AMN Reviews: Dobrinka Tabakova – String Paths (ECM New Series)

Dobrinka Tabakova was born in 1980 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria but has has lived in the UK since 1991. This is her first collection of recordings, music of sinew, mostly violin trios. Its String Paths cross fluid minimalism and motley folk, heavenly evidence of which the opening “Insight” amply provides. Not so much Arvo Pärt-like holy drones as swoops by angels with dirty faces. The “Concerto for Cello and Strings”, featuring the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, opens with a dexterous explosion of joy by soloist Kristina Blaumane. “Frozen River Flows” brings accordionist Raimondas Sviackevičius together with violin and double bass, an accordion that signals back to folk roots while also performing as a perfectly modern-day drone machine.

“Suite in Old Style”, with its harpsichord and many changes of tempo and mood – sweaty, stately, and primped and powdered – comes off like a sampler, an update on both Bach´s counterpoint and Bartók´s central European peasant dances. The finale, “Such Different Paths”, is sublime, deeply moving, lithe. Tabakova´s art is the great emotion she brings to conveying communitarian understanding – however painstakingly composed, these paths fork simultaneously toward both the heart and the head.
Stephen Fruitman

Coming to Seattle

From Seattle’s Wayward Music Series:

FRI. 11/1 – Seattle Composers’ Salon – Simon Hennemen, Hope Wechkin, Kevin WIlliams, Kam Morrill

SAT. 11/2 – Earshot Jazz Fest and Nonsequitur present Paul Kikuchi’s Bat of No Bird Island; advance tickets available online

THU. 11/7 – The Many Duo

FRI. 11/8 – shibui_oto presents immersound_SEA with Canadian electronic artists Tim Hecker & Christopher Bissonnette; advance tickets online beginning Oct. 15

SAT. 11/9 – Seattle composer Brad Sherman

THU. 11/14 – saxophonist Neil Welch

FRI. 11/15 – David Hahn’s Concert Imaginaire

SAT. 11/16 – Nonsequitur & The Box Is Empty present pianist R. Andrew Lee performing November, composer Dennis Johnson’s epic and nearly-lost classic of proto-minimalism (1959)

Wadada Leo Smith’s ‘Ten Freedom Summers’ DC Performance Reviewed

Wadada Leo Smith
Wadada Leo Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From The Washington Post:

If “Ten Freedom Summers” isn’t Wadada Leo Smith’s greatest work, it is, without a doubt, his most monumental. It is a piece of music rich in emotional depth, nuance and historical scope. It is also intimidating in its size.

Smith — a jazz trumpeter, improviser and composer — has been writing and refining his all-encompassing meditation on the civil rights movement, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist this year, since 1977. It has swelled to more than five hours of music (although it’s still evolving), requiring 10 musicians spread over two ensembles. On Friday, the trumpeter, 71, and his two groups — the Golden Quartet, a jazz band, and Pacifica Red Coral, a string quartet augmented with a harpist and percussionist — began a concert series that would, over the course of three programs and two days at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, cover the bulk of the composition. It’s fairly dense and heady listening.

AMN Reviews: ICE John Zorn Retrospective in Chicago (October 26, 2013)

John Zorn (cropped version)
John Zorn (cropped version) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday night, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) performed six John Zorn Compositions at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. ICE has garnered acclaim throughout the U.S. and Europe by taking a refreshing modernist approach in their choice of pieces. This return to their hometown featured four Chicago premieres, as well as one world premiere. While Zorn is well known for haphazardly mashing genres at will, the evening’s works were all examples of his spiky avant-garde classical style.

The evening began with The Steppenwolf, a rather non-descript clarinet solo, and rapidly moved into Occams Razor, a piano and cello duo. On the latter, Zorn’s schizophrenic compositional approach was first displayed, which continued throughout most of the rest of the works. He seems to alternate between rapid, chaotic motifs and slower interludes. Often, these elements appear to have little connection with each other, except perhaps in Zorn’s mind.

The Tempest came next, featuring clarinet, ICE leader Claire Chase on flute, and New York all-purpose jazz drummer Tyshawn Sorey on percussion.  It shouldn’t be surprising that Zorn’s writing is well suited to Sorey’s improv leanings, as Mr. Sorey played aggressively on the kit when called to, and also provided atmosphere with a pair of large bass drums.

A string trio, Walpurgisnacht, followed, largely in a similar style to that of Occams Razor. However, if you closed your eyes, you could envision this piece being the background music for a demented Tom and Jerry cartoon, with plucked cello strings for tiptoeing and contrapuntal blasts for chase scenes.

After Canon to Stravinsky, a short piece written by Zorn at the age of 19 upon Stravinsky’s death, all ICE members walked out to set up for the world premiere of Baudelaires. An interpretation of the works of the French poet of the same name, it included a movement referring to Baudelaire’s writings on opiates.  Fitting to the mind-bending themes of the evening, no doubt.  While it was hinted that Mr. Zorn was in attendance, the audience didn’t know for sure until he walked out on stage, looking a couple of decades younger than his 60 years. He thanked ICE profusely before they broke into this conducted piece, the highlight of the evening.

After ICE left the stage, Zorn came out again, with sax in hand, accompanied by Sorey. He referred to what they were about to play as “Some east coast shit,” and duo proceeded to rip through a few minutes of free improv.  What could be a more appropriate encore?

At some point in the last few years, Mr. Zorn has made the transition from New York bad boy to elder statesman of the avant-garde.  While followed by academics for quite a while, this year has seen world-wide celebrations of his music. More prolific than ever, he is at, or is still yet to reach, his compositional peak.

Le Poisson Rouge in November

Roswell Rudd at Jazzfestival Frankfurt
Roswell Rudd at Jazzfestival Frankfurt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From (le) poisson rouge:

Sun., November 03, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Amon Tobin presents Two Fingers DJ Set
w/ Eskmo

Mon., November 04, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Roomful of Teeth (performing the world premiere of Caroline Shaw’s “Partita”) Holly Herndon
w/ presented by LPR and Wordless Music

Fri., November 08, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Os Mutantes
w/ Capsula

Sun., November 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Trombone For Lovers: A 78th Birthday Concert for Roswell Rudd
w/ John Medeski , Steven Bernstein , Bob Dorough , Gary Lucas , Richard Hammond , Aaron Comess , Fay Victor , Michael Doucet , Rolf Sturm , Heather Masse , Ivan Rubenstein-Gillis , and NYC Labor Chorus with Reggie Bennet

Tue., November 26, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies, pianos
w/ music of Glass, Lutoslawski, and Stravinsky

All About Jazz Reviews

Tony Oxley, 12. Mai 2008, Moers Festival
Tony Oxley, 12. Mai 2008, Moers Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From All About Jazz:

Brass Mask
Spy Boy (Babel Label)

Miles Davis
Legendary Concerts (Bob City Records)

The Wrong Object extended analysis
The Wrong Object: After the Exhibition (Moonjune Records)

Mars Williams/Ingebrigt Haker-Flåten/Tim Daisy
Moments Form (Idyllic Noise)

Tony Oxley
A Birthday Tribute–75 Years (Incus)

Kaze extended analysis
Kaze: Tornado (Libra Records)

Voices of Grain (New Atlantis Records)