Underthe Skin



1.Under the Skin (2:21)

2.Streaming (3:12)

3.Dressing Part 1 (1:57)

4.Five Saxophones in Search of Meaning (4:09)

5.Downpour (1:13)

6.Om on the Range (4:51)

7.Dressing Part 2 (2:38)

8.Slits in the Curtain (4:46)


KenField - alto saxophones, percussion

JesseWilliams - acoustic and electric bass

PhilNeighbors - drums


Allmusic composed by Ken Field, published by Conical Music/BMI


Thismusic was commissioned by choreographer/dancers Art Bridgman and

MyrnaPacker of Bridgman/Packer Dance for their work "Under the

Skin",the second in a trilogy of pieces that integrate live dance performance,innovative video technology, and original music collaborations.


Allmusic composed by Ken Field, published by Conical Music/BMI


"Omon the Range" appears on the O.O.Discs CD "Subterranea", and is

includedhere by permission of O.O.Discs.


KenField is a Vandoren Performing Artist, and uses Vandoren reeds

andmouthpieces for performance and recording.


KenField - alto saxophones, percussion

JesseWilliams - acoustic and electric bass

PhilNeighbors - drums


Producedby Ken Field


Exceptas noted, all music recorded and mixed by Andy Pinkham at

MortalMusic, Charlestown, MA, Feb. 2005.


"FiveSaxophones in Search of Meaning" recorded by George Hicks at the ChickenLoft, Cambridge, MA 1988-1990, with additional material recorded and mixed byAndy Pinkham at Mortal Music, Charlestown, MA, Feb. 2005.


"Omon the Range" recorded by Ken Field in The Henge, Roswell, NM, May 1995,mixed by Huck Bennert at Wellspring Sound, Concord, MA.


Coverimages from video of "Under the Skin" performance by Art Bridgman& Myrna Packer at the Duke on 42nd Street, NYC.


Backcover photo of Ken Field by Paul B. Goode.


Masteredby Jody Elff,


KenField website design and maintenance by Andrew Doss/Dosswerks:


Thanksto Art Bridgman, Myrna Packer, Philip Blackburn, Chris Campbell, Joseph Celli,Paul B. Goode


 (c) (p) 2006 Ken Field



I cringe whenchoreographers tell me they’ve commissioned music for a new dance.

Moreoften than not, the composer doesn’t really care about thechoreography. It’s a chance to create new work on someone else’s tab. Andusually, the choreographer spends so much time micromanaging the composer thatthe dance itself is an afterthought.

SoI was apprehensive when choreographers Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer told methey’d commissioned Ken Field to create a score for a new multimedia piececalled “Under the Skin.”

Don’tget me wrong. Bridgman and Packer are old hands at this. They’ve been workingtogether since 1978 and have commissioned several notable composers along theway, including Robert Een and Glenn Velez.

Besides,Bridgman and Packer are smart choreographers. Smart people, for that matter.They have common sense. And they understand scale. Most choreographers are, atheart, empire builders. But as far as I know, Bridgman and Packer have neverfelt possessed by the urge to get big, to hire dozens of dancers and create theGreat American Dance Epic.

Small,pithy, profound – this is what they do. They’re the dance worldequivalent of miniaturists.

But“Under the Skin” was different. It involved an incredibly complex meshing ofvideo projection, stage lighting and dance. As performers, Bridgman and Packerwould bob in and out amongst hundreds of rapidly changing projected images.It’s as if they had finally recruited that cast of thousands – exceptthat they were all digital blips and swirls captured on video.

Ken’smusic would become one more frenetic element in the midst of this alreadyjam-packed sensory onslaught.


Asit turns out, I needn’t have worried.

Kenwas the ideal collaborator, a kindred artistic spirit. He’s an adventurer, thekind of guy who always has a dozen ideas churning in his brain.

            Moreimportant, he’s the kind of artist who, when posed with some extraordinarilychallenging project, says “why not” instead of “why.”

            In1998, for instance, he showed up in a Tokyo club one August night, met up witha trio of Japanese musicians – all of them strangers – andproceeded to create as alluring an hour of improvisation as a microphone hasever had the good fortune to record.

            Sowhen Bridgman and Packer called and asked if he’d like to score their newestwork, the decision was simple. “Sure – why not?”



“I’mnot real familiar with writing for dance,” Ken said to me when we first talkedabout “Under the Skin.”

Idon’t know why he felt compelled to admit it. Perhaps it’s because I’m a dancewriter and he was sure I’d notice a certain hesitance when he began to talkabout choreography.

Ormaybe it’s because he’s a guy committed to improvisation – a musicalworld unfettered by outside sources – and he had just agreed to create ascore that was not only fettered, but was inextricably locked into place by itscollaborators.

ButI think Ken understands the relationship between dance and music more than herealizes.

Crankup this music in a room filled with small kids and I guarantee you that they’llall be dancing within 45 seconds. Maybe 30. Maybe even less. They’d immediatelyrecognize “Under the Skin” for what it is – unabashed dance music.

Notthe “dance music” that pop music writers love to babble about. It’s not thatendlessly thumping stuff that overpowers everything in its way.

Butthis is dance music.

Rhythmic,playful, driving, flip, occasionally funky, audaciously sassy, filled with lifeand humor and . . . well, how could you not dance to it?

For all of Ken's anxieties aboutwriting for dance, it was obvious right away that he gotit.    

Thetitle track is no more than 30 seconds old and I can swear there’s a tinyphrase from “Peter and the Wolf” in there. Can that be? But before I have timeto figure it out, Ken and his layered saxophones – they’re all him– are long gone. They’ve raced ahead.

            Heslows down occasionally to give me a chance to catch up. But mostly, Ken’smusic powers ahead, churning and loping its way through whatever silence mightlie in its way.

Bythe time he gets to “Dressing, Part 1,” he’s ready for fun. He squeaks andsquawks and lays down a deliciously clunky sea of sounds interrupted by theoccasional honk of a cheeky sax. It’s a hoot. And it’s smart. And it’s sofabulously thick that it would take my old music composition professor a weekto unravel the richness of the composition.

It’srare that commissioned dance music has a life beyond the choreography.

“Underthe Skin” has earned one.

ForBridgman and Packer, Ken provided the perfect musical complement to the mass ofimages and movement on the stage. It never overwhelmed. But it didn’t slipsoftly into the background, either. This was one of those occasions where allthecollaborating elements were expertly crafted and had the power and integrity towork with – and against – one another.

Asa stage work, “Under the Skin” – the whole package – is dazzlingtheater.

Andon CD? Without those stunning visual elements? The music stands on its own, adelectable mass of sounds and harmonies, of rhythms and melodies soinextricably intertwined that it’s hard to imagine them existing apart from oneanother.

Asfor the dancing, it’s all there. Just listen.

  David Lyman is an artswriter who lives in Cincinnati