Bruce Arnold and John Gunther's Group "Spooky Actions" CD "Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time."

Quartet for the End of Time


Bruce Arnold–Guitar

John Gunther—Soprano Saxophone

Aaron Jackson—Piano

David Phillips—Bass

Tony Moreno—Drums

Spooky Actions tackles Messiaen

Spooky Actions (led by John Gunther and Bruce Arnold) is back with their unique take on the “Quartet for the End of Time” one of the most popular pieces of 20th century classical music.

Spooky Actions background

Noted for applying jazz improvisational and textural techniques to non-jazz repertoire, Spooky Actions has so far charted new territory with Early Music, Native American Music, the music of the 2nd Viennese School, and now, the work of Olivier Messiaen. In this recording the ensemble has been expanded to accommodate an arrangement for Jazz Quintet. The lineup is: John Gunther on soprano saxophone, Bruce Arnold on electric guitar, Tony Moreno on drums, David Phillips on upright bass, and Aaron Jackson on piano.


The Quartet was started while Messiaen was in the French army, and completed while he was a prisoner of war in a German Stalag. It is his first and most famous work wherein he integrated his deep knowledge of bird song into his compositions. He was known to rise before dawn in order to hear the first calls and chattering of the local flocks, to steep himself in sounds that were endlessly fascinating to him, and he claimed to be able to identify fifty different patterns specific to European species. The songs, particularly those of nightingales and blackbirds, transported this devout Catholic, and enabled him to imbue the Quartet with grandeur, despair –and hope.

The Challenges

The Quartet presented specific challenges to musicians then and now, written as it was for the specific virtuosos that Messiaen was interned with. The famous 3rd Movement ” Abyss of the Birds” calls for exceptional prowess on the part of any clarinet player (or in this case, soprano saxophone), and transferring cello parts to the upright bass calls for a musician with unusual mastery of that larger, less agile instrument. The addition of drums to the palette of the piece (which is not scored for any percussion) calls for a touch that is exceptionally subtle.


As they have with other classical pieces, Spooky Actions states the original work as written, and then uses that as a jumping off point for improvisation (they have done this with Movements 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7). This requires unusual skill and theoretical understanding of the composition, and as always, Spooky Actions delivers thoughtful and insightful work.

Spooky Actions

The name Spooky Actions derives from a quote by Albert Einstein describing the mysterious ability of two distant and seemingly unrelated objects to exert an effect on one another. In this CD, Spooky Actions, proves that the relationship between modern classical music and modern jazz is not as “spooky” as most people might think.

The Tracks:

  • Movement 1
  • Movement 1 Improvisation:
  • Movement 2:
  • Movement 2 Improvisation:
  • Movement 3:
  • Movement 4
  • Movement 4 Improvisation:

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About Muse Eek

Muse-Eek Publishing Company is a publishing house with a broad focus on music education. Muse-Eek also publishes fine art and poetry books, and has its own record label, Muse-Eek Records. Our online presence, specializes in the publication of music workbooks, video courses and sound and video recordings that teach the foundation of good musicianship through groundbreaking and innovative methods along with traditional methods that have been taught for centuries. These historic methods date back through centuries of great musicians and educators. To see these interesting relationship please see Bruce Arnold's Music Education Genealogy Chart which tells you a lot about the where many of his educational ideas took root and some of the educational pillars that are evident throughout the books you find on this website. The Muse-Eek Records catalogue contains a diverse selection of music much of it by Bruce Arnold in collaboration with some of today's best players in classical, jazz, rock and avant-garde music. These are available in CD, DVD and mp3 formats. We believe in a working relationship with our music education customers; they are free to interact with the author after purchasing a book to help them through any material they don’t understand or which they need further clarification. We also have a member's area which contains a wealth of free information to help a student understand music at a deeper level and access additional files for our books. Many of our books offer cutting edge ideas regarding ear training, guitar technique, rhythm and time. These methods have a proven track record. Our main author Bruce Arnold has taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in the world, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, The New School and NYU. Along with Mr. Arnold's publications on the website he has also written books and appeared in educational DVDs for MelBay and Truefire. Over the years Mr Arnold has used his experiences with his students to develop a program that can elevate a musician's ability to world class caliber. If you have questions about any of our books or recordings please send us an email. Along with general questions about either our record label or our publishing company we also welcome questions to help a student choose the proper materials to reach their goals. We have over 300 products to help you learn any style of music and to develop your musicianship to its peak. We also make recommendations for practice schedules for students who use our methods to get the most out of their study time. This, along with personal interaction with Bruce through email, nurtures the student's ability through a closely monitored situation, ensuring there is no wasted time or misunderstanding.