by Ryan Pate

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Guitarist-composer Ryan Pate has crafted a beguiling debut with Human/Alien (BFG Records), an album of forward-minded jazz where the earthy and otherworldly mingle and meld. To bring his music alive, Pate convened a band of kindred-spirit players whom he got to know on the Brooklyn session scene: pianist Dov Manski, bassist Noah Garabedian and drummer Devin Gray. With Human/Alien, Pate aimed to create “a world in sound – music that’s cinematic, which is something a lot of my favorite records share,” he says. “The title, Human/Alien, reflects a duality I’ve always been drawn to, things that are both human and strange – the earthy, human essence being an emphasis on melody, and the alien being an ethereal, atmospheric quality.”

Pate’s guitar sound is warm, liquid, enveloping. “True melody” is the goal in his improvisations, avoiding patterns. “I’ve always been influenced by pure melodic improvisers, like Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Keith Jarrett – who have an edge to what they do while still being incredibly tuneful,” he says. “Even pieces that are harmonically complex can still have a singable melody.” Human/Alien launches with “Simple Song #3,” It’s from a series of pieces that Pate wrote “after my years at the Manhattan School of Music and being burned out on this harmonically dense, tricky, virtuoso way of thinking,” he explains. “So I wanted to create some simple, tuneful things, and #3 turned out as my favorite.”

There’s an overt rock reference with “For E.S.,” an homage to the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. “I was listening a lot to his records and thinking about what a tragic figure he was,” Pate says. “The beauty of his music is that it’s honest to the point of vulnerability – and he channeled that through these pure, heartbreaking melodies.” Other highlights among the eight spacious tracks of Human/Alien include “Growth Cycles,” with its haunting solo piano intro and Pate’s silvery guitar song eventually floating on top. Then there are the intricate grooves, off-kilter atmospherics and tunefully ruminative byways of the 12-minute long “To See One Through,” like Aja-era Steely Dan gone through a psychedelic looking glass.

Another highlight on Human/Alien is “Circulation Adjustment Machine,” which fully encapsulates Pate’s conceptual duality of melody and atmosphere. This track features “free improvisation overdubbed on top of the tune – like another world of color and texture that has an evolving relationship with the composition itself,” Pate explains. “The melody emerges from these ethereal textures, which float in and out through the rest of the piece. Again, melody has always been the thing that sticks with me as a listener, and that is ultimately my goal to deliver as a composer and an improviser – the sort of musical experience that stays with you.”


released May 6, 2014

Ryan Pate - Guitar and Compositions
Dov Manski - Piano
Noah Garabedian - Bass
Devin Gray - Drums

Mixed by Ryan Ferreira and Ryan Pate
Mastered by John Rosenberg
Recorded at Tedesco Studios Apr 2012
Design by Simple



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Ryan Pate San Francisco, California

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