Recordings

Act Necessary


Act Necessary
strudelmedia smcd014

Act Necessary

Andy Biskin Ibid

The impeccable horn trifecta of Biskin, Knuffke and Drye were seemingly born for these cinematic histrionics, interlocking, weaving in and about, taking turns and trading light jabs with a wielding of bubbly phraseology as Davis guides the rumpus with a swaggering backbeat…. While Biskin receives top billing as Ibid’s brain trust, Act Necessary presents a group of equals brimming with flawless interaction. —Brad Cohan, New York City Jazz Record

Clarinetist-composer Andy Biskin is up to his old tricks again on Act Necessary, the debut release by his new quartet, Ibid. Mashing up everything from polkas and New Orleans jazz to funk and Tin Pan Alley, Biskin shoehorns sophisticated compositional elements into epic miniature tunes. His all-star quartet, featuring cornetist Kirk Knuffke, trombonist Brian Drye, and drummer Jeff Davis, handles each musical hairpin turn with infectious enthusiasm and deep insight into the music’s many subtleties.

—Read more Act Necessary press clips here.
—Read the liner notes

“Act Necessary” Liner Notes

Ibid. is an abbreviation of the Latin ibidum, meaning “in the same place.”

You use it in footnotes to show that a source is the same as the one previously cited.

It’s a curiously specific term that doesn’t get much play outside of academia. Subtler than the cold clone of the ditto, it indicates an assortment of items springing from a common source. And for me, it seemed like a worthy watchword for making music: a place where a diverse assembling of players, instruments, listeners and notes might commune together.

Ibid formed in the summer of 2011. At the time I was content in my own private ibid of writing music for various groups with two or three horns plus bass. No drummer meant I could go for a chamber music sound where everyone could be heard, with the bass providing a harmonic and rhythmic underpinning. (It also meant less set-up time.)

Then a simple idea emerged: by losing the bass and featuring drums, the music opened up in ways I both expected and never before considered. It’s easy to let the trombone supply a bass line, but were there other options? A single horn plays a swing line with only brushes in the background while the listener imagines a bass line. Solo drums answer a wind choir. Two horns and rhythm vamp under a solo.

For this collection I repurposed an older tune, re-examined some familiar songbook forms, and tried my hand at a funk line, a second-line march, and a roundabout melody with a part for my dad’s old glockenspiel. After a while, the music started to write itself and I stopped thinking about what was missing in the band, and more about what was there.

My bandmates Kirk, Brian, and Jeff have been ibidding together for a long time. It’s been inspiring to tap into their world, and to create a new place collectively where everyone’s distinct musical personality can shine.

Our same places have included our living rooms and Brian’s performance space, Ibeam, but most often we’ve presented the music at Barbès, Olivier Conan’s unassuming oasis of musical ferment in the heart of Brooklyn that can feel like a full house with an audience of five or fifty.

When we play live I like to invite the audience to be ibid with us. When everyone is truly in same place, the borderlines between players, instruments, notes on the page, notes not on the page, sounds in the room, and ears, heads, and hearts begin to blur and the real magic happens.

As you listen now, I invite you to ibid with our band and this music!

As a final footnote, a round of thank yous to Kirk, Brian, Jeff, and to Olivier, Edward Ratliff, Joe Karten, and Limor Tomer.

 —Andy Biskin