AMN Reviews: Robert Scott Thompson – Palimpsest (2015; Aucourant Records)

Robert Scott Thompson straddles the genres of electroacoustic (e.g., musique concrète composers such as Francis Dhomont and Tod Dockstader) and ambient (e.g., Klaus Schulze, Steve Roach, Brian Eno) musics. The result is often a rather unique juxtaposition of organized noise and synthesized washes. Thompson manages to refrain from the harsher electroacoustic sounds, while still capturing the tension inherent in that school. Combined with a modern ambient approach, his recordings often taken on pleasant overtones, albeit with darkness on the horizon.

Palimpsest is no exception.  This release features synth textures accompanied by the rattling of found objects, bells and gongs, as well as wordless vocal overtones and shimmering soundscapes.  The opening track, Rock Garden, evokes being in a pulsing cavern with pebbles falling around you, while Embellished Serenade includes discordant but spacious synth lines over sparse and subtle percussion.  Intentional or not, parts of Palimpsest could easily find its way into a science-fiction or horror movie soundtrack.  But this is more than just background music, because an active listener will hear something new upon each play.

Whether geological or interplanetary in nature, Thompson’s compositions combine sonic landscapes with intellectual rigor. While the components of his sound may be familiar at times, he is carving a singular niche that breathes life into two seasoned genres.  Highly recommended.
Robert Scott Thompson on Spotify

Doek Festival Blog #1

Kevin Whitehead comments in the ongoing Doek Festival:

Doek Meets Tri-Centric: what a great idea. Ten musicians from the US (including Tri-Centric founder, saxophonist, official Jazz Master and classical composer Anthony Braxton) and ten-plus from Amsterdam, coming together to play big pieces by members of the ensemble, and to play in small, improvising combinations. This is my kind of festival; that combination of ad hoc groups and big anchor pieces recalls for me the Bimhuis’s 1991 October Meeting—the first place I saw many of the Dutch masters in person.

AMN Interviews: Devin Gray

bio-page-picDevin Gray is a New York based drummer and composer who is carving out his own path through that city’s rich creative music scene. He has performed and recorded with innovative musicians of contrasting styles and backgrounds such as: Tony Malaby, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Burrell, Dave Ballou, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Stephan Crump, George Garzone, Chris Speed, Drew Gress, Sam Rivers, Ralph Alessi, John O’Gallagher, Ellery Eskelin, Kris Davis, Ted Rosenthal, Uri Caine, Dave Liebman, Andrew D’Angelo, Vardan Ovsepian, Bill McHenry as well as many others.

In 2012 he released his first album as a leader, Dirigo Rataplan, and on June 9th, his second offering, RelativE ResonancE, hits the shelves.

Read our review of RelativE ResonancE.

What were your formative years like? How did they lead to your current endeavors?

I have been very fortunate to have somehow ended up in some really inspiring places and situations in the last ten years or so. When I was just starting high school I was exposed to great musicians (and New York City based) teachers at the Maine Jazz Camp. That inspiration lead to me going to undergraduate music school at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where I was also very lucky to be around great musicians and teachers, and to create some strong lasting musical relationships. I then decided to continue to study in the masters program at Manhattan School of Music. Directly after that I moved to Brooklyn in search for the musical communities I’d been craving. Since then I’ve just kept working on playing, composing, and experiencing music as much as possible.

RelativE ResonancE is different in many ways from Dirigo Rataplan. Can you explain the different approaches undertaken for each of these recordings?

Dirigo Rataplan was like here is some music I wrote and spent some serious time working on, let me bring it to these amazing players, not say too much, and let’s just make music. Though I did have certain compositional ideas and events that I wanted to have happen. I also felt comfortable enough in knowing how to approach those guys in a way that I felt was responsible and honest to the integrity of the music. That idea plus some life experiences is Dirigo Rataplan to me. I am endlessly grateful to those guys and for that situation.

RelativE ResonancE is a slightly different zone for me although it’s coming from a similar space as Dirigo. This recording has more composition than Dirigo and even more structure to it. I’m always thinking about what will be fun for me, the music, and the players. What is it that I really like to do? I like studying combinations of music, compositions, styles, energies, attitudes, and personalities. I like thinking ahead about certain things with my music, and I like to dream of situations and reactions. It’s kind of like inspiration musical day dreaming for me.

Much of RelativE ResonancE has to do with me wanting to create situations for people, ideas, and platforms for expression. I’ve been writing music with this group in mind on and off for around four years now. I kept experimenting and finally came up with these concepts which I felt strongly about. It definitely took some time for me to be comfortable (musically speaking) with realizing what I had to throw myself into with this project. I’m always pushing myself to be a better player and bandleader, and some of the pieces on the record are more challenging for me as a drummer.

In my mind this record has more compositional “styles” going on then Dirigo. Three of the pieces are a little more “normal” functioning (City Nothing City, In the Cut, RealtivE ResonancE (for Tadd Dameron), and the other five pieces (Notester, Jungle Design (for Hannah Shaw), Transatlantic Transitions, Search it up, and Undo the Redo) are closer to the way I like to hear and try to express myself through music. The first of those five pieces (Search it up) was originally inspired by a piece of Iannis Xenakis, which the Dirigo band played on some gigs. I later adapted it for this group because there was something about it that was pulling me quite strongly in a direction that my ears and heart likes. The other pieces have numerous sources of inspiration within the compositions, and to me the results are kind of like free improvisation but somehow more centered.

Are there any unique aspects of being both a drummer and composer that have informed your works?

I’m always thinking about this…it really started when I took up playing / practicing and trying to perform on vibraphone years ago in college. Being in a group and getting to play melodies, and taking melodic solos? that was very different, exciting, and informative for me. But the most important thing I learned form that, or the thing that flipped my switch for the first time was hearing drums, and playing with different drummers but as another instrumentalist… That was kind of mind blowing for a while…really hearing what drummers would/could do from another position in the room/on stage…wow. It gave me and still does SO much more perspective on what drums can / could / “should” / maybe / sometimes sound or feel like. I learned much more about musical energies that way… Having that experience and carrying that information around with me changed the way I hear things as a drummer and composer very much still to this day.

That being said, I am more aware of what I do as a drummer that can fit or go against musical ideas, I feel comfortable knowing when I want to experiment in certain ways or not with out (hopefully) crashing something. But even as I write this I find me not agreeing with myself…its more like I still need much more experience doing all of this, and I do feel lucky that I hope to have MANY more chances and trying to be responsible with music.

Over the years the more I compose music, the faster at relating to it I’ve gotten. Certain parts of my process has sped up, and I view it like practicing and gaining more experiences and knowledge which in return pushes me into new spaces. I also feel slightly more informed when I’m improvising and composing what I like and dislike and want more or less of, I think in the end hopefully you get better at making decisions in music…

For RelativE ResonancE, I composed drum parts! Five out of the eight pieces have drum parts! This is kind of new to me, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it honesty. But it was fun, and a lot of them I composed on the kit, and edited later.

When (if?) you have any free time, what do you listen to?

I just bought Guerrilla Toss, and Karlheinz Stockhausen (studies I / studie II/ gersang der Junglinge / Zyklus Ffur zwei Schlagzeungernon on vinyl. I’ve only listened to one so far, and can’t wait for more time to investigate more deeply.

I like listening to recordings people give me when I’m traveling. It’s always fun and inspiring to come back and have a piles of people you got to meet and hang with and know first, and then get to check out more of what they’re up to.

Is there anyone in New York (or elsewhere) that you’d really like to play or record with?

In New York, Anthony Braxton
In Berlin, Alexander Von Schlippenbach
In Paris, Eve Risser
In Stockholm, Bobo Stenson

I’ve done some recent trio playing with Joachim Badenhorst and Kris Davis, Richard Bonnet and Tony Malaby, Andrea Parkins and Frank Gratkowski, Dave Ballou and John Dieker, Drew Gress and Kris Davis. Those were all different and really inspirational, and I’d love get those captured at some point.

Tell us about what you’ve got coming up in 2015 with respect to releases and performances, including but not limited to the CD release performances for RelativE ResonancE.

I am very excited to play at Greenwich House Music again on June 13th. It’s becoming a home for me and my music. I love what Bradley Bambarger is doing for the music community in New York with his Sound it Out series. This will be the series’ 100th show and I am honored to be apart of it! I’m hearing that the new CD will be basically free if you come to the concert. I am also very excited that it will be a double bill show with Matt Mitchells group with Speed, Tordini, and Dan Weiss!

As for 2015 and 2016 there are some exciting things in the works. There are some more TBA RelativE ResonancE gigs, some performances at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival this summer, some hopeful Dirigo Rataplan gigs in Europe, a gig with Dave Liebman, in NYC I’m playing at Jazz in Central Park and the Bluenote in July. More gigs in Berlin with many different groups and more TBA august Europe dates in August. Spring has another Europe tour with VAX, new trio gigs and tours in France, sideman gigs in Germany in the fall, and NYC projects and gigs with old and new friends. Things are moving forward and gaining traction and I’m feeling good about all of it. In the end, I’d say, please just connect with me and say hi!

Liquid Music Series 2015/16 Season in Minneapolis

From the Liquid Music Series:


WYE OAK AND WILLIAM BRITTELLE: Spiritual America with special guest Michi Wiancko
Copresented with the Walker Art Center
In partnership with First & First
Wed, Oct 14, 2015
Doors at 6:30pm | Music at 7:30pm
Aria, Minneapolis

Fri, Nov 13, 2015
Doors at 7:00pm | Music at 8:00pm
Sat, Nov 14, 2015
Doors at 7:00pm | Music at 8:00pm
Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul

DANIEL WOHL: Holographic
With Mantra Percussion and Holographic String Quartet
Album and live performance co-commissioned by Liquid Music, MASS MoCA, Baryshnikov Arts Center and Indianapolis Museum of Art
In collaboration with The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul
Thu, Feb 11, 2016
Doors at 6:30pm | Music at 7:30pm
Ordway Concert Hall, Saint Paul

LAURIE ANDERSON: The Language of the Future
Copresented with the Walker Art Center and MPR Live Events
Sat, Mar 19, 2016
Doors at 7:00pm | Music at 8:00pm
Fitzgerald Theater, Saint Paul

Copresented with the Walker Art Center
Thu, Mar 24, 2016
Observations performed at 6:00pm
Surface Image performed at 7:00pm
Walker Art Center galleries, Minneapolis

Copresented with the Walker Art Center
Fri, Apr 1, 2016
Doors at 7:30pm | Performance at 8:00pm
Sat, Apr 2, 2016
Doors at 7:30pm | Performance at 8:00pm
The Walker’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater, Minneapolis

World premieres by Ted Hearne and Jace Clayton in celebration of National Poetry Month
Tue, Apr 26, 2016
Doors at 6:30pm | Performance at 7:30pm
James J. Hill Reference Library, Saint Paul

Copresented with the Walker Art Center
Fri, May 13, 2016
Doors at 7:30pm | Music at 8:00pm
Sat, May 14, 2016
Doors at 7:30pm | Music at 8:00pm
The Walker’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater, Minneapolis

Copresented with Guthrie Theater
Featuring Sō Percussion’s Jason Treuting, musicians of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and director
Mark DeChiazza
Thu, Jun 16, 2016
Doors at 7:00pm | Performance at 7:30pm
Fri, Jun 17, 2016
Doors at 7:00pm | Performance at 7:30pm
Sat, Jun 18, 2016
Doors at 7:00pm | Performance at 7:30pm
The Guthrie’s Dowling Studio, Minneapolis

Coming to Baltimore

David Torn

From Baltimore’s Windup Space:

Creative Differences Presents David Torn
Wed, June 3, 8:30pm – 10:30pm
The Windup Space (map)
ECM CD Release Event.
For advance seating reservations contact
All tickets are $20.
David Torn – guitar, electric oud, real-time mechanical & electronic modifications.

CREATIVE DIFFERENCES: Paal Nilssen- Love Large Unit
Sun, June 14, 8pm – 10pm
The windup Space (map)
$20/15 students w.ID

Out Of Your Head- Improvised and Experimental Music Collective
Tue, June 16, 9:30pm – 9:30pm
The Out of Your Head Collective is a community of improvising musicians in Baltimore. Every odd week Tuesday of each month (1st, 3rd, and sometimes 5th) at The Windup Space a new group is formed from the collective’s 30+ members to improvise in what is always a brand new, one-time-only ensemble. Music happens in two sets from 9:30pm until Midnight and is always FREE.

Out Of Your Head- Improvised and Experimental Music Collective
Tue, July 7, 9:30pm – 9:30pm
The Windup Space (map)
The Out of Your Head Collective is a community of improvising musicians in Baltimore. Every odd week Tuesday of each month (1st, 3rd, and sometimes 5th) at The Windup Space a new group is formed from the collective’s 30+ members to improvise in what is always a brand new, one-time-only ensemble. Music happens in two sets from 9:30pm until Midnight and is always FREE.

Extended Techniques NYC Calendar For June 2015

Steve Dalachinsky
Steve Dalachinsky

From extended techniques:

NYC Calendar June 2015

6 PM Trios by Zorn
Vicky Chow, piano, Jennifer Choi, violin, Michael Nicolas, cello
VENUE: Miller Theater

FRIDAY, June 5
8 PM Roy Nathanson and Anthony Coleman duo (Lobster and Friend)
Anthony Coleman (piano) Roy Nathanson (sax)
VENUE: The Stone

FRIDAY, June 5
9 PM: Chris Corsano, Drums. Okkyung Lee, Cello. Bill Nace, Guitar
VENUE: Union Pool

10:30 PM Mat Maneri, viola; Craig Taborn, piano; Ches Smith, drums
VENUE: konceptions music series

8 PM Assemblege Arctet plays “Garden Forms” for Earle Brown
Ryan Ingrebitsen (electronics), Charles Waters (sax), Mick Rossi (piano), Michael Bates (bass), Jeremy Wilms (guitar), Steve Dalachinsky, Yuko Otomo (words)
VENUE: The Stone

7:00 PM Sound Bites: A Concert to Benefit Roulette w/ Pauline Oliveros, Ha-Yang Kim, TIGUE and Rinde Eckert
VENUE: Roulette
ADMISSION: $35/$50

7:30 PM Lucas Ligeti Focus

8 PM Season Finale: The Orchestra of the League of Composers
Premieres & Works by Morris Rosenzweig, Kaija Saariaho, David Felder & Irving Fine
Conductors: Louis Karchin & Scott Voyles
Host: John Schaefer, WNYC
VENUE: Miller Theater
ADMISSION: $10- $20

8 PM Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit
VENUE: Issue Project Room (at First Unitarian Congregational Society: 116 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn)

SUNDAY, June 14
5:30 PM Lukas Ligeti: 50th Birthday Concert
VENUE: Roulette

TUESDAY, June 16
8 PM Schumann’s Dichterliebe
Theo Bleckmann (voice, effects), Uri Caine (piano)
VENUE: The Stone

TUESDAY, June 16
9 PM Colin Stetson / Sarah Neufeld Duo
VENUE: Bowery Ballroom

Mary Halvorson, guitar; Michael Formanek, bass; Tomas Fujiwara, drums
VENUE: Cornelia Street Cafe

TUESDAY, June 23
8 PM C Spencer Yeh: Solo voice I-X
Issue Project Room (at Artists Space Books & Talks: 55 Walker St., NYC)
ADMISSION: Free ($10 suggested donation)

8 PM Bill Laswell and John Zorn Duo
Bill Laswell (bass) John Zorn (sax)
VENUE: The Stone

8 PM The String Orchestra of Brooklyn: Dimensions of Time and Silence
Music of Wollschleger, Feldman, and Penderecki
VENUE: Roulette
ADMISSION: $15-$20

TUESDAY, June 30
10 PM Anthony Coleman + Min Xiao-Fen + Fast Forward
Anthony Coleman (piano) Min Xiao-Fen (pipa) Fast Forward (objects)
VENUE: The Stone