The music of Isotope 217 is as complex and varied as the influences of it's members.
John Herndon - drums, percussion and Dan Bitney - drums, percussion have been playing together in Tortoise since 1990. Jeff Parker - Guitar (Tortoise, New Horizons Ensemble, Chicago Underground Orchestra) joined Herndon and Bitney in Tortoise live as early as 1995. Parker has played with Joshua Redman, Roy Hargrove, all the Marsalises, Lisle Ellis, Charles Earland, Lester Bowie, Ed Wilkerson, Fred Anderson, Fred Hopkins, Famadou Don Maye and Malachi Favors to name a few. He is affiliated with Chicago's AACM through his membership in Ernest Dawkins' New Horizons Ensemble with whom he has recorded 4 albums.
Rob Mazurek - Cornet (Chicago Underground Orchestra) - Whilst his earlier recordings owe a debt to Hard Bop, his work with the Underground Orchestra has " taken his playing towards the fringes ....the assured muscle of Lee Morgan still pulses through Mazurek's solos on more swinging material, the piquent phrasing of Don Cherry or the gorgeously abstract smears of Bill Dixon are just as likely to surface - though Mazurek is no mere composite of influences." - Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader. Sara P. Smith - Trombone (Chicago Underground Orchestra). During her years at Berkely School of Music Sara began playing with Parker in The Last Quartet. They have been working together off and on ever since. Smith still spends a considerable amount of time working on the west coast. Recently she recorded with Viggo Martensen in a group with DJ Bone Break and Buckethead. Sara also recorded with Ralph Carney, Steve Hodges and Larry Taylor in a group "Henri" released on Action Box Records. Her live teeth were cut with the infamous soul man Sam Taylor Jr. Matt Lux - Bass (Uptighty, Tranquility Bass) Matt Lux, a veteran of Chicago's Funk scene, has played with numerous notable groups in Chicago. Unfortunatly for those without access to this scene, the group names would be of no consequence as they were largely unrecorded. Matt's imaginative variations and his flexibility are indespensible to Isotope 217, whose compositions flow directly from extended improvisational work. His flexibility is further demonstrated by his recent association with "dance experimentalist" Tranquility Bass as a member of his performing unit.
Isotope 217 on Isotope 217 - " It is hard to state exactly what this band is because of the diverse influences of the participants. One might say an eclectic avant funk ensemble dedicated to the Phonometric* system of universal thought. One might also say a freewheeling trans-moleculer unit dedicated to the betterment of all worlds.
*phonometrics are, as described by Satie, the Science of measuring sound.