The Ulysses Project currently consists of eight songs which arose from a variety of stylistic influences, from Ornette Coleman to funk to taize hymns. The music is characterized, however, by an emphasis on free improvisation within constraints, in an attempt to create a musical interpretation of Joyce’s meticulously chaotic prose.
Why Ulysses? Well, yours truly is something of a lit nerd. And if you’ve read the novel, you know that it has a way of completely overtaking your mind. I suddenly found that everything in my life could be abstractly related to Ulysses, much to the chagrin of my friends. (Scepter and Throwaway became a favorite analogy for friendly encouragement. I’m not joking.) And if you’re a musician, what’s going to come out as you’re writing tunes is what’s at the top of your mind. I therefore found myself with a large collection of songs reflecting my obsession with Ulysses.
The plot of the Ulysses Project is somewhat different from the that of Ulysses itself. The Ulysses Project is both a celebration of Bloom and a jest at his expense. It enters the novel through the “gaits” of different characters - Stephen’s walk in Sandymount Strand, the tangent of Bloom’s “alter ego” Henry Flower, the strut of the man about to sleep with his wife, Bloom’s adventures in masochism at the hands of Bello. Then the piece takes a darker turn to Bloom’s nostalgic desires, then the jests at his expense, and ending with Molly’s own sense of unfulfillment. I tried to get inside Joyce’s delicate balance of humor and mockery, lighthearted curiosity and solemnity. The conflict of tones and voices in Ulysses is perhaps one of its most remarkable qualities, along with its notorious association with stream of consciousness writing - which is where improvisation comes in.
Courtesy of Emily Paik
Here is the Project as it will be recorded and released in 2013:
(Nestor) Seaside Girls/Who Goes With Fergus
(Lotus Eaters) Imagined Promenade for Mr. Flower
(Wandering Rocks) Shamefaced Peaches
(Oxen of the Sun) Boyaboy
(Cyclops) Beware of Garryowen
(Ithaca) Laughinglike (Unconquered Hero)
In April 2013, the Ulysses Project successfuly reached its Kickstarter goal of $2800. An album will be released in October 2013. The recorded group is:
Kirsten Carey, guitar
Patrick Booth, tenor and soprano saxophones
Derek Worthington, trumpet
Ben Willis, bass
Jon Taylor, drums
And featuring: Heidi Madagame (voice), Corey Smith (narration/keyboards), Eric Schweizer (baritone saxophone), and Caroline Buse (violin)
Want to get this performance to your venue or general locale? – please email me at email@example.com