Multi-reedist and composer Josh Sinton likes things on the low end (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet) and tends to make playful choices in his work – leading a Steve Lacy tribute group (Ideal Bread) sans-soprano, trying out his group holus-Bolus as a two-drummer ensemble and citing Chuck Jones cartoons and “how to make myself dizzy” as important discoveries of his childhood on his website. But, it’s important to note that his sometimes whimsical choices are carefully balanced with true reverence and respect for the music of his heroes and contemporaries. Darcy James Argue calls Josh “equal parts intellectual and sensualist. His playing is built from the sound up, with the eye of an architect and the wit of a raconteur.” It’s telling that Josh continues to self-identify as a student of music well into his career. Read on to learn more about Josh’s projects, influences and thoughts on being a member of the Tri-Centric Orchestra.
When did you start playing?
I started instrument lessons (on piano) on my 9th birthday. But I probably started playing with music the moment I first heard my dad entertain dinner guests with the mandolin and some sloppy stride piano.
How did improvisation become part of your musical experience?
I knew it could be done (so I had been told), but it wasn’t until freshman year of high school that I saw someone improvise. The band director was trying to put together a jazz band and he demonstrated some improvising for us. Even though it wasn’t very convincing musically, my mind was totally blown by watching someone make something up on the spot with no paper in front of him. At that moment I was determined to figure out how to accomplish that impossible magic trick.
Which composers/musicians most influence your work?
Honestly, it changes depending on what I’m working on at any given moment, and that’s pretty dependent on who I’m working for and what personal projects I have going on. So, currently I’m visiting the musical worlds of Andrew D’Angelo, Steve Lacy, Nate Wooley, Eric Dolphy, Anthony Braxton (his solo and large ensemble works in particular), Jesse Stacken and Tony Falco. But I’m pretty sure that in a year from now some of those names will have changed.
What current projects/ensembles are you involved in?
I lead the Steve Lacy repertory band Ideal Bread. I play in Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Andrew D’Angelo’s DNA Big Band, the Nate Wooley Quintet and Jesse Stacken’s For the Mill. My friend Tony Falco and I have recently reconnected and I’m playing some duos with him as well as some of his ensemble compositions.
What recent releases or upcoming events do you have on the horizon?
My band holus-Bolus just released its second and final album this past August on Prom Night Records. It’s a concept record of all my original music and is available as a download only. I also wrote a fair amount of explanatory materials about the record and those words can be found on my website. Darcy, Andrew and Nate all have records coming out next year that I appear on, as well.
What are you currently listening to?
Vijay Iyer‘s “Accelerando,” “The Best of Von Freeman on Premonition,” Steve Lacy “Scratching the Seventies,” Fiona Apple‘s “The Idler Wheel is Wiser,” and Eddie Palmieri‘s “The Sun of Latin Music.”
How has working with Anthony Braxton shaped your musical experience?
Lord… It’s kind of hard to encapsulate that, but I’ll try. Firstly, I’ve been listening to Anthony’s music for over 20 years now and he has long been one of my heroes. So playing with him has provided some much-needed affirmation in the sense that it has been a non-verbal statement of, “Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re on the right track.” Secondly, watching him interact with other folks has been nothing short of revelatory. He’s so incredibly generous and genuinely curious about what everyone around him is doing. Seeing a person who has dedicated himself to a very personal vision interact with humanity in this way has really inspired me more than I expected. Thirdly, the unique way in which he responds to other musicians’ playing of his complex (and not so complex) materials has been a real education. It’s something I’ve tried to make note of and file away in my mental list of modus operandi.
What impact has the Tri-Centric Orchestra had on your concept of the orchestra as an entity?
That it really is possible to gather a large group of people together and guarantee a genuine sense of agency for every unique individual participating. Everyone in the orchestra that I’ve talked to has had a real sense that what he/she is playing is absolutely essential to the sound of the music. I wasn’t sure this could happen in such a large group and I’m really glad to have been proven otherwise.
What’s your favorite food?
Hm… Well I recently discovered the wonder that is real Spanish paprika. But I’m also finishing up a meal for my family consisting of roasted eggplant in yogurt with meatloaf – I think that will probably be my favorite food tonight.
Visit Josh Sinton on the web:
http://www.joshsinton.comTags: andrew d'angelo, Anthony Braxton, baritone, chuck jones, clarinet, darcy james argue, dna big band, eddie palmieri, eric dolphy, fiona apple, for the mill, holus-Bolus, ideal bread, jesse stacken, josh sinton, nate wooley, prom night records, secret society, spanish paprika, steve lacey, stride piano, TCO Profile, tony falco, vijay iyer, von freeman