December 30th, 2014
The 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival presented Battle Trance in concert on Nov 1. A special sound I really liked.
What happens when you wake up one morning with the unshakable feeling that you need to start a tenor saxophone quartet with three people you barely know? If you’re Travis Laplante you don’t question the impulse, you just follow the muse. And follow it he did, as the ensemble, Battle Trance, was formed that very evening.
Described as music that not only transcends genres, but also time and space, the group’s 2014 debut recording, Palace of Wind (available on New Amsterdam Records), inhabits the cracks between contemporary classical music, avant-garde jazz, black metal, ambient, and world music. In terms of tradition, it draws on the whirling soundscapes of Evan Parker and is meant to dissolve the separation between listener and sound. Circular breathing, multiphonics, blisteringly fast lines, and unorthodox articulation meld to create hypnotic waves of sound that place the cerebral nature of composition and the visceral act of performance in a purely spiritual sonic space – one that has been described by The New York Times as “a floating tapestry of fascinating textures made up of tiny musical motifs…that throbs with tension between stillness and agitation, density and light.”
With comparisons to figures such as Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler, Travis Laplante’s music aspires to the sublime and otherworldly. In addition to this newly created ensemble, he also plays in the trio Little Women with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Ches Smith, and is highly regarded as an innovator on his instrument. He is joined in Battle Trance by three other leading tenor saxophonists: Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, and Patrick Breiner.