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Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

Jason Seed's Sonic Journey

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Jason Seed has never sat still for long. His childhood included many towns and schools. His adulthood is following suit, as he has been pulled between the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, between Chicago, Portland and Milwaukee. Seed's music has also displayed a proclivity toward restlessness, traveling between the compass points of rock, classical and jazz. Seed will present audio snapshots of his musical journey this week in concert at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

As composer and guitarist, Seed has recorded and performed in a variety of formats and under various names. His Elixir Ensemble played SXSW and released three albums, including 2008's Where the Corners Meet, honored at the Independent Music Awards. The Jason Seed Stringtet has also issued an album; his String Quintet No. 1 was performed at Chicago's Symphony Center with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and various classically inclined compositions have been performed by Present Music and other contemporary ensembles. The Jason Seed Quartet toured European jazz clubs. For reasons unclear, the Elixir Ensemble's albums have sold especially well in Sweden.

"I got obsessed with writing," Seed says of his own music. "I write every day and I throw almost everything out. Expressing yourself in such an abstract way is very satisfying—it's mental architecture. And playing with members of the Milwaukee and Chicago symphony orchestras has been incredibly wonderful. They can play everything!"

For his Conservatory concert, Seed will perform with three members of the MSO: violist Helen Reich; violinist and violist Glenn Asch (who also plays Hot Club swing with his own combo) and Scott Tisdel (also a member of the Prometheus Trio). The compositions often have classical, fugue-like structures, but with space (as in Bach!) for improvisation and with rhythms more associated with rock or the traditions of Eastern Europe. Unlike the loads of calculated world music and jazz fusion in the marketplace of doubtful ideas, Seed's diverse music achieves organic wholeness.

"I fell in love with Bach, but also with Mingus and Henry Threadgill. I love rock and Bulgarian folk music and like to combine all of these influences," Seed explains. "It's become part of my own vocabulary. I've internalized these things and they come out without thinking."

Jason Seed Stringtet will perform 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave. Tickets are $18.

Photo by kPhotography 

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