AMN Reviews: Jon Gibson – Relative Calm [New World Records 80783-2]

fileabp9x-jpg-fullIn December, 1981 the Brooklyn Academy of Music was the site of the American premiere of choreographer Lucinda Childs’ evening-long dance Relative Calm, a multidisciplinary collaboration featuring lighting by Robert Wilson. The music was composed by Jon Gibson.

Gibson played an important, if not well-known, role in Minimalism’s initial exploratory phase, having performed in a number of pivotal early works by Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, including playing on the premiere of Riley’s In C. A multi-instrumentalist on saxophone, clarinet, flute and keyboards, in the early 1960s he was a member of the New Music Ensemble, an improvising group of composers and performers that released two LPs of completely improvised music. In 1963, he joined Reich’s newly-formed free improvisational ensemble, a group that also included future Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten. (Gibson also tells an amusing story about driving Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh to one of Lesh’s first rehearsals with the group. Seeing Gibson the band invited him to jam—but he hadn’t thought to bring his horn with him.) Gibson also played with La Monte Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music, and in 1968 became a founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble, an association he maintained for over forty years. During all this time he was composing music of his own and—relevant to the recording under consideration here—working frequently with choreographers. These included Merce Cunningham, Simone Forti, and Nancy Topf, to whom he was married until her untimely death in 1998.

Gibson’s music for Relative Calm is a well-proportioned longer work made up of four sections that have in common a pronounced tonality set out over strong rhythmic foundations. The sections are of roughly equal length and, except for the third section, feature apparently simple, slow-moving melodies on top of a tonal center stated with a steady pulse. The elegance of the pieces’ construction lies in the way Gibson coils a sophisticated rhythmic cycle in the heart of the melody. For example, the melody of the first section sits asymmetrically on top of a hypnotic, briskly pulsating eighth-note drone on keyboard. The second section stretches a melody made up of five note groups into a seventeen beat cycle, layering it on top of a steady piano drone in such a way as to flow smoothly and without calling attention to the unorthodox time signature. The one structural outlier in the set is the third section, which consists of Gibson’s overdubbed soprano saxophone playing brief melodic lines hinting at a recurring harmonic movement between tonic and subdominant.

Daniel Barbiero

This Week in New York


Ensemble Échappé presents a program of 21st-century music. The highlight of the evening will be identical twin composers and performers Brad Balliett and Doug Balliett (hosts of WQXR’s Q2 show The Brothers Balliett) premiering Cryptophasia – a duo bassoon and double-bass concerto about their unique “twin language”. Échappé also gives the U.S. premiere of acclaimed Austrian composer Beat Furrer’s Ira-Arca alongside performances of Nina C. Young’s bassoon pocket concerto, Nick Omiccioli’s push/pull, Jason Eckardt’s Flux, and Sky Macklay’s Lake Dublin.
Monday, November 14 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $20, $10 students/seniors
Saint Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY

Roulette hosts an evening of premieres from two composer/performer virtuosos, Mick Barr and Judith Berkson, in which each artist performs the other’s pieces. The program will include Berkson premiering Barr’s Wethantheld (2015) for voice and organ followed by Barr premiering a new work from Berkson. Berkson will also premiere a new piece for piano and her 72-tone microtonal vocals.
Monday, November 14 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

The Alexander String Quartet performs Haydn’s “Emperor” String Quartet in C major, Op. 76, No. 3, Schubert: String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D. 887, and the New York premiere of Cindy Cox’s Patagón written for and dedicated to the ASQ in 2011. Patagón is a portrait of the southern Argentinian landscape inspired by a trip to the Valdes peninsula nature preserve. Cox employs non-traditional string techniques to evoke the sea- and landscapes from this part of the world.
Wednesday, November 16 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $25, $30 alumni, $25 staff, $15 students
Baruch Performing Arts Center, Engelman Recital Hall, 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY

The Los Angeles-based quartet gnarwhallaby invades Spectrum, performing music by Adriana Hölszky, Manuel Mora, Ramón Lazkano, Włodzimierz Kotoński, Michelle Lou, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and Nicholas Deyoe.
Wednesday, November 16 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY

This concert by the World Music Institute features Meredith Monk and Nepalese singer Ani Choying Drolma performing an evening of works and premieres, each offering an engagement with art as spiritual practice.
Thursday, November 17 at 7:00 PM & 9:30 PM
Tickets $45-$65
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

ETHEL will tour its live show The River, which the ensemble released as an album in June 2016 via Innova Recordings. The River continues ETHEL’s deeply successful nine-year collaboration with Native American musician Robert Mirabal. The live performance immerses the audience in a flow of music, narrative, and ritual, created by ETHEL and Mirabal exclusively for this program, evoking timeless Native American traditions through contemporary artistry.
Thursday, November 17 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $20
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St, New York, NY

On their first North America tour, the Vienna-based string quartet ensemble LUX stop in NYC to perform a program comprised of 100 years of Austrian modern music at the ACFNY. The chronological beginning of the program is Anton Webern’s “Five Movements” for string quartet from 1909, continuing on with Arnold Schönberg’s String Trio (1946). Hans Erich Apostel 6 Epigramme for string quartet were composed in 1962. Two considerably more contemporary pieces—settori by Olga Neuwirth (1999) and Thomas Wally’s la pureté de l’envie blanche (2010)—complete the program.
Thursday, November 17 at 7:30 PM
Austrian Cultural Forum New York, 11 East 52nd Street, New York, NY

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts continues its Composer Portraits series with Lei Liang, featuring loadbang, JACK Quartet, Mark Dresser, and Steven Schick. The concert includes an onstage discussion with Lei Liang and Steven Schick
Thursday, November 17 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20-$30
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY

wildUp’s first of three concerts at National Sawdust includes music by NS Artist in Residence Ellen Reid, Samuel Barber, Franz Schubert, George Lewis, Richard Valitutto, Andrew Tholl, Pete Seeger, the Books, and others.
Friday, November 18 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

American Modern Ensemble opens its 2016-17 season joined by the harp duo Duo Scorpio at The Cell in Chelsea in a concert of harp-centric music ranging from a 1949 piece by Lou Harrison to three works written in the past five years by Robert Paterson and Andy Akiho.
Friday, November 18 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $75
The Cell, 338 West 23 Street, New York, NY

The Alexander String Quartet pairs Schubert and Haydn with a newly written work. Commissioned by the Boise Chamber Music Society for the ASQ, Tarik O’Regan’s Gradual (2016) is a reflection of the “perpetually shifting and evolving landscape… the unique geographical phenomena of Idaho.” Also on the program is Haydn’s “Rider” String Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3, and Schubert’s String Quintet in C major, D. 965 with guest cellist Jay Campbell.
Friday, November 18 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $25, $30 alumni, $25 staff, $15 students
Baruch Performing Arts Center, Engelman Recital Hall, 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY

Westminster Williamson Voices of Westminster Choir College perform Arvo Pärt’s Kanon Pokajanen (Canon of Repentance) in the contemplative setting of The Temple of Dendur.
Saturday, November 19 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $75
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY

wildUp’s second of three concerts at National Sawdust includes music by Machaut, Ray Charles, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, J.S. Bach, new work of Ted Hearne and others.
Saturday, November 19 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Mannes School of Music presents two staged performances of Saariaho’s cornerstone oratorio La Passion de Simone. This musical path in 15 stations is a major work crafted by composer Kaija Saariaho and writer Amin Maalouf, a contemporary Passion play on the “luminous trajectory” of philosopher and activist Simone Weil, who devoted her life to the oppressed and met an untimely death in 1943.
Saturday, November 19 & 20at 7:00 PM
Tickets $35
The Gerald W Lynch Theatre, 524 West 59th Street, New York, NY

wildUp’s third of three concerts at National Sawdust features the East Coast premiere of Jodie Landau’s you of all things, which was released on the Bedroom Community label and premiered live in Los Angeles in October 2015.
Saturday, November 19 at 10:00 PM
Tickets $25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Ramin Arjomand’s Reinterpretations series continues at Spectrum.
Sunday, November 20 at 3:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY

Guy Barash’s Eavesdropping series features Nadav Lev and Giacomo Baldelli’s new electric guitar duo, (h)artDrive.
Sunday, November 20 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $15, $10 students/seniors
Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY

All About Jazz Reviews

English: Mary Halvorson, Jazz guitarist; Pictu...

Source: All About Jazz.

Nate Wooley
Argonautica (Firehouse 12 Records)

King Crimson
King Crimson: On (and Off) The Road (Panegyric Recordings)

Festen (Clean Feed Records)

Wadada Leo Smith
America’s National Parks (Cuneiform Records)

Sao Paulo Underground
Cantos Invisíveis (Cuneiform Records)

Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra
Eve Risser White Desert Orchestra: Les Deux Versants Se Regardent (Clean Feed Records)

Mary Halvorson Octet
Away With You (Firehouse 12 Records)

NoBusiness Records New Releases

Dave Burrell

Source: NoBusiness Records.

Howard Riley – “Constant Change 1976-2016”
Albert Cirera, Hernâni Faustino, Gabriel Ferrandini and Agustí Fernández – “Before the Silence”
François Carrier, Michel Lambert and Rafal Mazur – “The Joy Of Being”
John Dikeman, Luis Vicente, Hugo Antunes and Gabriel Ferrandini – “Salão Brasil”
THE NU BAND – “The Final Concert”
Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart – “THE CRAVE. Play the music of Jelly Roll Morton and Dave Burrell”
Martin Küchen, Mark Tokar and Arkadijus Gotesmanas – “Live at Vilnius Jazz Festival”
Jason Roebke Octet – “Cinema Spiral”