return to Projects

Super Marimba is the nexus point of all of my artistic activities. I bring it all together here: jazz, classical, Hindustani music, and whatever else might be in my head at the moment. Most of my Super Marimba compositions are notated, and they all include improvisation. Sometimes the improvisation is free and spontaneous, but more often it is of a unique sort that I have developed over the past couple years, using a combination of approaches.

I now play Super Marimba shows as a soloist or with my new band. I'm currently working with Ted Poor on drums, Todd Sickafoose on bass, and Alex Hamlin and Ken Thomson on saxophones. We just finished our first recording and will be touring soon.

If I had to describe this music, what would I say? I'd say it is often very "pretty" in the conventional sense, but just as often shockingly noisy. I like drones and harmonic stasis, but I also like to tell stories. The solo pieces tend to be firmly rooted in the American minimalist tradition, especially Terry Riley. In a world where every piece seems to be coming from a different musical perspective, a true tower of Babel (babble?) with no common-practice language, I find comfort in building upon the work of previous generations. Although my work is completely different in outlook and style than his, I agree with Charles Wuorinen that an environment of perpetual musical revolution is unsustainable. Minimalism was a meaningful fresh start because it reintroduced the notion of ritual into the concert experience, and ritual is a profoundly important part of the human experience, and challenging rituals are something that is lacking in our times.

The ensemble pieces are intensely dramatic and have more of an overt jazz influence, especially more free and/or composed stuff like Evan Parker or Roscoe Mitchell or Ken Vandermark. Check out the "Compositions/Sound Files" page for examples.

-Payton MacDonald

To get on the Super Marimba mailing list please e-mail me at info [at] paytonmacdonald [dot] com .