Black River Transect




Dennis Rea Tanabata Ensemble in Concert

  1. ASJ* (septet) (Dennis Rea)
  2. Black River Transect (for Princess Angeline) (guided improvisation)
  3. Swaylone’s Island (Dennis Rea)
  4. Harmoniker (guided improvisation**)
  5. ASJ (trombone choir) (Dennis Rea, arr. James DeJoie

Tracks 1-4
Dennis Rea – guitar
Stuart Dempster – trombone, didgeridu
James DeJoie – bass clarinet
Beth Fleenor – clarinet
Kate Olson – soprano saxophone
John Seman – double bass
Tom Zgonc – drums

Track 5
Dennis Rea – guitar
Kate Olson – soprano saxophone
John Seman – double bass
Paul Kikuchi – drums
Trombone choir: Sara Mayo (alto trombone); Stuart Dempster, Moc Escobedo, Masa Ohtake, Naomi Siegel (tenor trombones); Steve Harreld, Jen Hinkle, Chad Kirby, Greg Powers (bass trombones); Benn Hansson (contrabass trombone)

*“ASJ” is dedicated to my beloved life partner, Anne Smith Joiner.
**In “Harmoniker,” each improviser played only those scale degrees that occurred within the spelling of their name; e.g., Beth Fleenor = B, E, F.
“Swaylone’s Island” is inspired by David Lindsay’s 1920 novel A Voyage to Arcturus.
Tracks 1-4 recorded live in concert at the Chapel Performance Space, Seattle 2.25.13
Track 5 recorded live in concert at the Chapel Performance Space, Seattle 7.6.13
Live stereo recordings by Steve Kennedy-Williams
Edited and mastered by Doug Haire at Jack Straw Productions, Seattle
Cover art: Anne Joiner
Cover photograph: Danette Davis
Special thanks to Steve Kennedy-Williams, Stuart Dempster, James DeJoie, Doug Haire, Steve Peters / Nonsequitur

Project Information

Black River Transect* captures all of one concert, and part of another, by the transitory “Tanabata” ensemble that I occasionally convene with my dear friend and mentor, the internationally heralded trombonist and didgeridu player Stuart Dempster. This series of jointly organized events arose from the discovery that Stuart and I share the same birthday, 7/7, a date celebrated in Chinese and Japanese folklore as the only day of the year when the proverbial “star-crossed lovers” Orihime and Hikoboshi are allowed to meet across the great divide of the Milky Way. This mythopoetic tradition is still celebrated today in Japan with the annual Tanabata, or Star Festival – hence the ensemble’s name.

The selections presented here are a blend of my own compositions and improvisations based on loose organizational devices, impeccably performed by some of the most adept and sensitive players currently active in the Pacific Northwest, to whom I’m eternally grateful. Both concerts were expertly recorded on the fly by audio genie Steve Kennedy-Williams; I’m deeply indebted to Steve for not only preserving these and several other memorable performances for the benefit of listeners far and wide, but also for the honor of making Black River Transect one of the inaugural releases on his exciting new Scooby Tracks label. I hope you’ll find the music as absorbing to listen to as it was to play.

*The title invokes the vanished Black River that once drained Lake Washington from its southern end into Elliott Bay in the Salish Sea, before the excavation of the Ship Canal in north Seattle lowered the level of the lake and left this once-vital transportation corridor and its Native villages nothing but a memory. The track’s dedicatee, “Princess Angeline” (Kikisoblu), was the daughter of Chief Sealth; she spent much of her life in a hovel on the tide flats where, like her dispossessed people in general, she was subjected to callous indignities by the fast-growing city’s residents.


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