Shot × Shot: Shot × Shot

Shot x Shot - Shot x Shot

Shot x Shot - Shot x Shot

  1. Bee Assassins Download Bee Assassins
  2. One Point Three Full Breaths (D. Capecchi) 11:53
  3. Two Improvisations (SHOT × SHOT) 10:02
  4. Volzalisle (D. Scofield) 10:14
  5. Chains of Agree (M. Engle) 13:02

Released: April 11, 2006

Dan Capecchi – drums
Matt Engle – bass
Bryan Rogers – tenor saxophone
Dan Scofield – alto saxophone

Recorded live at St. Mary’s Church, Philadelphia, PA. May 22, 2005.Mastered by Chris Flam at Mindswerve Studios, NYC.

All songs © 2006 Shot × Shot

Liner notes by Francis Davis:

What’s likely to strike you first about Shot × Shot’s debut CD is Dan Scofield and Bryan Rogers’s twin saxophone keening. The Philadelphia-based quartet’s signature sound, it’s going to remind some listeners of Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, and others of Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders—let’s split the difference and say it’s like Konitz and Marsh in a more heated setting. This is music in which foreground and background are constantly shifting: the ear is drawn to the two horns, because that’s the way we’re used to listening to jazz; but Matt Engle’s bass and Dan Capecchi’s drums are often out front, and their ongoing dialogue is as vigorous and loose-limbed as Scofield and Rogers’s. So along with Coltrane and the Tristanoites, listeners might also be reminded of Ron Carter and Tony Williams with Miles, and even more so of Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell with Ornette Coleman (as Capecchi points out, “we originally bonded over our mutual love of Ornette Coleman’s music” as students in Philadelphia at the University of the Arts).

All well and good—these are enduring influences and convenient points of reference in listening to Shot × Shot. But it’s good to remember three of the band’s members are still in their early twenties (Capecchi is the old man of the group at 26). These young musicians have also been keeping tabs on recent developments. Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tim Berne, and John Zorn are also in the mix, along with Brian Eno, Sly Stone, gamelan, and film (the band’s name is a conscious film reference).” This recording makes it clear that the members of Shot × Shot haven’t been passive receptors for these diverse influences. Indeed, it’s as if they’ve found the common thread between them, starting with Tristano and continuing up to the present—an emphasis on improvisation, rather than solos per se.

“Very few of our compositions make it to performance without the entire group shaping and reshaping them in terms of form and sound,” says Scofield, who also gigs alongside Rogers in Bobby Zankel’s Warriors of the Wonderful Sound and the eclectic, world-music influenced Sonic Liberation Front, which also includes Engle. “We usually talk in detail about each composition, both in terms of concrete things—rhythm, dynamics, improvisational cues, and instrumental pairings—and abstract concepts like shape, texture, and sonic space.” His own “Volzalisle”—the most instantly spellbinding of the five performances here, with its dovetailing saxes, suspended rhythms, and slow combustion—is a kind of mantra based on a theme he originally composed on kalimba and meant to exploit the boomy acoustics of St. Mary’s Church (whose rectory once housed the Empty Foxhole, the only place in Philadelphia to hear the likes of Cecil Taylor, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and David Murray in the 1970s).

The swarming and aptly titled opener “Bee Assassins” was written by Capecchi, who describes it as “a head on which the tenor has a droning note over which the alto plays a twisted, quarter-note triplet melody—and when the bass comes in, it’s the same as the alto’s melody, but in quarter notes rather than triplets.” During the improvisations, “we come back to the original alto melody, but in a different way each time.” Capecchi’s “One Point Three Full Breaths” is built around “the tension between the deliberately mechanical-sounding bass line and the horn melody, which is human and somewhat hesitant.” In the ensuing free improvisation, alto, tenor, and bass “all have melodic figures with identical rhythm—quarter, half, quarter, quarter—in 7/8 that start at different points of the measure. The drums adhere to this as well, but I occasionally leave the pattern to let it breathe.” And breathe it does, largely thanks to Capecchi’s ability to sustain momentum and pulse while steering clear of a regular beat. Despite the elliptical title (based on a piece of bygone Philadelphia graffiti), “The Chains of Agree,” is the album’s most straightforward piece, with its ticking rhythms and singing saxophone unison. “Two Improvisations” is what the title implies—a collective, in-the-moment performance that increases in complexity as it swells in dynamics, and whose organization and discipline is a tribute to Shot × Shot’s group identity.

Don’t buy the lie that jazz has completed its evolution and virtuoso recapitulation is all we have to look forward to from here on out. Something fresh and exciting is unfolding in jazz, and these talented young Philadelphians are doing their part to speed it along. It’s been ages since I’ve heard a debut recording this adventurous and assured.

Reviews

Downbeat
{Greg Buium, July 2006}
3.5 stars… Shot × Shot takes deceptively simple, bare-bones structures and turns them into spacey, infinitely layered improvisations… I wonder what’s next for this excellent young quartet.

The Wire
{Phil Freeman, May 2006}
The group’s debut, recorded in a Philadelphia church, documents a battle between the participants and their environment. Natural reverberation is the fifth instrument—delicate horn duets shimmer away into ambient haze, as Dan Capecchi’s drums thump and rattle and bassist Matt Engle struggles manfully to make an impact.

Things begin slowly, with Capecchi eliciting sounds very much like feedback from his cymbals, before the horns come in—Rogers droning, Scofield playing slow, beautiful sequences of notes that seem only tenuously connected. But each sound chosen is indisputably right…
All [tracks] leave an impression, upon completion, of being neither solipsistic nor beholden to cliché—a small miracle, these days. This calmly assured debut bodes well for the future of all involved.

Philadelphia City Paper
{Shaun Brady, Mar 9, 2006}
“It is the push-pull of each feeding off the others, taking and surrendering the lead, that gives the group its powerful collective identity.”

Downtown Music Gallery
{Michael Anton Parker, Apr 2006}
Shot x Shot is a precocious quartet of young guys finding their place in the tradition of jazz as creative improvised music and not beating a dead bop horse… When the ensemble erupts it feels organic and purposeful; their lanquidity is restraint for the sake of nuance, not a rut for the sake of a concept. It’s the kind of jazz where structural experimentalism is matched by an unfailing devotion to melody of the achingly tender, wandering Berne variety even when it works its way into bark and bluster. In his enthusiastic liner notes Francis Davis goes as far as comparing the horn frontline to Konitz/Marsh. The spacious, open feeling is magnified by the recording conditions, a large church with cavernous reverb. I went to see this group play a record release gig last night and they had my rapt attention from start to finish. This record also casts a spell with its bristling tapestry of introspection. These guys have the elusive group chemistry and personal depth that deserves the attention of serious jazz fans.”

Signal to Noise
{Shaun Brady, Summer 2006}
The sustained sonic hangtime serves the slow-build approach to composition, wherein all four pass the spotlight, spiraling inwards towards the melody by an accumulation of elements.

WNUR
{April 2006}
Pick of the Week: This is a remarkable album and a rare event in that we hardly ever see a debut recording… The interplay between musicians can be so beautifully layered one doesn’t know what to listen to first. The playing itself is truly experimental as Shot x Shot doesn’t fall into any of the neatly organized categories for modern jazz. Part of the reason is that it doesn’t follow closely to a particular aesthetic. Shot x Shot’s emphasis on ambiance and texture draws it closer to post-rock while its instrumentation and emphasis on improvisation puts it squarely in the jazz/free improv camp… Shot x Shot’s debut represents a meaningful step forward in jazz’s evolution.

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