Boomkat Product Review:
Pivotal downtown NYC minimalist Peter Zummo wields his trombone in a new ensemble including his longtime pals Ernie Brooks and Bill Ruyle, plus JD Twitch (Optimo), Ralph Cumbers (Bass Clef) and Oliver Coates, documenting a mix of live recordings and post-tour studio sessions
“Side A, the 14-minute long “Prepare For Docking,” was recorded at Strongroom and features vocals by Arthur Russell collaborator Joyce Leigh Bowden; Side B has four tracks, two from Strongroom (“Actual Serpentine” and “Actual Serpentine Reprise”) and two from the Café Oto performance (“Deep Drone” and “Leapfrog A Local”), which were selectively edited and mixed by Zummo. In concept and practise, Deep Drive is a series of field recordings and snapshots, and of Zummo's melodic and rhythmic challenges to the group.
These challenges focus on ensemble improvisations, based on long tone rows of chromatic pitches: “Deep Drone” works around 12 tones, “Prepare For Docking” around 7 tones. Moving forward and backward through the row, one note at a time, the players create retrograde repetitions and map out new patterns, zoning in to zone out. “We can improvise freely,” says Zummo, “but it’s more interesting to have a composition, written in traditional notation, which people can render in real time. It’s unfolding. We don’t know ahead of time what it’s going to sound like, but it has identity.”
The identity of Deep Drive comes in large part from the way Zummo moves through the world. Using his smartphone, he records daily fragments: of daydreams and conversations, signage and slogans, moments that that strike him as insightful, odd, amusing, thereby creating a sonic collage of rhythms, melodies and voices. His deep baritone is imbued with laconic humour, and Deep Drive’s track titles riff off his messaging. “Prepare For Docking” refers to the Staten Island ferry and the spectacle of humdrum city movements, but also suggests the nautical deep or even extraterrestrial life, with otherworldliness woven deep into the sound. “It’s not a recital,” says Zummo, of this way of working, “it’s a movie.” Deep Drive, then, is an album about the totality of the artistic process, seen from a generous and honest vantage point.”