2015 Best of Lists from Around the Web: Part VII

It’s that time again. We gather best-of-2015 lists from around the web and provide links here. See Part I, Part IIPart III, Part IVPart V, and Part VI.

S. Victor Aaron’s best of 2015 avant-garde and experimental releases.

S. Victor Aaron’s best of 2015 modern jazz.

Perfect Sounds ten favorite jazz albums of 2015.

Mark F. Turner’s best of 2015.

The Free Jazz Collective top ten lists.

AMN Reviews: Erik Friedlander – Illuminations (Skipstone)

One of this era´s finest cellists, Erik Friedlander was commissioned by the Jewish Museum in New York to compose a work celebrating an exhibit of ancient, illuminated manuscripts in Latin, Arabic, but mostly Hebrew, on loan from the Bodleian in Oxford. Performing due diligence before setting to work, “I found myself in this darkened room surrounded by these gorgeous books and manuscripts that seemed to be talking to me. They were telling me a story of patience and craft, ritual and dedication that was inspiring.”

Since study of the Talmud is always done in pairs, and this is a solo work, not a duet (recorded in a single April day in Brooklyn), this is davening – meditative recital, not chavruta (fellowship), the individual alone with the Book. Friedlander composed ten pieces as distinctive as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, black fire upon white fire. The letters become animated – the candelabrum of the shin, each of its three fingertips aflame, the smooth, tabletop plateau of the tav, the maze of the tzadi, the monkey tail of the qof grasping hold of the monkey bars of the lamed, each crafted like a sofer agonizing over all 304,805 letters of the Torah scroll.

Illuminations is anything but parochial. Taking his lead from Bach (whose suites for cello are still among the world´s most frequently played), his life-long spirit guide, Friedlander´s prelude crosses the threshold of the “Scriptorium” – “a serious place where work gets done” – before spiraling off in search of ten lost tribes of sound evoking not only the Jewish world and the Jewish worlds within the Muslim and Christian ones – as in those precious books – but also southern and eastern Asia and uptown and downtown Manhattan. His “Cham – Hypnotique” is Tibetan in name and inspiration but recalls some of his most innovatory Jewish modalities, such as can be heard when he works with John Zorn´s Masada songbook. Fingers on fretboard, bow raining down on strings, he declaims, dervishes, frenzies a discombobulating tarantella, spins the wheel of the heavens above the star calculators of Babylon (“Fantasia – Zodiac”), indulges the noble with the courtly “Madrigal – The Virgin and the Unicorn” – and sinks into the mourner´s Kaddish before closing with “Pavan”, dedicated to Hildegard of Bingen.

Itself a library, as real and redolent with the smell of parchment as the Bodleian or mythopoeic as Borges´, Illuminations contains magnificent decorations, marginalia, cross-references, books speaking to each other across millennia of thought. Hardly was solo instrumental music ever so talkative.


Stephen Fruitman

Nunc at National Sawdust in Brooklyn

Iannis Xenakis

On January 24, 2016 at 8pm, music organization Nunc will perform a concert of new and recent works at the Brooklyn venue National Sawdust, where Nunc’s founding director, violinist/violist Miranda Cuckson, is a guest curator.

The program:
Jonathan Dawe: “Roventi” (2015) for soprano and string trio *premiere*
David Fulmer: “Silence of the Sirens” (2015) for string octet *NY premiere*
Elliott Carter: “Four Lauds” (1984-2001) for solo violin
Michael Jarrell: “Eco III” (1994) for soprano and harp
Diego Tedesco: “Divertimento II” (2015) for violin concertante, bass, oboe, bassoon, harp and mandolin *premiere*
Iannis Xenakis: “Aroura” (1971) for 12 strings

This concert delves into the varied and multihued sonic world of the stringed-instrument family, both bowed and plucked, high and low, to which will be added the distinctive timbres of the oboe and bassoon and the human voice. Jonathan Dawe’s brief “Roventi” sets a text by Francesco Geminiani as an exuberantly off-kilter rendition of Baroque style. In David Fulmer’s “Silence of the Sirens”, an octet recently commissioned by the Gardner Museum of Boston, elegant filigree is threaded into large, graceful gestures. The “Four Lauds” of Elliott Carter – character pieces that delightfully capture qualities of friends of the composer – will be performed by Miranda Cuckson, who will also be somewhat featured in the intricately interwoven strands of “Divertimento II” by Argentine Diego Tedesco. Swiss composer Michael Jarrell’s “Eco III”, a delicately elusive, atmospheric take on a text by Luis de Gongora, will be performed by soprano Mary Mackenzie and harpist June Han. And in Xenakis’ wrenching and swooping “Aroura” for twelve string players, a work both rigorously rhythmic and wildly chaotic, the ensemble will be joined by six adventurous college students from Mannes and Juilliard.

More to come about the program in an upcoming blog post on www.mirandacuckson.com.

Seattle Scene: January 7-22, 2016

Source: Seattle’s Wayward Music Series.

January 7, 2016 | 7:30 PM |$5 – $15 donation at the door
Dead Tosa | Arrington de Dionyso & Oomung Varma | Hair & Space Museum
On Havlíčkova Street is a new work by sound artist Dead Tosa, inspired by and composed in the old town of Prague. This impressionistic soundscape, in three continuous movements, sees its first public performance at the Wayward Music Series. Dead Tosa is also the composer of a song cycle on YouTube, Songs that Cannot Be Bought or Sold, that …

January 8, 2016 | 8:00 PM |$5 – $15 donation at the door
Seattle Composers’ Salon
An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:
Ivan Arteaga
Amy Denio
Keith Eisenbrey
Patrick O’Keefe
The Seattle Composers’ Salon fosters the development, performance and appreciation of new music by regional composers and performers. At bi-monthly, informal presentations, the Salon features finished works, previews, and works in progress. Composers, performers, and audience members gather in a casual setting that allows for experimentation and…

January 9, 2016 | 8:00 PM |$5 – $15 donation at the door
Wind / Bad Luck + Mess
Tonight, musicians from diverse areas of the Seattle Creative Music Scene unify to present a special concert.
Opening the concert will be MESS, a collaborative performance ensemble that was founded in 2015 by Amelia Coulter (trombone, electronics, voice), Mariah Davis (dance), and Haley Freedlund (trombone/voice). Their work is inspired by queer theory, liberation politics, social situations, personal storytelling, gender…

January 15, 2016 | 8:00 PM |$5 – $15 donation at the door
Nick Demopoulos + Vance Galloway
Smomid is a project where musician Nick Demopoulos performs on a touch sensitive guitar called a Smomid™, which is an acronym for String Modeling Midi Device, and Pyramidi™, a triangular midi interface resembling a console. Both of these instruments, which he designed and built, emit light as well as sound. These instruments allow Nick to control beats, harmonies, manipulate…

January 21, 2016 | 8:00 PM |$5 – $15 donation at the door
Ray Larsen: Modern Achievements
Over the past several years, Raymond Larsen has surfaced as one of the most in-demand young trumpet players in the Pacific Northwest. This special show celebrates the long-awaited release of the first two albums in his ambitious “Modern Achievements” trilogy series on the Table & Chairs label…with a live recording of the third! (A $30-40 donation will get you…

January 22, 2016 | 8:00 PM |$5 – $15 suggested donation
Anne H. Goldberg: Music & Movement
Anne H. Goldberg blurs the definitions of music and dance as a composer, choreographer, and performer. A pianist/vocalist and co-founder of the Tempus Continuum Ensemble, Anne makes a career of premiering and performing both her own music and that of other 20th and 21st Century composers. She actively commissions, records, and premieres works for English horn, oboe, and piano…

John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez of Deerhoof Discuss Their Avant Garde Roots

English: Deerhoof band photo

Source: Heavy Metal Bebop, Dieterich and Rodriguez cover the Flying Luttenbachers, King Crimson, Anthony Braxton, Derek Bailey, and much more.

John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez—pictured, right and left, respectively—are two of my favorite guitarists. I love their work in Deerhoof (which Dieterich joined in 1999, and Rodriguez in 2008), but I first took notice of this pair of avant-rock wizards in Colossamite, a fearsomely intense and fascinatingly weird late-’90s Minneapolis post-hardcore-gone-post-Beefheart band who put out one incredible full-length and several EPs during their brief lifespan. Dieterich and Rodriguez’s deranged yet disciplined approach to their shared instrument—an effortless reconciliation of “classic” rock guitar and its outré avant-garde counterpart—was a large part of that band’s appeal, and the same is true of their ongoing contribution to Deerhoof.