AMN Reviews: Christopher Hoffman – Silver Cord Quintet (2016)

silver-cord-quintetCombining jazz and classical is not new – efforts from Gershwin, Milhaud, Mingus, and Ellington (and more recently, Anthony Braxton) are well-documented. But there is a new generation of composer-performers that move between these genres with fluidity and ease. To them, there is no need to blur the lines between styles because these lines do not exist.

Cellist Christopher Hoffman is member of this cadre. From the remarkably fertile New York creative music scene, he teams up with Tony Malaby on sax, Ben Gerstein on trombone, Kris Davis on piano, and Craig Weinrib on drums, all of whom are familiar names. But who is Hoffman? A little research pegs him as a member of Henry Threadgill‘s band, having played on Old Locks and Irregular Verbs as well as In for a Penny, in for a Pound. Threadgill is an example of someone who synthesizes approaches that others might find incongruent. That philosophy seems to have rubbed off on Hoffman.

Consisting of nine short tracks, with a total running length of around 40 minutes, the Silver Cord Quintet makes concise, powerful statements. A particular focus is on dueling lead instruments – combinations of sax, trombone, and cello pair up for fiery interactions over ever-shifting tectonic rhythms provided by the piano and drums. But even when a single instrument takes the lead, the melodies are non-linear, if not discordant at times. There is a fair amount of scrobbling and an extended technique or two throughout.

A representative track includes Best at Your Worst, which starts with Malaby soloing over dense and staggered accompaniment, before giving the others their turns.  Descenders is similarly characteristic for the group, as the horns play off of each other until Hoffman contributes to the foreground fray, with the rhythms shifting subtlety throughout. The title track is less than two minutes long, and appears to be an experimental take on orchestral music, with each player contributing to a theme before heading off in a free-improv direction.

Complex and polyphonic, this is modern music that nods to the past, but is firmly eyeing the future. Hoffman is impressive on his debut as a leader. Somehow, he manages to contribute a unique, fresh voice in a field that is crowded with excellent recordings. Highly recommended.


Vital Weekly Reviews 1049

Source: Vital Weekly.

Ascanio Orga – Raw Science (Cd by Sonic Boundaries) *
Seetyca – Zwischenwelten (Cd by Winter Light) *
the Quiet Club & Crow – as the Quet Crow Files (Cd by Farpoint Recordings) *
Rotterdam – Gizicki (Cd by Everest Records) *
Phelios – Human Stasis Habitat (Cd by Loki-found) *
Ionosphere – the Stellar Winds (Cd by Loki-found) *
Yan Jun – Montreal Spy Diary/nothing/living Room Tour Montreal (2cd by Oral) *
Stephen Cornford & Ben Gwilliam – on Taking Things Apart (Cd by Winds Measure Recordings) *
Tucker Dulin & Ben Owen – for Echo of Echo (Cdr, Private) *
William Wordsworth/talweg (Mini Cd by Lenka Lente) *
Bokeh – Peace Obscured (12″ by the Weevil Neighbourhood)
Katsunouri Sawa – Secret of Silence (Lp by the Weevil Neighbourhood)
Spr – Tessalation Districts (12″ by the Weevil Neighbourhood)
Littlebow – Three (Cdr by Rural Colours) *
Chris Strickland – Situations Enveloped (Cdr by Caduc) *
Matthew Revert – an Insect on the Side of the World Climbling up a
Table Leg (Cdr by Caduc) *
(Ghost) – the First Time You Opened your Eyes (Cdr by Sound in Silence) *
Panoptique Electrical – Disappearing Music for Face (Cdr by Sound in Silence) *
Fergus Kelly – Shoto to Shreds (cassette by Farpoint Recordings) *

Idle Chatter Venue In Salford, UK Opening Discussed

Source: ATTN:Magazine.

Idle Chatter is a brand new venue for experimental music in Salford. More than that, it’s a space where live performance comes first; a dedicated (and gorgeous) warehouse space for the enactment and experience of live artistry, capable of adapting to accommodate the entire spectrum of Manchester’s experimental music scene (skronk punk, live-coded improvisation, noise, modular synthesis…).

The collective behind Idle Chatter currently comprises David Birchall, Edwin Dorley, Hannah Ellul, Vitalija Glovackyte, Kelly Jayne Jones, Ben Knight, Manoli Moriaty, Will Tomlinson, Otto Wilberg and Sam Weaver. Below, we talk about the process of forging a community and the venue’s thoroughly exciting launch night on Thursday 22nd September.

Optics 0:0 Multimedia Festival Coming to NY’s Roulette

Source: Roulette.

Following in Roulette’s strong tradition of promoting video content in collaboration with performing arts, we are pleased to present the inaugural Optics 0:0 multimedia festival directed by sound, video, and transmission artist Victoria Keddie. The three night festival — taking place November 2, 3, 4 — looks into the modalities of creation, production, and performance involving video-based technologies. The festival looks to continue a trajectory in the exploration of process, with three curated events featuring live performances, new premieres, and historical works.

The first night of the festival, Parallax View, will feature artists exploring ways of seeing and new worlds through video-based technologies. The evening will serve as an investigation of imagined and real spaces, VR, rendering architecture, and objects both real and fantastical. Performing artists include virtual reality artist Jeremy Couillard and New York-based electronic duo Georgia. The program will also feature screenings of new works from artists Sara Ludy, Peter Burr, Elena Romenkova, Takeshi Murata, Brenna Murphy, Sabrina Ratté, and Roger Tellier Craig.

The second night of the festival, TV EYE, will focus on artists using the medium of broadcast in their work. An exploration of the variables that make up the televisual as well as the shifting visual language present within the medium, performances will consider audience / live audience involvement, studio set, framing the video, serials, and timing. The program will feature performing artists Scott Kiernan with Xeno & Oaklander, followed by screenings from Michael Robinson, JJ Stratford, Alex Bag, Tom Rubnitz featuring Ann Magnusson, Erica Magrey, and Richard Serra.

The final evening, Encoder/Decoder, will explore creative and systematic investigation of the signal as medium. Through works in both sound and vision, the program focuses on the use of algorithm, sonic to visual translation, and rule-based structures. A program of live performances place process foremost in the compositions. Performing artists include Rose Kallal, Kenneth Zoran Curwood, Ben Vida, and Jeff DeGolier with video byDamon Zucconi, Laurel Schwulst, and Sydney Shen.

Upcoming Philadelphia Shows

English: Ken Vandermark, moers festival 2010

Source: Ars Nova Workshop.

Friday, September 23, 2016 – 8:00pm
with Ken Vandermark, saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet; Steve Marquette, guitar; Charlie Kirchen, bass; and Macie Stewart, violin, voice
Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street
Free Admission

Vandermark is well known to Philadelphia audiences; the prolific and ever-inventive saxophonist last appeared in the city earlier this year with his provocatively eclectic electro-acoustic quartet Made To Break. He returns in an entirely different setting, this time collaborating with an improvisatory, entirely acoustic string trio. The Few is one of the latest additions to a long list of internationally renowned musicians with whom Vandermark has collaborated, including Fred Anderson, Peter Brötzmann, Hamid Drake, Mats Gustafsson, Joe McPhee, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Paal Nilssen-Love, Eddie Eric Revis, Nasheet Waits, Nate Wooley, and Dutch anarcho-jazz-punk The Ex.

More at:


ANW Recommends:

Thursday, September 22, 2016 – 8:00pm
with Miya Masaoka, koto + voice; Makiko Sakurai, vocals; Ann Moss, vocals; and Joel Davel, percussion
Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street
Free Admission
More at:


Thursday, September 29, 2016 – 7:00pm
with George Lewis, trombone + composition; Dan Blacksberg, trombone; Thurman Barker, percussion; Eli Fountain, percussion; and Aiyun Huang, percussion
Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th Street
Free Admission
More at:

Upcoming Bristol UK Improv Shows

Cafe Kino, Bristol. 8.30 Friday 23 September:
Tony Orrell’s Thinko with special guest Kevin Figes
(Mark Langford – bass clarinet & tenor sax, Tony Orrell – drums, Paul Anstey- double bass, Kevin Figes – baritone and alto saxes)

Cafe Kino, Bristol. 7.00 Sunday 25 September:
SALTINGS, EP/64, Tobias Brügge Matthew Grigg Duo

Fringe Bar, Bristol. 8.30 Monday 26 September
Fringe Free Music
Tobias Brügge, Matthew Grigg with Mark Langford, Paul Anstey, Bob Helson

Old England, Bristol. 8.30 Tuesday 27 September
Ghosts + Flowers 7tet (Tobias Brügge, Matthew Grigg, Harry Furniss, Mark Langford, Paul Anstey, Hugh Kirkbride & Roger Telford), Halftone Quartet, SALTINGS

Greenbank, Bristol. 8.30 Thursday 28 September
New Wizard (play the music of Albert Ayler – Mark Langford, Hugh Kirkbride & Roger Skerman)
No Signal (Mark Lawrence, Matthew Grigg, Al Swainger, Roger Telford)