"The only way to sum up the style of Chicago clarinetist and composer James Falzone is to say that it can't be done," writes Time Out Chicago's Matthew Lurie. "Falzone is an inveterate genre-crosser, and though he squawks and swoops with some of the city's best free improvisers, it's his fluency in classical and ethnic European cultures that sets him apart...an already important Chicago voice." Cadence's Troy Collins adds, "Falzone blends an impressive array of influences into a singular style all his own. Composing yearning lyrical lines filled with dramatic turns of phrase and dynamic shifts in mood, his writing style blends the angular rhythmic punch and spontaneous freedom of Henry Threadgill with the folksy, subdued lyrical quality of Jimmy Giuffre and the esoteric mysticism of Oliver Messiaen." From Lamentation's Liner Notes: This music is intentional. Intended is what has been at the core of my Allos Musica project since it's inception: an ongoing dialogue (I might even use the word struggle) with my influences. Allos is a Greek word meaning "other" and so the project has always had in mind a reference to the otherly, the mysterious, the ambiguities that rest at the edges of my experience. Also at the core of Allos Musica is a revolving instrumentation. It is not so much a group as it is a concept and, therefore, the ensemble color changes as needed. The Lamentations project started in 2006 as I prepared music for that year's Umbrella Music Festival in Chicago. I had in mind to reference my fascination with Arabic forms, modes and aesthetics and to use a trio of oud, clarinet and hand drums. As a guidepost, I funneled my composing and conceptualizing through the lament, a musical/poetic genre that has transcended cultures and time. But could a lament be something other than mournful? Sometimes my own laments are hopeful, feisty, impatient . . . longing for change in a world I often do not understand. This recording documents 7 lamentations, 9 improvised interludes, and a prelude and postlude. A few thoughts on each: Raqs al-Janub (Dances of the South), was composed by my friend and teacher Issa Boulos, a remarkable oud player and composer who wrote this in response to two interactions he had with unsavory characters while riding buses, one in his native Palestine and one in a dangerous neighborhood of Chicago. Though on opposite ends of the globe, the two incidents reminded Issa of the "irony of the human condition." A lament for sure. Persistent, Time, Attente and Forward are all lamentations on time. Here are mediations on time's relentlessness (Persistent), it's mercuriality (Time), the complexities of stasis (Attente) and the tension of wanting to move time forward, an impossibility we have all experienced (Forward). Arja'i Ya Alf Laila is a Muwashah of great beauty from the Andalusian period whose words possess a delightful ambiguity: Return to us, oh thousand and one nights, your twilight mist of perfume, so that your breeze quenches the longing thirst from the morning dew. My desires render my life abandoned, and your heavenly words are like a vineyard in the annals of time. Is the poet lamenting about a lover or a place? Is there a difference? Ash Wednesday was the first lament conceived for this project and recorded previously with my group KLANG on our 2009 album Tea Music. The intention here is to capture something of the longing involved in sacrifice and denial. A theme running through many of the laments and in the Prelude and Postlude is the shimmering timbre of bells and gongs, what Olivier Messiaen referred to as musique chatoyante, a glistening music, signifying the mystery of faith and truth beyond the temporal. Peppered throughout the recording are nine improvisations between clarinet and hand drums entitled The Thought and the Self. Here is Allos Musica at it's most base; the intuitive confluence of influences and signposts that exists at the subconscious level, brought forth as only an improvised moment can do. James Falzone Chicago, July 2010.