Flicker Down

Waxwing

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Exclusively Available at NativeDSD in Stereo DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 128 and DSD 64

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Original Recording Format: PCM 96 kHz
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Waxwing, a longtime collaboration of cellist Peggy Lee, saxophonist Jon Bentley and guitarist Tony Wilson, play music derived from post-bop, folk, ambient and classical music genres, and the point of intersection is where Waxwing’s unique sound begins.
– Mark Werlin


Following on their previous Songlines release, A Bowl of Sixty Taxidermists (2015), Vancouver’s premier chamber jazz trio Waxwing (formed in 2006) returns with Flicker Down, a flowing program of compositions and improvisations that again combines delicacy and strength, melodic beauty and textural sophistication. The album is Exclusively Available at NativeDSD in Stereo DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 128 and DSD 64.

Theirs is a reflective kind of lyricism, often tinged with tenderness or nostalgia, but be prepared for the unexpected as pieces move though different forms and emotional states. The diverse musical influences at play in this unique jazz/improv group range from classical and contemporary new music and composing for larger jazz ensembles (Peggy Lee) to personal, socially engaged song cycles (Tony Wilson) and modern music production (Jon Bentley). Bentley, who produced, mixed and sequenced the record, explains how it was put together:

“We wanted to incorporate very short improvisations into the overall song structure of the album by using them as interesting sonic intermissions or transitions. They contain different and unusual sound sources that add colour to the overall album picture and refresh the ear for the more standard composed songs. There is more production on this recording than the previous ones but hopefully it is hidden well. I started prerecording some ideas on a tank drum [an instrument created from a recycled propane tank – it can be heard on tracks 7 and 13] back in 2017 which I then brought into the studio where we improvised over top of those pre-recorded tracks. I then took those improvisations and essentially constructed hybrid improv/composed-sounding songs using Ableton Live and Serato Sample production software, which are not common to use in a trio chamber jazz setting. Many of the short pieces on the album are actually manipulated improvisations to help give them a slightly more composed feel but retaining the spontaneity and interest of the original improvisation. I wanted to have a large modern production element to this recording but ideally keeping it somewhat underlying and not overproduced. The arrangements on some songs changed dramatically from how we initially recorded them and on some they stayed true to the original. It was a long process of developing new, interesting sections through overdubbing new instruments/samples or altering the original recorded sounds at my studio. There was also a fair amount of manipulating Tony Wilson’s recorded guitar sounds and loops through various production methods. As well, I have built a large personal recorded sample library over the years that is unique to me and there is a fair amount of those samples hidden throughout the recording.

“A cohesive vision slowly emerged, a result of a long process working intimately with the tracks. After shaping the songs over many hours certain tracks seemed to naturally gravitate towards each other and then gradually start to work together in larger groups. Perhaps it’s similar to assembling a complex jigsaw puzzle except in this case you can reshape each puzzle piece to work better with the one beside it.”

Describing the overall spirit of the album, Jon remarks: “Beauty would be at the core of how I approach Waxwing. That doesn’t mean everything needs to sound aesthetically pleasing all the time because there can still be beauty in even the most savage musical moments, similar to all of our lives outside of music.”


Peggy Lee, cello
Tony Wilson, electric guitar, harmonica, kalimba, percussion, ektara
Jon Bentley, tenor & soprano saxophones, tank drum, synths, percussion & bells, samples & programming
Miranda Clingwall, flute & space echo (tracks 7, 13, 16)

Tracklist

Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
1.
Flicker Down
07:09
2.
On This Day
02:58
3.
Fweeo Walks By
01:06
4.
Your Bet
03:25
5.
Time Waited
01:02
6.
A Day's Life
01:13
7.
Montbretia Gates
01:49
8.
Highway of Tears
03:49
9.
Birds in Cages
00:44
10.
Crossing Paths
04:24
11.
Joe's Theme
08:08
12.
Breathe
03:42
13.
Invisible Something
02:13
14.
Just Saying
03:09
15.
Cloaks of Coax
01:02
16.
Peace for Animeek
04:18
17.
Chasing the End
02:03
18.
Parasitic
02:51

Total time: 00:55:05

Additional information

Label

SKU

SGL16332

Qualities

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Artists

Composers

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Mastering Engineer

Chris Gestrin at Public Alley 421

Mixing Engineer

Jon Bentley

Instruments

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Original Recording Format

Recording Location

Recorded November 6-7, 2019 at Demitone Studio, Vancouver BC.

Release DateMay 17, 2024

Press reviews

AllAboutJazz

Vancouver-based Waxwing, a collaborative trio of Tony Wilson, electric guitar, Jon Bentley, saxophones, and Peggy Lee, cello, follow the chamber jazz tradition of dispensing with the conventional piano-bass-drums jazz rhythm section. Their unusual instrumentation places an emphasis on middle-register voices; Wilson often plays in the guitar’s middle range, strumming chords and plucking arpeggios, while Lee’s cello and Bentley’s tenor sax overlap the same register of orchestral pitches. This lends the trio a kind of timbral consistency that draws the listener’s attention more closely into the melodic and textural weave of the music.

theWholeNote

Flicker Down is the third album from this energetic group: not just veterans of the busy Vancouver scene where they are based, individually these three players collaborate in dozens of other musical combinations from folk to jazz to classical around North America and beyond. When they reunite, each brings their best in not only their playing experience, but as equal composers and co-leaders. The result of this fine balance is exquisitely produced on this album. Already a huge fan of this trio, and though their first two albums were thoroughly enjoyable, Flicker Down is a whole other listening experience.

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