Mike Madriaga 9 a.m., Jan. 23
Famous former neighbor Jason Robinson tackles ancient Roman and Greek mythology
New album Tiresian Symmetry concerns Tiresias, blind seer said to have lived seven different lifetimes
"Mythology seems related to the kinds of storytelling that we, as jazz musicians, like to do," says former San Diegan Jason Robinson, whose new full-length Tiresian Symmetry concerns Tiresias, a blind seer said to have lived seven different lifetimes. "I'm really interested in my music in creating new kinds of mythologies, new ways of hearing music."
The saxophonist/composer explains "By calling the project Tiresian Symmetry, I'm interested in drawing upon this myth of Tiresias to help listeners and the performers think about how the music might have these sort of multiple narrative layers occurring all at the same time. The name is a reference to an ancient Roman and Greek myth about Tiresias, this blind seer that lived seven different lifetimes, and also had a kind of duality in their existence. This duality comes out in male and female, in yin and yang, and seeming opposites in a certain sense."
A ubiquitous and often pivotal figure in the stories and myths of ancient Greece, the blind prophet Tiresias was blessed and cursed by the gods, experiencing life as both a man and a woman while living for hundreds of years.
"I was attracted to the myth of the soothsayer, who tells the future even when it's not welcome information," Robinson says. "But on a more technical level I was intrigued by the numerical relationships. Tiresias lived seven generations and spent time as both male and female, which gives you 7/2. The pieces I wrote for the album embody those numerical relationships in a variety of forms. Of course, in the end there's the litmus test. The music has to sound good and feel good."
Tiresian Symmetry includes guest players Marty Ehrlich, Liberty Ellman, Drew Gress, Marcus Rojas, Bill Lowe, and others.
Reedist, composer, and scholar Jason Robinson divides his time between performing, research, and teaching. He has performed/recorded with Peter Kowald, Mark Dresser, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Jeff Kaiser, Eek a Mouse, Bertram Turetzky, Mel Graves, Marco Eneidi, Mike Wofford, and the La Jolla Symphony, as well as with theater-oriented groups such as the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the New Pickle Circus.
Robinson is a published author and teaches regularly at the University of California, Irvine, the University of California, San Diego, Southwestern College, and elsewhere. He holds a PhD in Music. Robinson's 2002 release Tandem (Accretions Records) was a "critic's pick" that year in JazzTimes magazine. Robinson is the founder and artistic director of Circumvention Music and a founding member of the Trummerflora Collective.
In late 2010, he released three new albums from three different labels: The Two Faces of Janus (Cuneiform), Cerberus Reigning (Accretions), and - with Anthony Davis - Cerulean Landscape (Clean Feed).
Cerulean Landscape is stark, moody, and emotionally charged. The album features Robinson on tenor and soprano saxophones and alto flute, in collaboration with pianist and composer Anthony Davis, a UCSD professor who has been collaborating with Robinson since 1998. A collection of old and new original compositions, the music moves from minimalist, to orchestral, to beautifully melodic.
The Two Faces of Janus includes guest contributions from several distinguished figures in jazz and improvised music: Rudresh Mahanthappa, Marty Ehrlich, Liberty Ellman, Drew Gress, and George Schuller.
The second in a trilogy of Robinson's conceptual solo saxophone releases, Cerberus Reigning offers a richly evocative collection of electroacoustic pieces that tell a story about an other-worldly three-belled saxophone of sorts.
His farewell-to-San-Diego concert happened June 2, 2011, at Dizzy’s, after which he and his wife moved to New England.