Eli Wallace’s Slideshow Junky

Iluso Records presents “Slideshow Junky I”, the first album of a unique project conceived by Brooklyn based pianist Eli Wallace.

A recent transplant from Oakland, California, Wallace has quickly become immersed in the New York improvised and creative music scene with his concept project Slideshow Junky. He also performs regularly with the trio Cataclysmic Commentary and the duo Dialectical Imagination with Rob Pumpelly. He has worked with Daniel Carter, Billy Mintz, Ches Smith, Trevor Dunn, Chris Pitsiokos, Andrew Smiley, Sandy Ewen, Carlo Costa, Sean Ali and many others. Wallace displays a vast milieu of experience from classical, jazz, and free improvisation studies, while incorporating contemporary piano performance practice in creating his own unique sound.

Slideshow Junky I is a compilation of more than 30 one-page tunes, all composed by Wallace since his relocation to Brooklyn, NY in 2015. The tunes and their order of performance vary for each show and recording. Musicians too are subject to change and subject to remain the same.

Slideshow Junky took many steps before culminating in the present manifestation. Eli knew he wanted to form a new group using his own compositional material, with specific direction for improvisation in each piece. After reading William Burroughs at the time and breaking his right middle finger in a bike accident he had plenty of time to contemplate this project. Ultimately the tunes became something of a chapter in a book or a scene in a picture show, using the cut-up technique to form a narrative. He required that the notation for each piece fit onto ONE 8.5 by 11 inch page and used each piece as fodder for specific improvisation within, based on, reflective or irrespective of the written material. Each set or recording is crafted by selecting tunes and personnel specific to that event. Sometimes tunes and personnel overlap but each Slideshow Junky cut is necessarily different.

For this record, two separate trios were utilized. Specific tunes were carefully selected for each ensemble and then placed in album order after two days of recording. The sequence creates its own musical narrative, like a movie or play comprised of 12 different scenes. Tracks 1-6 are Act I and Tracks 7-12 make up Act II, each a vague shadow of the other. All tunes are contextualized, inspired by individuals or reflect upon events and general cultural mores. All of the tunes have a specific reference: the “Bullets” reflects on police brutality directed at African-Americans, “Ursula” is dedicated to a favorite sculptor, “B is For…” and “D is For…” both mock the 45th president of the United States, “447” reimagines driving alone along highway 447 in Nevada. No tunes is too obvious in its association and each provides narrative in and of itself – a component of the overall story or a separate stand alone piece.

Slideshow Junky I is just the beginning. The larger narrative will expand in years to come as the book of tunes grows and the conception morphs through further performance and recording.

The musicians on the album are all staples of the New York avant-improv scene, masters of navigating through improvisation and written material. Aaron, Jason, Brandon, and Devin immediately understood the approach and added their respective indelible stamps to each tune, seamlessly mastering the notation and obliterating the improvisational sections.

Eli Wallace – piano, keyboards, compositions, concept (all tracks)
Aaron Quinn – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12)
Jason Nazary – drums (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12)
Brandon López – bass (tracks 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Devin Gray – drums (tracks 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11)Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Colin Marston at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves, December 2017 to January 2018.
Artwork by Sung Kim.
Graphic design by The Braves Church.
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