Gurrisonic Orchestra is a 22-piece chamber ensemble that brings together some of the most creative and innovative improvisers in Los Angeles. Gurrisonic Orchestra performs genre-bending original music, pushing the boundaries of instrumentation and style with a mix of spoken word, poetry, and multi-media, framed by through-composed orchestral landscapes with tinges of avant-garde, jazz, and classical contemporary music.
“Extreme in ambition, expansive in vision and expressive in emotion, the album is a sonic boom, its forceful reverberations announcing an important new voice in jazz composition.”
“Gurría's music stands as a reconfiguration of what Gunther Schuller termed "Third Stream Music",…Schuller would have loved.”
THE BUFFALO NEWS
“In the tradition of truly extraordinary and very rare music, this is terrific music that is a marvelous musical genre all to itself. Gurria is clearly a man intimidated by nothing and not overly impressed by anything but his own inspiration. Bravo.”
“A whirlwind of colliding sounds and moods [,…] that leave you both exhausted and asking for more.”
“Gurria is a superb, forward-leaning composer.”
Liner notes from Jazz Times' associate editor Jeff Tamarkin
There are many ways one can listen to the self-titled debut recording from José Gurría’s Gurrisonic Orchestra, but casually is not one of them. This is music that demands your undivided attention; its generous spirit of sound envelops you, seduces you and electrifies you. It bathes you in vivid, dynamic splashes of color and texture and traverses many dispositions and emotions, from raucous, cacophonic eruptions to calming caresses. It’s not merely involving, but virtually exhausting in its embracement of the listener’s senses. This is not music to be played once or twice and filed away, as each new exposure to it reveals greater, hitherto concealed depths and layers. Surrender to it; you won’t regret it for a moment.
Everything about Gurrisonic Orchestra exudes majesty. Even at its most minimal, José Gurría’s compositions and the musicians’ immaculate execution of the countless twists and leaps, lulls and bursts project a certain indefinable eminence. Of course, a 22-piece orchestra will naturally tend to use up more airspace than a smaller ensemble but, as Gurría—who serves not only as composer but also arranger, orchestrator, director of the orchestra and, of course, powerhouse drummer—puts it, it’s an “organic” and “otherworldly” work, deliberately designed to showcase each member’s artistry to the fullest. “The listener will hear the entire ensemble’s facility with improvisation and experimentalism while simultaneously navigating every detail of the score that was written specifically for each player,” Gurría says. “I enjoy pushing the players to a point where they didn’t know they could go, and this creates excitement among them as well. There’s a challenge going on: the symbiotic power of the interpreter to the composer; it transcends style so that each and every listener can feel the intimacy and relate to this very personal music.”
From the frenzied volley that introduces the intriguingly titled “Constant Deprivation of Monetary Funds (The Beast),” the opening track, it’s apparent that Gurrisonic Orchestra is music to be experienced and absorbed wholly, not just heard. “It’s about being epic and passionate,” Gurría says of the track. Throughout the often frantic piece, brass and woodwinds, piano, bass and strings bob and weave, toying with one another, skittering and cajoling, locking into and falling far out of sync—punk-rock meets Stockhausen. It contrasts vividly with “Three Kids Music,” the lullaby that follows, “to be sung with love, compassion, empathy and all the goodness every kid in the world deserves,” as Gurría says. Then comes the appropriately titled “In Your Face,” with its stacked non-stop triplet figures within every section of the orchestra, its intensive lead playing in the string section, and its mid-tempo half-time shuffles—a wealth of flavors coming right at you.
“Ishuakara” is a self-contained world unto itself, alternately swinging and turbulent, garrulous and utterly kinetic. “It’s very sinuous, with time signatures changing constantly and difficult melodic jumps,” says Gurría. “And yet I have always heard it as a pop song—a pop song with a fanfare, that is.” That tour de force is followed by “The Finger,” which Gurría describes as “an oasis of solitude and compassion for my soul.” The text comes from José’s brother, Angel Gurría. “I asked him to do something that portrayed injustice and people taking advantage of other people,” says José. “I underscored his text with a more sublime vibe than an obviously angry one, especially as the subtext is the sadness of people looking at the glass ‘half empty’ most of the time.”
Keeping it familial, “Aquí,” featuring the orchestra’s woodwinds, is a “very pointillistic and energetic piece written for my son Camilo,” says Gurria, while “Oso” is written for his other son, Nicolás. “It was so fun to perform,” says José of that track. “Every time I listen to it, it gives me the giggles.” And wrapping up the program is “Caballo Viejo,” cinematic in scope and rich in sonic surprises. It features vocalist Dorian Wood, about whom Gurría says, “I am almost in disbelief of what a special performer he is; his frantic energy is tangible in performance and recording.”
Of course, pulling all of this together was no simple task. It fell to “Gurri,” as his friends call him, to summon up all of the knowledge and insight gained over his 25-year career and focus all of the various components of the music. Collaborating with conductor Marc Lowenstein, engineer extraordinaire Greg Curtis and co-producer Valeria Palomino, Gurría relied first and foremost on the trust he has in his team of virtuosic players. “I am not afraid to say that these might be 22 of the finest musicians on the planet, skilled in session work, orchestra and improvisational/experimental music,” he says. “Their adaptive skills are so outstanding that it allowed me to happily go back to my drumming duties during the recording process.” Which, it should be pointed out, amazingly took place within the course of a single day!
“This is exciting music for the heart and the mind,” says Gurría in summation, “brilliant musicians playing out of their comfort zone. It’s blissful music that has been life-altering to write and, I hope from the most humble of places, also life-altering to listen to.”
Exciting, blissful, brilliant, life-altering: That’s a lot of adjectives to throw around, but they all ring true. And as you absorb this music, many more will come to mind; in fact, an entire range of emotions and sensations may just wash over you. And at some point, whether at the very beginning or deep into the experience, you realize that, for all of its complexity, for all of its many nuances, there is also a surprising, welcoming accessibility to the sounds produced by Gurrisonic Orchestra. These musicians, as they go through their paces, exude an enormous amount of warmth, inviting you without hesitation to join them on their thrilling ride. You’ll want to accept that invitation—again and again.
Jeff Tamarkin is the Associate Editor of JazzTimes Magazine.
Creative notes from composer Jose Gurria
When I compose, more and more I wonder where a particular passage comes from. While I aspire to sound unique and original, I am fated to be too close to my work to really understand the phenomena. Ultimately, I ask myself: from whom am I stealing ideas? Sometimes it is screamingly obvious, but sometimes it is surprising and obscure, even to me, after subjecting my music to detailed scrutiny.
I have been composing large ensemble/chamber music ever since my Berklee years, twenty or so years ago. However, it was not until recently that I started to feel comfortable with my composing techniques and the sound possibilities of a band the size of Gurrisonic Orchestra.
While some of my biggest influences are Thelonious Monk, Thad Jones, Charles Mingus, Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Holman, and Duke Ellington, the picture of my aesthetics was incomplete, as I estimated that regurgitating what the masters did so well was pointless and without any artistic merit. Perhaps because of this search, I started to get closer to classical contemporary composers like Berio and Ligeti, and their precursors Hindemith, Berg, et al; and to a repertoire with more of a classical sensibility in the broader sense of the word. It was at that time, that my conception of what I wanted to write took a fuller shape; as I felt my direction benefited from the exploratory nature and openness of these composers’ sounds, while retaining the excitement and spontaneity of my jazz and rock references, and background.
It is as a result of this creative search that I am now able to present to you Three Kids Music, Gurrisonic Orchestra’s debut album. Enjoy!
released April 1, 2016
José Gurría: Composer, Arranger/Orchestrator, Drummer, Music Director
Mike Stever: Trumpet/Piccolo Trumpet/Flugelhorn 1
Daniel Rosenboom: Trumpet/Flugelhorn 2
Allen Fogle: French Horn
Peter Connell: Tenor Trombone/Bass Trombone
Blake Cooper: Tuba in C/Tuba in F/Cimbasso
Christine Tavolacci: Alto Flute/Flute 1
Daniel Weidlein: Flute 2/Soprano Sax/Tenor Saxophone 2
Justo Almario: Flute 3/Clarinet in Bb3/Tenor Saxophone 1
Gavin Templeton: Flute 4/Alto Saxophone/Bass Clarinet 3/Baritone Sax 1
Brian Walsh: Bb Clarinet 1/Bass Clarinet 1/Baritone Sax 2
Rory Mazzella: Bb Clarinet 2/Eb Clarinet/Bass Clarinet 2
Daniel Szabo: Piano
Alexander Noice: Electric Guitar/sfx
José Gurría-Cárdenas: Drumset
Tylana Renga: Violin 1/Viola 2
Eric KM Clark: Violin 2/sfx-loops
Lauren Baba: Violin 3/Viola 1
April Guthrie: Violoncello 1/Voice
Aniela Perry: Violoncello 2
Dave Tranchina: Doublebass
Karina Kallas: Voice
Dorian Wood: Voice
Areni Agbabian: Voice
Esperanza Rodríguez de Cárdenas
Ángel Gurría Quintana
These are the sorcerers that helped me build Three Kids Music:
Producers: José Gurría-Cárdenas and Valeria Palomino
Recording Engineer: Greg Curtis
1st Assistant: Milton Gutiérrez
2nd Assistant: Andrew Zisakis
Editing Engineer: Valeria Palomino
Mixing Engineer: Rich Breen for Dogmatic Sound
Mastering Engineer: Gavin Lurssen for Lurssen Mastering
Video: Alex Chaloff for Bucket's Moving Company (not a real moving company)
Art: Ngene Mwaura
Photography: Farah Sosa
Graphic Design: Petrushka Verenice Sáinz
Data bending and Glitch-art: Fabián Avila and Cristian Bañuelos
Contractor: Noah Gladstone
Inspiration and Imagery: Camilo Gurría, Nicolás Gurría and Amaro Gurría
The Gurrisonic Orchestra debut album Three Kids Music was recorded at The Bridge Recording in Glendale, California; on May 1st, 2014.
Friends we love that contribute in so many ways to Gurrisonic Orchestra
Luis Grane: Visuals and Animation
Joon Lee: Blue Whale Bar (Los Angeles)
Nick Mancini: Music and Technical Support
Eron Rauch: Stage Art
Masa Tzusuki: Sound Engineer
Tim Yalda: Curve Line Space
Roman Jaster and José Yapur: Graphic Design
Gurrisonic Orchestra merchandise and the complete concert-scores and parts for every song on the album are for purchase at www.gurrisonic.com
from Three Kids Music publishing. Copyright ©® 2016. Three Kids Music, BMI.
José Gurría plays Remo drumheads and Sabian cymbals exclusively. All Gurrisonic Orchestra music was notated on Sibelius notation software exclusively.
All music composed, arranged, and orchestrated by José Gurría except *.
*Composed by Simón Díaz, and arranged, and orchestrated by José Gurría.
Copyright©℗2016. Three Kids Music, BMI.