I’ve Been Many Places, my upcoming solo piano release on Thirsty Ear Records, is an apotheosis for me. I feel like the piano is a live organism at this point. I feel a complete fusion of my soul — however you define or don’t define soul — and my brainwaves as they cohere to create kaleidoscopic patterns on a piece of wood that the English dictionary calls a piano.
On April 29, 2003 I posted the first three articles on what would become Avant Music News. Eleven years later, we have 2475 followers on Facebook and 2100 on Twitter. We’ve published 18,260 articles, of which 234 are original reviews, and 25 are original interviews. We began doing reviews less than three years ago, and interviews about 7 months ago, so I am proud of these numbers.
Lots of thanks go out to the community. To the contributors for their input, to the artists for their updates, sharing their music, and thoughtful answers to interview questions, and to you, the reader. Somehow, all of you make getting up early in the morning each day to work on this site worthwhile.
As stated in its subtitle, Robin Hayward’s new release is an elegy to the Saxhorn nouveau basse, an unsuccessful brass instrument invented by Adolphe Sax, whose saxophone went on to enjoy a considerably better career. From Sax’s failure, Hayward retrieves success in these works for a microtonal tuba he developed using Sax’s six-valve layout as a model, though one that he modified substantially.
Two of the compositions on the CD are for solo microtonal tuba run through speaker systems. The title tracks uses six speakers to image the tuba’s six valves which, following the original design of the Saxhorn nouveau basse, are used independently of each other. Tones cycle through the six speakers to a seventh, during the course of which the sound is altered. The second solo performance, Plateau Square, uses a quadrophonic speaker setup to give the sound a spatial dimension. Both of these lengthy pieces exercise a hypnotic effect through a gradual accumulation of harmonic and timbral density. Long tones and their electronic afterimages overlap into slowly pulsating chords with long decay times and unexpected lacunae. The title track’s low, fluttering rumbles have something seismic about them, something almost more felt than heard.
On the shorter Travel Stain, Hayward is joined by Seth Josel on scordatura guitar. Relative to the solo tuba pieces, Travel Stain has a certain textural lightness. The ranges of the two instruments contrast nicely, as do their differences of timbre and duration of tones.
Shanir Blumenkranz is a deeply soulful cat who has committed himself to a life of music and plays from his heart. He has been in New York for the better part of fifteen years and has been a major contributor to the city’s Radical Jewish Culture scene. After appearing on dozens of other people’s records, Shanir released his first recording as a leader in 2013, a collection of his arrangements of compositions from John Zorn‘s Book of Angels.
Seattle Composers’ Salon
Fri., May 2, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door
Seattle Composers’ Salon presents new and recent works in an informal, audience-interactive setting by William O. Smith, Tom Baker, John Teske, and Keith Eisenbrey.
Sue Ann Harkey & Friends
Sat., May 3, 8 PM; $5 – 15 at the door
Guitarist/vocalist Sue Ann Harkey performs new songs and old improvisations with Tari Nelson-Zagar (violin), Angelina Baldoz (bass, trumpet), and Steve Peters (field recordings).