Theoretical5

Live, Absolutely free form improvisation @ lo-tek studios in beautiful downtown Mar Vista.

THEORETICAL 5:
Tommy Mars (keyboards, vocals)
Warren Cuccurullo (guitar, samples)
Arthur Barrow (bass)
Larry Klimas (saxophone)
Andy Kravitz (drums, percussion)

See all six of their videos here.

24 Responses to “Theoretical5”

  1. urbangraffito says:

    Although I find “Happy Feet – part 1″ and “Write Witcha” intriguing musically, for the most part I find these improvisations a little too “free form” and “self-indulgent” – akin to a five instrument traffic accident with no traffic cop (FZ) in sight. If it were released on CD or online as a download, I’d have to give it a pass. I really expect more from musicians of this calibre. Wake up, guys, you’ve got the chops to create fucking amazing compositions – why don’t you?

  2. almost says:

    Too free form…as compared to what? A metronome? Five instruments in a traffic accident? Huh? Sounds more to me like 5 cars in LA traffic looking for parking while listening to the Weather Channel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you.

    It’s always rich to hear “self-indulgence” as pejorative when talking about music–especially here: who was more musically self indulgent than Himself?

    It’s also strange to hear FZ likened to a cop (as a compliment) and stranger still to think that what the Theoretical5 “needs” is a “cop” for “direction” and that this might help create “amazing compositions” when really the exact opposite is the case. What the Theoretical5 “need” is less cops, less direction, less tonality, and less emphasis on “composition.”

  3. Thinman says:

    A quote from almost:

    … What the Theoretical5 “need” is less cops, less direction, less tonality, and less emphasis on “composition.”

    I 100% agree. When reading “free-form” I would expect something more advantureous. Not just a jam-session kind of thing.

    Th.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from almost:

    Too free form…as compared to what?

    I direct you, almost, to The Mar Vista Philharmonic commissioned pieces for “Jazz on 3″ on November 7th, 2003, “Shut Up and Make a Jazz Noise Here” and “Sad Spangled Banner”, as well as the CD, ‘No Forest Fire’ (2009).

    Please don’t mistaken my “cop” reference for anything other than a backhanded attempt at humor. Yes, FZ was self-indulgent, yet we all know and love the results of his self indulgence. I just don’t find the results of the current Mar Vista (Theoretical5 – Band from Utopia or whatever name they are going by) improvisations up to par with their prior releases.

    A quote from almost:

    What the Theoretical5 “need” is less cops, less direction, less tonality, and less emphasis on “composition.”

    I’m not suggesting that they need a bandleader, per say, yet they do need to be a little more aware with one another and the general flow of the improvisation, itself. Isn’t the whole concept of jazz improv the interplay? The counterpoints? At very least that’s when I find them the most entertaining. I can listen to a 5 car pile up any day of the week.

  5. Matt says:

    To me, it sounded like five really good musicians jamming in a fusion vein and just enjoying themselves. I would enjoy such a performance in a bar/nightclub, but wouldn’t buy a CD of it. I love Tommy’s scat vocals, but his singing makes me wince.

  6. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Matt:

    To me, it sounded like five really good musicians jamming in a fusion vein and just enjoying themselves. I would enjoy such a performance in a bar/nightclub, but wouldn’t buy a CD of it. I love Tommy’s scat vocals, but his singing makes me wince.

    For those who didn’t get The Mar Vista Philharmonic “Jazz on 3″, November 7th, 2003, the first time around, get it here:

    http://www.flameupload.com/redirect/PPFFFJ1S/2

  7. Harry Barris says:

    I’m so glad these aimless jams were filmed!

  8. Harry Barris says:

    Clicked on the link to see/hear the more structured songs with vocals: sounds like an un-tight Steely Dan in rehearsal. (In a good way!)

  9. Old Sunny Lane says:

    Wow, do you guys/gals stand around at the Louvre and criticize those works of art, too? If so, let me know what days you’ll be there and I’ll go elsewhere whilst I’m down in France. This is music to be enjoyed! It’s magic. It’s lightning in a bottle. It’s for the moment. It just happened to be shared. Just listen and relax; please RELAX!

  10. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Old Sunny Lane:

    Wow, do you guys/gals stand around at the Louvre and criticize those works of art, too? If so, let me know what days you’ll be there and I’ll go elsewhere whilst I’m down in France. This is music to be enjoyed! It’s magic. It’s lightning in a bottle. It’s for the moment. It just happened to be shared. Just listen and relax; please RELAX!

    Hmmmm. Music as wallpaper. Interesting concept.

  11. jonnybutter says:

    I wouldn’t buy a CD of this material, but it’s nice to listen to for a moment. They are all great players – I especially love to hear Arthur Barrow play. I wouldn’t dis this music, but I wouldn’t buy it either.

    The difference between a Zappa album and an album by one of his players, or most ‘fusion’ musicians for that matter, is composition. Comparing a jam band to Zappa is apples and oranges, even though Zappa also did lots of improvisational pieces (compare the ‘head’ of ‘Big Swifty’ to a typical jazz or fusion head).

    A problem with this kind of stuff, to my ear anyway, is that most of these guys never really broke out of the Jazz mold. And what was previously conceived as an ultimately free, limitless kind of music (Jazz) is now severely limited by its conventions, even its conventions of freedom – playing ‘out’ means copying Eric Dolphy or Ornette Coleman (or someone else), for example. People who are stuck in Jazz mode actually are *cleaving* to the norm rather than deviating from it. They are JAZZ GUYS and they play in that limited universe. I’m generalizing a lot here, but I can’t escape this conclusion when I listen to a lot of this kind of stuff – or even some of the solos on live Zappa material. It’s bebop bebop bebop, mostly. It’s not for me to say what kind of music anybody should be this fundamentally devoted to, but as a listener….meh.

    Something great about music around the world in the early 70s was that some people (Zappa is obviously notable here) were busy deliberately exploding formats, trying new combinations. In 2010, on the other hand, people are *more concerned about the genre/format of their music than with its very quality* sometimes. We are actually *obsessed* with genre now, but in an opposite way to before. Most peculiar, mama.

  12. urbangraffito says:

    It seems the instant people get critical about something, someone is bound to get upset. I have no problem with what these alumni players are doing. However, the moment that they put these videos out for public consumption, they weren’t just five friends getting together for some jazz inspired fun anymore – they were a group with a body of critical work to be lived up to (and surpassed). If this wasn’t their intention, they should never have posted these improvisations in the first place. Still, I suspect they did so to get just the feedback they are receiving now. If Zappa were alive, I’m sure he’d be doing the very same thing – exploiting a brand new medium. For that alone, I applaud Theoretical5.

  13. Wing TIp Shoes says:

    To this day many do not get Miles Davis On the Corner project………………….. Theoretically some people have no taste.

  14. Thinman says:

    A quote from Wing TIp Shoes:

    Theoretically some people have no taste.

    Not YOUR Taste.

  15. Matt says:

    Great non-sequitur as usual, Trendy. No one was talking about On the Corner, which is a great work of musical art. We were talking about meandering, loose, fun jamming by five good musicians. Nothing more, nothing less. Just because your beloved WC is involved doesn’t elevate it to the level of On the Corner, or any other excellent music.

  16. Wing TIp Shoes says:

    A quote from Matt:

    Great non-sequitur as usual, Trendy. No one was talking about On the Corner, which is a great work of musical art. We were talking about meandering, loose, fun jamming by five good musicians. Nothing more, nothing less. Just because your beloved WC is involved doesn’t elevate it to the level of On the Corner, or any other excellent music.

    1- I did not pass any judgment or critical analysis on “THEORETICAL 5″

    2 – I did not pass any judgment or critical analysis on any commentary on “THEORETICAL 5″

    3 – I did not pass any judgment or critical analysis on any users opinion of “On The Corner”

    The statement creates context made for people that feel the need to pass critical analysis on these Jam Sessions. Now I will make a short comment on the matter of the two projects. Development and framework models with parallels. The Universe is getting bigger. Dark Energy. The gravitational fields of earth have set a false precedence that at some point the expansion of the universe will stop and take a 180 like some object that hits the apex of trajectory. These fans who see a few videos of jam sessions and poot forth with negativity remind me of the object hitting the apex. Same with the critics with “On The Corner”. The project seems to be developing and will likely Big Bang where it’s musical elements grow in comparison to hitting an apex.

  17. Thinman says:

    A quote from Wing TIp Shoes:

    These fans who see a few videos of jam sessions and poot forth with negativity …

    zappa.com should be for brown-nosers like you only, you think. Stay over there.

    This place is different and has outgrown the ordinary.

    Th.

  18. jonnybutter says:

    A quote from jonnybutter:

    These fans who see a few videos of jam sessions and poot forth with negativity remind me of the object hitting the apex.

    Sorry to have a critical ear, wingtip. I’ll try some trendy Chemical Amusement Aid that try again. How’s this:

    Is everybody happy? No problem. Never mind. It’s all good.

    better?

  19. almost says:

    A quote from almost:

    These fans who see a few videos of jam sessions and poot forth with negativity remind me of the object hitting the apex. Same with the critics with “On The Corner”. The project seems to be developing and will likely Big Bang where it’s musical elements grow in comparison to hitting an apex.

    Huh?

  20. Matt says:

    Don’t mind Trendy–his head is up his apex. ;)

  21. urbangraffito says:

    Whether under the non de plume of Theoretical5 or Mar Vista Philharmonic, the underlying influence of Miles Davis is unmistakable.

  22. almost says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Whether under the non de plume of Theoretical5 or Mar Vista Philharmonic, the underlying influence of Miles Davis is unmistakable.

    Not to be a pest or anything, but what era (or recording) by Miles Davis is clearly underlyingly influencing the Theoreitical5? Is it something specific, or just a general improvisational ‘gestalt?’

    (and to the Theoretical5 I ask the same about their claim of “influenced by John Coltrane”–how? As exemplified by what?)

    I’m hearing more of a Spyro Gyra, “fuzak” thing here–AND THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT–but Miles Davis? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps0ka1tY5yg&feature=fvw) John Coltrane? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC_pl_9wT_0&feature=related)

    I’m just not hearing it.

  23. metafunj says:

    “Hey Vinnie, where’s 5?”

  24. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from almost:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Whether under the non de plume of Theoretical5 or Mar Vista Philharmonic, the underlying influence of Miles Davis is unmistakable.

    Not to be a pest or anything, but what era (or recording) by Miles Davis is clearly underlyingly influencing the Theoreitical5? Is it something specific, or just a general improvisational ‘gestalt?’

    Besides their own admission to being inspired more by Miles Davis than Frank Zappa with their improvisational works with Mar Vista Philharmonic (and, thus, by association, Theoretical5) – the era I most hear when I made the above statement was ’59 to ’69 (just prior to his electric fusion period), and the recordings include E.S.P., Birth of the Cool, yet most of all, The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions.

    Really, one can’t help but hear the massive influence of Miles Davis, especially when it comes to improvisational jazz – unless one is purposefully deaf.

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