Iluso Records is delighted to present arguably the most unique and searching solo alto saxophone album to be released in recent memory. Art of the Saxophone: The Lethe Lounge Sessions by Briggan Krauss is a masterclass on how extended technique and dedication to the sonic potential of the instrument can completely change perceptions of what a saxophone should sound like.
Rejecting unconscious ornamentation or electronic effects, Krauss recorded this completely acoustic album in two days at The Lethe Lounge in New York City. Each of the album’s twenty-two improvised pieces features one of three signature approaches to performance—all of which are noted in the titles “Open”, “Towel”, or “Study”.
Featuring quiet long tones and multiphonics, each “Study” arose as an experimental extension of Krauss’s practice regime. Both impeccable and blemished, each piece is a dialogue between his vision and the physics of the saxophone.
The “Open” and “Towel” pieces are improvisations exploring hidden density. These pieces feature an overall arc or shape while at the same time any individual phrase can exist as a standalone composition. Distinguished by fast and intricate passages when viewed as discrete moments in time, the improvisations become gestural, flowing, and even conversational when taken as a whole.
“Open” pieces are improvisations without any physical alteration to the saxophone with the exception of Lethe Open No. 4 (Leg), during which Krauss uses the inside of his left leg as a mute in a manner similar to how a plunger mute is used by a trumpet or trombone player.
“Towel” pieces incorporate the use of Krauss’s distinctive towel mute, a disk of dense cotton fabric placed in the bell that he invented shortly after he arrived in New York City in 1994. Over twenty-five years of use, he has developed a wide array of towel techniques that drastically change the saxophone’s operation and sound, and are an important feature of his voice.
Art of the Saxophone: The Lethe Lounge Sessions deconstructs the idiosyncratic and singularly personal sound of an iconic performer, offering listeners an intimate experience of the depth of musical expression possible when boundaries between instrument and artist disappear.
WATCH THIS CLIP: Briggan live at Areté, Brooklyn: www.facebook.com/ilusorecords/videos/368422830735311/
About Briggan Krauss
Saxophonist Briggan Krauss has been an internationally recognized key player in New York City's downtown and creative music scene for more than twenty years. He connects the extreme edges of technique with the unexplored tonal possibilities of the instrument while making his work as much about shape as it is about his unique signature sound.
He has released several critically acclaimed recordings as a leader and has appeared on over fifty other recordings as a sideman. He has worked with a diverse range of artists including John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Steven Bernstein, Wayne Horvitz, Levon Helm, Skerik, Eyvind Kang, Robin Holcomb, Norah Jones, Medeski Martin and Wood, Hal Willner, Skuli Sverrisson, Jim Black, Ikue Mori, Joey Baron, Kato Hideki, Satoko Fuji, Dave Harrington, The New York Composer's Orchestra, Elysian Fields, Iron & Wine, Rufus Wainwright, Sarah Manning, Trey Anastasio, Joan Wasser, Jessie Harris, Beth Fleenor, Lou Reed, Marc Ribot, Antony, and U2.
Briggan's voice has been a part of Steven Bernstein’s iconic quartet Sexmob from its inception twenty years ago. Sexmob earned a Grammy Award nomination for their 2006 recording titled Sexotica and Briggan also recorded with guitarist Bill Frisell on his Grammy Award winning 2007 album Unspeakable.
In addition to his work as a saxophonist and composer, Briggan plays guitar in several projects including his String and Reed Quartet. He also works in the areas of sound art, electronic music and interdisciplinary performance. He is currently a professor in the Performance and Interactive Media Arts [PIMA] and Sonic Arts MFA programs at Brooklyn College.