© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“John Cassavetes was a jazz director, a visionary who knew that all humans desire love and acceptance. He understood that our life actions are improvisations based on the influence of our environment, the impulses received from those close to us, and the constant flux of our emotions. He also knew that our imperfect human state often hinders us from achieving what we most desire; the attempt, however, with its immense failures and magnificent successes must be observed, documented, and honored.”
-Tim Hagans, New York City, 2017
"Fetchingly situated between Brownian blasts and Milesian murmurs, the trumpeter's lines cover lots of emotional breadth. It makes for a straight-ahead quintet approach that is quite willing to bend the rules to suit a tune's forgotten corners. His poetry with standard ballads might hush this room. Evidently he does know what love is."
- Jim Macnie, The Village Voice
“Tim Hagans was nominated for Grammy awards for Best Instrumental Composition for "Box of Cannoli" from The Avatar Sessions (2010 Fuzzy Music); Best Contemporary Jazz CD for Re: Animation (2000 Blue Note); and Animation*Imagination (1999 Blue Note). In addition to his own bands, he has performed and recorded with Thad Jones, Ernie Wilkins and Dexter Gordon. For fifteen years Tim Hagans was artistic director and composer-in-residence for the Norrbotten Big Band, traveling to Sweden to perform, conduct and arrange projects with guest artists such as Rufus Reid, Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano. The Avatar Sessions CD features music he created during that tenure. Tim Hagans is the featured soloist on the soundtrack by Howard Shore for the movie The Score, starring Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando.”
- Michele Brangwen, Media Release, Waiting Moon records
John Cassavetes [1929-1989] was an actor, writer and director and a pioneering independent filmmaker. His work paralleled that of the trailblazing group of French New Wave cinema directors [Nouvelle Vague] who exploded on the film scene in the late 1950s.
French directors such as Louis Malle, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette and Jacques Demy revolutionized cinematic conventions by marrying the rapid cuts of Hollywood with philosophical trends [auteur theory].
The French New Wave and the New Hollywood directors of which Cassavetes was a member saw film as a product of the director’s absolute imaginative and inspired aesthetic vision.
These directors brought about the cult of the director as an artistic icon on a par with writers, painters and other intellectual artists. To them, the director was the artistic creator who implements his or her own aesthetic and narrative vision to the screen.
Trumpeter, composer, arranger Tim Hagans has a new CD out on his Waiting Moon Records entitled Faces Under The Influence: A Jazz Tribute to John Cassavetes on which he is joined by the Hamburg, Germany-based NDR Big Band.
Background information about how this recording came about as well as the structure for the music on this recording is explained by Tim in the following insert notes to the CD:
“When I first viewed - actually the more accurate word is witnessed - John Cassavetes’ cinema realite film Faces in 1977, I was disturbed, confused, inspired and excited. I remember walking from the theater without any immediate destination, wandering the night streets chilled by an early autumn mist. I examined why I was experiencing consternation and intense joy. As a young adult, many of the film's emotions were foreign to me, and the motivations propelling the events seemed unnecessary and destructive. After forty more years of life and countless viewings of Cassavetes' films, I realize that his characters brilliantly portray the complete emotional pallet of humanity, with its fears, desires, failings and most importantly, its victories. With each film, I feel I have been given access to a story that began long before the first frame and is presently continuing. I am an undetected visitor viewing actual events being lived by actual people, and from my voyeuristic involvement in the drama, I hear music.
Charles Mingus and Shafi Hadi wrote incidental music to Shadows, Cassavetes' first film from 1959. Bo Harwood also wrote sparse music for some of the films. I entertained the notion of how would the unwritten soundtracks sound, and with that rumination, Faces Under The Influence, A Jazz Tribute To John Cassavetes was conceived. I decided to write music that describes the emotional development that each character experiences rather than compose episodic descriptions. Many of the compositions are through-composed with melodic and harmonic developments that reference the characters earlier emotional states, states that are present before the film begins. Many of the final passages hint at what may happen to the characters after their film's conclusion.
I have chosen characters from Cassavetes' first six films: Lelia from Shadows (Lelia Goldini); Richard Forst from Faces (John Marley); Harry, Archie and Gus from Husbands (Ben Gazzara, Peter Falk and John Cassavetes); Seymour Moskowitz from Minnie and Moskowitz (Seymour Cassel); Mabel Longhetti from A Woman Under The Influence (Gena Rowlands); and Cosmo Vitelli from The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie (Ben Gazzara). The final composition, John Cassavetes, is a tribute to the vision and genius of his oeuvre, and is influenced by the passion of his directing and acting style. The themes and harmonies in this work are derived from the first six compositions.
John Cassavetes is heralded as the progenitor of independent film. To finance his films, he used his own money from mainstream acting jobs, and over the years mortgaged his home multiple times. His initial experience making films within the Hollywood system left him disappointed and outraged, so he vowed he would never have his artistic vision compromised in that way again. In 1957, one could say he initiated crowd source funding by going on Jean Shepherd's radio show Night People and asking for small donations to finance Shadows. He surrounded himself with a gang of artistic fellow travelers that included Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, Val Avery, Tim Carey and Al Ruban. From the very beginning, Cassavetes was creative in getting what he needed with the limited resources available to someone not a part of the studio system. New York street shots for Shadows were made through windows or guerilla style on the streets of New York with a taxi driven by a friend waiting to whisk the camera to safety if they were caught. Although Shadows was based on improvised scenes performed at the acting school that Cassavetes founded with Bert Lane (there is a credit describing this at the end of the movie), Shadows and his other films, were actually fully scripted and included his acute observations of human life, relationships and the consequences of choice. His propensity to always allow actors to riff on his dialogue and go with their instincts, gave his films an improvised feeling that is both immediate and engrossing.
Faces Under The Influence, A Jazz Tribute To John Cassavetes was commissioned by the NDR Bigband. It is an exceptional orchestra. The band swings, roars and tips, and is technically impressive and supremely nuanced. Every musician is a soloist and the combination of their innovative and distinct voices make this ensemble a true jazz band. I have collaborated with the band many times and knowing the band so well, composed this suite with each musicians' sound and vibe in mind. I implemented John Cassavetes' methods into the compositions and recording process, and the musicians became the characters from the films. The soloists integrated their character's emotional base and developments into their improvisations. There are composed sections that sound improvised because they are "scripted" but there is interpretation granted to the soloist/actors. The NDR Bigband gloriously embraced this concept. I am elated with the results and eternally grateful for the opportunity.
John Cassavetes was a jazz director, a visionary who knew that all humans desire love and acceptance. He understood that our life actions are improvisations based on the influence of our environment, the impulses received from those close to us, and the constant flux of our emotions. He also knew that our imperfect human state often hinders us from achieving what we most desire; the attempt, however, with its immense failures and magnificent successes must be observed, documented, and honored.”
-Tim Hagans, New York City, 2017
Order information for Faces Under The Influence: A Jazz Tribute to John Cassavetes can be located by going here.
Click on the red dot to listen to a sample of the music on display in this recording.