Category Archives: Trio

More Melancholy, Less Science

A Melancholy Science
at Outpost 186 – November 29th, 2010

Randy Pingrey – trombone
James Wylie – alto sax
Ezra Weller – trumpet

Part 1: The Changing Same
for George Lewis

The Changing Same

The Changing Same

The Changing Same

The Changing Same

The Changing Same

The Changing Same

Part 2: 3 Things I Know about Her
for JLG






Part 3: Coda

Improvisation for Brian

Shostakovich’s Prelude for Saxophone, Trumpet, and Trombone

It was an incredible honor to share this performance with James and Ezra – they both sound so wonderful.  Their performances are totally amazing: they are both virtuosic instrumentalists and brilliant improvisers.  James and Ezra (if you ever read this): thank you so much!

I really enjoyed this performance, and I’m quite happy to present the entire concert here.  There are a few suggestions I have to the listener for fun, unusual ways to experience this music (other than listening to each track separately, of course):

1) Try listening to all 6 versions of The Changing Same simultaneously.
2) Try listening to all 3 Things at the same time, and compare what you hear to the 2 Shes.  Hopefully they sound similarly to you.
3) Try listening to “Improvisation” and the prelude at the same time.  Unlike the previous two things, they weren’t originally meant to go together, but somehow they do…

I hope you enjoy the music!  Feel free to download the tunes – I think they sound a little better that way (as opposed to streaming) – and share them with all of your friends.  Thank you very much for listening.

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Randy Pingrey Trio – March 23rd 2010


Four Decembers (previously performed here)

Randy Pingrey: trombone
James Wylie: alto sax
Ezra Weller: trumpet

Look at the score to Stupor (pdf).

The RPT performed as part of the third Boston Comprovised concert.  As always, our very sincere thanks goes out to Dan VanHassel and Travis Alford for having us play.  Thanks guys!

Stupor was a totally new composition for the trio, and it’s the first, cautious, step into writing more traditionally notated material.  Like many of my peers, the music of Steve Lacy has been a really eye-opening influence, and the new tune is a little tip of the hat to Mr. Lacy.

As always, thank you very much for listening!


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March 7th

Randy Pingrey Trio/Quartet at the Kaji Aso Studio

Scribe – for Morton Feldman

Thriving – for Anton Webern

Short Notes – for Anthony Braxton

Grock (Solo Trombone) – for Luciano Berio

Long Notes – for Anthony Braxton

Four Decembers – for Earle Brown

Randy Pingrey – trombone
Ezra Weller – trumpet
Chris Veilleux – alto sax, flute
and special guest – Kathy Olson – flute

On March 7th, the Randy Pingrey Trio +1 opened for Shaw Pong Liu’s amazing Ligeti string quartet project.  I couldn’t have been happier with the way the evening turned out – Ezra, Chris, and Kathy all played amazingly (check out the end of Short Notes for some pretty sick ensemble playing), and it was the first time I heard Ligeti’s first String Quartet (it was stunning).  As always, thank you very much for listening!

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Variations on a Theme – October 1st

Variations on a Theme by Salvatore Pugliese

Randy Pingrey Trio – October 1st, 2009 at St. John’s Episcopal Church

First Variation

Second Variation

 Third Variation

Fourth Variation

Subsequent Variations

Randy Pingrey – trombone, piano, tape recorder, etc.
James Wylie – alto sax, tape recorder, etc.
Jerry Sabatini – trumpet, tape recorder, etc.

Feel free to download or stream all of these files.  Be aware: Subsequent Variations is quite a large file.


On October 1st, the Randy Pingrey Trio played this hour-long piece.  My goal was to create my first evening-length work, and in the spirit of past trio performances, I wanted the piece to reflect the vibe of the venue and of the performance opportunity.  We played in a giant, old church at night, with just enough light to see the written music.

The piece consists of oblique variations on a hymn, which is performed every year in Cambridge, MA during the Feast of Cosmos and Damien.  I originally learned the melody when I was playing at the feast from Salvi Pugliese, the musical director and lead trumpeter with the Roma Band – an organization which I play with a lot during the summer months.

Special thanks goes to Peter Terry for having us play, to James and Jerry for their excellent performances, and for all the people that came to check it out.

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Working on Music

October 1st is quickly approaching!  I’m hard at work finishing this damn piece – right now I’m a little stuck, I have about 2/3rds of it written out but the last third is proving to be quite difficult to come up with!  Please come on October 1st to see what happens!  Hopefully I’ll be able to post some clips late tomorrow night from our rehearsal.

Stay tuned!

working on oct1


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October 1st – A Sneak Peak

Here is a draft of the first half of what we’ll be playing on October 1st at St. John’s in JP:

october 1st

Are you curious what it will sound like?  Me too!  Hopefully I’ll be able to post some rehearsal recordings sometime early next week.

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Coming to a town near you…

boy with sling

The first rehearsal is late next week – hopefully it will get recorded so I can put a few tracks up here.  Please come to the show!

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A Melancholy Science


Here are tracks from my new trio’s most recent performance – at Rutman’s Violins on June 26th, 2009:

Thriving Off a Riff

A Shrug of the Shoulders (formerly “Piece for Trio”)

An Excuse for Laziness (formerly “Tapes”)


Randy Pingrey on trombone, water
James Wylie on alto sax, clarinet, and tape
Joe Moffett on trumpet and tape

Recorded by Dan VanHassel (thanks Dan!)

If you’re interested in hearing more here are the same tunes, a few days earlier, in rehearsal.

A word or two about the compositions: the three tunes we played at the event were written specifically for that concert.  My goal was to strip back some of the layers of composition, in order to try to reveal the thing – or anything – that lies underneath.  From Godard’s movie My Life to Live: “A bird is an animal with an inside and an outside. Remove the outside, there’s the inside. Remove the inside and you see the soul.”  If you similarly remove the outside and inside of composition, what is the remainder?  This is my melancholy science.

Thriving Off a Riff is based on a Webern string quartet, but only in the loosest of terms.  Some of the pitch material is kept, and I try to maintain a similar sense of pacing and form.  The goal for me was to show, in some small way, the inadequacy of pitch as an expressive device.  That at a certain point, pitch fails to express some of the expressions that are most basic and essential for us to express.  I chose to base the piece after Webern because of his connection to and mastery of pitch, and to show that (if only to myself) there is more to his craft than the clever reordering of pitch rows.  This aspect – pitch – was the first compositional layer I chose to peel back.

A Shrug of the Shoulders is an attempt to give aesthetic weight to failure and incompetence, much in the same spirit as Samuel Beckett, whose words started this blog two months ago.  I’m interested in investigating the point at which virtuosity breaks down and becomes irrelevant to the musical goals.  The compositional challenge has an interesting proposal: how do you write music which remains interesting (or at least sympathetic) yet embraces failure?  Do you go for charming impotence, humorous ignorance, or (preferably) do you go for something deeper?  This aspect – virtuosity – was the second compositional layer I chose to peel back.

An Excuse for Laziness examines the metaphorical end-of-the-line for composition.  The compositional aspect, instead of relying on pitch or form or other written aspects, is based on orchestration – each player is limited to playing with certain cliche sounds from early jazz performance practice – and on the prerecorded tapes which James and Joe manipulate on old, barely functional tape players which they didn’t necessarily know how to operate.  My goal, in the loftiest and most pretentious way of putting it, was to try to capture an aural sense of oldness, to show that at the eleventh hour it is improssible to remain timelessly hip and that sooner or later everyone looks at least a little old-fashioned.  Was it a success?  Well, it’s a topic I’ll certainly have to come back to.  This aspect – composition, itself – was the third and last compositional layer I chose to peel back.

After all this: what remains?  I’m not yet sure.  Check out the tracks, and tell me what you think.

And, as if that wasn’t enough for me to blabber on about, here is my arrangement of Raffi’s Baby Beluga, which was performed by the Comprovised All-Stars:

Baby Beluga

Or, if you prefer:

I’m extremely grateful for all the wonderful performers that you hear on these tracks, and deserving of particular thanks is Travis Alford and Dan VanHassel for arranging the concert and inviting me to bring my weirdo stuff as well as Joe and James, who play so wonderfully (and musically!) on the trio tracks.

Thank you very much for listening!


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Chasing after Derek Bailey (Trio and Part Two of my Solo Experiment)

No time to write right now, but I wanted to put up a sneak peak of my very new project with a trio of horns.  These are the three tunes we’re going to play tomorrow night at Rutman’s.  James was so kind as to bring his recording device to the rehearsal:

Thrashing on a Riff
Piece for Trio

Working with James (the saxophonist) and Joe (the trumpeter) is a real pleasure – they are both so wonderful!  Please come on 6/26 and check out how these pieces have developed since we recorded them a few days ago.

I’ve also continued to work on solo playing.  Here are a few tracks I recorded on the 22nd or 23rd:


It’s a small step forward in the development of a certain type of solo voice.  I’ll try and update later, with my thoughts on what I’ve worked on since my last entry.

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A New Project

On June 26th, I’ll be premiering a new project at Rutman’s Violins as part of Travis Alford’s Comprovised music series. It will feature James Wylie on saxophones and clarinet and Joe Moffett on trumpet (and Scott Halligan might join us if the stars align in our favor). We’re going to play music that addresses some of the ideas I’ve been tossing around in my head – this is the first group I’ve had that has nothing like a rhythm section, and I’m going to try to channel the sounds of early jazz.

Needless to say, I’m really excited to begin working again on something that’s my own thing.

Right now I’m trying to break the 10 minute mark as far as composition and form are concerned. All of my previous work really times out at 5 or 10 minutes – after that the composition looses steam. I’m trying right now to write music which could go on for twenty minutes and still be interesting.

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