AMN Reviews: Michael Duch – Edges

Michael Duch: Edges (+3db010)

Edges is the first solo album by Norwegian double bassist Michael Duch, a veteran improviser known for his work in various international ensembles. Here he is alone, reinterpreting five key works of mid-20th century experimental art music.

All of the works are scored using unconventional methods, whether marks on graph paper, points and lines on a white field, verbal instructions, or an application of non-standard symbols to elements of standard notation. Although varied in their means and appearance, all of them work to foster a collaborative relationship between performer and composer. Because the scores leave significant aspects of the music indeterminate, the performer often must make crucial decisions regarding pitch, phrasing, duration and other sound parameters as required. The results, as Duch arrives at them, are engaging.

The recording opens with “Edges,” a score combining graphic and verbal elements by onetime John Cage protégé Christian Wolff. The score consists of a very spare set of symbols, some of which suggest relative pitches, dynamics and bowings, accompanied by verbal instructions. In contrast to the score’s visual sparseness, Duch creates a thick textural piece that is often aggressive and dominated by dissonant harmonics and shrill polytones. “Edges” is followed by Earle Brown’s “December 1952,” an early graphic score that has literally become a textbook example of unconventional notation in the postwar period. Brown’s notation consists of thirty lines of varying length, thickness and boldness, scattered sparsely in parallel or at the perpendicular on a white field. Everything—pitch, dynamics, phrasing, duration—is left to the discretion of the performer. In contrast to the relatively lengthy and dense “Edges,” Duch responds with a brief and appropriately spare interpretation focused largely on the use of pizzicato and percussive effects employing various parts of the instrument.

“Octet ’61,” a piece by Cornelius Cardew dedicated to painter Jasper Johns, provokes a performance marked by the sometimes jarring tone clusters of overlapping pitches. Duch alternates long and short sound events distinguished by the timbral effects obtained by a mixture of plucked and bowed work, the latter being further varied by Duch’s choices of bow placement. Morton Feldman’s “Projection 1,” a graph paper score originally written for solo cello, is next. The composer specifies only relative pitch and duration, the timbres associated with arco and pizzicato sound production, and the use of harmonics. Duch brings this to life as a series of sometimes abrupt gestures structured by intervening silences. The use of plain, no-vibrato arco works well with the percussive attack during the pizzicato passages.

The final piece is “For Strings” by Howard Skempton, an enigmatic 1969 score consisting entirely of the words “waves/shingle/seagulls.” Through creative string muting and bowing, Duch creates a sometimes literal sound-picture suggestive of the rising and falling of tides and the shrieks of seabirds overhead.

With “Edges,” Michael Duch has produced a wonderful collection that shows just how alive these experimental works are, four and five decades after they were first created. Their open-endedness, which may originally have been received as a provocation by performers steeped in the conventions of art music, is, when interpreted by an inventive musician steeped in the practice of improvisation, an invitation to fascinating sonic excursions.

http://plus3db.net/releases/edges/

Free Jazz Blog Reviews

Joe McPhee, moers festival 2010
Image via Wikipedia

From Free Jazz:

Rob Brown Trio -Unknown Skies (RogueArt, 2011) ****
Lucas Niggli & Peter Conradin Zumthor – Profos (Not Two, 2011) ***½
Zlatko Kau?i? – Emigrants (Leo Records) ***½
Llorenç Barber – Retrospective 1994-2001 (Audition Records, 2011) ****
Paul Hession – 40 Years Of The Drummer (Audition Records, 2011) ***½
Andrew Lamb Trio – The Hues Of Destiny (CIMP, 2011) ***½
Undivided – Moves Between Clouds (Multikulti, 2011) ****½
Motif – Art Transplant (Clean Feed – 2011) ****
Don Dietrich & Ben Hall – Spitfire (Brokenresearch, 2011) ***½
Joe McPhee & Chris Corsano – Under A Double Moon (Roaratorio, 2011) ***½
Tatsuya Nakatani & Michel Doneda – White Stone Black Lamp (Kobo, 2011) ****
Gianni Gebbia Trio – Empedocles (Horo, 2011) ***½

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San Francisco Bay Area Scene

Tomasz Sta?ko
Image via Wikipedia

From BayImproviser and SquidList

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 9pm
Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
presents: Dandelion vs Daniel Popsicle
m(d)usic, d(m)ance, flocks, monsters with Dandelion Dancetheater and Dan Plonsey’s Daniel Popsicle. Second of a couple three scheduled collisions of these movement and music ensembles, chiefly for the benefit of the public, and also to surface their common interests , contrast their anxieties, and forge more ideas about dismantling the distinction between artist and ordinary person.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 7:30pm
Jewish Community Center SF Kanbar Hall, 3200 California St. @ Presidio Ave., SF
29th San Francisco Jazz Festival, Tomasz Stanko Quartet performance
Wherever Tomasz Stanko goes, the Polish trumpet legend always keeps company with the most formidable young players on the scene. The quartet he brings to SFJAZZ features pianist Craig Taborn, New York bassist Thomas Morgan and the electrifying drummer Jim Black.

Thursday, Sept. 22, 9pm
Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell Street, SF
14th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs
Night One features performances by Travis Weller, Matt Davignon, and Danishta Rivero
The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event dedicated to promoting experimental music that incorporates made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems. A complete description and artist bios can be read on Squid List.

Friday, Sept. 23, Saturday, Sept. 24, 7:30pm
ARUP, 560 Mission St., SF
PLAYBACK > SoundLab – SoundLab is an intimate listening chamber designed by the acoustic engineers of ARUP that recreates an ambisonic enviroment true to real life situations. On September 23 & 24, sound artists HoraFlora & Shane Myrbeck create a special ambisonic composition while SoundLab recreates the stunning performances at Battery Townsley by Gregg Kowalsky, Danny Paul Grody, and Jacob Felix Heule & Kanoko Nishi and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by Myrmyr and 20 vocalists and musicians from last season’s Soundwave ((4)).

Friday, Sept. 23, 8pm
Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland
14th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs
Night Two features performances by Lewis Krauthamer, Tim Phillips, and Matthew Goodheart. The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event dedicated to promoting experimental music that incorporates made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems. A complete description and artist bios can be read on Squid List.

Friday, Sept. 23, 8pm
Mills College, Littlefield Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
MILHAUD AND MESSIAEN: Singing of Heaven and Earth
This year’s annual Milhaud concert features songs by Milhaud and Messiaen performed by members of the Mills Music Department faculty: Christine Abraham, soprano; Sara Ganz, soprano; Belle Bulwinkle, piano; Kristin Pankonin, piano; Robert Schwartz, piano. Bios of the composers and performers are available on the website.

Friday, Sept. 23, 9pm
Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley
Oakland based quirky experimental jazz trio Wiener Kids
celebrates the release of their second album “What A Mess” with a special CD release show. The trio will be accompanied by a 10 piece ensemble of Bay Area avant-jazz/experimental/new music heavy weights.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 8pm
Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th Street, Oakland
THE UNCOMFORTABLE ZONES OF FUN: experiments in experience/participation performance
The Underground Hit! – CRITIC’S CHOICE: East Bay Express
Frank Moore, world-known shaman performance artist, will conduct improvised passions of musicians, actors, dancers, and audience members in a laboratory setting to create altered realities of fusion beyond taboos. Bring your passions and musical instruments and your senses of adventure and humor.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 8pm
Pro Arts Gallery, 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
14th Annual Music for People & Thingamajigs
Night Three features performances by Electric Junkyard Gamelan, T.D. Skatchit, and Tracey Cockrell. The Music For People & Thingamajigs Festival is an annual event dedicated to promoting experimental music that incorporates made/found instruments and alternate tuning systems. A complete description and artist bios can be read on Squid List.

Sunday, Sept. 25, 7:30pm
Tuesdays at Tom’s Place, 3111 Deakin Street, Berkeley
A quartet: Jason Kahn (electronics, New York/Zurich) with local stars James Fei (analog electroncs), ma++ ingalls (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Tom Djll (trumpet, piano and amplifications.) Also the laptop duo of John Hanes and Steve Adams. Tuesdays at Tom’s Place features contemporary art music, mostly improvised, in an intimate living room setting, usually on the first Tuesday of the month but sometimes something too good to miss happens on other days.

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Lampo Fall Schedule

From Chicago’s Lampo:

ROC JIMÉNEZ DE CISNEROS
SAT OCT 22 8pm
Graham Foundation
Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Admission FREE
Reservations are required; click HERE to RSVP.

LEIF ELGGREN
SAT NOV 19 8pm
Graham Foundation
Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Admission FREE
Reservations required; RSVP info soon.

GREG KELLEY
SAT DEC 3 8pm
Graham Foundation
Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Admission FREE
Reservations required; RSVP info soon.