Jeff Tobias — Some
Over the course of an exceptionally active decade living in the psychotropic scene of Athens, Georgia, Jeff Tobias claimed membership to heaps of bands (Dark Meat, Pegasuses XL, We Versus The Shark, Nutritional Peace, and Quiet Hooves are perhaps known to those of you the wiser.) “In 2011, all of my bands broke up at the same time” - here begins the story of Some, an offering of solo and collaborative works spanning the years 2011-2014 by composer and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Tobias.
Creatively suspended and mulling over next steps, a cogent vector arrived in the form of a loaned DVD-R copy of Alan Licht’s Minimal Top Ten / The Next Ten / Minimalism Top Ten III, spurring a powerful shift in Tobias’ artistic identity. “I was an avowed fan of the greats of minimalism - Steve, Phil, Terry, et. al. - but apparently I'd never dug in with sufficient vigor. Giusto Pio, Roberto Cacciapaglia, The Lost Jockey, Anthony Moore, and most saliently, Arnold Dreyblatt, all made immediate and indelible impressions on my idea of what a composer could be.”
Some contains singular moments from this existential and creative tide change. Side A closer “Fire & Rain,” a raw ensemble piece performed live by Tobias and friends on his final day in Athens, foretells later experimentations at Brooklyn College’s composition program. See: the ecstatic yet refined Side A opener “Rex,” recorded in a ramshackle studio after a particularly inspiring breakfast.
Tobias conversely shows intriguing range in his unaccompanied works. The meditative and continuous “Serene Clientele,” recorded at home in Athens, examines the relationship between time and improvisation, as Tobias reveals: “That piece was started by setting a keyboard arpeggiation on a loop, going for a walk, then returning and doing whatever else felt natural.” Twenty-minute environmental piece, “Before & After Nature,” magnifies this exploitation of the ephemeral: “I recorded a saxophone improvisation on my rooftop in Crown Heights a few hours before Hurricane Sandy struck...the organ improvisation during the storm, and a second saxophone improvisation on my rooftop after the storm had passed.”
Some is a product of the liminal spaces in Tobias’ development as a composer. Jeff currently lives and works in New York City, where he continues to perform in groups including Sunwatchers, Reps, KATIEE, and in collaboration with artists including David First, Matana Roberts, Dan Friel, Greg Fox, Justin Frye, and others.