AMN Reviews: Ashley Paul – White Night

21ashleyAshley Paul – White Night  (Important Records, Cassauna series, SAUNA21)

By Dan Coffey

Ashley Paul’s latest release, before her upcoming full-length album on Important Records, is a cassette containing six songs. The Brooklyn-based new face on the avant-garde improv/compositional circuit has become quite prolific. Here she uses the cassette medium to create what seems like a suite in two parts, the songs tied together by explorations of loss and determination to find what has been lost. To that end, the music, all performed by Paul save for guest appearances by Eli Keszler on percussion on the title song and Greg Kelley on trumpet on another cut.

Paul plays quite a bit of guitar on these songs – deceptively simple combinations of three or four notes repeated at different tempos to anchor the chaos that she brings into the mix. Much of the guitar sounds muddled and distant, so that when another few crisp, clear notes are played on electric guitar, one suddenly gets the feeling that they’ve been in a sonic closet with Paul and her contraptions. The almost-claustrophobic nature of many of these songs don’t become apparent until this juxtaposition occurs.

The first song, “Dragon,” features Paul’s frail vocals over low-key sonic mayhem. There is so much bowing and scraping in addition to what sounds like all manner of mechanical objects being put into play, that one can imagine Tom Waits at Paul’s studio door, yelling “LET ME IN! LET ME AT THAT STUFF!” But Paul gives the contraptions center stage, moving her voice to the periphery – something Waits would never do. Another way of looking at what Paul is doing throughout the recording, but especially on “Dragon,” is to compare it to the second and third tracks of Sun Ra’s “Strange Strings”; there is a naiveté here, a sense that Paul is pushing herself out of her comfort zone, playing instruments that are not her strongest suit. Which makes the listening experience that much more transfixing.

The second track on side one, “I’m Finding You,” actually does place Paul’s voice in the forefront. It’s a much shorter piece with beautifully strained vocals that speak to a faith held despite certain odds that only the singer knows (“I’m finding you / I know you’re there). The guitar is much more prevalent in this track, reminding one of a combination of Derek Bailey-lite with echoes of Mary Halvorson.

The final song on side one is sort of a reprise of “Dragon,” but without vocals and with quite a bit more unrestrained mayhem. Side two opens with the almost ballad-like title track, again concerned with the themes of loss and finding. Paul pulls out some truly beautiful guitar work and vocals on this one. Since we’ve already mentioned Bailey, Halvorsen, and Sun Ra, one more analogy can’t hurt. “White Night” sounds like a dead ringer for much of the early 80s post-Henry Cow “Rock in Opposition” output, particularly Lindsay Cooper’s “News from Babel” project. One almost expects to hear Dagmar Krause or Robert Wyatt join in on the vocals.

The second track on side 2, “Goodbyes,” is also reminiscent of the noisier side of the Rock in Opposition movement. Fred Frith’s “guitars on the table” style of playing and the “Downtown” improv scene of the early/mid-80s is directly referenced here, to amazing effect.  The final track, “Run the Walls,” continues the RIO theme, sounding more like very-late period Henry Cow and Art Bears recordings. Paul really manages to go against the vocals heard previously, for a more cacophonous effect, reminiscent of what Dagmar Krause was doing in the Art Bears in the early 1980s.

All these referents shouldn’t obscure the fact that this is a distinctly original album by a multi-talented artist still finding her place in the musical world. After listening to this cassette, one might hope she never does find her place.

AMN Picks of the Week: Piero Bittolo Bon / Noiseless Ensemble / Mimlitsch, Darius, and Pozdrowicz / Bernie Worrell / Wadada Leo Smith / Method of Defiance

Bernie Worrell
Cover of Bernie Worrell

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Piero Bittolo Bon / Jump the Shark – Iuvenes Doom Sumus (2014)
Noiseless Ensemble – No Noise (2014)
Paul Mimlitsch / Andre Darius / Martin Pozdrowicz – Outsiders (2014)
Bernie Worrell – Purple World (2014)
Wadada Leo Smith / Bill Laswell – Akashic Meditation (2014)
Method of Defiance – Nebuchadnezzar (2014)

Oliver Lake New York Performances

Olver Lake
Olver Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Legendary Alto Saxophonist & Doris Duke Performing Artist, Oliver Lake To Play Iridium With His Big Band September 13, 2014 and Curate A Retrospective Week At The Stone October 21-26th, 2014

In the Spring of 2013, legendary alto saxophonist Oliver Lake configured a big band to record his original large-ensemble compositions, which resulted in The Wheel, a record lauded for its originality and compositional vitality. Lake has re-configured this ensemble for a special one night performance, September 13, 2014, at The Iridium in Midtown Manhattan at 8 & 10 PM.

The Oliver Lake Big Band:
(All sets at 8 and 10 PM)

Oliver Lake – alto saxophone
Terry Greene – trombone
Alfred Patterson – trombone
Aaron Johnson – trombone
Robert Stringer – trombone
Darius Jones – alto sax
Marty Ehrlich – alto sax
James Stewart – tenor sax
Mike Lee – tenor sax
Alex Blake – baritone sax
Josh Evans – trumpet
Greg Glassman – trumpet
Nabate Isles – trumpet
Nathan Eklund – trumpet
Yoichi Uzeki – piano
Robert Sabin – bass
Chris Beck – drums

Oliver has also been given the opportunity to curate a retrospective week of his career at the East Village club, The Stone, in October 2014. His bands for the evenings are as follows:

10/21 – 8 PM – The Lakes Oliver Lake (sax) Gene Lake (drums) Jahi Sundance Lake (turntables) Kim Lake (vocals)
10 PM – William Parker (bass) and Oliver Lake (saxophone)

10/22 – 8 PM – Oliver Lake, Vernon Reid (guitar) and Gene Lake (drums) ;
10 PM – Oliver Lake, Santi Debriano (bass), and Andrew Cyrille (drums)

10/23 – 8 PM – Oliver Lake, Orrin Evans (piano),
Nasheet Waits (drums) and Luques Curtis (bass);
10 PM Oliver Lake with Two Drummers
Bill McClellan (drums) Reggie Nicholson (drums)

10/24: 8 & 10 PM – Oliver Lake Octet “Flow”
Oliver Lake, Bruce Williams (alto sax), Mike Lee (tenor sax), Josh Evans (trumpet), Terry Greene (trombone), Robert Sabin (bass), Chris Beck (drums), Brandon McCune (piano)

10/25 – 8 PM Oliver Lake Organ Quartet
Oliver Lake (sax) Freddie Hendrix (trumpet) Chris Beck (drums) Jared Gold (organ);
10 PM Organ Quartet with Billie Harper

10/26 – 8 PM Oliver Lake & Flux String Quartet
Oliver Lake, Tom Chiu (violin), Conrad Harris (violin), Max Mandel (viola), Felix Fan (cello)
10 PM : Alto Madness
Darius Jones, Bruce Williams, Anthony Ware, Oliver Lake (alto saxes) Pheeroan AkLaff (drums)

Ensemble Dal Niente’s Fall 2014 Season

From Ensemble Dal Niente:

Thursday, September 4, 2014 7:30pm
2014 Season Opener: Coming Together
Mayne Stage
1328 W. Morse Ave
Chicago, IL 60626
$25/$15 (General Admission/Students)
George Lewis (b.1952): Assemblage (2013) for piano, harp, percussion, violin, viola, cello, saxophone, clarinet and flute
Philip Glass (b.1937): Music in Contrary Motion (1969) for unspecified instruments
Lee Hyla (1952-2014): The Dream of Innocent III (1987) for cello, piano and percussion
Patricia Alessandrini (b.1970) Nachtgewachse (2014, USA premiere) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, keyboard, piano, percussion, melodica, and electronics
Frederic Rzewski (b.1938): Coming Together (1973) for unspecified instruments and narrator

Thursday, September 11, 2014
People’s Music School
931 W. Eastwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640
Education Outreach: New Music Ensemble
Featured Teaching Artist: Chris Wild: Chris Wild

Sunday, October 12, 2014 8:30pm
Ensemble Dal Niente & Anywhen Ensemble
Ages 18+ venue | Beverage available
3111 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL
$15/$10 (students/seniors)
More information & tickets:
Dai Fujikura (b. 1977) PoyoPoyo (2012) for solo horn
Donald Martino (1931-2005) Cinque Frammenti (5) (1964) for oboe and bass
Matthew Golombisky: new work (2014, world premiere) for oboe, horn, and bass

Saturday, October 18, 2014 8:00pm
Chou Wen-Chung at University of Chicago
Performance Penthouse
Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago
915 E. 60th Street, 9th Floor
Chicago, IL
All Ages venue
Free Admission
Chou Wen-Chung (b.1923): Twilight Colors (2007) for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello
Chou Wen-Chung (b.1923): The Willows Are New (1957) for solo piano
Chou Wen-Chung (b.1923): Ode to Eternal Pine (2009) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano
Edgard Varèse (1883-1965): Density 21.5 (1946) for solo flute

Saturday, October 18, 2014 8:00pm
Willams College Residency
Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall
Williamstown, MA
Free Admission
Alex Lunsqui (b. 1969): Dimensions (2013) for solo percussion
Lee Hyla (1952-2014): Passegiata (2007) for solo violin
Hans Thomalla (b. 1975): Desert Songs (2011) for soprano and piano
Andres Carrizo (1982): Incantation (2012) for voice, piano, percussion
Alejandro Viñao (b. 1951): Hildegard’s Dream (1994) for soprano and electronics
Santiago Diez-Fischer (b.1977): new work (2015, world premiere) for solo piano
Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988): Tre Pezzi (1956) for soprano and tenor saxophone
Ileana Velazquez (b.1964): Del Falso Amor Impuro (2013) for soprano, saxophone, violin, percussion, and piano

Thursday, October 30, 2014 8:00pm
Library of Congress: In Vain & George Lewis
Atlas Performing Arts Center
Washington D.C.
Free but tickets required
George Lewis (b. 1952): Assemblage (2013) for piano, harp, percussion, violin, viola, cello, saxophone, clarinet and flute
George Lewis (b.1952): new work for violin and piano (2014, World Premiere)
Georg Friedrich Haas (b.1953): In Vain (2000) for 2 flutes, oboe, 2 clarinets, saxophone, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trombones, 2 percussion, 1 harp, 1 accordion, 1 piano, 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, 1 bass

Thursday, November 06, 2014
People’s Music School
931 W. Eastwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640
Education Outreach: New Music Ensemble
Featured Teaching Artist: Chris Wild: Chris Wild

Saturday, November 15, 2014 7:30pm
Dal Niente: Party 2014
Tickets will be on sale October 1st!
Jackson Junge Gallery
1389 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
All Ages welcome, Beverages & food available
Dal Niente first unveiled The Party in 2012 as a communal experience that casts away some of the concert hall’s conventions in order to bring listeners together in a new way. During Dal Niente: Party 2014, people can sit where and how they want; they can stand, lie down, choose what to listen to at any particular moment, relax, move, talk, drink, eat. Most importantly, they can listen to music together — the experience is the antithesis of listening to music through earbuds plugged into your head as you sit alone staring at a computer screen. Dal Niente: Party 2014 brings together stylistically diverse and uniquely brilliant composers’ music for you to encounter, examine and share in one unforgettable evening.

Sunday, November 30, 2014 8:30pm
Dal Niente Presents: Ben Melsky
Ages 18+ venue | Beverage available
3111 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL
$15/$10 (students/seniors)

Salvatore Sciarrino (b. 1947) L’Addio a Trachis (1980) for solo harp
Elliott Carter (1908-2012) Immer Neu from Trilogy (1992) for oboe and harp Kaija Saariaho (b.1952) Fall (1991) for harp and amplified electronics
Eliza Brown (b. 1985) new work (2014, world premiere) for soprano and harp
Tomas Gueglio (b. 1980) new work (2014, world premiere) for harp solo

Sunday, December 14, 2014 8:30pm
Dal Niente Presents:
Austin Wulliman & Katherine Young Album Release
Ages 18+ venue | Beverage available
3111 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL
$15 (includes tape)
Katherine Young (b. 1980): Diligence Is to Magic as Progress Is to Flight (2013) for solo violin and ensemble


Paal Nilssen-Love
Cover of Paal Nilssen-Love


August 22, 2014
Jim Hobbs, Taylor Ho Bynum, Ingrid Laubrock, Josh Sinton, Brandon Seabrook, Ken Filiano, Tomas Fujiwara, Douglass Street Music Collective
Taylor Ho Bynum Ken Filiano Tomas Fujiwara Jim Hobbs Ingrid Laubrock Brandon Seabrook Josh Sinton

August 16, 2014
The Ex with Wolter Wierbos, MIR, Oslo
Arnold de Boer Katherina Bornefeld Ketil Gutvik Terrie Hessels Andy Moor Paal Nilssen-Love Ståle Liavik Solberg Wolter Wierbos

August 16, 2014
Wolter Wierbos Solo, Cappelens Forslag, Oslo
Wolter Wierbos

August 16, 2014
Rolf-Erik Nystrom, Thomas Johansson, Øyvind Storesund, Simo Laihonen, MIR, Oslo
Thomas Johansson Simo Laihonen Rolf-Erik Nystrom Øyvind Storesund

August 15, 2014
Mette Rasmussen Solo, MIR, Oslo
Mette Rasmussen

August 16, 2014
Ketil Gutvik Solo, MIR, Oslo
Ketil Gutvik

August 16, 2014
Emil Strandberg, Sten Sandell, Patric Thorman, MIR, Oslo
Sten Sandell Emil Strandberg Patric Thorman

August 16, 2014
Andreas Backer, Ketil Gutvik, Emil Strandberg, Cappelens Forslag, Oslo
Andreas Backer Ketil Gutvik Emil Strandberg