We’re pleased to offer another example of one of C-U’s more complex jazz composers, Tom Paynter. Tom passed away suddenly on May 25, 2019, and the pianist and flutist left behind his vast, impressive body of work. Paynter’s compositions cover a lot of musical territory, from delicate solo pieces to intense, full-on aural assault.
This recording highlights the more complex side of Paynter’s work. The band’s official title is Nebula: The Music Of Diffused Gassers, led by Tom Paynter. The recording is mostly Tom’s original compositions, although there are covers by Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea and Charlie Parker as well.
C-U’s Ben Grosser was one of the musicians in Nebula. Here’s what he had to say about Nebula, and playing with Tom in general:
Nebula, the Music of Diffused Gassers was a quartet in action around 1990-91. Led by Tom Paynter, the group focused on avant-garde / free / experimental jazz, and, as far as I can recall, all of the band’s charts (aside from occasional standards) were written by Tom. The environment Tom created here was quite supportive of experimentation, as evidenced by our flexible approaches to form, the way we blended tunes together, and the multi-instrument roles each member took on. During a performance, any member of the band might tweak the group’s trajectory, even when doing so meant we turned Tom’s carefully crafted chord changes into something, well, less careful. The core group included Alex Lazarevich on tenor sax and bass/Bb clarinets, myself (Ben Grosser) on trumpets and tenor sax, and Danny Deckard on drums and percussion. All but Danny had an occasional turn on the keyboards, and all of us also sang and played wood chimes. Taimur Sullivan [now member of the highly acclaimed PRISM Quartet] sat in on alto sax for part of this session. I should also note that Tom’s synthesizer chops were in full force with this group. He was extremely adept at crafting timbres with his ARP 2600 synth, and could be seen patching new sounds on the fly during performances. This tape may be the only recording of the band. We played a number of gigs at the Table–and also did a live session on WEFT–but I am unaware of any other tapes.
Enjoy this rare recording of Tom Paynter with some extremely forward-thinking and experimental musicians. Please attend the Tom Paynter Memorial on Sunday, June 21, 2019 from 2pm – 6pm at the Iron Post, 120 S. Race St, Urbana.