[To learn more about Garrison Fewell and the group, check out this Boston Phoenix feature story by Jon Garelick]

The Variable Density Sound Orchestra is veteran Boston-based guitarist/composer Garrison Fewell's newest working ensemble. Whenever possible, this international group features charter members Roy Campbell (trumpet and flute), Achille Succi (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), Eric Hofbauer (guitar), John Voigt (bass) and Miki Matsuki (drums), all of whom appear on its self-titled February 2009 debut.

As the band’s name implies, its original music explores a wide range of textures and interactions. “The goal,” Fewell explains, “is to create balance, not allowing individual soloists, collective instant composing or pre-composed material to dominate for too long.”

Fewell actively shapes the ensemble's music with the other musicians. The 10 tracks on their debut, which range from completely improvised to original compositions with a stronger framework for individual expression, take their inspiration from longstanding interests such as ancient cultures, spirituality, and the music of Albert Ayler, Anthony Braxton and Sun Ra.

"Guitarist Garrison Fewell has never stopped moving forward on his musical journey from accomplished post-bop guitarist to free-jazz explorer," writes music journalist Ed Hazell in the liner notes for Variable Density Sound Orchestra. "Here, on his most fully realized and personal recording in the free jazz idiom to date, you can still hear the thoughtfulness, tenderness, and intimacy; careful listening; and the rigorous construction of line and feel for melody that have marked all his albums. The Variable Density Sound Orchestra is a group well suited to realizing Garrison's concepts and compositions."

Since the release of its first record in early 2009, the band has played a number of gigs in Boston and New York with varying line-ups.

Its second recording, Sound Particle 47 (CNM016), was released in September 2010. It features additional personnel (all the original members plus trombonist Steve Swell, tenor saxophonist Kelly Roberge and bassist Dmitry Ishenko), as well as new compositions by Fewell, members of the group and frequent collaborator John Tchicai.