loadbang visits Westminster

loadbang is a group with whom I’ve been pleased to collaborate: they premiered my microtonal piece “Prayer” last year at Greenwich Music House. With an instrumentation that has little precedent – baritone voice, bass clarinet, trumpet, and trombone – they are quintessential self starters, and have developed a fast expanding repertoire by commissioning colleagues and creating a number of works themselves. I’m very excited that they will be visiting Westminster Choir College this weekend to give a masterclass/reading session to the students in my orchestration class (Saturday, April 13, 9-11 AM in the Playhouse; open admission).

Collectively and individually, the group’s members are involved in myriad creative endeavors. Vocalist Jeffrey Gavett has appeared in operas, oratorio, and concert works as a soloist. He also leads the vocal ensemble Ekmeles, who specialize in unusual repertoire, ranging from just intonation works by Johnson to Gesualdo in Vicentino’s archicembalo tuning. Trombonist William Lang also plays in the group Guidonian Hand and, as a soloist, recently had a very successful performance at The Stone, playing Bach transcriptions, Kurtag, Xenakis, Frith, and his own compositions.

I’m particularly taken with composer/trumpeter Andy Kozar’s recent CD release on the end … (available via Analog Arts). It features a deconstructed and hypervirtuosic Mass setting for loadbang, which revels in fractured lines and angular counterpoint. It also makes considerably good use of Gavett’s extensive range, particularly focusing on his countertenor-like falsetto register.

P’o (Kuei) &/or Hun (Shen) features Lang, both playing with tremendous facility and, upon occasion, frantically vocalizing himself, alongside a string quartet comprised of Ruby Chen, Miranda Cuckson, Denise Stillwell, and Mariel Roberts. The strings play the role of foil for the trombone’s hyper-kineticism, supplying Lang’s Globokar-esque histrionics with a stern witness,  Invisibility Interlude is a brief charmer featuring Kozar on piano and toy piano. One part Eno-flavored ambience and one part Cage’s In a Landscape, I hope he creates a concert version of the piece.

The title track features Kozar, this time on trumpet, performing with guitarist Kobe Van Cauwenberghe. This multi-movement work plays with sustained tones, sounds effects, noise, the occasional scream in the midst of unnerving silences, angular instrumental dialogues, and sudden gusts of avant jazz soloing. With a quickly evolving textural palette and pointillist conception, it reminds one of Derek Bailey’s more Webernian explorations mixed with fragmentary glimpses of Don Cherry’s playing.


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