Canada Day Octet

Harris Eisenstadt

Canada Day Octet

(482 Music) (2012)


Harris Eisenstadt (drums, compositions), Garth Stevenson (bass), Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Dan Peck (tuba), Ray Anderson (trombone), Nate Wooley (trumpet), Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone), Jason Mears (alto saxophone)

"Demanding score… precise transitions… colorful arrangements."

-Bill Meyer


I’ve always loved writing for large ensemble. Canada Day Octet belongs to a series of recordings for bigger groups that includes Fight or Flight (2003), Ahimsa Orchestra (2005), The All Seeing Eye + Octets (2006), and Woodblock Prints (2010). This recording is different though; rather than build a special project from the ground up I added three musicians to my working quintet. The project began when the guys at the Destination Out blog asked me to present a concert in New York spring 2011. Canada Day had just finished a quintet tour, than the octet rehearsed the next day for the first time and played the night after. Since we only had one quick rehearsal I just expanded some quintet material to make the rehearsal process easy. I figured the guys in the quintet would already know the tunes, making it easier for the others to jump in. It was. I knew I wanted to record the octet version of the band, but I’d have to write some new arrangements.  So I put the project on hold through the summer and got back to work in the fall.  I re-wrote the octet book for a couple months and booked two nights at Ibeam, a fantastic musician-run space in Brooklyn, in December 2011. We had a nice crowd each night and went into the studio the day after. I expanded The Ombudsman 1-4 by adding background material to solo sections and to introductory and concluding improvisations.  Though I’m still not entirely sure I understand the complete scope of an ombudsman’s work, at its most idealistic an ombudsman is someone who acts as a trusted intermediary between constituent groups, advocating for justice and transparency. It is with this sense of advocacy that I named the first four pieces on this record. In my imagination The Ombudsman 1-4 mediates between two constituencies; those for creative music and those mystified by it.  It advocates for creative music, for composition with improvisation, for the co-existence of abstract and straighforward rhythm, melody, harmony, texture and form. Ballad for 10.6.7 is a simple, lyrical closing statement to the record. I had some very unfortunate problems when Apple “helpfully” suggested I update my OS right as I was making PDF files for my first orchestral piece spring 2011. I (stupidly) updated to 10.6.7 and all of a sudden couldn’t create PDF files without major font problems. Neither Sibelius chat rooms nor the “genius” bar at the Apple Store had a solution. It was a month of hell, and after all the tsouris I wrote the ballad. It was the only response I had left.  I include it at the end of this album because the solo statements each remind me of ombudsmen, advocating for creative music in the face of near-insurmountable obstacles. Harris Eisenstadt, Brooklyn, 2012