Mike Pride / From Bacteria To Boys – Birthing Days

Mike Pride / From Bacteria To Boys – Birthing Days

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[AUM077] - CD in 4-panel digipak

Jon Irabagon: alto sax, tenor sax (1, 9)
Alexis Marcelo: piano, synthesizer (1, 2)
Peter Bitenc: bass
Mike Pride: drums, compositions
- with -
Jason Stein: bass clarinet (2, 6)
Jonathan Moritz: tenor sax (6, 7)

[ See also: Mike Pride / Drummer's Corpse, as these two albums were created during the same season, and released simultaneously ]

"This lyrical, swinging session palpably demonstrates Pride's joyful embrace of fatherhood. Birthing Days firmly demonstrates the leader's creative virtuosity." –Troy Collins, All About Jazz

"Pride seems ever more emboldened to make music that’s multi-directional, shifting from inside to outside and across tempos, the music is elusive, moving off a spot just as soon as you think you’ve got it pinned down. He amps up the fun, thirst for adventure and gumption for this personal statement. It’s an evolutionary step for From Bacteria To Boys. He took a good thing and made it better still." –S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!

The New York Times review, by Nate Chinen:

"Drummer Mike Pride has often hunkered down with music of physical extremes, working fast and hard and putting a lot of honest intention behind the effort itself. But as a committed avant-gardist – as rooted in the flintier subcultures of jazz as he is in noise and doom metal – he also understands the purpose of a conceptual frame. It’s meaningful that the two new albums he has released side by side, “Birthing Days” and “Drummer’s Corpse,” draw inspiration from the human body at either end of the life cycle. Mr. Pride, 33, has set out to convey some basic insights about the heady miracle of life and the cold banality of death, from his own recent vantage.

“Drummer’s Corpse” consists of two long pieces, each a troubled meditation. The title track – three minutes of anticipatory rustle on gongs and cymbals, followed by half an hour of percussive hailstorm – feels like Mr. Pride’s precise definition of catharsis. At times he literally wails, with wordless fervor, against the heavy churn of six of his fellow drummers, including Bobby Previte, Tyshawn Sorey and Ches Smith.

"The other track is “Some Will Die Animals,” dedicated to the memory of the Japanese noise drummer Gen Makino. At once calmer and more chilling, it involves Mr. Pride on minimal percussion, Eivind Opsvik on acoustic bass and Chris Welcome on guitar. Its most striking feature is a contrapuntal poem, recited by Mr. Pride and three other vocalists, intended to evoke a kind of deadpan Dadaist horror.

"There’s less alienation on “Birthing Days” and a more approachable brand of craft. The album features From Bacteria to Boys, Mr. Pride’s postbop band, with Jon Irabagon on saxophones, Alexis Marcelo on piano and keyboards and Peter Bitenc on bass. Jonathan Moritz, another saxophonist, and Jason Stein, a bass clarinetist, take guest turns on two tracks apiece. For all his confrontational bluster, Mr. Pride is a heart-on-sleeve type, as shown here by “Lullaby for Charlie,” a lyrical waltz dedicated to his infant son, and “Motiaon,” a blurry folk elegy for the drummer Paul Motian.

"Some of the terser material — like “Marcel’s Hat,” an angular new-music miniature, and “Occupied Man,” which races out of a free-form haze — indicates that Mr. Pride has been plotting this album for a while. And as with the thematic conceit, it gives the impression of a story just beginning to unfold."

JazzTimes review by Shaun Brady:

"The disparate influences of drummer-composer Mike Pride bleed into one another in distinct and surprising ways on his two very different new releases. A powerhouse presence in the jazz, hardcore and metal realms, Pride spotlights the myriad ways those seemingly opposed genres illuminate and interact with one another in a multifaceted celebration of his newfound fatherhood on Birthing Days, and in the punishing, monolithic percussion assault of Drummer’s Corpse.

"Birthing Days features Pride’s quartet, From Bacteria to Boys, featuring pianist Alexis Marcelo, bassist Peter Bitenc and the equally chameleonic saxophonist Jon Irabagon. The 11-minute title track alone shows off the band’s versatility, tracing an impressionistic portrait of the first day of life for Pride’s newborn son. It starts off sunny and strange, Marcelo’s synth-playing helping situate it somewhere between soft rock and Zappa-esque eccentricity; by the end of the piece, the group is meditating in Coltrane-like surges, explicitly hinting at “Naima.” This is followed by the spare chamber abstractions of “Marcel’s Hat” and the farcically swinging “Brestwerp.” Irabagon summons a breathy, melancholy tone for the tender ballad “Lullaby for Charlie,” while the airy, painterly “Motiaon” pays illustrative homage to the late Paul Motian. Throughout, Pride anchors the proceedings with a deft balance of raucous force, buoyant swing and coloristic accents.

"Drummer’s Corpse wastes little time with such subtleties. Comprising two roughly 30-minute compositions, the disc employs seven inventive drummers, including Tyshawn Sorey, Ches Smith and Bobby Previte, along with guitarist Chris Welcome, bassist Eivind Opsvik and three vocalists. Unlike the happy occasion behind Birthing Days, Drummer’s Corpse was precipitated by a devastating apartment fire, and from the opening, strained groans over clattering gongs, the sense of loss and destruction are palpable. Dense and anarchic, the title piece is a whirlpool of drone and percussion, a labyrinth with no outlet. The second piece, “Some Will Die Animals,” is a reaction to the suicide of drummer Gen Makino. Japanese inflections and dark undercurrents gird the unsettling epic, which is twice interrupted by news broadcasts, suggesting the constant, unnerving intrusion of global tragedies into daily life."

The distinctly gifted drummer/composer Mike Pride is prolifically active as a leader/accompanist in a wide variety of groups and genres. In May 2013, AUM Fidelity released two of the most potent albums he has created to date. Birthday Days, his deeply inspired and utterly focused new modern jazz work, was recorded within the same month as the diametrically opposed (in concept, content and title), Drummer’s Corpse, and no pair of records better represent his multifarious nature. Their simultaneous release was a major artistic statement from Mr. Pride.

Birthing Days is a magnificent display of both Pride’s far-ranging compositional prowess and the rich talents of this remarkable group. The great and gifted pianist Alexis Marcelo and bassist Peter Bitenc remain dedicated members, whose deep thought & commitment to finding the core tone and emotional approach to each composition anchor the band, while allowing utmost flexibility for the music to follow new avenues with each performance. In early 2012, saxophone phenom Jon Irabagon joined, breathing new life into the group’s sound with his virtuosic command and harmonic flexibility. The quartet’s sonic template is further expanded on three tracks here with the addition of bass clarinetist Jason Stein and saxophonist Jonathan Moritz. All of these musicians are startling and beautiful voices in modern jazz.

This book of compositions was written by Pride in a fit of inspiration, immediately following the birth of his first child, two months after the release of this group’s previous release (and Pride's AUM Fidelity debut), Betweenwhile. His brain swimming with melodies & lush harmonies, the music reflects the fullness found in his new life as a parent. The music is dense, but warmly harmonious. It demanded a copy-editor’s eye for detail & accuracy, which each member of the band has in full. Birthing Days was exquisitely recorded at Systems Two Studios in Brooklyn, and then mixed to perfection by Jamie Saft at Potterville International Sound.

1. 79 Beatdowns of Infinite Justice, the - 07:28
2. Birthing Days - 10:57
3. Marcel's Hat - 02:47
4. Brestwerp - 07:00
5. Lullaby For Charlie - 06:41
6. CLAP - 04:52
7. Fuller Place - 05:33
8. Pass The Zone - 03:46
9. Occupied Man - 06:21
10. Motiaon - 04:40

All compositions by Mike Pride;
published by Funhole Music (BMI)

Produced by Mike Pride and Steven Joerg
Recorded by Michael Marciano at Systems Two Studio,
Brooklyn on August 17, 2012
Mixed by Jamie Saft at Potterville International Sound
Mastered by Michael Marciano
Cover photo, back-cover art, liner notes by Mike Pride