NEVADA CITY, Calif. January 20, 2017 – The Northern California-based world music jazz group Tumble announces its first CD release with a celebration concert planned at the historic Nevada Theater in Nevada City on February 10.
Tumble is a collective that includes Robert Heirendt on the Zimbabwean instrument the mbira (a/k/a the thumb piano), Sean Kerrigan on guitar, Randy McKean on tenor saxophone and clarinets, and Bill Douglass on acoustic bass. The quartet plays intricate, trance-like compositions that combine folkish melodies and driving rhythms with an improvisational jazz sensibility.
For this concert, Tumble will be joined by special guests, including Robert’s young daughter Mei Lin on the violin.
For their Nevada Theater concert, the Tumble quartet will play two sets, featuring the original compositions on Music for Trio (recorded just prior to Douglass joining the band), including the mesmerizing Avian Migration and the atmospheric Old Statues Watching. The band will turn Wayne Shorter’s hard bop tune Down in the Depths into an African trance dance, while the spaghetti western theme Lascialo Andare will also get the Tumble treatment.
Several of Tumble’s compositions were inspired by deep personal experiences. Heirendt’s Saffron Robe pays tribute to his daughter Mei Lin’s Asian heritage and features her on violin, while McKean’s jaunty Callie Mac, inspired by his son Cal’s tap-dancing prowess as a young lad, features him, now grown, on trombone. Kerrigan’s soulful meditation Dark Clouds in the Sierra Madre came to him during a marathon motorcycle trip through Mexico.
For the concert, the Tumble quartet will also feature premieres of several new compositions, including the Afro-poppish Sub Drift, the playful Frisco, and the floating, Mingus-meets-minimalist Otter in the Water.
The street date for the CD release of Music for Trio is January 23, and the recording will be available for hard-copy purchase or download on the site or in Grass Valley at Clock Tower Records.
Tumble is an adventurous quartet influenced by the many musical traditions originating in Africa. Robert Heirendt provides the core of the group’s sound on the mbira, the Zimbabwean instrument similar to the kalimba and sometimes referred to as the thumb piano. Heirendt is joined by Randy McKean on saxophone and clarinets, Sean Kerrigan on guitar, and Bill Douglass on acoustic bass. Together they weave musical influences including traditional Zimbabwean trance music, modern improvisation, modal jazz, Afro pop, and experimental compositional structures. These diverse influences collide and tumble into one another in a subtle and refined manner. Tumble music is all about the delicate interplay between structure and improvisation.
Heirendt’s interest in African music began in the 1980s when he heard artists like Talking Heads, Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel incorporating elements of it into their own. He already had many years of performing under his belt as a keyboardist with the Simple Minds-inspired Challenge the Light, but seeing percussionist Colin Walcott play the kalimba with the jazz/world fusion quartet Oregon, and attending concerts by African legend Thomas Mapfumo, led Heirendt to acquire an mbira. He subsequently studied with Erica Azim, an expert on the instrument and the traditional music Zimbabwe that uses it. Heirendt uses music in his work with children as a therapist with Nevada County Behavioral Health.
McKean, a local saxophonist and clarinetist who plays with several area bands, including Beaucoup Chapeaux, the Earles of Newtown, Lolo Gervais, the John Girton Trio, and Paul Emery’s Leonard Cohen Tribute Band, had met Heirendt through mutual acquaintances, but the two cemented their friendship after multiple encounters at Grass Valley’s Clock Tower Records, in which they discovered their similar musical interests while prowling through the used record bins. Intrigued by the possibilities of combining reeds with the mbira, McKean asked Heirendt to perform with him at a concert at Menlo Macfarlane’s gallery in 2013. The duo became the trio Tumble in 2014 when local guitar fiend Sean Kerrigan, another aficionado of jazz and world music who has performed with Gary Snyder, Ludi Hinrichs, the Belfry Brothers and the Burls, and who has spent extensive time in Central and South America, joined their ranks.
The trio’s musical journey began with Robert teaching his partners a traditional Zimbabwean mbira trance tune. Subsequently, Heirendt and McKean contributed original compositions evocative of their heroes John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter of Weather Report, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Kerrigan also began to write for the group, bringing in ideas with unusual meters and advanced jazz harmonies that the group helped fashion into intricate compositions through long jam sessions. The trio began performing at venues in Nevada County and Sacramento, including the UnChurch, 151 Union Square, Gold Lion Arts, Luna’s Cafe, and the Col. McCaw Magical Cure-All creative music series. In Spring of 2015 they decided to document their work at Bruce Wheelock’s Flying Whale studios in Chicago Park. The result is their self-release Music for Trio.
Around the time of these recording sessions in Spring 2015, local bass legend Bill Douglass played with the trio as part of a solo CD release concert of Heirendt’s music. The musical chemistry among them was superlative, and by mutual agreement, Douglass joined the group. Douglass, who has worked with countless jazz masters, including Mose Allison, Marian McPartland, and Paul McCandless, another member of Tumble’s heroes Oregon, helped refashion Tumble’s sound yet again with his deep listening sensibility and seasoned musical artistry.
The quartet is planning to return to Flying Whale in the spring of 2017 to begin work on their next release.
WHO: Paul Emery’s Nevada City LIVE! presents
WHAT: Tumble Quartet – CD Release Concert
WHEN: Friday, February 10, 8:00 pm
WHERE: Nevada Theatre
401 Broad Street, Nevada City, CA
TICKETS: $20 General Admission, $30 Reserved Seating
BriarPatch Co-op Community Market – 530-272-5333
Tickets online at www.paulemerymusic.com