Alice Coltrane Profiled

Alice Coltrane

Source: The New Yorker.

Near the end of his life, John Coltrane decided to buy a harp. The visionary saxophonist and bandleader hoped that having one in his home studio would help him rethink his approach to harmony and texture. The harp he ordered took months to build and wasn’t delivered until after his death, of liver cancer, in July, 1967. It sat in the house in Dix Hills, Long Island, where he and his wife, Alice, were bringing up their young children. If the windows were open, Alice later recalled, a strong breeze would make the strings hum, as though some invisible force were strumming them.

AMN Reviews: Sean Ali – My Tongue Crumbles After [Neither/Nor n/n007]; James Ilgenfritz – Origami Cosmos [Infrequent Seams 12]

Discount this as predictable partisanship if you like, but it seems as if the double bass is coming into its own as the instrument par excellence for solo performance. Whether used for improvisation or the realization of compositions, played prepared or unprepared, modified by electronics or plain, the double bass is a large presence in recent new music releases. Two new CDs focusing on solo double bass show how expressively and technically versatile the instrument is.

At 35 minutes long, Sean Ali’s debut solo recording, My Tongue Crumbles After, is a succinct portrait of the artist. Ali is a New York City based musician who, playing in tandem with double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, has taken prepared double bass into extreme territory. On this recording of improvised music he employs preparations as well as tape collages using recordings of the spoken word as their source material. On each of the pieces, Ali teases out the implications of a single or related set of sonically well-defined gestures and techniques. His use of preparations allows him to distort the instrument’s native sound while maintaining enough of its natural profile—through the recognizable actions of bow and fingers—that it still makes itself known as a double bass. This is as true of pieces like Heartstack and Fingerdeep, rooted in a pizzicato technique that links them directly to a more conventional double bass sound, as it is of a track like Salutations, which largely takes place in unpitched territory, or Lime Works, the industrial sounds of which seem far removed from the wooden acoustic instrument that produced them.

Like My Tongue Crumbles After, Origami Cosmos, the second solo recording by James Ilgenfritz—another New York double bassist—focuses on pieces built around the performer’s repertoire of sounds and techniques. In this case, though, the pieces were written by others–four New York composers, who collaborated with Ilgenfritz in order to translate his sound into their own compositional languages. Often the vocabulary is his, and the syntax theirs. Annie Gosfield’s Rolling Sevens and Dreaming Elevens arranges Ilgenfritz’s bowed and plucked harmonics and multiphonics into distinctively formed phrases following regularly structured rhythmic cycles. Rhythm is an unexpected element in Miya Masaoka’s Four Moons of Pluto, a microtonal drone piece whose long bowing patterns implicate a recurring, if variable, pulse. JG Thirwell’s Xigliox leverages multiple stops, open strings, and call-and-response phrases across registers to make Ilgenfritz’s single instrument sound like a choir; this piece in particular brings out Ilgenfritz’s robust tone and vocal-like vibrato. The polyphony woven into Xigliox is developed to an extreme degree in the closing piece, Elliott Sharp’s Alethia for prepared bass. This etude for constant pitch and constantly changing timbres multiplies musical and non-musical sounds simultaneously and represents Ilgenfritz’s most radical performance of the set.

Both recordings are highly recommended.

Daniel Barbiero

Coming to Philadelphia

A shot from a 2006 performance by Peter Brötzm...

Source: Ars Nova Workshop.

Vandermark / Wooley Duo
Mon, 05/15/2017 – 8:00pm
The Rotunda
Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present the duo of multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and trumpet stalwart Nate Wooley.

John Hollenbeck‘s Claudia Quintet
Tue, 05/16/2017 – 8:00pm
Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present the return of The Claudia Quintet, celebrating the release of their eighth album, “Super Petite.”

Brian Marsella Trio
The music of John Zorn
Sat, 06/03/2017 – 8:00pm
Philadelphia Art Alliance
Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present Philadelphia native Brian Marsella and his trio, performing songs from John Zorn’s second Masada book, “The Book of Angels,” as recorded on their new Tzadik release, Buer.

Peter Brötzmann & Heather Leigh
Thu, 06/08/2017 – 8:00pm
AArs Nova Workshop is honored to present the return of saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and pedal steel guitarist Heather Leigh.

This Week in New York 


Bearthoven will celebrate the release of Trios with a performance of works from the album. The night will feature an opening set by Fjóla Evans, a cellist and composer featured on the album.
Tuesday, April 18 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $15
Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Austrian Cultural Forum’s landmark Manhattan building, Talea Ensemble performs a marathon six-hour program of new works by Austrian and American composers.
Wednesday, April 19 at 5:00 PM
Austrian Cultural Forum New York, 11 East 52nd Street, New York, NY

Nordic Affect performs a selection of works that features the intimate and unique music that has emerged from the Icelandic scene in recent years. The performance coincides with the release of their album, Raindamage, and will feature works from the album by Valgeir Sigurðsson and Úlfur Hansson, as well as music by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Hildur Guðnadóttir, and María Huld Markan Sigfúsdottir.
Wednesday, April 19 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $29
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

Music by David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon is featured in a performance that’s part of Three Generations, a Steve Reich-curated exploration of the changing direction of concert music from the mid-20th century to the present day.
Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $64-$76
Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall, 881 7th Avenue, New York, NY

Composers Concordance, in conjunction with Goddard Riverside Community Arts, presents its 7th annual Generations concert, featuring the music of acclaimed composers Sean Hickey, Melissa Grey, Dan Cooper, Gene Pritsker, Igor Vorobyov, Daniel Schnyder, Kaoru Watanabe, Faye Ellen Silverman, and Craig Pallett, as well as competition winners in two categories: 25 or younger and 65 or older.
Thursday, April 20 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $15, $12 students/seniors
Goddard Riverside, Bernie Wohl Center, 647 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY

ECCO makes its Great Music at St. Bart’s debut with a program featuring music by Suk, Lutoslawski, André Caplet, and the New York premiere of A Thousand Cranes by Christopher Theofanidis.
Thursday, April 20 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $35, $25 students/seniors
St. Bart’s, 325 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Saxophone quartet New Thread Quartet performs works by Max Grafe, Taylor Brook, Chris Fisher-Lochhead, and Adam Mirza.
Thursday, April 20 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $10
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, 450 West 37th Street, New York, NY

Podcast and live radio collide in an evening of music inspired by fractals, dynamic systems, feedback loops and nature. Open G Records and Access Contemporary Music present Caroline Mallonee’s Butterfly Effect, Chin Ting Chan’s Fractals, Lyudmila German’s Six Fragments, David Glaser’s Moonset No. 1, and two world premieres written for soprano Sharon Harms and clarinetist Mark Dover of Imani Winds.
Friday, April 21 at 9:00 PM
Tickets $29
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

A continuation of loadbang’s ongoing project to expand the repertoire for their unique instrumentation (trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, baritone voice), this concert will feature four world premieres by Zak Argabrite, Kevin Baldwin, William Lang, and ZongYun We, a 1962 work for voices by Joseph Byrd, and a selection of favorites written for the group by Chris Cerrone, Scott Wollschleger, and Ioannis Angelakis.
Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 PM
National Opera Center, Marc A. Scorca Hall, 330 7th Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY