Artist Profile

A Guide to Iannis Xenakis’s Music

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Source: The Guardian. This is an older article but I don’t think we featured it previously, and it serves as a good intro to Xenakis.

It sounds like something out of a film script. A Greek man in his early 20s fights for his homeland as part of the Communist resistance at the end of the second world war. Shrapnel from a blast from a British tank causes a horrendous facial injury that means the permanent loss of sight in one eye. He is sentenced to death after his exile to Paris (a sentence that was later commuted to a prison term, with his conviction finally quashed with the end of the junta in 1974). By the time he returns, he has become one of the leading creative figures of the century: an architect who trained, worked, and often transcended the inspiration of his mentor and boss, Le Corbusier; an intellectual whose physical and mathematical understanding of the way individual particles interact with each other and create a larger mass – atoms, birds, people, and musical notes – would produce one of the most fertile and prophetic aesthetic explorations in musical history; and above all a composer, whose craggily, joyously elemental music turned collections of pitches and rhythms and instruments into a force of nature, releasing a power that previous composers had only suggested metaphorically but which he would realise with arguably greater clarity, ferocity, intensity than any musician, before or since. This is the music of Iannis Xenakis.

Ernest Dawkins’ Other Chicago Jazz Fest

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Source: Chicago Reader.

Later this month, Dawkins leaves for Europe with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, led by drummer Kahil El’Zabar and also featuring Wilkes; in October, New Horizons headlines the Durban Jazz Festival in South Africa. He’s also preparing for this year’s Englewood Jazz Festival, which happens Saturday, September 19, in Hamilton Park; it’s the 16th installment of the annual showcase, which he founded in 2000 and supported in part with his own money for several years in the mid-aughts, after the initial funding stream dried up.

Tyondai Braxton Profiled

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English: Tyondai_Braxton, moers festival 2008

Source: Wilmette Week.

As an experimental musician, Tyondai Braxton is aware that once he starts talking about one of his projects, he is susceptible to sounding like an asshole. It comes with the territory, really. Whenever an artist working along the avant-garde fringe is pressed to explain inscrutable ideas, there’s a risk of making the music even more impenetrable—and of coming off like a total wanker.

But for Braxton, explaining himself is part of his process. As he sees it, interviews are a gesture of inclusiveness, a way of opening up the music rather than walling it off to anyone who isn’t a composition major. If he seems, as The New York Times observed, “openly self-conscious of any pretension” when discussing his art, it’s because he’s careful not to violate the spirit in which it was made.

John Zorn Interview and Profile

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English: John Zorn Français : John Zorn

New compositions for his ‘Masada Book III, The Book Beriah,’ will premiere at Brooklyn’s Roulette.

Source: WSJ.

When Mr. Zorn turned 60, in 2013, the musical celebrations spanned New York. His work continues to saturate the city. Between now and Nov. 8, when Mr. Zorn concludes a six-night engagement leading five bands at the Village Vanguard jazz club, New Yorkers can choose from 30 different performances of his music. They include a “John Zorn Festival” within the inaugural programming at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust venue (Oct. 9 and 10; Oct. 30 and 31), and a solo recital by Mr. Zorn on the massive pipe organ at Manhattan’s St. Bartholomew’s Church (Oct. 30).

Anna Thorvaldsdottir Profiled

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Source: Burning Ambulance.

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir has released two albums in the last 12 months, both of great potential interest to fans of adventurous music, whether they start from a classical, metal, or even electronic background. Aerial, which appeared in November 2014, gathers six compositions for groups of various sizes, from duos to full orchestra (get it from Amazon). And in August, Thorvaldsdottir released In the Light of Air, on which two of her compositions—the lengthy, four-part title suite, and “Transitions”—are performed by ICE (the International Contemporary Ensemble).

Carla Bley and Steve Swallow Profiled

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When confronted with crowds, Ms. Bley, a pioneer of modern jazz composition, prefers to let her songs do the talking. That is especially true when Steve Swallow, her first-call bassist and life companion, is on hand to guide the musical conversation, as he was that night, anchoring a quartet in a wry rendition of her “Ups and Downs.”

“I was not meant to be in the socially gracious world,” Ms. Bley said recently, her eyes peeking out from under her signature shock of gray hair as she and Mr. Swallow relaxed at the kitchen table of their home in Willow, near Woodstock.

Tomeka Reid Profiled

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From Chicago magazine:

Tomeka Reid slides into a shadowy wood-paneled booth at Rodan. It’s clear that the Wicker Park gastropub isn’t how she remembers it. The stick-thin Woodlawn resident plunks down her cello, frowns at the Asian fusion menu, and gives the stink eye to a DJ booth that sits where Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker once led a rotating jazz trio every Tuesday. “Man, it used to be funky over here,” says Reid. “Now it’s like Wrigleyville.” At 37, Reid has spent the bulk of her adult life avoiding the hollow glitz of places like the redone Rodan, preferring bohemian watering holes such as Constellation in Roscoe Village and the Arts Incubator in Hyde Park, where she regularly flexes her avant-garde-jazz muscles digging into textured melodies that evoke equal parts intellect and elegance.