Jeff Lade is a regular poster on G+, when one encounters a person in this fashion it is Impossible not to construct some sort of mental image of the character. I mention this because there seems to be a discrepancy between the written word and the music. The G+ posts are often straight speaking and political, the music is far more inward directed and reflective. There are other types of messages which spread information, e.g. helpful and supportive news, this is reflected in music which is intimate and companionable, sometimes not far off the four part harmonies of chorales / hymns. Jannnat has many of these characteristics, with its repetitive and lyrical linear movement. Listening to the phrase structure not only is there repetition and gradual variation, but the rhythms produce lines of music close to the rhythms of speech, quite intimate speech. In this work the linear progressions form some dissonant chords but it is gentle resolution that closes the music that is most memorable. The melodic phrasing is regularly repeated and works like a fixed motif.
Another contrast between text and music arises from the titles. While these are personal they are not always wholly revealing. At the worst when they seem descriptive as in Composer - odd rhythm, and jazz world, and western harmonies, to have the video then display "Little ditties" throws the listener off balance. However once inside the music clarity prevails, in this piece there is a warm conclusion generated again from simple figures (mostly descending in this case). From these short motifs the composer manages to conjure many different types of music, everything from fairground music to gamelan. The performance in my mind should be faster than in the video shared and the metronomic playing on the marimba detracts rather than enhances the movement of the music.
Tina's Chatter again has rolling events based on diatonic and pentatonic material. The recurring material is used like a 'head' in jazz binding fragments of music together but permitting various degrees of play to follow.
The movement "Ricare 3 Stoogies" displays a score and the sparseness of material is apparent to anybody takes time to follow the reductions and expansions of the fifth based material. It is wonderful how simple rhythmic and melodic figures combine and sustain repetition here. It seems strange to me that with the composer's passion for matters American including many of its composers, that the music, especially in this style, sounds so un-American, Jeff might like to comment on this, and several other points and give us a clearer picture of his background and intentions.
The last two pieces Bach Ala Mode and Bach rhythmic cross phase both have, as indicated in the titles quotation at their heart, it would be hard to miss. The latter piece is skillfully worked; the concluding section from the sul ponticello is delightfully worked and logical in its outcome. The Bach Ala Mode has two layers constantly contrasting, as if presenting two different aspects of a personality. What comes through in both is a linear progression that sustains the intention of the music. The interplay between pulses is well crafted in both works.
The works that Jeff Lade has chosen to share have many common characteristics and intentions; I would like to hear more of the music to understand the development of his musical thought. It is no easy matter to express oneself with the bare minimum of musical material, and easy to hide behind complexity. It is refreshing and a pleasure to know of composers who aim for this level of craftsmanship.
Jeff's pieces reminded me of Allen Ginsberg poetry: Read without paying attention to detail they sound hollow and at times childish, but when read with care they are thoughtful and carry their message with an aesthetically sound, musically clear manner. The message is not always obvious – sometimes obfuscated by the title - but, the compositions as a whole are compact and complete and all said and done they represent a commendable effort. They show expertise and sensitivity as well as a tinge of humour which enriches the generally Spartan approach. I am very impressed.
Jeff Lade compositions on you tube are found below:
Jannnat is on soundcloud only: https://soundcloud.com/jeff-lade/jannnat