael Mull Octet @ The Blue Whale
Thursday, March 28th
9pm, two sets
$10, no minimum (food and full bar available)
Ages 21+ only, sorry!

Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St Los Angeles, CA 90012

Free street parking, or structure parking off of 2nd St.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Rolls On

What an extreme second week of March last week...full of highs and lows, but I'm sure only to remember the highs in years to come! I was battling a nasty flu all week, but was able to participate in a couple great nights of music.

Orkestar MEZE played a ferociously energetic set of peasant funk on the House of Blues main stage on Thursday night! We were blessed to give out so many free tickets as a gift to our fans, old and new, for their incredible support over the past year. Part of the treat was sweetened with our guest, the ambassador of soul, Ellis Hall, sitting in on our version of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish". I wager that the House of Blues hasn't been that funky in a while!

One day's rest afforded me a little increase in health, so I was ready to join my wife Ami on Saturday for a night of female singer-songwriters at the Tribal Cafe in Echo Park. She performed a diverse set of originals and arrangements to open the night.

Getting excited to keep the ball rolling and bring my Octet to the Blue Whale for a full night on March 28th! A full post with more details to come.

Monday, March 11, 2013

FREE Show with Orkestar MEZE 3/14/13!

Our Orkestar MEZE show at MALABOMBA! two weeks ago was a rip-snorting good time, full of sweaty peasant dancing and foot-stomping grooves. As you might remember, we also played a few weeks prior to that at the House of Blues Foundation Room.....and sold out the show! We owe it all to the fans for your amazing support, so we want to say "thank you" with a FREE show this Thursday night, 3/14 - this time, on the historic main stage of the House of Blues on Sunset! That's right: not only a chance to rock out with MEZE for free, but you'll be doing it at one of the premier clubs on the West Coast with fantastic sound and good vibes. What's more, we'll be hanging out in the Foundation Room after our set to keep the party going, so come on upstairs and have a drink with the band! We're all peasants here!

The great Knoup from Viza joined us at the Foundation Room to rock some Greek goodness:

Word on the farm is that we will be hosting another legend with some major tricks up our shirtsleeves on Thursday night, so don't miss it! All you have to do is send an email to peasantfunk@gmail.com with your name, and the number of tickets you want for you and your buddies. As many as you want. Free. Just show up, pick up those bad boys at will call, and you are ready to get down! Here's the skinny:

Orkestar MEZE @ House of Blues Sunset - FREE SHOW
Thursday, March 14th
7pm, ages 18+
FREE - email peasantfunk@gmail.com to be added to the will call list
House of Blues Sunset
8430 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
RSVP on Facebook

Monday, February 25, 2013

MEZE at MALABOMBA! 2/27/13

Back in 2010, Orkestar MEZE played one of its first official shows at the massive sexy dance party that is MALABOMBA! We are prepared to knock your peasant socks off this Wednesday night...I can't put it any better myself - see what the MALABOMBA! site has to say:

Release the goats and fill your flask with plum brandy, because on Wednesday, February 27th, you’re ditching the farm and heading down to MALABOMBA! L.A.’s favorite international dance party returns to La Cita to get down and dirty with the funky Bulgarian sounds of Orkestar MÉZÉ! Long-time Malabombaderos will remember their magical JBs-meet-Ivo Papasov stylings from the last time they blew the roof off a couple years back. Whether you’re a MALABOMBA! virgin or you love us long time, you won’t want to miss this one! Crooked dances, blazing horns, sultry vocals, and more funky Balkan madness than you can shake a shepherd’s crook at!

 Oh yeah! Entry is FREE before 10pm, and only 5 bucks after that...fits the peasant budget quite nicely. RSVP on Facebook if you please, and check the details below. See you there!

Wednesday, Februray 27th, 9:30 PM until last call
La Cita Bar, 336 S. Hill St, LA 90013 
FREE admission before 10:00 Only $5 cash after 

Here's a taste of what went down last time MEZE took over the place!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Two Trios @ Barclay's in Northridge 2/23/13

It was really fun to reunite with Ben and Cameron and do a trio set at the house concert a couple weeks ago - getting back into it with those guys is always easy, having logged some serious playing time together over the years. Here's a video of my arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle" from the show:

This Friday, February 23rd, we are doing a set at Barclay's Coffee and Tea in Northridge, a great coffee spot with an excellent ongoing music series. I was there last Friday to catch Josh Nelson....woooooooooo doggie! On the 23rd we are splitting the bill with a new group led by Bryan McAllister, making a foray into the world of the organ trio. The group is brand new, but you can hear some of Bryan's previous material on this video:

There is no cover for the show, but we gratefully accept tips for the bands! Come and enjoy a delicious drink (tons of coffees, teas, juices) and support this great series!

Barclays Coffee and Tea Co.
8976 Tampa Ave, Northridge CA
No Cover
7pm - Bryan McAllister Trio
8pm - Michael Mull Trio
RSVP on Facebook

Thursday, February 7, 2013

House Concert 2/8/13

Hi folks, it's a bit late notice but if you are free tomorrow night (Friday, Feb. 8th), there is another house concert/party happening in Highland Park, similar to one we had in October last year. This is how fun it was:

This time, we open the show at 8pm with the Michael Mull Trio, followed by the Anthropic Ensemble, and BLockRad. It's going to be a big hang, so bring some friends, bring some drinks, and get ready for some great music!

1604 N Avenue 56
Los Angeles 90042
8pm-late (bands at 8, 9, 10ish)
Bring your own refreshments
Tips greatly appreciated!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Orkestar MEZE @ The Foundation Room 2/2/13

It's peasant party-time! Orkestar MEZE's own beloved leader Milen is celebrating his birthday in the best possible way - in a slick Sunset Blvd. club, with tons of friends, and a full injection of PEASANT FUNK! Take part in the merriment on Saturday, February 2nd at 9pm as we play the Foundation Room in the historic House of Blues Sunset. It should be a packed house with plenty of booty-shaking and boozing to go around...

Show the love of commitment! Buy your tickets pre-sale and save 5 bucks off the door price, plus the first 40 pre-sale peasants get a sticker (check it out below, the best sticker ever made). Let's make this a big party!

You can visit the event page on Facebook to chime in and get more info, or see below:

ORKESTAR MEZE + Milen's Birthday Explosion
Saturday, February 2nd
9:00PM (two long sets --- we're playing all night!)
$10 pre-sale, $15 at the door
21 and over only

House of Blues
The Foundation Room Lounge
8430 West Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood 90069-1910

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Best of the Blue Whale: 2012

It is my honor to announce the release of a new album, Best of the Blue Whale: 2012. Compiled by videographer and sound engineer Alex Chaloff as a surprise gift to the Blue Whale club's owner Joon Lee, this digital-only release features twelve choice cuts from performances at the Blue Whale that Alex recorded audio and video for. The album includes my composition "The People Who Raised Us" from the Michael Mull Octet's debut performance, and we couldn't ask to be in better company - other tracks include the likes of Anthony Wilson, Ben Wendel, Larry Koonse, Josh Nelson, Larry Goldings, John Daversa and more.

The reason this is a "gift" to Joon Lee is that 100% of the proceeds of the album sales will go toward upgrading the sound and lighting systems at the Blue Whale, meaning a greater listening experience for the music and a greater viewing experience of the ever-changing art installations! All the artist represented on this album donated their tracks so that we all can see, hear, and feel the benefits at the bastion of great music that the Blue Whale has become. Stream and download the album exclusively on bandcamp.com.