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(Published: September 28, 2016)

Album Is The Fourth Recording By Boston-Based Band Founded In 1990 By Alto Saxophonist Ken Field Hailed For Its Fusion of Post-Bop & Avant Jazz Influences With The New Orleans Brass Band Tradition

"I Want That Sound!" CD Release Parties:

Friday November 4th, 2016 @ 8pm
ONCE Ballroom, 156 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA

Saturday November 5th, 2016 @ 8-9:30pm
Barbes, 376 9th St (@ 6th Ave), Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY,

Jazz has been declared "dead" innumerable times since saxophonist Ken Field formed the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble (RSE) in 1990. The band obviously didn't get the memo! In fact, over the years rather than playing a "Second Line" dirge for jazz's funeral, the horn-heavy sextet - inspired by the New Orleans brass band tradition - has been developing and cultivating a distinct sound critics and audiences alike hail for invigorating an illustrious musical heritage with fresh ideas, wit and spunk while in the process attracting new and younger audiences. Over more than a quarter century of touring and performing in settings ranging from clubs and concert halls to festival and parades, RSE has been evolving and refining a unique sound incorporating post-bop and avant jazz influences without ever losing its allegiance to the groove and the party spirit of NOLA. The Guardian (UK) recently celebrated the fact that over the past few years, jazz has entered a new golden age and RSE has definitely been part of the vanguard sparking this renaissance.

I Want That Sound! (Innova 941), RSE's fourth album, celebrates the band's collective experience by providing a snapshot of where and what it is today - a tight, funky, fun and heady unit that's transgenerational in its appeal and whose music resonates with listeners on melodic, harmonic and rhythmic levels. Decked out in feathered and metallic finery that evokes Sun Ra's Arkestra as much as the Mardi Gras Indians, RSE has always honored the spirit of New Orleans brass bands that provide succor and uplift to mourners accompanying loved ones for burial and fulfilling the celebratory imperative for the promenade back from the cemetery.

This is the first album in RSE's discography to feature all original material, with all but the opening track penned by Field. "I Want That Sound! presents the band as a mature entity," he explained "We started out as a New Orleans second line brass band, copying others and performing covers. Then we put our own spin on traditional music and in the process over the years created a sound and style that's come into its own and is showcased on this record," Field continued. "The album was recorded in an amazing studio in Chelsea, MA that was formerly a Masonic Temple. In one of its incarnations it was actually called ‘The Sonic Temple.'"

The musicians heard on I Want That Sound! are Field's current working band and the RSE line-up that has played continuously together the longest. "I love the sound of multiple saxophones and I've known Tom Hall forever. He's one of those guys who intuitively listens and responds so it's a natural pairing - it's like we're sonic brothers," Field said. "I've worked with Dave Harris in a number of contexts over the years," Field continued. "He's a phenomenal trombone player and became equally phenomenal on tuba when he picked that horn up. Dave now also plays a horn called the helicon - an early version of the Sousaphone - and he just blows it out of the park." Field heard trumpeter Jerry Sabatini

- over -
playing a gig with Charlie Kohlhase's band The Explorer's Club. "Jerry has an approach to music that really resonates with me and fits perfectly into RSE's sound. He's one of the most in-demand players in Boston and we're fortunate to have him on board." The personnel is rounded out by the solid and inspired rhythm section of virtuoso bassist Blake Newman - with whom Field has played in at least four different bands as well as on his soundtrack recordings - and the fluid and versatile drummer Phil Neighbors - who, apart from Field, has been a member of RSE the longest and has also worked with the saxophonist on soundtracks, his music for Sesame Street and other projects.

The music on I Want That Sound! ranges from the funky to the meditative. With the exception of the opening track, "Slippery When Wet" - written by New Orleans drummer Chris Lacinak whom Field calls upon when RSE is in The Crescent City - everything is penned by Field. Some are unrecorded pieces he wrote years ago and recently worked into RSE's repertoire, while others are quite new. "‘Discoveries' and ‘Nature' are instrumental versions of two of 10 songs featuring lyrics by my late wife Karen Aqua that we wrote for a project to teach English to Mexican kids," Field explained. "‘Higgins Hollow' is named after a back road in Truro at the tip of Cape Cod that has a spooky, midnight-in-the-woods kind of feeling to it." The album's title track was actually a warm-up tune played in the studio where everyone was blowing hard. "I'd told the engineer to record everything and when I reviewed the music there was some pretty great stuff in there," Field recalled. "While recording that track someone did something in the booth that made a jarring noise and I yelled ‘I want that sound!' which is how the song got its name."

"‘John's Jailhouse Blues' was written many years ago for a roommate of mine when I was studying at Berklee. John was a bus driver who went to jail because he went on strike." "Roohane," another musical tribute, was inspired by Billy Ruane, a tireless promoter of creative music in Boston for several decades. "Billy was beautiful yet troubled guy with huge ‘ears' who died in 2010. I tried to capture some of his manic nature in this tune."

"Just Walk Closer" is a different kind of Field tribute - a salute to the New Orleans second line tradition that so inspires him and so influences RSE. "Spirituals and hymns form the core of the second line repertoire," he explained, "and I've always felt that what makes this music so strong is the simple harmonies and the incredibly strong melodies. What I did here was take the melody of ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee' and changed the duration of each note regarding where it fell in the measure and the phrasing. Then I added some new harmonies and counterlines to it. So while I retained the exact sequence of notes from the original melody, I ended up with a different and, I think, interesting variation."


Born January 26, 1953 in Red Bank, NJ, Ken Field grew up next door to a club frequented by Bruce Springsteen in his early days with the band Earth (he didn't find out about his hometown's most famous native son, William "Count" Basie, until much later). Starting out on clarinet at 10, he made quick progress, playing in marching band and orchestra, and put in some extracurricular time on tenor sax in a high school rock band.

An accident his freshman year at Brown University knocked out one of Field's front teeth, which brought his clarinet playing to an immediate end. Turning his attention to the flute, he started to teach himself to improvise while managing the Providence folk and blues venue Big Mother Coffee House. While studying applied mathematics, he fell in with some local musicians who introduced him to innovators like Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Weather Report, and Frank Zappa. "I started jamming with them on flute, and it was a whole educational thing for me, being exposed to all this music I really didn't know," Field says.

Working as a computer scientist, he turned his attention to the alto sax, and started commuting to Boston to study with noted teacher Joe Viola. Eventually he took time off from his day job to attend Berklee from 1977 to 1979, which led to his move to Boston. He spent several years playing with the psychedelic funk band Skin, and ended up replacing saxophonist Steve Adams (who was moving to the Bay Area to join Rova Saxophone Quartet) in Birdsongs of Mesozoic, a New Music/chamber rock ensemble that spun off from the storied band Mission of Burma. "That was a transformative experience," Field says. "Birdsongs is an avant rock band that's compositionally based. I learned a lot from those guys, pushing all kinds of musical limits."
In addition to his work with RSE, Field continues to perform and record with Birdsongs, while also maintaining a busy solo career as a player and composer of scores for animation, film, modern dance, and television, including music for Sesame Street. He has released five solo recordings to date: Subterranea (O.O. Discs), Pictures of Motion (sFz), Tokyo in F (Sublingual), Under the Skin (Innova), and Sensorium: Music for Dance & Film (Innova).

The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble evolved from an improvisational horn and percussion group that Field assembled in 1990 with trumpeter and cartoonist Scott Getchell for a pagan women's ritual celebration. The response was so positive Field decided to continue the project as a vehicle for the region's skilled free improv community of the Greater Boston area. Getchell moved on to pursue other projects and Field gradually developed a book featuring his originals and rarely played tunes by John Scofield, Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman set to funky New Orleans marching grooves. Part workshop and part improvisers' clinic, the band attracted a revolving cast of players. "The material was very improvisational and the arrangements tended to be spontaneous," Field says. "I'd direct on the spot, which started as a very stressful role. Over time I learned a lot about how to do that, and it's still the way the band works."

Over the years, RSE has featured a host of stellar musicians, including Dana Colley (Morphine), Jesse Williams (Al Kooper/Duke Robillard), Russ Gershon (Either/Orchestra), Eric Paull (DJ Logic, Clem Snide), Ken Winokur (Alloy Orchestra), Charlie Kohlhase (John Tchicai/Leroy Jenkins/Anthony Braxton), Jim Prescott (G Love & Special Sauce), Kimon Kirk (Aimee Mann, Session Americana), Scott Getchell (Lars Vegas, Skull Session), Dave Harris (Naftule's Dream, Les Miserables Brass Band), and Bob Pilkington (Chandler Travis Philharmonic).

The band's acclaimed debut album, 2003's Year of the Snake (Innova), attracted national attention. The following year RSE began playing regularly at Mardi Gras, a sojourn made possible by a singular arrangement with Amtrak's Crescent train on which the band performed their music en route to New Orleans. Upon arrival, the Snake Ensemble has regularly marched with the all-women Krewe of Muses.

On its second album, 2008's Forked Tongue (Cuneiform), RSE continued to expand its eclectic repertoire ranging from hymns and spirituals to traditional New Orleans parade anthems and tunes by everyone from Billy Idol to Ornette Coleman. In 2014 RSE released Live Snakes (Accurate) featuring music recorded in 2011 and 2013 at concerts in Boston, Brooklyn, and Manhattan that documented four distinct incarnations of the highly mutable ensemble as well as two sonically inventive remixes by Field. In addition to featuring members of the deep pool of Boston talent that has sustained the RSE for more than a quarter century, Live Snakes also includes special guests including New Orleans' beloved Charles Neville on tenor sax, Josh Roseman on trombone, Kenny Wollesen on drums and percussion, and Matt Darriau on tenor sax and flute.

Praise for RSE's "Live Snakes" (Accurate Records - 2014)

"This Boston-area band puts a premium on Mardi Gras-style..."--- The New York Times

"The band thrives on experimentation while still keeping things accessible...passionately performed... captivating..."
--- downbeat

"Mardi Gras on steroids...takes the Crescent City vibe to the next level...- Spectacular!" --- CriticalJazz.com

"A mix of traditional New Orleans brass band, James Brown, Sun Ra and raucous street performer enthusiasm...."
--- www.WonderingSound.com

More Information: https://www.revolutionarysnakeensemble.org

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