Stateless Liner Notes 2/10: Sacada

Post 2 of 10: Sacada

‘Sacada (lit. “displacement”) A move in which one partner deliberately invades the other’s floor space, stepping close to or into the place their partner is currently occupying, thus displacing them. This often causes the partner’s free leg to describe an arc along the floor. There may or may not be physical contact between the legs of the two partners at the moment of displacement.’

I enjoy starting this quasi-liner notes entry off with a dictionary definition…I feel like I am working on a report as a grade schooler in need of applying himself more. Sacada is a land of contrasts…and so on.

Once upon a time, a tango enthusiast associate was breaking down some of the seemingly byzantine procedures and terminology involved in this most elaborate dance/subculture. I came across the concept of ‘sacada’ and, helped along by the purloined-from-the-internet definition above, immediately felt a kinship in or echo of my own musical inclinations. Rest easy: none of this sent me to the dance floor (the World breathes a sigh of relief). Of course, while I would love to see some intrepid choreographer take a crack at working with this tune, Sacada the tune bears essentially zero resemblance to actual tango music. (I am, however, very enthusiastic about the music of Osvaldo Pugliese and — it practically goes without saying — Astor Piazzolla, to name two.) I was aiming to represent a certain kind or breathing, shifting, and sensual movement; a sense of disparate trajectories, crowding each other, coming together, moving apart, repeating…that type of thing. It took a long time to get the feel right and to make the rhythms move in the lithe way I was hoping to achieve, in spite of the often unusual rhythmic shapes and frequent meter shifts (3 time signatures in the 1st 3 bars, for starters). The band worked very patiently to get this one up on its feet, perhaps particularly the rhythm section!

One member of the rhythm section, drummer/percussionist Jason Levis has, to my delight, used Sacada as an exercise for his students, asking them to clap out the shifting rhythms and even, to my delight, requesting an arrangement for a student ensemble comprised of vibes, bass, drums, and a vocalist! Jason is a perfect example of the type of rare and extraordinary musician without whom this music would not be possible…or, at the very least, not very good. As a performer and composer, he is equally comfortable and expert in dealing with, just to pick two examples, the thorniest spectral music and his beloved dub reggae. I believe the first time I heard Jason play was in his still-active (and amazing) duo with bassist Liza Mezzacappa, Duo B. Jason played with the Clevenger Group sporadically as far back as 2007 (he guests on marimba on a tune on our previous album, Observatory) and was the obvious choice when, in 2015, I decided that 1 drummer was not nearly enough. Dr. Levis is also extraordinarily generous in agreeing, seemingly happily, to drag all manner of gongs, bowls, cowbells, guiros, glockenspiels, and lord knows what other percussive flotsam to our gigs.

While the Sacada chart does bare the marking “dubius tango”, this is, again, an abstract relationship. In general, as a composer or listener, I can hardly imagine a less interesting compositional goal than the ever-fraught ‘authenticity’ regarding an established form or style. I’m reminded here of a favorite quote from my hero, Werner Herzog: “The so-called Cinéma Vérité is devoid of vérité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.”

Just a little more on the nuts and bolts Sacada; the semi-sprawling form includes features for each of our saxophonists (first Cory Wright and then Kasey Knudsen), both playing over chord changes and then assaying a brief cadenza accompanied by one of our drummers. There is also a brief drum exchange and, during the pastoral-leaning bridge, some hot glockenspiel licks from yours truly. This tune is also one of 4 on Stateless that is graced by the presence of a guest star, the utterly remarkable cellist Crystal Pascucci. Tim DeCillis alternates between vibes and guiro, Jason contributes some tambourine, and Cory alternates between tenor sax and Bb clarinet (Rachel Condry is on Bb clarinet throughout).

Thank you for reading; as ever, link to the tune we’ve been discussing below and don’t be shy: we love it when you buy our album!