"Vudu" by Batik

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The sixth track on my SoundCloud Playlist is “Vudu” by Batik.

As mentioned in my last blog about John Roggie’s “Lizarb,” Batik is an eclectic jazz/world/fusion group featuring Dave Anthony, Tom Nazziola, Tim Ouimette, John Roggie and myself.  “Vudu” was composed by me, and is the title track on Batik’s debut CD, “Vudu” released in 2009. “Vudu” is spelled the way it is, instead of “Voodoo,” because my original intention was to feature several udu drums on the recording.  This didn’t work out, but there are some featured udu fills throughout the recording.

“Vudu” was recorded live in my studio (Barry Hartglass Digital) with only a few overdubbed parts added later.  Instead of drums, Dave played a bass cajon with his foot as the bass drum part and a dumbek with his hands, creating a mysterious, tribal kind of sound to the rhythm.  Tom played rainstick, shaker, windchimes, finger cymbals, cymbal, congas, bongos, woodblock, and of course, udu.  Tom’s distinctive use of colorful percussion sounds like these is a significant part of the Batik sound.  The marimba sound is actually a sample that I played.  Tom re-recorded the same part on a real marimba, and I assumed that we would use that instead, but there was something about the sound of the sample that I used that worked better on this piece.  It sounded more primitive or tribal somehow.  It is a rare occasion when I prefer a sample to a real instrument!

I played fretless bass on this recording and it is a featured instrument playing the first melody statement and the first improvised solo.  Tim played trumpet with a harmon mute for the intro, interludes and the second melody statement.  We played the melody together after the solos.  John played a beautiful synthesizer pad sound from Spectrasonic’s Atmosphere and of course, piano throughout and for the second improvised solo.

“Vudu” was composed in 7/4 time but was actually written as 3/4 to 4/4 throughout.

“Vudu” is a modal jazz composition.  The 6 modes that repeat throughout include:

  • G aeolian (6th mode of Bb major) – This is the main “tonality” of the piece.
  • A phrygian b4 (3rd mode of F harmonic major)
  • Bb phrygian natural 6 (2nd mode of Ab melodic minor)
  • Eb lydian augmented (3rd mode of C melodic minor)
  • F phrygian (3rd mode of Db major)
  • Gb lydian #2 (6th mode of Bb harmonic minor)

For more info about composing with these kinds of modes, check out the book “Modal Jazz Composition & Harmony” by Ron Miller.

For more info about Batik, please visit our website: www.batikjazz.com

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