Co-led by Mike Reed and Jason Adasiewicz, two of the fastest-rising young stars of Chicago's insanely vibrant jazz scene, Living by Lanterns was formed specifically to bring together four of Chicago's and four of New York's leading players for a special and unique project concept. Commissioned by Experimental Sound Studio (ESS), the music was created in response to material contained in ESS's vast Sun Ra Audio Archive. Rather than a Sun Ra tribute, Reed and Adasiewicz have crafted a melodically rich, harmonically expansive body of themes orchestrated from fragments extracted from a rehearsal tape marked "NY 1961," featuring Ra on electric piano, John Gilmore on tenor sax and flute, and Ronnie Boykins on bass.
The tunes on 2012's Old Myth/New Science were written by the co-leaders based on the 1961 tape. That tape contains no compositions per-se, but there are a lot of stream-of-consciousness ideas and some of these ideas were teased out, hugely expanded upon and turned into the pieces heard here. "The tape is clearly these ideas they're hashing out," Adasiewicz says. "Some of this stuff sounds kind of squirrelly. Some is insanely beautiful...it became our personal arrangements." "After figuring out the band, the first step in the process was to completely dismiss the idea of commenting or honoring Sun Ra," Reed adds. "The more interesting idea was of creating new music using someone's unfinished, unwanted and abandoned material."
Reed and Adasiewicz fully considered the possibilities of taking this very unrefined material and teasing out raw ideas, bits and undeveloped fragments from it, and developing and composing them into full compositions that the band perform and make their own. The music is rich and exciting; full and sparse; mysterious and inviting; challenging and tuneful. And what a band!