AMN Reviews: Weston / Saxon Groove Assembly – Acceleration (2016; Orenda Records)

Drummer G. Calvin Weston is well-known for his contributions to recordings from Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, and the Lounge Lizards.  Here, he teams up with Jonathan Saxon (who plays just about every percussion instrument that is not a drum), as well as veterans Wayne Peet (piano and Hammond organ) and Steuart Liebig (bass and electronics) for a wild ride through eight compelling tracks.

While this album doesn’t quite go in an avant or free direction, it is a unique recording of funky rhythms and driving melodies. Reminiscent at times of Bill Laswell‘s works – for the use of ambiance and space – the focus is certainly on the stylings of Weston and Saxon.  For instance, the fifth track, Road Trip to Downey, is a percussion duo which allows both of these gentlemen to stretch out over a series of rhythmic patterns.  Both slick and catchy, the piece avoids the stereotypical trappings that would have Weston and Saxon show off. Instead, they perform a percussion composition that is hard to pigeonhole into any particular category.

But the contributions of Peet and Liebig should not be downplayed. On the second track, Stutter Step, Liebig lays down an active and complex bass line, while on the next track, Third Floor, he solos like a madman. Peet takes the lead on the title track with a keyboard solo that harkens back to both the 70’s as well as the 80’s New York styles, but without going so far as to sound retro.

The overall result is an album that embraces familiar approaches, but doesn’t quite sound like anything else I’ve heard. Not exactly jazz, not exact rock, not exactly anything, Acceleration is a superb offering for anyone who is looking for thoughtful, varied music, that is a whole lot of fun.

New World Records Recent Releases

Source: New World Recordss.

Robert Carl: The Geography of Loss

Imagine, if you will, a busy, furiously humming beehive, and, within it, a calm, meditative bee. The image comes from only one work on this disc, and yet it seems curiously apropos to so much of Robert Carl’s (b. 1954) music. There is a still center in his music, even at its modernist rowdiest. In his music dissonance and rhythmic complexity do not connote anxiety, fear, violence, but rather the overflow of the exuberant noise that springs up from the ground of life. His music embraces extremes of simplicity and complexity, which in his vision interpenetrate each other.

Chris Brown: Six Primes

Chris Brown, piano
Chris Brown (b. 1953) composes music for traditional instruments, acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, improvisers, and computer networks. With Six Primes (2014), for retuned piano in 13-limit just intonation – drawing on the Rhythmicana ideas of Henry Cowell, the pure keyboard focus of Conlon Nancarrow, the affection for just intonation of Lou Harrison, and the unadulterated clarity of math…

Harmonic Constellations
Works for Violin & Electronics

Mari Kimura, violin
Mari Kimura’s career is a measure of how violin virtuosity has changed over the last few centuries, and particularly in the last fifty years. By the middle of the 20th century, violinists and composers began to feel that the violin’s traditional technical arsenal required updating, lest the instrument continue to sound like the 16th-century technology it is, trapped in a quickly changing, increasingly high-tech mod…

Momenta Festival II in New York

Source: Momenta Quartet.

Sept. 28 – Oct. 2 @ Tenri, NYC

Momenta Quartet, the “outstanding” (George Grella) and “enterprising” (Russell Platt) string quartet based in New York City, happily announces Momenta Festival II, following the success of its inaugural Momenta Festival in 2015. Taking place September 28 – October 2 at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York, Momenta Festival II is split into four programs, each curated by a different member of the ensemble: violinist Emilie-Anne Gendron, founding violist Stephanie Griffin, cellist Michael Haas, and Momenta’s newest addition, violinist Alex Shiozaki.

Joining Momenta in performance will be pianists Vicky Chow (October 2) and Nana Shi (September 29), and video artist John Gurrin (October 1). A special appearance will be made by “magnificent” (LA Times) soprano Tony Arnold (pictured left) and Indonesian experimental vocalist Nyak Ina Raseuki, better known as Ubiet, for a performance of Tony Prabowo‘s string quartet opera Pastoral on opening night.


Wednesday, September 28 (8pm): Written in Fire
Curator: Stephanie Griffin, viola // Guest Artists: Tony Arnold, soprano; “Ubiet” Nyak Ina Raseuki, vocals

Matthew Greenbaum: Castelnau (2002) *
Wang Lu: New Work (2016) WORLD PREMIERE *
Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 2, “Intimate Letters” (1928)
Tony Prabowo: Pastoral, a string quartet opera (2005) *

Thursday, September 29 (8pm): An Interval of Infinity
Curator: Alex Shiozaki, violin // Guest Artist: Nana Shi, piano

Joji Yuasa: Solitude — in Memoriam T.T. (1997)
Somei Satoh: Birds in warped time II (1980)
Toru Takemitsu: A Way a Lone (1980)
Akira Nishimura: Sonata II, “Trance Medium” (2005)
Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No. 15 in F Major, op. 135 (1826)

Saturday, October 1 (8pm): At the Forest’s Edge
Curator: Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin // Guest Artist: John Gurrin, video art
Eugène Ysaÿe: Sonata in G Major, Op. 27/5 (1923)
John Cage: String Quartet in Four Parts (1950)
György Kurtág: Selections from Signs, Games, and Messages (1986—)
Perpetuum mobile (1987/1991)
Hommage à John Cage—­­Faltering Words (1987/1991)
…für den, der heimlich lauschet… (“For those who listen secretly,” 2001)
…féerie d’automne… (“Autumn fairy­world,” 2004)
Népdalféle (“Folk Tune,” 1987/1994)
The Carenza Jig (1989/1997)
Edvard Grieg: String Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 27

Sunday, October 2 (8pm): Dark Matter
Curator: Michael Haas, cello // Guest Artist: Vicky Chow, piano

Christopher Stark: Winter Music (2016) NY PREMIERE *
Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la Nuit (1976)
Alberto Ginastera: Pampeana No. 2, Op. 21 (1952)
Henri Dutilleux: Trois Strophes sur le nom Sacher (1976)
Alberto Ginastera: Quintet for piano and strings, Op. 29 (1963)