Will Mason Ensemble with Kafari
In a sparsely-populated part of northern Maine, not far from the mountains of the Appalachian Trail, composer and drummer Will Mason secluded himself for eight weeks in a one-room cabin by a lake. He had no running water, electricity, internet, or phone service – only a pencil, manuscript paper, and a few books. For some, this would be unbearably ascetic, but for Mason, a Maine native, the rural, hermitic setting inspired a profound and singular collection of compositions.
The pieces Mason wrote capture the elemental hugeness of nature. In six tracks spanning over 70 minutes, the composer’s debut album Beams of the Huge Night (New Amsterdam) explores how it feels to be isolated in a place that can inspire awe just as easily as unease. The music is baroquely detailed at times, at other times spare; sometimes menacing, sometimes meditative. It’s otherworldly music of immense complexity that nevertheless sounds seamless and coherent. Mason’s sonic palette is informed as much by jazz avant-garde pioneers like Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy as by contemporary concert music composers like Georg Friedrich Haas and György Ligeti. Color and texture are privileged, and lithe and sinuous grooves come into focus only to recede quickly back into the murk.
The Will Mason Ensemble is Stuart Breczinski (oboe), Curtis Macdonald (alto sax), Nina Moffitt (voice), Travis Reuter & Andrew Smiley (guitars), Dan Stein (bass), and Will Mason (drums, compositions). Opening the evening is Portland’s own future-jazz beat-maker Kafari, known to many as Jaw Gems keyboardist Ahmad Hassan Muhammad.