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by Mark Helias

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Hands Down 10:52
Fictionary 07:42
Area 51 10:49
Douglas Fir 02:29
Haymaker 06:56


While growing up listening to records in the confines of suburban New Jersey, I often wondered what various groups sounded like live. Having little direct experience with live music until my late teens, I became fascinated with “live” recordings as an analog to the “live” experience.
Conversely, after the first hearing of a live symphony orchestra (London Philharmonic), I understood that no live recording wholly represents the experience of being in the midst of living, breathing musicians in the act of music making. Thus, for me, live recordings occupy a special terrain distinct from both studio recordings and live experiences.
Pondering some of my favorite live albums (Coltrane Live at Birdland, Mingus at Monterey and Antibes, Miles at the Blackhawk, The Band at Watkins Glen, Bill Evans at the Vanguard and Oscar Peterson at the London House), I realize that for the many artists who have left this world, it is the closest I will ever come to seeing/hearing them perform. While listening I always imagine being at the club or concert hall; the sights, sounds and atmosphere.
Being a performing musician, the phenomenology of live performance is an ongoing fascination. Comparing experiences of a given concert performance with colleagues afterwards often produces a wide variance of opinion, because one's take on a gig is an expression of a truly personal experience. Consequently I have often wondered; is there an objective reality to a performance and how much is this altered by the perception of the performers and audience?
After much reflection, I have come to the conclusion that any odd feelings or distractions while performing – anything where the mind tends to take me of of the “now – is neither to be trusted, nor given undue acceptance.
In an improvising ensemble these issues come up often, especially for those individuals stout-hearted enough to take them on. While listening to this CD I am struck by the musical chances being taken. It seems to me that players are explorers, always trying something different, trusting the ear or the heart or the gut, pushing the envelope, being “in the moment”.
Both of the concerts from which this music is drawn were wonderful musical experiences, subjectively and objectively. The newer pieces were being given attention for the first time and have a looseness and freshness of new discovery. The older pieces were stretched and rerouted into some new areas by the collective input of the whole group. Our audiences had no small part in this exploration. There was energy in the house at both gigs and everybody was feeling it. My wish is that you, the listener, share that feeling.

Mark Helias


released May 1, 2020

Mark Helias Bass
Mike Sarin Drums (Tracks 1,2,3, and 7)
Tom Rainey Drums (Tracks 4,5 and 6.)
Ellery Eskelin Tenor Saxophone
Mark Feldman Violin

All compositions by Mark Helias published
by Radio Legs Music (BMI)

Tracks 1,2,3,7 recorded at Nijmegen Music Meeting, November 3 1996.
Tracks 4,5,6, recorded at Groningen Jazz Festival, October 13, 1995.

Producer: Mark Helias
Production Director: Marc Lambert
Project Coordinator: George Schuller
Production Assistance: Timothy Geller, Dan Greenspan, Matt Jenson
Live recording Produced by CoDe Kloet/NPS Radio, Netherlands
Editing: David Locke
Mastering by David Locke at 9West Mastering
Graphic Design and Artwork: John McKenna
Photos: Jean-Pierre Tiilert, Patrick Hinely (photo of Tom Rainey)
I would like to thank the musicians on this date for their profound commitment to self-expression.
Special thanks to Ralph Gluch, Wim westerveld, George Schuller, Gunther Schuller and my dear mother Margaret Helias


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Mark Helias New York, New York

Mark Helias is a renowned bassist, composer and producer who has performed throughout the world for more than four decades with some of the most important and innovative musicians in Jazz and Improvised Music including Don Cherry, Edward Blackwell, Anthony Davis, Dewey Redman, Anthony Braxton, Abbey Lincoln, Cecil Taylor, and Uri Caine.
Sixteen albums of his music have been released since 1984.
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