GENDEL,SAM / CYTRYNOWICZ,ANTON
LIVE A LITTLE
Label: PSYCHIC HOTLINE
Release Date: May 13, 2022
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Sam Gendel and Antonia Cytrynowicz didn’t set out to make a record – it just happened. LIVE A LITTLE, a collection of songs resulting from one late summer afternoon in Gendel’s Los Angeles home, is less an album and more a moment. The ten tracks here were recorded mostly in one sitting, fully improvised, in the order in which they appear. It was the first and last time the songs have been played – a snapshot of an idea, an artifact of inspiration, at once both a beginning and an end.
At the time of recording, Cytrynowicz was only eleven years old. The younger sister of Gendel’s significant other and creative partner Marcella, Cytrynowicz is an artist in her own way. She has no formal musical training, but is the product of a creative family and is someone who makes art the way many kids do – in the purest way, simply because they are moved to. On LIVE A LITTLE, she spontaneously crafted all the melodies and lyrics on the spot as Gendel played alongside her. Cytrynowicz’s musicality is sophisticated, strange, and other-worldly, and the resulting record is experimental jazz colliding with some sort of fantasy universe.
Because of that, LIVE A LITTLE is a stand-out amidst Gendel’s extensive and varied catalog. Over the years, the multi-instrumentalist has been known for his prolific musical output as both a sought-after collaborator and as a solo artist. During 2021 alone he collaborated with Vampire Weekend, Maggie Rogers, Moses Sumney, Laurie Anderson, and Mach Hommy, as well as released Notes With Attachments with Blake Mills & legendary bassist Pino Palladino. In the same year he also released the 52-track Fresh Bread, as well as the follow-up to the acclaimed Music for Saxophone & Bass Guitar with Sam Wilkes. Then Mouthfeel / Serene, AE-30, Valley Fever Original Score, and singles “Isfahan” and “Neon Blue.” LIVE A LITTLE, though, exists on its own island. For one, the majority of Gendel’s work under his own name skews instrumental, but here the playfulness of his saxophone and nylon-string guitar work alongside the twinkle of Cytrynowicz’s voice. It’s the sound of unapologetic imagination running amok – and really, more than anything, the sound of having fun.
Cytrynowicz is the ideal collaborator for Gendel, who throughout his career has remained largely unconcerned with the pageantry and presentation of the music business, instead focused solely on the music-making itself. Here, he found the purest sort of writing partner – he admires Cytrynowicz’ “supreme openness,” explaining: “Whatever is happening, she’s there with you. We really meet right where we are. She’s all ears, I’m all ears. I don’t even know how to explain what it is. It just works out somehow.”
Gendel remembers first being impressed by her musicality one day while they were gathered in the backyard at her family’s home; she improvised a strange and fully-formed little composition. The melody struck Gendel - he pulled out his iPhone and had her sing into it, then later orchestrated an ornate, fully fleshed out world around the voice memo. It came easily and simply. The subsequent LIVE A LITTLE session unfolded naturally, too – no discussion, no plan, no ambition – just “let it rip.” They started when it felt right and ended when it felt finished, once the flow of ideas dissipated. Then they put it away without discussion and moved on to the next activity. For a week afterward, Gendel tinkered with the live recording, adding a part or three on top of the initial session, sculpting it into its final product; a moment of raw creativity condensed into a polished little stone. Then he brought it back to Cytrynowicz, who hadn’t heard it since that summer afternoon, and was floored by hearing what they had created.
LIVE A LITTLE is a series of “what ifs” cascading into one another, off-kilter and experimental, a kaleidoscope of spontaneity and imagination. It’s a sweet distillation of the musical present, of daring to follow through on an impulse – what happens when a project is helmed by someone who doesn’t have time for second thoughts or self-doubt.
“That’s why she and I can make music I think, because I don’t think I ever deviated from that approach - or at least, I hope I didn’t,” Gendel says. “I really think that’s the best way that works for me musically – that ‘no mind’ sort of thing.” And here they both decisively follow that intuition, chronicling the way an idea blossoms and moves through you. The moment is the thing, and LIVE A LITTLE just happens to capture it.
Antonia Cytrynowicz - voice
Sam Gendel - synth guitar, synthetic nylon bass, sine synth guitar, nylon guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, horn, organ, keyboards, percussion, drum
All songs written by Sam Gendel & Antonia Cytrynowicz
All lyrics improvised by Antonia Cytrynowicz
Instrumental performance, engineering, mixing, and production by Sam Gendel
Mastering by Mike Bozzi
Original Drawing by Antonia Cytrynowicz
Artwork Design by Sam Gendel
Photography by Marcella Cytrynowicz
Special thanks to the Cytrynowicz family
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