1/  I Colored It In For You (Pt. 2)              (Apfelbaum)                  6.22
  2/  I Colored It In For You (Pt. 2)              (Apfelbaum)                  3.23
  3/  I Colored It In For You (Bill Laswell Remix) (Apfelbaum)                  6.44
          Recorded by Jeffrey Hill at Studio C, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
          Mixed and mastered by Liberty Ellman
          Track 3 Mix Translation: Bill Laswell
          Produced by Peter Apfelbaum and Aaron Johnston
          Management: Erica Jacobsohn/Serendipity Arts
          M.O.D. Technologies: Yoko Yamabe
          M.O.D. Support: David Brunelle
Peter Apfelbaum: vocals, keyboards, saxes, percussion; Natalie Cressman: vocals, trombone, Jill Ryan: vocals, alto sax; Will Bernard: guitar; Barney McAll: homemade instruments; Willard Dyson: drums; Aaron Johnston: drums, drum programming; Liberty Ellman: additional bass.

          2014 - M.O.D. Technologies Digital (USA), MODDS00009 (digital)


I Colored It In For You is such a tease. Broad-minded multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum uses this brief EP—the two-part title track and a remix from M.O.D. co-founder Bill Laswell are it—to introduces a sui generis small group known as Sparkler.

Apfelbaum, covering vocals, keys, saxophones, and percussion, teams up with rising star trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman, vocalist/saxophone Jill Ryan, grooving guitarist Will Bernard, Barney McAll, playing homemade instruments here, and a pair of drummers—Willard Dyson and Aaron Johnston. The results? Stylistic cross-breeding at its finest.

"I Colored It In For You (Pt. 1)" has it all, as a brief flash of ambient noise is overtaken by glistening textures and horns. Then there are vocals sung with a slam poetry slant, drum 'n' bass-ish supports, pseudo-choruses that repeatedly utter the song title and feature catchy horn riffs, and a breakdown that gives Cressman some space to blow. All of that comes and goes in less than six-and-a-half minutes. "I Colored In In For You (Pt. 2)" proves to be far more organic. In less than three-and-a-half minutes, Apfelbaum and company create a sonic space where pan-African piano and guitar sounds, pop influences, fluid bass, slick horn riffs, drum and percussion foundations, and coolly delivered vocals work well together. The Laswell remix taps into the bassist/producer's love for mixing dub music, heady beats, and alien soundscapes.

The press materials for this release call this song "a multidimensional electronic world music track," and it's hard to argue with that statement; it is, however, easy to move past it and let the music do the talking, as a scant amount of words—or any words at all—can't do this justice. I Colored It In For You is yet another example of Peter Apfelbaum gazing at a new frontier.

Dan Bilowsky (courtesy of the All About Jazz website)


Bill Laswell’s “Incunabula” is a series of digital-only releases from the M.O.D. Technologies label. It has expanded the bassist-producer’s palette in directions ancient and futuristic, allowing freedom to strengthen his expressive reach. Part of that freedom includes promotion of artists from many walks of life, each highlighting one gradation of an ever-expanding spectrum. An apt metaphor, to be sure, in the context of I Colored It In For You. This debut single by SPARKLER kicks off the latest project from multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, of New York Hieroglyphics fame. Having played with artists as varied as Don Cherry and the Grateful Dead, Apfelbaum presents here a 21st-century assembly of Natalie Cressman on vocals/trombone, Jill Ryan on vocals/alto sax, Will Bernard on guitar, Barney McAll on homemade instruments, Willard Dyson on drums, and co-producer Aaron Johnston (of Brazilian Girls) on drums and programming. Together they slide their way through two distinct tracks.

In the album’s EPK, Apfelbaum admits an affinity for extremes, as evident both within and between the song’s bifurcation. Part 1 shakes the night sky free of its galactic mess and uses it as a canvas for fresh, playful songwriting. The lyrics, while seemingly haphazard, reveal the randomness of a relatable mindset. Cressman and Ryan dress declarations of independence like “I’m gonna do it all” in frills of youthful confidence. It’s a whimsical contrast to the slickly crafted road beneath, and just off-center enough to make it endearing. “You make we wanna write ’til my memory is full” is another memorable line that blurs the separation between body and technology. The chorus moves through an honest groove, giving way to smooth horn work from the vocalists. Part 2 is more keyboard-driven and contradicts the previous incarnation with gentler, ephemeral transferences. A less bold and more reflective side of the band, it is an extreme in and of itself.

Rounding out the single is a Mix Translation (dub remix) by Laswell, who emphasizes the dreamy undercurrent, deepening the intro’s spatial qualities while rendering the voices into occasional messengers. A key bass line and drum beat kick things into gear, horns hopping in along the way, as the title phrase emerges in intermittent signals. Laswell crosses the song’s inner arc through gorgeous break-flow, surfacing with coral souvenirs.

It’s just the beginning of a journey, and I’m gonna hear it all.

Tyran Grillo (courtesy of the ECM Reviews website)


Twenty-five years ago, while still a senior in high school, Peter Apfelbaum assembled the 17-piece Hieroglyphics Ensemble, which counts Joshua Redman, Benny Green and Steve Bernstein among its alumni. Since then, the saxophonist/pianist/percussionist has played with everyone from Cecil Taylor and Don Cherry to Harry Belafonte to the Grateful Dead, which makes him and his new septet, Sparkler, a perfect fit for the digital-only MOD Technologies label run by fellow poly-stylist Bill Laswell.

Melding jazz improvisation, global grooves and electronic effects

Three very different versions of the title track are part of MOD’s Incunabula Series, which is in keeping with Laswell’s penchant for melding jazz improvisation, global grooves and electronic effects. “I Colored It In For You (Pt.1)” comes out with elephantine Afrobeat horns, led by Apfelbaum and Jill Ryan on saxes and Natalie Cressman on trombone, with the two women doubling vocalists. Aaron Johnston from Brazilian Girls provides drum programming next to Williard Dyson on the skins and jazz ace Will Bernard nails the guitar fills. Apfelbaum, the composer, says the tune is about the “act of creating art and the desire to give it away,” and you can feel the sway between the intense and the carefree.

“I Colored It In For You (Pt.2)” is more acoustic- and pop-oriented, with a rubbery bass and more airspace beneath the vocals. Laswell remixes a third version that nods to the influence of trap music, dropping out the early horn surges but clearing room to feature Cressman’s trombone solo later in the track. All are solid but the first track is the keeper — another unpredictable yet gilded gem in Apfelbaum’s wonderful, albeit beneath-the-radar, resume.

Britt Robson (courtesy of the Wondering Sound website)