The remarkable story of Robert Rich and the Sleep Concerts

From FACT Magazine:

First performed in the early 1980s, the concerts saw Rich perform through the night to revellers drifting in and out of light sleep. Over nine or ten hours, Rich would perform a synthesis of found sound, prepared drones, and live instrumental playing at very low volumes. “In real time I’ll be mixing and blending those together, whilst also playing guitar and flute and keyboards, but through loops and long delays – everything being very slow. Anything resembling a melody could unfold over a half an hour or so. The concentration is really one of subtlety, slowness, extremely slow crossfades, and keeping that deep level of continuity.”

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‘Genius Grant’ Saxman Steve Coleman Redefining Jazz

Steve Coleman in Paris, July 2004

Steve Coleman in Paris, July 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Saxophonist Steve Coleman swore that he was so far under the underground that few outside his community of fellow performers appreciated his idiosyncratic approach to music. For the Allentown horn player who could be inspired by circulatory systems and bird calls, no sound is off-limits. But evidently, someone has been listening. Last month, Coleman was roused out of bed by a phone call from the MacArthur Foundation. He had won what is known as a “genius grant,” a $650,000 prize awarded over five years.

Nils Frahm: The piano avant-garde

From the Taipei Times:

Nils Frahm does some very interesting things with the piano — or to be more exact, with four pianos. For his stage performances, he currently uses a grand piano, an upright piano, a Fend Rhodes electric piano and a Juno synthesizer, jumping from one instrument to another, sampling and looping their sounds through a computer and creating engrossing compositions with a very broad appeal.

Edgard Varèse’s Protégé Chou Wen-chung, Going Strong at 91

Edgard Varèse

Cover of Edgard Varèse


In his youth, Chou Wen-chung, the 91-year-old subject of a Composer Portrait at the Columbia University Miller Theater on Thursday, had many strict teachers. One was Edgard Varèse, the temperamental French-born Modernist and godfather of electronic music, who once showed his displeasure by throwing a score of Mr. Chou’s on the floor and ordering him to urinate on it. Then there was Bohuslav Martinu, the Czech symphonist, who reacted to a fugue Mr. Chou had written using Chinese melodic material with a single, withering, “Why?”

Wadada Leo Smith Profiled

From Burning Ambulance:

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has been extremely productive in recent years, issuing single- and multi-disc sets at a furious clip through a few trusted labels, Cuneiform, TUM and Tzadik in particular. Most artists would take an extended break after releasing something as epic as 2012’s Ten Freedom Summers, a four-disc opus greeted by rave reviews (and a Pulitzer Prize nomination). But in the two years since that set appeared, he’s sped up, if anything, releasing Ancestors, a duo encounter with drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo; Occupy the World, a double disc of collaborations with the 20-piece Finnish group TUMO; and Sonic Rivers, with saxophonist John Zorn and trombonist/electronic composer George Lewis. And now, he’s got two more releases appearing simultaneously—the two-CD The Great Lakes Suites, and the comparatively concise Red Hill.

Taylor Ho Bynum’s Acoustic Bicycle Tour Hits Portland

English: Taylor Ho Bynum, Moers Festival 2007

English: Taylor Ho Bynum, Moers Festival 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Some years ago, while jazz composer-cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum was at his day job at New York’s Creative Capital Foundation, he gazed up at a map of the United States and, remembering the 800-mile bike trip down the East Coast he and a friend had taken when he was 19, wondered: Wouldn’t it be fun to bike through some of those places on tour?  The bike-tour model gives me a different connection to the reality of the places I’m playing,” Bynum says. “I meet people I’d never meet [otherwise]. And we can have a conversation that opens them up to check out music in a way that you’ll never get from 30 seconds on YouTube. It’s a way to proselytize for the work without having to compromise it.”

Celebrating the Sun Ra Centennial

English: Sun Ra at New England Conservatory, F...

Sun Ra 

From the Chicago Reader:

May 22 was the official centennial of the birth of the brilliant bandleader, composer, and keyboardist Sun Ra, but I’m thankful that the entire year is being used to celebrate his memory and particular brand of visionary genius. Chicago, where Herman Poole Blount (a native of Birmingham, Alabama) assembled the earliest versions of his Arkestra in 1953, has gotten in on the act in numerous ways, but some of the most exciting events are happening this week. Yesterday, as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival, saxophonist Marshall Allen (who took the reins of Arkestra after the death of fellow saxophonist John Gilmore in 1995, two years after Ra passed away), trumpeter Art Hoyle (who played with the Arkestra in the 50s), writer and Columbia University professor John Szwed (who authored the authoritative Sun Ra biography Space Is the Place), and writer, gallerist, and Sun Ra scholar John Corbett engaged in a lively, discursive panel discussion on Ra’s legacy at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall. And on Sunday, Allen will lead the Arkestra in a performance that will close out this year’s festival, with an 8:30 PM set at Pritzker Pavilion.