Newsbits: Human Hearts Trio / Moondoc / Renku / Weekertoft Release / Kamasi Washington / Tortoise

English: Studio Rivbea - Ensemble Muntu, NYC J...

Jazz Right Now reviews a bunch of stuff, including the Human Hearts Trio in NY, the new release from Jemeel Moondoc, and Renku’s Live in Greenwich Village release.

Burning Ambulance reviews Making Rooms, a four-disc compilation of free improv from the UK label Weekertoft.

Kamasi Washington’s recent New York performance is reviewed.

Chicago avant group Tortoise is interviewed and profiled in view of their latest album.

AMN Reviews: Ursula Mamlok – Naxos American Classics [Naxos 8.559771]

8.559771From its beginnings in the 1920s, American twelve-tone composition has been a field traversed by individual, and sometimes quite idiosyncratic, pathways. Ursula Mamlok, the German-born composer who spent most of her career in New York and who died on 4 May at age 93, traced her own path through that field—a path that sometimes took a spiral shape, bending both back to and away from her beginnings as a tonal composer.

Mamlok (1923-2016) was born in Germany and spent her first sixteen years in Berlin. In 1940 she and her family came to New York to stay, after having fled to Ecuador from Germany in 1938. She lived in New York until moving back to Berlin a few years before her death.

Mamlok had already begun composing and studying music before the move out of Germany. In New York, she studied under George Szell and Vittorio Giannini and then later with Roger Sessions, Stefan Wolpe and Ralph Shapey. Where her earlier compositions were rooted in conventional tonality, her studies in the early 1960s with Wolpe and Shapey introduced her to twelve-tone methods, albeit of an unconventional sort. As is characteristic of many American twelve-tone composers, Mamlok took the dodecaphonic series as a more or less flexible starting point rather than as a set of unvarying elements to be subjected to rigid operations. Like Wolpe, she used serial ordering in a sometimes loose and partial manner, frequently abstaining from setting out the row in a sequential statement; several of her compositions traced helical rather than linear patterns through the 12×12 grid laying out the series and its transpositions. Despite her absorption of serial techniques, she continued to think of her music as being fundamentally tonal, albeit highly chromatic. Her textures, particularly in later work, tended to favor a less complex surface and an almost airy openness.

In 2014, Naxos as part of its American Classics series issued a monograph set of six of Mamlok’s chamber works composed between 1962 and 2001. Included are works for solo instruments, small ensembles, and one string quartet. The compositions were recorded in Berlin in 2013, in celebration of Mamlok’s 90th birthday.

String Quartet No. 1, dating to 1962, is one of Mamlok’s earliest works to draw on serial methods. The three-movement work, performed here by the Armida Quartet is, except for its quietly sparse third movement, a densely layered contrapuntal piece with long, continuous lines. In many respects it recalls the more expressionistic twelve-tone compositions of earlier in the century. In her later work Mamlok moved away from the kind of density found in her first string quartet. And in fact the textures of Confluences (2001), the most recent composition included in the set, are markedly lighter than in the quartet. The piece, for piano, violin, cello and clarinet, is built on a juxtaposition of pointillist fragmentation and melodic continuity. The strings’ legato lines contrast with the piano’s constellations of chords and notes, the abrupt dissonances of which are softened by the lyrical phrasing of the strings and clarinet. Polyphony I (1968) for solo clarinet—given a lucid performance by Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer—is a four-movement work that in its earlier stages exploits dramatic leaps of intervals and dynamics while setting up apparent harmonic motion through the use of quasi-leading tones; the reflective final movement takes it all back in a sense, by turning to linked long lines occasionally broken by a startling trill. Two middle-period works, 1983’s From My Garden for solo viola and 1989’s Rhapsody for piano, viola and clarinet, both hint at tonality—albeit an expanded, modernist tonality—through slowly unfolding lines stretched over accommodating, if restless, chords.

Daniel Barbiero

Vital Weekly Reviews 1031

Source: Vital Weekly.

Marsen Jules – Shadows in Time (Cd by Oktaf) *
Exit in Grey – One Lumen in the Past (Cd by Frozen Light) *
James Batty – Santuary (Overtones and Deviations (Cd by Frozen Light) *
Flin Van Hemmen –Drums of Days (Cd by Neither/nor)
Arden Day & Wysozky – Unbehagen (2cd by Cmafu Nocords)
Antonin Gerbal – Sound of Drums (Cd by Umlaut Records)
Ryoko Ono & Rogier Smal – Wood Moon (Cd by Toztizok Zounds/jvtlandt)
Bomb – The Subject (Cd by Konvoj Records) *
Konvoj Ensemble – Mira (Cd by Konvoj Records) *
Halster – Mindfulness (Cd by Konvoj Records) *
Ryan Choi – Three Dancers (Cd by Accretions) *
Colin Potter – The Scythe (2lp by Deep Distance Recordings)
ANAïs Maviel – Houle (Cdr by Gold Bolus)
Rss Boys – M0nkyy Bl00d (Cdr by Mik Musik) *
Emerge – Live at Echokammer (Cdr by Attenuation Circuit) *
Animal Machine – Trashing Drive Vegetation (Cdr by Attenuation Circuit) *
Naagauk (Cassette by Barreuh Records) *
Katsa.theo – Bauhausmuzak (Cassette by Ressonus Records)
Arvind Ganga – Sri Maha Mariamman (Cassette by Toztizok) *

Review of SEM Ensemble Performance of Stockhausen, Mitchell, Lewis, Cage

saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell at the Pomigliano ...

Source: The Guardian.

Few other chamber orchestras have the vision and chops necessary to pull off a set that includes Stockhausen’s Zeitmaße (or Time Measures) and a thrashing new symphonic piece by composer-saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell (which also included the composer-saxophonist’s own firecracker playing). On Monday night, Kotik and his associates presented those high-energy compositions with startling precision, and had plenty of concentration left over for sparer works by the likes of Cage and Kotik himself. Not to mention music from another pair of composers – all before a jointly improvised performance concluded the event.

AMN Picks of the Week: Scheerling / Thaumaturgist / Stereocilia / Merzbow / Sutcliffe Jugend

Merzbow, prominent Japanoise musician, in 2007

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.

Scheerling / Thaumaturgist – Vertoeven LVI / Mysteries van de Droom (2016)
John Scott (Stereocilia) – The Road to the Unconscious Past (2016)
Merzbow – Life Performance (1985) (2016 reissue)
Sutcliffe Jugend – Offal (2016)

Gregg Bendian Interview

Source: Long Beach Post.

Gregg Bendian is a composer, percussionist and drummer, and an adventurous improvisor. He has a vast catalog of original work, which includes pieces for string trio, solo bongos, and more traditional jazz ensembles of various sizes. He’s also worked with a jaw-dropping array of musicians, including free jazz legends Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, and regularly tours with beloved singer/songwriter/producer Todd Rundgren.

Uri Caine Performance in Jacksonville; Tzadik Releases Donated to Library

John Zorn (cropped version)

Source: Folio Weekly.

Keith Marks is emphatic about this minor detail. “We are donating this catalog of music for American Jewish Heritage month, but it’s definitely more about music exploration than it is about identity politics.” Marks hopes that response to the Avant series will make future concerts and library acquisitions possible. He has his eye on Tzadik’s New Japan collection (a similar grouping of experimental Japanese artists) and his dream is to bring John Zorn to Jacksonville.

“I think avant-garde music, by its definition, might mean that the music is not generally embraced by the larger listening public,” says Caine. “At this point, ‘classical’ music and ‘jazz’ might be considered niche music. But you never know what music or art a wider public will discover. As a musician, I think you care first about making the music and then hope for the best.”