What My Life Sounds Like by Chris Jentsch (Brooklyn Suite liner notes)

Looking back, my eras seem to be partly defined in one way by the seven different places in which I’ve temporarily settled, but the periods are characterized also by the musical situations unique to those locations. The Media Event trio recording (1998) and the related Miami Suite CD (1999) together sum up the Florida era, for example. My first experience as a group leader with Planet X defines my recollections of Boston in the late 80s and early 90s (that quartet included John and Jim from the rhythm section on this disc). 

I have lived in Brooklyn longer than I’ve lived anywhere since moving out of my childhood hometown, so I’ve had a few years to build a project that sums up my experiences in New York City to date. As the composer and guest conductor for Miami Suite, it was not possible to be my own guitarist for that. As the composer and guitar player for Brooklyn Suite, this opportunity has been crafted to express certain long-held ideas I’ve had about combining my own variety of electric guitar textures with the forces of a large ensemble. This accounts for the absence of piano on this program. 

As with Miami Suite, the bulk of Brooklyn Suite is made from tunes developed in the small group context. The songs have been expanded from their Jentsch Group Quartet origins and linked together with various interludes to form a larger canvas. Parts of improvisations by the small group during those tunes in concert or in rehearsal have been combined, harmonized, or otherwise edited for inclusion. 

“Follow That Cab” as a tune was written in 1999 at John Mettam’s place during the week I came to Brooklyn to look for an apartment. “Imagining the Mirror” was a phrase coined by my wife, whom I married in 2003 – so all of our married life has been in Brooklyn. Her phrase became a song title. “Outside Line” as a tune went through a long sketch phase in Brooklyn sessions and rehearsals. These are just a few examples of how music and life are one. Brooklyn Suite is what my life sounds like. 

John Mettam and I improvised most of “Our Daily Dread” as a duo around 1990. It then became a tune, and years later has now been blown up into the large ensemble. “See You in Bali” is dedicated to Mike Marcus (the bass player). 

What is galvanizing about the Brooklyn era is that it is still underway, so it is yet to be finally defined. Be on the lookout for another suite for this ensemble coming in 2007/08, on a new grant received from New York State Council on the Arts. 

Thanks to all… 
Chris Jentsch

Brooklyn Suite was funded in part by the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center, and commissioned by the American
Composers Forum
 with Funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.

photo by David Frost