“Not only is their integration of improvisation and composition seamless, there’s always an attention to detail in what they do — combined with an open, fearless approach – that’s very refreshing. This is music that wants to communicate with the listener, and it absolutely succeeds.”Eivind Opsvik – bassist, composer and producer
Hi friends and listeners, I’m excited to announce a new album being released on March 26th, 2021 — It’s on pre-order now, and there will be more content as we approach the release date.
Thanks for checking this out.
At a contemplative time for the world, the new Brooklyn-based trio Ocelot makes its debut on record with an album that emphasizes melody and atmosphere, whether the music is meditative or more volatile. This group – featuring award-winning pianist Cat Toren, saxophonist/clarinetist Yuma Uesaka and drummer/percussionist Colin Hinton – draws free-flowing inspiration from such bass-less trios as the classic Paul Motion/Joe Lovano/Bill Frisell band and the more recent cooperatives of Paradoxical Frog (Ingrid Laubrock, Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey), Fieldwork (Steve Lehman, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey) and The Bell (Ches Smith, Craig Taborn, Mat Maneri). While the players of Ocelot have their own, individual personalities, what they share with those previous groups is an interest in exploring space and tone, introspection and mutuality, challenge and irresistibility. The beauties of Ocelot – to be released digitally and on CD by 577 Records on March 26, 2021 – are easy to hear, even as deep listening reveals more at every turn; the climactic, seven-minute track “Crocus” – inexorably dramatic, rich in melody – encapsulates the album ideally, like a great single should.
The acclaimed bassist, composer and producer Eivind Opsvik, who engineered the spatially potent mix for Ocelot, has this to say about the band: “I had the pleasure of mixing this record, but I’ve also witnessed the trio live. Not only is their integration of improvisation and composition seamless, there’s always an attention to detail in what they do – combined with an open, fearless approach – that’s very refreshing. This is music that wants to communicate with the listener, and it absolutely succeeds.”
Ocelot represents the culmination of a year’s worth of composing, rehearsing, touring and local gigging for the band – including an October 2019 residency in New Haven, Connecticut, and a tour of the East Coast and Canada that deepened the trio’s chemistry and its approach to the material recorded later that month at Brooklyn’s Bunker Studio. Remarkably, Toren was pregnant with her daughter during the entire process, a challenge made easier by the keenly supportive relationships in the band. “We’re three friends who trust each other, converse easily and have tremendous respect one another,” Toren explains. “Our relationships are the foundation for our interactive discourse, which can vary – we’ve performed concerts that were musically very patient, and we’ve played gigs at bars that were real bangers.”
Reflecting on the band’s sonic character, Hinton adds: “Our deep mutual trust allows the music to turn on a dime from absolute stillness to frenzied density. We can all play technically challenging music, but since everyone feels comfortable making musical decisions that breathe life into the music, the compositions don’t end up sounding ‘difficult.’ We draw from a wide range of sounds that inspire us – vintage jazz, contemporary classical, indie rock, the avant-garde in various genres, even silence.”
The trio made Ocelot with the “deep listener” in mind. “To me, a deep listener is the sort of person who enjoys being really present, deriving joy out of observing things that may unfold at various timescales,” Uesaka says. “Some of the pieces develop at a pace that might be challenging to those who are just used to 15-second Instagram videos. That said, this is not at all a conceptual album that requires an entire essay to appreciate its sounds – I believe there’s plenty of surface beauty or excitement that can entice someone. An ideal listener would listen to the entire album as a whole, enjoying everything from that surface-level excitement down to the larger philosophical messages we aim to convey through the act of playing, composing and sharing this music.”
Toren adds: “Zoom fatigue is real, and watching shows on a screen, rather than in person, is a mere substitute for the energy of being in a room together. But recordings remain powerful things, especially for that ideal deep listener. Putting on an album and listening to it in its entirety is as powerful an experience as it always has been. This may primarily be an era for singles – short singles, at that – but I think we all need more right now. I hope people will take the time for extended listening, maybe with eyes closed, more like we used to – so that they really feel what comes up from inside. Because we all know there’s a lot that could come up right now.”