Snow Line Suite

Announcing Snow Line Suite by Seattle-based saxophonist and composer Steve Treseler on Common Tone Records.

Snow Line Suite

Snow Line Suite (Steve Treseler)

  1. Daybreak (1:39)
  2. Tectonics (3:56)
  3. Dancing With Gravity (6:09)
  4. Glacier Terminus (2:34)
  5. Clarion Call (4:35)
  6. Dusk (1:12)
  7. Mother Earth (Annie Booth) (5:56)

Following up on his critically acclaimed album - Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler, co-led with the renowned trumpeter Ingrid Jensen - Snow Line Suite offers a remarkable sound portrait of North America's Western mountain ranges through evocative soundscapes, poignant themes, and propulsive grooves. Treseler is joined by the Denver-based Annie Booth trio, featuring Booth on piano, Patrick McDevitt on bass, and Alejandro Castaño on drums. Multi-instrumentalist Greg Cambell punctuates three movements of the suite with a collection of metallic percussion instruments—bowls, bells, gongs, and pipes.

Invisible Sounds was named one of DownBeat's best albums of 2019 and featured in the New York Times and on NPR's Jazz Night in America. Snow Line Suite continues the streams of spacious improvisations and rich impressionistic harmonies, but this time the spotlight is on Treseler's writing.

Treseler grew up hiking and skiing with his family in the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges in Washington State. After studying at New England Conservatory in Boston, the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest called Treseler back to Seattle. "I draw so much musical inspiration from the natural landscapes of the Northwest. I love traveling back east to play, but Seattle always feels like where I belong." Steve is deeply embedded in the Northwest jazz and creative music scene, leading his own ensembles and collaborating with renowned artists Wayne Horvitz, Tom Varner, Scrambler Soundpainting Ensemble among many others.

Steve Treseler and Annie Booth met at The Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in 2011 under the direction of Dave Douglas. "Annie and I have collaborated in Denver, Seattle, and Banff—all of our music-making has been in mountainous environments, so this project was a perfect fit. Her trio brought an infectious energy to this music when we played at Dazzle in Denver, and I was thrilled to bring them to Seattle to record."

The EP features Treseler's six-movement Snow Line Suite and one piece by Annie Booth, winner of the 2017 ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award. Treseler says, "Snow Line Suite is a multi-dimensional portrait of mountain ranges, from the inside out. The piece reflects their inner structures, outward forms, sonic environments, and how we interact with these formations."

I. Daybreak—sunrise in the Canadian Rockies expressed as a haunting sound collage. A nod to French composer Olivier Messiaen, this opening movement features metallic percussion, bird calls of the Canadian Rockies played on clarinet, and dissonant splashes of color from the piano.

II. Tectonics—the inner workings of the geological plates that spawn mountain ranges, expressed through incessant interlocking rhythmic ostinatos and weaving melodic lines.

III. Dancing with Gravity — an impression of alpine skiing, the weightlessness, unpredictability, beauty, and exhilaration. Human interactions with mountain formations are dances with gravity—if the dance becomes a battle, the mountain always wins.

IV. Glacier Terminus—although the end of a glacier appears still from our perspective, it's in constant motion like a river, with power to reshape landscapes. Musically, the ensemble plays with the duality of stasis and motion, anchored by a constant drone. This movement features Campell's percussion and close interval multiphonics on saxophone (an extended technique that creates close clusters of notes).

V. Clarion Call—the longing for connection to the natural world, each other, something beyond. This movement began as a sketch for Invisible Sounds and was reworked as a cornerstone of the suite. Clarion Call has the stamp of Kenny Wheeler's lush harmonic language and spacious interactive ensemble playing.

IV. Dusk—sundown in the Canadian Rockies as a dense reprise of the opening movement. Campbell's evocative arsenal of metallic percussion and objects bookends the suite.

The EP closes with pianist Annie Booth's lyrical and gospel-tinged "Mother Earth", inspired by the serenity of Colorado's Sangre De Cristo mountain range.

Steve Treseler - tenor saxophone, clarinet (1, 6)
Annie Booth - piano
Patrick McDevitt - bass
Alejandro Castaño - drums
Greg Campbell - percussion (1, 4, 6)

Recorded at Robert Lang Studios, Shoreline, WA (September 8-10, 2017)
Engineered by Reed Ruddy
Mixed at SophiaHat Studios, Seattle, WA by Chris Spencer
Mastered by Ross Nyberg at Nyberg Mastering, Issaquah, WA