9 Songs, 50 Minutes


About The Ocular Concern

Portland, Oregon-based creative jazz outfit the Ocular Concern began as a trio featuring Andrew Oliver (co-founder of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble in 2007) on electric piano, Dan Duval on electric guitar, and Stephen Pancerev on drums. The group made its recording debut with an eponymously titled EP -- featuring electric creative jazz, post-minimalism, and Eastern European/Middle Eastern influences -- in 2011. During August of that year, the Ocular Concern were joined by guest clarinetist/saxophonist David Evans, performing Oliver's original score in accompaniment to a screening of the 1966 Japanese monster movie Gamera vs. Barugon at Portland's Hollywood Theatre; the success of the film project led the group to consider permanently adding a clarinetist to the lineup, and when noted Oakland, California-based reedman Lee Elderton took up residence in Portland in 2012, he agreed to become the Ocular Concern's fourth member. The group soon expanded to a quintet with the addition of Portland percussionist Nathan Beck on vibraphone and mbira; a member of the ten-member Zimbabwean-style dance band Boka Marimba, Beck had studied the mbira -- the traditional thumb piano of the Shona people -- during an 18-month sojourn in Zimbabwe.

Oliver and Duval began writing new quintet repertoire for the Ocular Concern, and in 2013 Portland's Regional Arts & Culture Council awarded a grant to Duval for the composing and performance of new music by an expanded ensemble featuring the quintet of Oliver, Duval, Elderton, Beck, and Pancerev plus violinist Erin Furbee, violist Brian Quincey, and cellist Justin Kagan (members of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and the Neah-Kah-Nie Project String Quartet) and bandoneonist Alex Krebs (Krebsic Orkestar, Alex Krebs Tango Quartet). During the summer of that year, the Ocular Concern entered the Map Room Studio in Portland with engineer Josh Powell to record Sister Cities, which was released by the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble's PJCE label in January 2014. The album featured five tracks performed by the core group alone plus the four-movement "Sister Cities Suite," with the quintet supplemented by Furbee, Quincey, Kagan, and Krebs. With two movements composed by Oliver and two by Duval, the score for "Sister Cities Suites" was based on musical notation corresponding to letters in the names of Portland's ten sister cities worldwide. The suite -- and the album in its entirety -- substantially expanded upon the musical palette of the group's 2011 debut EP, melding creative chamber jazz, electric fusion flavors, post-minimalist modern composition, and global influences from Argentina to Zimbabwe into a unique amalgam of sounds. ~ Dave Lynch

Portland, OR