Endless: Philly improvisation-fusion power group launch new music

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When Ximena Violante met John Cole on the Broad Street Line, neither of them knew what fate was working on.

Their improv-fusion group, Interminable, returns to Philly on Friday for a show at The Rotunda before returning to the studio to record an album – an event that has been brewing for two years.

Their story begins in July 2015.

In South Philly, Violante was teaching community music workshops in the music style son jarocho, which is traditional music from Veracruz, Mexico, when asked if her new “band” would open for Viento Callejero, a band. cumbia style from Los Angèle.

Everyone in the workshop was learning to sing and play the jarana, a Mexican instrument, and they were far from a performance group. So Violante tried to take on the task alone.

“I kept calling people and talking to musicians, and I was like ‘can someone play with me?'” She said. “Everyone was busy with their own business, and I was like, ‘Do you know anyone? “”

After being turned down by several unavailable musicians, and on her way home from a workshop in the days leading up to the concert, she was carrying a jarana with her when a man on the train asked her if it was a violin .

The question came from Cole, who was driving home on the train because he had locked himself out of his car.

The two continued to talk and Cole mentioned that he played the drums and was looking for a band to join.

Cole ended up playing the concert on the upstairs balcony of the Trocadero in Chinatown with Violante a week later. And that’s how fate created Interminable.

Sydney Schaefer / Billy Penn

The group is constantly evolving, but there are currently four main members, including Violante and Cole, as well as Marty Gottlieb-Hollis, who joined the group last December; and Becca Graham, who joined just a few months ago.

With Violante on jarana, violin and vocals; Cole on drums; and Gottlieb-Hollis and Graham on trumpet, these four musicians from Philly are the band the city never saw coming.

Born in Mexico and raised outside of Philly, Violante grew up listening to everything from classical music to rock, but began to look for other styles. “Once at university, I started to explore [more of] the possibilities of Mexican music and Mexican traditions, ”she said. “I never really had the opportunity to learn about it.”

Before creating Interminable, Violante had the vision of creating a band that she originally wanted to take in a punk direction. That changed when she met Cole.

“I realized that it actually made more sense to merge [son jarocho] with more improvised music, ”she said. “[That music is] to bring people together and improvise together.

But Violante said she wouldn’t describe this group as a bunch of jarocho sons. There are already plenty of such bands from Veracruz, and they are more deeply rooted in the tradition. “For me, I want to learn from them, but I don’t necessarily want to do it myself because I come from all this other music that is also just as important to me,” she said. “I feel like that’s the strength to form a band like this in Philly.”

Violante and Cole started out as a duet, but they’ve rounded up other musicians along the way. Since Interminable currently only has four members who play specific instruments, Violante said if they needed a bass player for a show, they just had to buy one. They even had a cellist in the band for a while.

For example, St. Clair Simmons will sometimes play the trombone and Paul Horner on the bass, as needed. They are two of the “changing” members of Interminable, pictured with the group in the photos above and below.

“We’ve played with a lot of different people, so it’s cool to see how it takes different forms,” she said. “I’m always [looking] for people who are good musicians, good improvisers and who are ready to be part of it.

Gottlieb-Hollis and Graham performed together on the Philly music scene for a while before joining Interminable, most notably in a live hip-hop group called the Hardwork Movement, which still exists today. Gottlieb-Hollis joined this group in 2013, then invited Graham to play about two years later – around the same time Violante and Cole met on the subway.

The ever-changing composition of Interminable allows the sound of the band to change as needed.

“I think the trumpets gave it a whole new sound that I really like,” Violante said. “It’s definitely a sound we’ve never made before.”

And since the band is rooted in improvisation, every time a song is performed, it’s different. The songs have a general structure, explained Violante, but there is room in the structure for the members to improvise.

Interminable’s new single, Consecuencia, which literally translates to “consequence,” is the first time the group has written designated parts for members, Violante said. But, there are still parts open for improvisation.

The song was recorded at Weathervane in Fishtown, where people can purchase tickets to watch the artists’ recording sessions.

The melody lasts about six minutes and plays with the idea of ​​cycles. Violante explained that most non-Western music is non-linear, so there is no beginning, middle, and end to the song. The songs from Interminable continue to the end and last as long as they need to. But this new song is one of the group’s most structured compositions.

With the release of this new single, the band went on a mini-tour, which traveled to Boston on Sunday for the first show. The group returns to Philly this Friday to perform at The Rotunda in West Philly alongside Jakeya and Mixed People, who are celebrating five years as a group.

The group will travel to New York on Saturday before returning to Philly to play the final tour date at Icebox Project Space in Kensington for the second day of Time Camp 001, a two-day event featuring interactive installations that explore time, time travel, etc. much more.

After the week-long tour, Interminable will return to the studio to record their very first album.

Becca Graham (front), John Cole, Ximena Violante, Marty Gottlieb-Hollis, Paul Horner and St. Clair Simmons (back)
Sydney Schaefer / Billy Penn

Philly has been a great place for this group to flourish, as the city – and West Philly in particular – is a great breeding ground for creative endeavors, said Gottlieb-Hollis.

“I think West Philly is a really unique place [for that] because there are so many different people who come from different backgrounds, ”he said. The city creates opportunities to create a community around music.

“It’s a big city,” Cole said. “You have the benefit of having all the music and the liveliness, and it’s affordable, which certainly shouldn’t be underestimated or underestimated.” This and Philly’s vibrant music scene is what keeps Cole playing.

The idea behind Endless is that everyone in the band comes from a variety of different musical backgrounds and backgrounds, which gives the band a lot of strength and reflects the diverse musical culture of Philly, said Violante.

The story of music is told through migration and how it comes into contact with rhythms and then changes, she explained, “It’s just an extension of that.”

Interminable will take the stage at The Rotunda at 40th and Walnut streets on Friday nights at 7 p.m. and tickets are still available. The show costs $ 10-15 at the door, but no one will be turned down for lack of funds. The show will end with a fandango, which is a “community celebration of one’s jarocho,” like a jam session.


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