AMN Reviews: React – Music for Flute, Violin & Interactive Computer [Ravello RR7930]

5x5The pairing of violin and flute has a long history. During the Classical period, flutes doubled violin melodies in order to cast them in a brighter timbre. In modern ensembles the two voices generally take on independent roles to establish timbral contrast in the upper voices and to maintain more open textures. With the addition of electronics and the potential multiplication of voices they afford, the possibilities available to violin and flute both in tandem and separately broaden considerably. The compositions on React, a collection of new music for violin, flute and electronics by American composers Ben Johansen, David Taddie, Russell Pinkston and Margaret Schedel, bring many of these possibilities to realization.

The music came together during November, 2014, when violinist Mikylah McTeer and Taddie, who are on the faculty of the West Virginia University School of Music, went to the University of Texas, Austin and Baylor University for residences. While there, they collaborated with flutist Francesca Arnone of Baylor and the University of Texas’s Pinkston, as well as Baylor alumnus Johansen. New works resulting from the residencies were premiered at Baylor and Austin, and then presented at a concert at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center in January, 2015. The WVU concert also included Stony Brook University’s Schedel. The recordings that appear on this CD—performed by McTeer and Arnone—are from the performances at Baylor and the WVU Creative Arts Center.

Johansen’s two compositions Interact and React, scored for flute, violin and interactive computer, open and close the recording respectively. Both pieces incorporate indeterminate and improvisational elements, which are realized not only through the random effects of live processing, but through the interactions of the violin and flute as well. Interact is a strongly contrapuntal, consonant piece which uses processing to multiply the two instruments’ energetic, independent lines; React is a more subdued, slowly developing work that makes good use of negative space and low dynamics, as well as extended techniques such as air notes and percussive effects. Taddie’s Category 5 (Echoes) for violin and flute/alto flute/piccolo and computer arranges violin and flutes in separate but overlapping spaces, as if in juxtaposed soliloquies accompanied by an electronic, abstract orchestra made up of samples of the two voices. Vox Clamantis, an expressive piece by Pinkston, is stamped by a strong, modally-inflected sense of melody. Schedel’s QfwfQ (A Voice a Point of View) is named for the narrator of the stories in Italo Calvino’s Le Cosmicomiche and carries the kind of uncluttered, minor-key gravity appropriate to a story-teller as old as time.

React includes three works for solo instruments. Taddie’s Luminosity for flute and electronics features a modally-evocative flute line accompanied by archetypically “electronic” sounds. Pinkston’s Lizamander for flute and electronics—a version of which, featuring Elizabeth McNutt on flute, was released on his recent Balancing Acts CD—is here, as is Schedel’s Partita, Perihelion for solo violin and electronics. This latter work, inspired by Bach’s works for solo violin and cello—Schedel, it should be noted, is a cellist as well as a composer—is, like the Baroque dance suite it’s modeled on, divided into movements for allemande, sarabande and gigue, the forms of which are interpreted in a free, and sometimes counterintuitive, contemporary manner. The gigue, for example, usually a very lively dance, is here played as a slow adagio. The Max/MSP program accompanying the violin, by adding a second voice, makes explicit the harmonies implied by the instrument’s line.

Daniel Barbiero

All About Jazz Reviews

British saxophonist Evan Parker

Source: All About Jazz Reviews.

Barry Guy / Ken Vandermark
Occasional Poems (Not Two Records)

Evan Parker / Seymour Wright
Tie the Stone to the Wheel (Fataka)

Live In Greenwich Village (Clean Feed Records)

Avram Fefer‘s Big Picture Holiday
Shimmer And Melt (Ropeadope)

Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile
Continuum (ECM Records)

Jeff Lederer’s Brooklyn Blowhards
Brooklyn Blowhards (Little (i) Music)

John Carter
Echoes From Rudolph’s (NoBusiness Records)

Bye (Cuneiform Records)

Vitor Pereira Quintet
Vitor Pereira Quintet: New World (F-IRE Records)

Nils Økland
Kjølvatn (ECM Records)

More Big Ears 2016 Coverage

In addition to our own coverage, the New York Times and the Guardian both have reviewed last weekend’s Big Ears festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.

If Big Ears were a series of concentric circles, music informed by the classical tradition would sit at the center, its lessons and suggestions radiating outward. Each year the festival spotlights a composer whose work is presented by many different ensembles and in different situations, and this year the composer in residence was John Luther Adams.

This Week in New York 

Picture of the composer, George Antheil



Andrew Cyr conducts the NYU Symphony in a program including Anna Clyne’s Masquerade; George Antheil’s Symphony No. 4; Jason Treuting’s oblique music for 4 plus (blank), featuring Palladium Percussion; and the world premieres of works written by Susanna Hancock and Nicholas Hall, winners of the 2016 NYU Steinhardt Composition Competition.
Monday, April 4 at 8:00 PM
Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY


Pianist Kirill Gerstein performs the New York Premiere of Alexander Goehr’s Variations (Homage to Haydn), Op. 93.
Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $25-$60
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave, New York, NY



This program of music by Brendon Randall-Myers is a kind of compositional manifesto. Each of these four pieces embodies a different compositional preoccupation, and each was written for and with close friends and longtime collaborators, drawing on shared musical influences, personal idiosyncrasies, and years of work together.
Thursday, April 7 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20, $15 students/seniors
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Composer and harpist Hannah Lash will play her own work alongside the JACK Quartet. The night also includes two world premieres.
Thursday, April 7 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20-$30
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY


ACME performs music by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Joseph Byrd.
Saturday, April 9 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY


ACME performs music by Meredith Monk and Julius Eastman, and are joined by Charlemagne Palestine to perform his piece Strumming Music.
Sunday, April 10 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY

Improvised Blog Reviews

Anthony Braxton

Source: improvised blog.

My favorite things, pt. 3: Setola Di Maiale

I’ve sung the praises of drummer Stefano Giust’s label before on this blog. Founded in 1993, Setola Di Maiale continues to put out a steady stream of releases that combine some names you know with some you don’t, and are always challenging and worthwhile.

These CD-Rs are well-recorded and come housed in contemporary, eye-catching graphics, most of them designed by Giust himself, who trained as a graphic designer. Setola Di Maiale illustrates how vibrant an improvised music scene there is in Italy, in the same way For Tune highlights Polish musicians.

Some recent Setola Di Maiale releases I’ve enjoyed are:
One Lip 5 – Apro il Silenzio (I open the silence); with Guido Mazzon, Nicola Catteneo, Franco Cortellessa, Alberto Mandarini, Stefano Giust, etc.
Sabir Mateen (sax), Gianni Lenoci (piano), Giacomo Mongelli (drums) – Testing the System
Guido Mazzon (trumpet), Marta Sacchi (clarinets), Stefano Giust (percussion) – Neu Musik Projekt

My favorite things, pt. 2: Pi Recordings

Some labels put out a plethora of releases each year, and of course we should all be grateful that they do. Others, like Pi, issue a handful of what feel like carefully curated albums that cause you to really focus your attention. The most recent, save one, is drummer Dan Weiss’ Sixteen: Drummer’s Suite, which pays indirect tribute to famous drummers who have influenced him in one way or another. I say indirect because the suite doesn’t mimic any past styles but makes a very comprehensive statement of its own.

I wasn’t a fan of Weiss’ previous Pi release, Fourteen, because it felt like a pastiche, with styles grafted onto each other. He’s taken a major step forward with Sixteen, displaying complete mastery in combining acoustic instruments, electronics, voice and percussion. Some themes remind me of the open, endless blue sky style of John Hollenbeck’s Large Ensemble, but Weiss is his own man, and he has birthed a masterwork.

The most recent Pi Recordings release, which I haven’t yet heard, is Henry Threadgill’s Old Locks and Irregular Verbs.

My favorite things pt. 1: Leo Records

Leo Records puts out an amazingly diverse group of recordings, and has done so for an astonishing 37 years now. I always see names that are new to me, even though I follow the music closely. Not everything is to my taste, but I’m indebted to the label for their Anthony Braxton recordings alone. Leo Feigin, the founder, also has great taste in pianists: Simon Nabatov, Achim Kaufmann, and more recently, Uwe Oberg. Here are some recently releases that I’ve really enjoyed:

Simon Nabatov / Mark Dresser / Dominik Mahnig – Equal Poise
Sarah Bernstein Quartet (with Kris Davis) – Still/free
Kaufmann, Gratkowski, de Joode – Oblengths
Uwe Oberg / Silke Eberhardt – Turns

April Concerts and Events in St. Louis

Tyondai Braxton at the Pitchfork Music Festival.

Source: New Music Circle.


Saturday, April 16th we will present Tyshsawn Sorey’s Alloy Trio at The Stage at KDHX. Combining elements of progressive jazz and composition, NYC percussionist/composer Tyshawn Sorey sculpts a signature style for bass, drums and piano. Sorey is a 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award recipient.


Tuesday, April 26th will see a collaborative presentation with St. Louis Public Library and Polish cultural presenter, St. Louis Polonia. St. Louis acts, 18&Counting (Stan Chisolm), Vernacular String Trio (Cunningham, Andreotti, Weinstein), and Chris Smentkowski will each perform live scores to experimental films from Poland (1940-1980). This event will be free and open to the public.


On Thursday, April 7th we will partner with The Luminary to present Tyondai Braxton. Formerly the front man of experimental-rock favorite Battles, Braxton creates works of mind-blowing scope, ranging from intimate solo pieces to large-scale symphonic works, incorporating electronic and modern orchestral elements. His critically acclaimed album Central Market has been performed by orchestras around the world, and his new multimedia installation HIVE recently premiered at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and was released on Nonesuch Records. Fresh from a duo collaboration with Philip Glass, Braxton brings this ecstatic solo show, exploiting the edges of our ability to perceive the nuances of pop music production and pushing through the chasm of digital music to rediscover the human.

On Thursday, April 21st NMC will support a special visit by percussionists Hamid Drake (Chicago) and Adam Rudolph (NYC) at Joe’s Cafe. Hamid Drake has graced St. Louis several times with his musical energy…last time was at our presentation of William Parkers In Order to Survive Quintet at Mad Art Gallery, and this event will mark a St Louis debut performance by Adam Rudolph.