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Marisian Episodes: Improv for 4 Clarinets, Guitar, Synths & Organ

from Three Rooms: Works for Guitar & Clarinet by Barrett Smith, Guitar ft. Bryan A. Crumpler, Clarinetist/Arranger

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Marisian Episodes is a work for 4 Clarinet improvisers, Sythesized Bass, Gospel Organ & 2 Guitars.

A "Marisian Episode" is a term I coined after Belgian Jazz artist Bart Maris. At its bare bones, the term simply means an "improvisation session", but it's not just any jam session. In this case in particular, it describes an instance where improvisations - without accompaniment - appear to take on a loose and irregular character that is wholly independent of any underlying structure.

With multiple improvisers in the mix, this can morph into a challenging game of listening, mimicking, dictating and creating new motifs; it can sound rather chaotic if not guided by any underlying structure. Therefore, in Marisian Episodes, the improvisers all work from a single ostinato motif or other underlying accompaniment simultaneously. The music unfolds, in-ear, while the improvisors bounce ideas off of each other in the process. This results in a two-fold experience for the listener: one, where the underlying structure is inaudible, and therefore feels rhythmically free; and one with the accompanying ostinato audible, where the structure is evident, and therefore appears to be rhythmically sound.

On the one hand, during playback, it creates an element of surprise for the performers who feel as though they are adhering to structure, yet sound as if they are experimenting freely. On the other hand, it invokes a sense of freedom to the listener (on the first pass) who then realizes (on the second pass) that the improvisations adhere to a structure. This disconnect of experiences between the perfomer and the listener is what I call a "Marisian Episode". As Bart explains it: when a performer is improvising, he may experience times where he feels he is playing something incorrectly that does not fit the rest of what may be happening musically; however, the audience perceives it as fitting for the moment, given that audiences cannot anticipate what will be next in an extemporization. Understanding this is a key factor in freeing oneself from the traditional confines of a written score, where there is often an "expectation" for what is to happen.


from Three Rooms: Works for Guitar & Clarinet, released February 14, 2018
Ostinato composed by Bryan A. Crumpler.
Clarinet improvisations by Bryan A. Crumpler.


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Bryan A. Crumpler New York, New York

Composer, Musical Cryptanalyst, Founder/CEO & Chief Cryptologist – Ahmadeus Beaux-Arts, Inc.

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