On Mikrojazz, their cutting edge joint project for RareNoiseRecords, German saxophonist Philipp Gerschlauer and guitarist David Fiuczynski explore the world of music that falls between the cracks of the tempered scale. Joined by jazz drumming legend Jack DeJohnette, fretless electric bassist Matt Garrison and microtonal keyboardist Giorgi Mikadze, this daring crew creates dreamy, otherworldly soundscapes on tunes by Gerschlauer like aptly-titled “Hangover” and “LaMonte’s Gamelan Jam” along with a swinging microtonal tune “Mikro Steps” and other originals like Fiuczynski’s “MiCroY Tyner”, Zirkus Macabre and “Lullaby Nightmare”.
Fiuczynski, who heads up the Planet MicroJam Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, previously released two microtonal recordings on RareNoise – 2012’s Planet MicroJam, which opened a Pandora’s Box on non-Western tuning, and 2016’s Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam!, which was jointly dedicated to 20th century classical composer Olivier Messiaen and innovative hip-hop record producer JDilla. Gerschlauer, who was inspired by French composer Gérard Grisey and Paul Desmond had been independently exploring the world of microtonal music in Berlin and New York before developing a method of dividing an octave (12 notes in equal temperament) into 128 notes on the alto saxophone.
“I started to use microtones on the saxophone about ten years ago,” Gerschlauer explained. “I wanted to extend the harmonic and melodic language which was used in jazz music so far. I began noticing that the regular piano and keyboards could not provide the full harmonic and melodic spectrum that was needed for my compositions. So five years ago, I decided to also develop my own microtonal keyboard which now fills this gap. The tunings and programming I am using are a complete novelty in a jazz context. When I found out about David and what he is doing, I naturally was very excited and it made sense that we would be meeting and playing at some point.”
This meeting of the minds was jump-started when Fiuczynski invited Gerschlauer to Berklee to present his music, talk about playing microtonal saxophone and playing with Berklee’s resident Planet MicroJam Ensemble. “David and I had already been in an intensive email correspondence on microtonal music, so I knew that he was combining jazz with microtones and that his music was really grooving,” said the saxophonist. “I couldn’t wait to meet him in person and felt honored by the invitation to hold a workshop…