Jeff Kaiser had substantial help with this music, considering that his Ockodektet is a seventeen piece ensemble, but he composed, arranged, conducted, recorded, mastered and played trumpet himself, and then designed the unique package featuring a trifold cover containing a paper sleeve and wrapped up with a twine bow. I suspect he might have tied the bow himself, too.
The music (which consists of fourteen tracks, regardless of the title) was recorded direct to DAT in a performance celebrating Kaiser's 40th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, Kaiser gathered some of the cream of the west coast avant-garde in his home base of Ventura, CA, and booked city hall for the performance. The result is sometimes challenging but generally satisfying. It's hard to discern how much of the music is composed and how much is improvised, but given Kaiser's classical background and nearly obsessive control over every other element of the project, I suspect the scale tilts heavily toward the composed side of the equation.At the very least, the material had to be carefully arranged to maintain some semblance of order with seventeen players on hand.
This is not always easy music to listen to, but just when you think he's abandoned the audience to cacophony, Kaiser manages to resolve even the most anarchic passages in a way that's ultimately satisfying, at least if you have a taste for edgy art music. The best point of reference I can draw would be Sun Ra's Arkestra. In fact, this is one of the few large ensemble avant garde performances I've heard in recent years that deserves that comparison, and Kaiser's Ockodektet doesn't suffer from it at all. Like the Arkestra, they travel to some dangerous spaces, but the attentive listener will return from the adventure safely and stronger for it.