The Spoon

The world gives us humans more information than we know what to do with. Our solution to receiving such a sensual flood at all times is to put a frame around a little bit of it and call it meaningful, allowing us to safely ignore the rest and get on with our day. As we add these frames our intuitive choices are informed by a refined sense of pattern, and we call it art. When humans saw the infinite vastness of the night sky, littered with stars, we picked out patterns and called these constellations. A similar problem challenges us in the Internet Age. When every article, book, movie, song, interview, theory, and social interaction is available from our computer, how could we possibly determine which of this chaos is meaningful?

I don’t have an answer, but this fundamentally human process was the guiding principle behind The Spoon. The ensemble started from a place of conceptual and stylistic nihilism, recording many free improvisations, short, tonal pieces (composed by Noah Berman) and longer, complex compositions by myself. We were left with hours of material spanning huge ranges in melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and timbral consonance. The album was pieced together from all of this material into a sonic narrative.

“An album of jazz compositions and free improvisation. Sculpted noise and collective experimentation mimic the human compulsion to pinpoint beauty and meaning in a chaos of information, from the night sky to the modern digital landscape.”


released 15 June 2015
Ethan Helm, saxophones
Noah Berman, guitar
Adam Kromelow, piano
Nathan Ellman-Bell, drums
Sam Minaie, mixing and mastering

Family Cow Recordings “The Spoon” was created in fulfillment of my masters degree, and hopefully bears the influence of my numerous mentors, beginning with my dad, a music educator, and continuing with saxophone and composition teachers Dan St. Marseille, Charles Pillow, Brad Shepik, and Ralph Alessi.

Noah Berman (guitar), Adam Kromelow (piano), and Nathan-Ellman Bell (drums) join in creating this album of jazz compositions and free improvisation. Each offer their unique and charismatic voices to a constantly-morphing ensemble sound that explores texture, rhythm, and harmony on the fringes of the jazz tradition. Sam Minaie’s mixing and mastering is an integral part of this album, shaping the sonic aesthetic and highlighting the best traits of each quartet member. Berman’s compositions began as exercises for guitar, which the band arranged, performed, and then creatively responded to in collective improvisations. The improvisations here were chosen from over two hours of material for their focused and definite character. The title track combines a variety of musical material and spaces for improvising into a large form, in which contrasting sounds are quickly juxtaposed and layered with ecstatic energy and a revelatory conclusion.

This music is adventurous, beautiful, sometimes very noisy, and sometimes very quiet. Please enjoy!