'Envoi': The Process
18th November 2021Features Club Inegales
Peter Wiegold, Artistic Director of Notes Inégales, writes about the recording process of their new release, Envoi, an homage to Miles Davis recorded in the mountains near Montreux, Lake Geneva, where he gave some of his final concerts.
We sat down in the studio in the hills above Montreux, switched on the red light, and played all day. With just a couple of short starting points, we mostly improvised, guided by some signals from me and the occasional bit of shouting out of ideas. I love that recording process, put the light on, cycle things, see what new thresholds emerge to new areas. Players forget the light, there are no self-conscious ‘retakes’.
Some beautiful grooves emerged, fine textures, quite a lot of melancholy and ‘tristesse’. It was like Miles’ spirit was in the mountains, and we were saying goodbye.
We are in the mountains and we can feel Miles’ presence in the air
There were some extraordinary moments. Great transitions as Martin Butler’s powerful chords interrupted walls of sound to take us into whole new pieces. Joel Bell’s touching solos, Christian Forshaw’s melodies, that always seem capture the essence of a whole track in a few notes.
And, above all, trumpeter Torbjörn Hultmark’s echo of Miles - at times triumphant, coaxing, melancholy, angry, some sounds I think of as his throaty voice - then finally lost, whimpering, sometimes seeming to be squeezing out his last notes on earth. Surrounded by the haunting mountains sounds from Swiss percussionist Christophe Fellay.
The CD traces the day, exactly in order, through to a very touching goodbye, farewell, ‘Envoi’
Shortly after the beginning a strong theme emerged, a kind of story - we are in the mountains and we can feel Miles's presence in the air (the place where he gave some of his final concerts), but he is about to go and the mountains are angry at losing him; there are storms, winds, distant mountain bells, anger and tristesse and honour to a soul torn away.
The CD traces the day, exactly in order, through to a very touching goodbye, farewell, ‘Envoi’. The editing process was fascinating - bringing a 70’ exploration of on an idea down to 8’, preserving the flowing narrative nature of the day, while locking in key points of orientation for the listener. Finding the sound of the piece with Torbjörn/Miles a presence rather than a soloist. We recorded this 10 years ago, and made an initial release. It has been a labour of love to go back and go deeper into the extraordinary playing that came from the band that day. I was greatly helped in the final voicing by Chris Lewis as we mastered the tracks.
Torbjörn Hultmark solo trumpet
Joel Bell solo electric guitar
Christophe Fellay drums
Roland Sutherland flutes
Max Baillie viola
Christian Forshaw saxophones
Graham Lee trombone
Martin Butler piano
Ben Markland bass guitar
Simon Limbrick drums and percussion
Peter Wiegold director/keyboards
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