Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
I imagined the four ensemble pieces that begin this album as belonging to the repertoire of a speculative musical culture — one potentially not so far removed from my own — whose sonic and lyrical affinities reflect chronic, hazardous inundation, and mystifying betrayal. Without my realizing it at first, they became, in their own way, more-or-less oblique renditions of the Jerome Kern / Otto Harbach standard “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” an object lesson in the transmutation of weather and grief into sound, its titular metaphor for desire, delusion, and disaster spilling out in shapely ringlets of billowing melody.
I found myself returning to this song a few months later, when “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” — or some semblance of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”: a swirling, spiraling vocality, a kind of sonic deceit and disappearance, a fluidic memorial to acrid, heartbreaking loss — gradually began to seep into and overwhelm the work I’d been doing at the piano. That work — an attempt to more fully understand, undermine, and add to the piano’s resources of sound with extensions of concealed computerized origin — grew steadily into a multi-panel painting: Puffs of wood and string pouring out of the still-smoldering ruin of a piano; and some future listener, perhaps, for whom that dark, vanishing fog might yet convey a love song.
Croton-on-Hudson, June 16, 2022
1. Liquiform 1 5:56
2. Combustion 1 3:40
3. Liquiform 2 4:44
4. Combustion 2 5:43
5. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 5:50
6. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 3:13
7. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 11:36
8. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 3:43
9. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 2:57
10. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 3:58
11. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 7:01
Tracks One to Four:
Sofia Jernberg voice
Joshua Modney violin
Tomeka Reid cello
Peter Evans trumpet
Zekkereya El-magharbel trombone
Ryan Muncy alto saxophone
Ingrid Laubrock tenor saxophone
David Leon alto and baritone saxophones, clarinet
Jessie Cox drums and percussion
Stephan Crump acoustic bass
Cory Smythe piano
Tracks Five to Eleven:
Cory Smythe piano
Produced by David Breskin and Cory Smythe
Tracks 1-4 recorded in October 2021 by Ryan Streber
Tracks 5-11 recorded in July by Ron Saint 2021 Germain
Mixed in May 2022 by Ryan Streber and Cory Smythe
Recorded and mixed at Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, Peekskill, NY
Wildfire photographs by Russell Kaye: “Seal River, Manitoba, 1994” © Russell Kaye
Album design and layout by Spottswood Erving and July Creek for Janky Defense
All compositions by Cory Smythe, Pluripotent Publishing (BMI)
“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, Universal Polygram International Publishing Inc (ASCAP, GEMA)
In late 2019, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write for and perform with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. The members of that ensemble — all extraordinary composer-improvisers — had a huge influence on my work, and any attempt to describe what went into this music would be incomplete without their names: Sofia Jernberg, Mette Rasmussen, Eirik Hegdal, Espen Reinertsen, Eivind Lønning, Ole Jørgen Melhus, Ola Kvernberg, Okkyung Lee, Ole Morten Vågan, and Morten Joh.
In memory of Ryan Muncy, whose radiant kindness and trailblazing musicianship live on.
Heartfelt thanks to Chelsea Hadley and The Shifting Foundation for making this album possible; to Ole Morten Vågan and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra for commissioning the first four pieces; to Chris Uzelac for his generous contribution of programing knowhow; to Kyle Quass for setting aside his own remarkable music to give feedback on every iteration of this project; to Isabel Breskin for her meticulous and inspired artistry; to Russell Kaye for his inexpressibly breathtaking photography; to Kris Davis for every gleaming facet of her work; and to David Breskin for every brilliant facet of his. To Liz and Zora: my truest, most undeniable love.
Carbon offsets to neutralize the carbon emissions associated with the production and distribution of this album have been purchased through carbonfund.org.
© ℗ 2022 by Cory Smythe and Pyroclastic Records