Tonight at 7 PM at the Apple Store on Manhattan’sUpper West Side, Mantra Percussion performs Michael Gordon’s Timber, a work for six percussionists playing 2″x4″s. The event celebrates Cantaloupe’s release of a CD of Slagwerk den Haag’s performance of Timber (which I reviewed yesterday on File Under ?).
Don’t you love the one pound wooden box they’ve packaged the CD in? Don’t you love saying Slagwerk den Haag three times fast?
Below is a video with more information about the piece, including interviews with performers and the composer. If you’re in NYC and want to beat the heat, check out an iPad, and hear six percussionists knock wood, amble on over to Apple tonight.
Maya Beiser, everyone’s favorite ex-Can Banging All Star downtown cellist, was an invited presenter at the March 2011 TED conference. The TED site recently released a high quality video of her lecture recital, and it’s already garnered over 80,000 views!
TED’s slogan: “Ideas worth spreading.” We’re glad that Maya’s getting the chance to spread the word about Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint and David Lang’sWorld to Come far and wide!
There’s going to be an album release party tonight at Le Poisson Rouge. Two groups on the New Amsterdam Records roster, NOW Ensemble and the Chiara String Quartet, are celebrating their respective releases.
Chiara are presenting string quartets by Jefferson Friedman, along with remixes thereof by special guest electronica artists Matmos. Meanwhile, NOW Ensemble presents a mixed program of new synthetists pieces by the likes of Judd Greenstein, Sean Friar, and Missy Mazzoli.
Check out Joshua Frankel’s new video Plan of the City below; it will accompany the performance of Greenstein’s Change at the gig.
If contemporary classical music had “supergroups”, the 8-year-old ensemble Ne(x)tworks would definitely be one of them. With the likes of Joan La Barbara (voice), Kenji Bunch (viola), Shelley Burgon (harp & electronics), Yves Dharamraj (cello), Cornelius Dufallo (violin, Director), Miguel Frasconi (glass instruments & electronics), Stephen Gosling (piano), Ariana Kim (violin), and Christopher McIntyre (trombone), their roster is led by major movers long on the NYC new-music scene. Working with both classical and improvisational roots, their repertoire encompasses the open scores of the New York School composers of the ’50s, the experiments of the AACM, and the SoHo scene and Downtown composers of the ’70s and ’80s. It’s a wonderful and vitally important thing, to have an ensemble active in keeping earlier experimental works not only remembered, but truly alive.
Ne(x)tworks just released their latest CD through CD Baby, documenting a 2007 performance at the Stone in NYC, and they’re also beginning a year-long residency at the Greenwich House Music School. As kick-off to both, they’re giving a concert at GHMS this Thursday, November 18 at 8 pm, as part of the 25th anniversary season of North River Music (Renee Weiler Concert Hall, 46 Barrow Street, NYC / $15).
On the bill, Edgard Varèse‘s little-known Untitled Graphic Score (ca. 1957). Varèse created the score while attending Earl Brown’s workshop on graphic notation, and the piece — conceived for an ensemble of jazz and classical musicians — reflects the kind of scores the composer was writing in real time on a chalkboard during that period.
The program will also feature two works from Ne(x)tworks’ latest CD. Creating a form that moves beyond the “jazz” and “classical” labels, Leroy Jenkins‘ Space MInds: New Worlds, Survival of America (1979) offers a platform for an active dialog between the performers and the composition itself, with extensive improvised passages. Arthur Russell‘s Singing Tractors (pages 1 & 2) (ca. 1987) is an open-ended work that merges influences from Post-Cagean randomness to free jazz to rock and pop music to classical elements to African beat and dance music.
Also included are a sneak preview of ensemble member Christopher McIntyre’s Smithson Project (2010), scored for mixed ensemble and computers and drawing its inspiration from the work of renowned earthwork artist Robert Smithson (1939-73) — as well as Jon Gibson‘s Multiples (1972) for open instrumentation, a classic example of early minimalism from this stalwart member of New York’s experimental music community.
As a bit of concert preview, we managed to get a few words from Ne(x)tworks members Joan La Barbara, Miguel Frasconi, and Christopher McIntyre themselves, on aspects of the ensemble and the upcoming performance:
The new indie classical kids on the block, Newspeak, have just released their first video. David T. Little’s composition sweet light crude, featuring soprano Mellissa Hughes in fine voice and the ensemble grooving up a storm, is ready for your delectation on YouTube.
The piece has been given the “jump cuts and jitter” treatment by videographers Satan’s Pearl Horses.
The Electronic Music Foundation’s really big shoo, “Ear to the Earth 2010 — The 5th New York Festival of Sound, Music, and Ecology“, will be running from October 27th through November 1st. This year the theme is “Water and the World”, and features a veritable pantheon of composers, performers and sound artists. A bit from their press release:
Water is essential to the support of all living organisms. Yet, we are headed to a crisis in managing it. For its fifth installment, Ear to the Earth 2010 will turn its attention to the current states of water and our social and cultural attitudes towards it. For five days eco-composers and sound artists will explore the topic of “Water and the World” through compositions, installations and presentations featuring the sound of water and bringing forth critical environmental issues — melting ice and rising sea levels, access and privatization, pollution, storm intensity, salinity, to name a few. The festival will take place at Frederick Loewe Theater, Greenwich House Music School, White Box, and Kleio Projects in New York City.
It all kicks off with a rare New York appearance by probably the dean of Canadian composers, acoustic ecology pioneer R. Murray Schafer (Oct. 27). Highlights include a presentation on how animals (including fish) taught us how to dance by bioacoustician Bernie Krause (Oct. 29); Kristin Norderval’s new vocal electronic work on a virtual polar icecap meltdown (Oct. 30); Michael Fahres’ video concert of dolphin sounds and Senegalese master drummers (Oct. 31); Phill Niblock and Katherine Liberovskaya’s live audio/video work on the sounds of the Rhine and Danube rivers (Oct. 31); Charles Lindsay and David Rothenberg’s new live performance work on water in western United States (Nov. 1); Andrea Polli and TJ Martinez’s documentary on surfing as a way to reflect on climate change (Nov. 1); as well as performances and presentations by Matthew Burtner and Scott Deal, Yolande Harris, David Monacchi, Maggi Payne, and Matt Rogalsky.
On Oct. 30, New York Soundscapes – an evening of premieres offering panoramic portrayals of the metropolis’s audio personality and urban ecology – will feature a team of up-and-coming sound artists focusing on NYC water-related issues such as consumption (Miguel Frasconi), the Gowanus Canal (Aleksei Stevens), and the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (Paula Matthusen). In addition, this year’s festival will present Daniella Topol and Sheila Callaghan’s highly entertaining, yet disturbing, theatrical work on struggles around water, and sound installations by Annea Lockwood, Liz Phillips and Jennifer Stock.
Everything you need to know about schedules, venues and tickets is here at the EMF website. Read on for some personal words from a few of the particpants:
Steve Reich’s latest Nonesuch CD recently arrived, sans artwork in a little cardboard case. The disc features Double Sextet and 2×5, his collaborations with Eighth Blackbird and Bang on a Can. The former piece won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The latter is his most explicit use of rock instrumentation to date.
According to the Nonesuch site, it’s still in the “pre-order” phase of activities, so we’ll be good and hold off on a proper review ’til it’s closer to the actual release date (9/14).
Suffice it to say, if you’re a regular visitor to Sequenza 21, you’re likely going to want one, possibly three, copies of this recording. An intergenerational summit – minimalist elder statesman meets post-minimal/totalist ace performers – that, in terms of importance, is more or less the Downtown version of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
Victoire, a Brooklyn based quintet of female alt-classical performers, is currently doing a mini tour in the Midwest to support the impending September release of their album Cathedral City on New Amsterdam. Matt Marks and Mellissa Hughes are taking their show on the road, performing selections from Matt’s opera Little Death Vol. 1.
Missy Mazzoli and company have been kind enough to allow us to share the title track from the LP on File Under ?’s Tumblrhere. The track combines vocalizing courtesy of Missy with skittering glitchy percussion and a somewhat jazzy harmonic background. Kind of like Julee Cruise meets BoaC on Steely Dan’s patio, sharing drinks with Matmos…
In this space just a year ago we told you about Asphalt Orchestra‘s Lincoln Center Out of Doors hit-the-streets, in-you-face debut last summer. Well, what a year they’ve had! In August they performed during lunchtime at Philadelphiaʼs 30th Street Amtrak Station; it’s a testament to the band’s transcendence of genre that The Philadelphia Inquirer named that show one of the 10 Best Classical Performances of 2009, even though it took place in a train station and featured almost no classical music! In late 2009 the band was selected to play the official opening of Lincoln Centerʼs newest space, the David Rubenstein Atrium, and garnered even more critical hoo-hahs. Their ever-changing set list now includes commissions from Tyondai Braxton of Battles, Stew and Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem and Passing Strange, celebrated Balkan musician-composer Goran Bregovic, as well as new arrangements of Björk, jazz legend Charles Mingus, Swedish metal pioneers Meshuggah, the eminent American experimental composers Conlon Nancarrow and Frank Zappa, the playful Brazilian songwriter Tom Ze and the iconic Zimbabwean artist Thomas Mapfumo.
AO brings together some of the best rock, jazz and classical musicians in New York City and beyond: Jessica Schmitz (piccolo), Ken Thomson (saxophone), Peter Hess (saxophone), Alex Hamlin (saxophone), Shane Endsley (trumpet), Stephanie Richards (trumpet), Alan Ferber (trombone), Jen Baker (trombone), Kenneth Bentley (sousaphone), Yuri Yamashita (percussion), Sunny Jain (percussion) and Nick Jenkins (percussion). Is it classical? Yes. Is it rock, prog, jazz, world-party street band? Yes. Is it useless to try and pigeonhole this vital bridge between the arty and the party? Yes.
Among their here-there-and-everywhere, they’ll be premiering new commissions by David Byrne and Annie Clark, and Yoko Ono (they’ve been rehearsing with both Ono and Byrne the past weeks). If that weren’t enough, following their own set on August 5th they’ll be featured in the Taylor 2 performance of Paul Taylor’s piece “3 Epitaphs,” in celebration of Taylor’s 80th birthday. Appearing with the company’s dancers, the band will premiere new arrangements of pieces originally played by the Laneville-Johnson Union Brass Band.
But wait, there’s still more! AO’s eponymous first CD on Cantaloupe Music just dropped today, allowing happy listeners around the world to hear much of this music. The recording was made live-in-studio at Water Music Studios, Hoboken, NJ, in August 2009; here’s the tracklist:
1. Frank Zappa: Zomby Woof
2. Goran Bregovic: Champagne
3. Charles Mingus: The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers (arr. Jose Davila)
4. Meshuggah: Electric Red (arr. Derek Johnson)
5. Bjork: Hyperballad (arr. Alan Ferber)
6. Stew and Heidi Rodewald: Carlton
7. Tyondai Braxton: Pulse March
Amos Elkana was one of the composers I found/heard/met almost a decade ago on the original grand experiment in social music-sharing, MP3.com. With an obsidian-like hardness, sheen and edge, his compositions grabbed me then and continue to do so now. Born in the U.S. but raised in Israel, then off to Europe and back to the U.S. to study, Amos pulls together strands of all these places, looking for where the roots tangle and grow together. But the other “root” I didn’t know about then was that Amos’ musical interests had started with jazz and guitar. It was only after coming to study jazz at the Berklee College that his course got redirected into composition.
Coming over to study at the same time was Amos’ long-time friend and musical partner, drummer/pianist Yaaki Levy. Yaaki had a similar career bouncing between Israel and the U.S., and though their paths diverged a bit over the years their friendship never did. Finally last year saw them able to hook up again musically, exploring improvisation as the duoConcoct Sonance. Together their experiences create a music with a real richness, depth and poise; these may be improvisations, but there’s a strong feeling of that composerly sense of a “piece”, not simply an event or string of events.
The duo has been gigging fairly regularly around Europe and Israel, and now they’ve come to NYC for a few concerts these next couple weeks: Friday July 2nd, 7:30pm they’ll be at The Tank(354 W. 45th Street between 8th and 9th); Wednesday July 7th, 9pm they’re playing Puppets Jazz Bar in Brooklyn (481 5th Ave); and Tuesday July 13th, 11:30 pm they’ll be found at Goodbye Blue Monday (1087 Broadway, Brooklyn).
I asked Amos to give a little background in his own words, and I pass them along here:
Yaaki and I both grew up in Jerusalem. We met back in high school through mutual friends and we have been making music together ever since. In 1987 we came together to the US to study at Berklee College in Boston. Yaaki as a drummer and I as a Guitar player. I later went on to study composition at NEC and in 1990 moved to Paris for a couple of years before returning to Israel in 1992. Yaaki left Boston after three years for New York and returned to Israel in 1994. About 10 years ago he moved back to New York and has been living there since.
In the past 20 years, Yaaki has been playing drums with other people while concentrating on piano playing and composing for himself. Meanwhile, I have been occupied mainly by composing music for other people and playing guitar for myself. Yaaki, being a wonderful drummer, has been touring the world with singers and bands while developing his piano playing and composition skills on his own. I on the other hand kept playing the guitar on my own while composing and traveling around the world for the premieres of my own compositions. We always wanted to find time to play together as we did in the past, when we both used to live in the same place. Then an opportunity to do so presented itself last January when I came to New York. We went into the recording studio without knowing what we are going to play. The only thing we decided is not decide about anything! We don’t compose, arrange, rehearse or even talk about what we are going to play. We don’t even decide what instruments we will play and how. Our motto is Here and Now. This is total free improvisation. In the studio we just hit the record button and started to play with the instruments that we had around us. Some of the things we played on were not even instruments but noise makers of sorts.
What was so fantastic is that we immediately started communicating as if on the same exact wave length… We didn’t even have to listen to the recording because we felt such exhilaration after the sessions. There may be several reasons why this works, among them an intimate knowledge of one another as best friends for almost 30 years, common likes and dislikes in music and life, maybe even telepathic communication. We don’t know. But the fact is that we get amazing responses to our performances from audience members. Some say they feel as if we are one. Many say that they felt it hard to resist joining us in some way. Some say our music touches them in such a deep level that they cried most of the time… (Imagine, improvised contemporary experimental music having such an effect!). At the bottom line, I think we allow ourselves to have fun and have complete freedom. Not restricting ourselves to any genre or form. This approach works anywhere. Wether we play in Tel Aviv, New York or Berlin.
Right now we have about 30 to 40 recorded pieces. It is tempting to choose some of them and put them on a CD but on the other hand documenting freely improvised music that will never repeat itself… I don’t know… Maybe the approach should be just to perform as much as we can and have people attend the concerts instead of buying CD’s… Yet in order to get more gigs we need to put out a demo at least. The three performances we just did in Tel Aviv were recorded and I am going to upload those recordings to our web site very soon. One of the performances was also videotaped. Your comment about really hearing the “composer” in our approach is very interesting. It probably comes with the territory of being composers for such a long time… In 1989 when I applied for the Jazz department in NEC, I decided, instead of sending them a tape of me playing Jazz standards, to record an improvisation with Yaaki and to send that instead. The response I got from them is that they are willing to accept me and to even give me a big scholarship too but only for the composition department and not the Jazz department… This is one of the reasons why I became a composer.