The Mattson 2, Astronauts

The Mattson 2

Astronauts

Sat, September 1, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Camel

$13 ADV, $15 DOS

The Mattson 2
The Mattson 2
Identical Twins Jared & Jonathan Mattson Create a Bold, Modern Reimagining of John Coltrane’s Revered Masterpiece A Love Supreme

On Mattson 2 Play “A Love Supreme,” out [date] via Spiritual Pajamas, the brothers translate the iconic saxophonist’s spiritual vision into a thrilling 21st-century electric exploration

John Coltrane’s 1965 magnum opus A Love Supreme is one of the most revered and influential recordings in the history of jazz, widely regarded as the iconic saxophonist’s masterpiece. It might seem audacious at the very least to undertake a new recording of such a foundational album, but twin brothers Jared & Jonathan Mattson are nothing if not sonic risk-takers.

With their new release Mattson 2 Play “A Love Supreme,” the duo reimagines Coltrane’s avant-garde epic through a 21st-century lens, creating a new interpretation that remains faithful to the questing spirit of the original while pushing the music into bold new territory – which itself is fully in keeping with the composer’s forward-looking vision. The album, due out [date] via Spiritual Pajamas, translates the Coltrane Quartet’s acoustic jazz explorations into a modern language swathed in a haze of analog synths, ecstatic guitars, transcendent grooves and enveloping atmospherics.

“The goal behind our reinterpretation of A Love Supreme was to really lean into the spirit of exploration and transformation that’s embodied in jazz.” says Jonathan Mattson. “We don’t claim to be traditional jazz musicians, for us it’s about creatively adapting the art form, decontextualizing it, and exploring the genre in new ways. Jazz has been confined to such a narrow definition over the years and we want to make sure the genre continues to grow and evolve. It should be a living, breathing thing.”

That mission is certainly in line with Coltrane’s own intentions for his piece, which is less a set composition than a framework for spiritual communion through improvisation. It was an intensely personal work for the saxophonist, fully melding his musical evolution with his religious path. It also relied on the profound depth of communication and understanding that had developed between Trane and his renowned Classic Quartet bandmates: pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones.

The Mattson brothers have one advantage over even those legends: the unique telepathy that exists between identical twins, an unspoken communication and empathy that they refer to as “twinchronicity.” In A Love Supreme, the Mattsons saw a way to channel that rare connection into expansive new horizons.

“What we were drawn to was the communication element,” Jared says. “Coltrane wrote A Love Supreme as a blueprint to reach higher levels of consciousness. As twins, Jonathan and I were able to bring this telepathic element to it as well. For us, the spiritual element is very private and personal. It’s about communication and interaction, hearing where each other is going and doing what’s best for the music in the moment.”

The idea for Mattson 2 Play “A Love Supreme” was hatched to celebrate International Jazz Day 2017, the annual occasion set aside by UNESCO to honor the music around the world. Wanting to mark the occasion in some way, the brothers decided to play a single jazz album in its entirety – and it didn’t take long to settle on A Love Supreme. “It’s our favorite jazz album,” Jared says. Jonathan adds, “The first time we heard it we were blown away. We were used to traditional jazz and hard bop so it was extremely different, but I don’t hear it as avant-garde. It sounds so catchy to me.”

The brothers had grown up listening to punk rock, so perhaps they were more prepared than most for the now-classic album’s bracing blend of raw power and unrelenting intensity. While they have continued to incorporate an eclectic blend of influences into their category-defining sound, jazz remains a key influence for Mattson 2.

“We may not sound like jazz to a lot of people,” Jonathan admits, “but jazz is an extremely important part of our development.” It was the classic, era-defining style of the album art on releases by Blue Note, Impulse! and other labels, Jared interjects, that first drew the twins to the music. “We’d see these record covers and think, ‘This is the coolest looking music I’ve ever seen.’ We were drawn to the style first and foremost. It had an edge; it never felt like old people’s music to us. The outrageousness, the high art and the visceral quality just appealed to our souls.”

The duo tried to teach themselves to play the music, though later realized, upon meeting more experienced musicians, that they were doing it “wrong.” Of course, wrong turns often lead to unexpected discoveries, and it was through their individualized take that the Mattsons derived their unmistakable sound. The same methods defined their approach to A Love Supreme: they first undertook an intensive study of the original composition, Coltrane’s notes, and every available recording by the Coltrane Quartet as well as later versions by the likes of John McLaughlin, Branford Marsalis and Alice Coltrane.

“We learned the vocabulary of A Love Supreme,” Jonathan says. “Then we used that vocabulary to fuel our own original version.”

That version was honed through invaluable live performances before audiences largely unfamiliar with the original, though these more rock-oriented fans soon experienced the piece’s transformative power. “It was so incredible to see the way that a rock fans connected with the music,” Jonathan recalls. “There was yelling and crying, people getting really stoked and devouring every note we were playing. Seeing people’s minds getting blown by Coltrane’s music was an inspiration for us.”

Those visceral reactions attest to the continuing impact of Coltrane’s bold vision. Mattson 2 Play “A Love Supreme” channels that vision with both reverence and inventiveness, creating a vibrant and electrifying new interpretation that will resonate with new generations of open-minded listeners.
Astronauts
Astronauts
Tony Peppers (aka Astronauts, etc., née Anthony Ferraro) lives just outside of time. His best friend’s father told him in the 4th grade that he was really an old man. It makes some sense, then, that he was diagnosed with arthritis at age 10 and dropped out of school at 20 because he really needed to think things over. He still is, but at 27 Tony has some things to say, and he’s saying them on his new album, Living in Symbol.

It’s been a circuitous seven years for the Oakland-based classical pianist turned pop arranger. Between stints on the road with Toro y Moi, he wrote his first LP, Mind Out Wandering. Recorded mostly live to two-inch tape, the album was a conscious departure from the bedroom pop direction of earlier material. Its production was precise and nakedly clean, showcasing the musicianship of his band and earning comparisons to early Bee Gees records and Philly soul.

When Chaz Bear (Toro y Moi) offered to produce his next album, Tony began devising a collection of songs that would capitalize on the intersection of their sensibilities. The world had begun growing rapidly stranger, and he found his reference points shifting toward outsider music, Latin psychedelia, and the haunting orchestral arrangements of David Axelrod.

A new voice was coming out of Tony, taking cues from oracular crooners like Lee Hazlewood and Kevin Ayers and delivering cryptic messages pitched far below the falsetto that had come to characterize his sound. It would seem disjunctive if it wasn’t so natural; you can hear Tony finally stepping into himself as Bear’s production carries the songs onto a bizarre and timeless wavelength. Living in Symbol serves as the surreal coming-of-age diary of one weirdo floating through the ooze of the Information Age.
Venue Information:
The Camel
1621 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA, 23220
http://www.thecamel.org