Rise of Kwyjibo
What is Kwyjibo? The liner notes provide a quick definition. A kwyjibo is a big, dumb balding North American ape, with no short chin and a balding temper. Sounds like a description of the president of one of those oil companies. You know, the guy who appeared on TV to explain away their record profits of ten billion dollars during the hurricanes that hit this fall, as having nothing to do with gouging and artificially created shortages. OK. All that is topic for some other kind of review. In any case, none of the musicians in the group appear to be kwyjibos in the dictionary definition sense of the word. But, their own definition fits perfectly: an electric jazz ensemble from Midwestern North America. This energetic fusion ensemble is led by the superb guitarist Peter Kienle (who happens to be married to another superb musician, pianist Monika Herzig). Kienle has led or appeared on other albums on the family and artist-owned independent label, Acme Records. The energetic fusion ensemble opens the set with a hip-shaking, Sign Broken, Come in for Message. Move your body to music. Joe Donnelly states the theme on tenor sax, with Kienles harmonic and melodic support. The piece changes hue from the backbeat beginnings to a freer, lighter section, and then returns to an intense backbeat groove for solos. Donnelly turns in a moving solo, before a brief ending. Alices Cool B***s is a title that probably refers to a secret sensory understanding that we listeners can only imagine. The musics accessibility is antithetical to the obscurity of the title. Thankfully! Drummer Danny Deckard and bassist Matt Everhart create a powerful 6/8 backbeat groove. Donnelly switches to baritone sax, and turns in a well-crafted solo. Kienle takes center stage on I Can't See Your House From Here. The tempo a laid back, straight eighth rock-funk groove, if an identification tag can be put on it. Kienle takes the first solo. Extracting a broad canvass of sounds from his string array (guitar, Chapman stick) he crafts a beautifully apropos improvisation. Expectedly! He is both the composer on all but one of the tunes on The Rise of Kwyjibo and a superb guitarist with a impressively honed set of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic skills, tempered by a sensitive use of space and timing. Two of Kienles tunes Georgia Beyond The Blue Event Horizon and Suburban Stardust are inspired by Hoagy Carmichael, one of the great composers of songs that have become Great American Standards. If you're not a musician, you'll have to listen carefully to hear the Georgia of Hoagy Carmichael obscured within the melody of Kienles Georgia Beyond The Blue Event Horizon. It's an eye-opening actually, ear-opening recasting of Carmichaels ideas. Not what you'd expect. And, that's good. Kienle on guitar and Donnelly on baritone are stylistically in sync with the genre of the music they are creating here. Kwyjibo has assembled an interesting set with ample variety. Following the varied grooves of the first several tracks, Maximum Overlap is subdued. Restrained. The dark sounds of the music, led by the expressive tenor sax, serves up reminiscences of a film noir, or the lonely rainy night of a TV detective. Peter's Party Pooper is a kind of boogaloo groove, on modified blues changes. Kienle comps beautifully in support of Donnellys excursions on tenor sax, and serves up a delightfully electric solo himselfin terms of sound, energy and style. This release showcases the excellent composing and performing skills of guitarist Kienle, and the sound quality is excellent. I enjoyed listening through the entire album, which I felt took me on a intriguing journey of passion and thought. Clive Griffin, JazzImprov Magazine, Vol 6 Number 2, February 2006 It's been said that Jazz is the classical music of America, and just like everything else classically American, there is variety, flavor, and sophistication at it's root! There are exceptions to prove the rule, of course, but the music of Kwyjibo is no such exception! Their electronic variety of jazz blends funk, fusion, rock and soul into a very tasty blend of music that rivals releases by the masters of the genre! Yes, I'm talking artists like Stanley Jordan, Chick Corea, Al Dimeola and their cohorts! In a nutshell, The Rise of Kwyjibo is a great jazz album! Mark Lush, Midwestbands.com, 9/10/05 In the fall of 2002 guitarist Peter Kienle felt that many of his musical involvements were either slowing down, fizzling out or just getting a little stale. And as circumstances would have it drummer Danny Deckard didn't feel too challenged in his musical life either. Both had shared a love for 'real' fusion music of the '70s. So they decided to meet once a week and just practice together - and practice really challening music. Before long a new bass player moved to town. Just like every musician moving to a new town Matt Everhart had a gig vacuum and a lot of free time. The three got together and a new trio was born. Around Christmas 2002 Joe Donnelly joined the group. His instruments included various saxophones and keyboards. Now the project moved from a 'practice band' to a gigging band. The repertoire included mostly originals with the occasional cover tune by such artists as 'John McLaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra', 'Weather Report', 'John Scofield' and 'Emerson, Lake & Palmer'. A month before the premiere gig at Zorba's in Champaign, IL, the band chose the name 'Splinter Group' - only to find out that the name was already taken by ex-Fleetwood Mac Peter Green. After lively debate a new name was chosen: Kwyjibo. Since then Kwyjibo had very successful appearances in Bloomington at the IU Art Museum's Jazz In July series, Parks & Rec. Concert series, Jazz Fables, regular appearances at the Chatterbox in Indianapolis and Zorba's in Champaign, IL. Joe Donnelly - tenor & bari sax Joseph Donnelly has a Bachelors of Music Education from Vander Cook College of Music where he graduated as valedictorian. He studied saxophone with Jim Kaspyrzk of the Chicago Saxophone Quartet and flute with Kay Clements of the Chicago Lyric Opera. He has been a member of Salaam Middle Eastern Music and Dance Ensemble for over two years and is the musical director of the Latin Dance Band Orquesta Son. He performs and records regularly with many local and regional acts including: Alma Azul, Serenade Big Band, Unstable Ensemble, Toothpick Wilson and the Cavaliers and the Klezmorchestra. Peter Kienle - guitar, guitar synth, Chapman Stick Born July 23rd 1960 in Metzingen, Germany. Playing guitar since age 13. Two semesters of Jazz School Munich. Founded the band BeebleBrox in 1983 in Albstadt, Germany. Extensive studio work as musician, engineer and producer. Worked as private guitar instructor from 1979 to 1988. Toured southern Europe with mallet player Bill Molenhof in 1987 and 1988. Moved to Tuscaloosa, AL, USA in 1988 where a new incarnation of BeebleBrox recorded two cassettes. Moved to Bloomington, IN in 1991. TV appearance on Reggie Miller Show. Germany tours in 1997 and 1999 with BeebleBrox and award winning saxophonist Peter Lehel. Formation of 3rd Man and Freesome in 1997 and 1999, respectively. Chapman Stick added to instrumentarium in 1998. Composer of about 600 tunes in many styles, 50 works for classical guitar and several instruction manuals for guitar. He also works as a music copyist for David Baker, Bill Banfield, Fred Hersch and many others. Recordings with BeebleBrox, Monika Herzig Acoustic Project, 3rd Man, Freesome, Cathy Morris,Winton Reynolds, Jeff DeHerdt and many others. Matt Everhart - electric bass Matthew Everhart originally hails from North Carolina where he built his 6-string bass playing skills through years of adolescent rock-n-roll and an undergrad degree in jazz studies. His aggressive bass playing style has not only been a defining factor in the powerful and decisive sound of Kwyjibo, but also has shaped the music of several other formidable groups. The end of his college career also saw a year and a half of touring with the jazz bluegrass fusion sensation, 'Snake Oil Medicine Show'. Also, his work, not only on bass but also behind the mixing board, with the underground southeast rock favorite 'Sinclair' continues to win him acclaim. He brings a fresh contemporary mindset to Kwyjibo that cannot be denied. And if all of that does not make him a qualified musician, he once almost ran over Ellis Marsalis in an elevator in New Orleans. Danny Deckard - drums Danny Deckard is the quiet guy behind the drums, keeping his secrets. So far it is only known that he grew up in Bloomington, IN and had been living and playing in Champaign, IL, where he left a lasting impact on the music scene. Since moving back to Bloomington he has played with just about everybody on the scene. Freesome, Monika Herzig Acoustic Project, Jazz Fables and Ut Haus come to mind.