Jerry was nice enough to ask if I’d maybe post here once a week, each time sharing a few links to sites where I’ve encountered composers and performers offering excellent work to listen to online. Forgive the length, but once the pleasantries are out of the way in this post, the rest will be to-the-point.

Why me? Besides being a composer lo these past 30-something years, and having a life-long receptivity to music from across the temporal and cultural spectrum, since I first got online in the mid-90s I’ve actively pursued new work that composers and performers have been kind (and forward-thinking) enough to put up on the web for all to hear. Some will be “names” most people know from their CD store or radio, but many aren’t. Here I am out in the wilds of Seattle, but the beauty of the web is that we don’t have to let geography, your CD store and the gods of the mysterious Land of Marketing boss us around so much anymore.

Waiting for the “imprint” of some label or publisher before you deign to listen, especially dealing with the living, is such a waste of your own all-too-precious initiative. A multitude of excellent musicians are hard at work around the world, right now; tricks of place, time or circumstance keep many of them off your radar, but I can help rectify that a little if you give these links a chance. You only have to bring open ears attached to an open mind.

One request: don’t ask me to mention or “review” your music, site or link. By the time I give a recommendation here, my reviewing is done; if I’m telling you about it, that means I’ve listened to what’s there and truly enjoyed what I heard. Not that you have to agree with my opinion, by any means! But if you never take the time to listen, you’ve passed up the chance to decide anyway.

Rozalie Hirs (Netherlands)

(From the main page, choose “New Composition” and then “MP3″ and “Multimusic”.) Though Rozalie has cracked her 40s (b.1965) and seems busy enough on her side of the Atlantic, she doesn’t get much exposure on our side. It’s a shame; pick any of these to hear and you’ll find beautifully poised work, full of play and color.

Erel Paz (Israel)

(The main page has a direct link to MP3s and scores.) Erel’s a little younger (b. 1974) than Rozalie, but keeps up a bit more dialog with the Romantic and Classic. But not strictly “formula”; there’s an idiosyncrasy that I find pretty appealing.

Matt Ingalls (US, CA)

Follow the “sound” link on the main page, and you’ll find a veritable cornucopia of listening! Matt (b.1970) is one of those Bay-Area powerhouses that seems to pop up all over the new-music scene. A phenomenal clarinetist as well as composer and improvisor, you’ll find plenty to hear from him in all of these roles.

OK, that oughtta hold ya for a week or so… Enjoy.

9 Responses to “Steve’s click picks #1”
  1. Hey Steve, any chance of getting more than one line in there? How about a recommended MP3 URL?

    Also, here’s a cool way to quickly sample a page full of MP3′s. At the bottom of this page:

    http://del.icio.us/help/playtagger

    Is a ‘Drag this link’ thingie. Drag that link to your bookmarks and when you hit a page, click that new link. It’ll do some javscript magic and turn the page into a ready-to-play one-click – no download listening extravaganza. Very cool for quickly sampling lotsa music.

  2. Steve Layton says:

    Nope. I don’t want any “magic” or “quickly sampling lotsa music”. I want folks to discover these musicians the way I did, through their front door; to wander through and spend a little time getting acquainted. I might ocaisionally include a couple extra pointers to a certain piece, or another site with complementary info. Sure, I could just dump a few hundred direct links to the MP3s into del.cio.us or webjay and that would be that, but this is more “sniff and sip” rather than “chug-a-lug”.

  3. Ha! Including no pointers is akin to not writing about the musician’s work at all, IMO. Ever see a CD review that didn’t mention a single track?

    Don’t see how this little applet can hurt, but YMMV…

    Evidently. ;)

  4. Steve Layton says:

    I’m not writing about their work, Jeff; everyone can look, listen and make up their own mind. Like I said, my own review happened already. These are all be people on my “keep” list; I want to keep listening to and following their work. It’s my personal guarantee that there’s quality there, but you all have to form your own opinions. How well they jibe with my recommendation will tell you how I’m doing.

  5. Steve Layton says:

    “These are all be people”… No, editing snafu, not a sign I was born in a trailer park (just close to one…) ;-)

  6. Hey Steve. I think it’s great that you’re shining some light on the likes of Matt and Rozalie! I dig what they’re doing too. Even better: the chance to checkout the work of a composer whose work I don’t yet know. I’m looking forward to litening to stuff by Erel Paz. Well done!

  7. Shaul Zimmerman says:

    I’ve been coming here on and off for the past year or so. This is the first time I’ve seen an Israeli composer mentioned. Its a blessed thing. For me more mentioning of stuff going on in contemporary classical music out of the US (and for a start out of NYC…:-P…) will be very incouraging and satisfying. The site is great to visit anyhow. Keep up the very good work, your reader (and now contributer…) from Israel, Shaul Zimmerman.

  8. Steve Layton says:

    Thanks, Shaul, and welcome! Nice of you to add your voice, and feel free to in the future. I’ll mention a couple more interesting Israeli composers in future posts. Having been a confirmed west-coaster for 50 years, NY to me is just another spot on the map, and that map’s full of other spots where interesting work is getting made.
    By the way, all of you should take a little time to read the article on Erel’s site, an interview done by the Israeli paper Haaretz (there’s a link right on the main page). It’s wonderfully honest and unaffected, and will resonate with all those composers outside the big centers and cushy academic positions, no matter the country they’re in.

  9. Shaul Zimmerman says:

    I acctually remember reading that article when it originaly came out. I remember it resonating with me, as you said, back then. In two weeks I’m going to start my 4 years in the “Hochschule fur Music” in Tel Aviv Univesity, hope it’ll still resonate with me then. Accept for the women part…:)

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