AMN Reviews: Noah Kaplan Quartet – Cluster Swerve (2017; HatHut Records)

Saxophonist Noah Kaplan has been recording for years, but this is the first time I’ve consciously spent a good chunk of time listening to his material. Joined by Joe Morris on guitar, Giacomo Merega on bass, and Jason Nazary on drums, Kaplan leads his group through nearly an hour of experimental improvisation on Cluster Swerve, their second release.

Kaplan’s playing focuses on outside and extended techniques, building alien landscapes and atmospheres with slowly-evolving microtones as well as free improv with ample bent notes. Nonetheless, he flirts with the lyrical from time to time, without quite committing to that approach. Morris contributes the cleanly-picked, spiky guitar lines that he is known for along with understated strumming. Merega and Nazary comprise a non-traditional rhythm section, in that they are more interested in rounding out statements made by Kaplan and Morris than setting up anything resembling a groove. In other words, they do their own things but manage to stay within the context of the overall group dynamic.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Cluster Swerve is its subtlety. While the album has its share of aggressive playing (mostly from Kaplan), none of the quartet needs to be in your face in order to make a statement. Instead, they quietly produce contributions that highlight each other’s and underscore Kaplan’s leadership. It is rare to hear a whole album so finely-drawn, and speaks to the skills of Kaplan and company.

A very solid and worthwhile offering.

Carlsbad Music Festival Starts Today

Source: Carlsbad Music Festival, the lineup includes:

Adventurous music invades the seaside Village of Carlsbad for the nationally renown 14th annual Carlsbad Music Festival on August 25-27. The Festival programming is an eclectic mix of creative music ranging from contemporary classical, to indie rock, to world music, to electronic; plus a Green Flash beer garden and food trucks steps from the beach.


Julia Holter • Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks • Noveller • Matt Mcbane • Eric Byers • Bora Yoon • Nathan Hubbard + Vinny Golia • Peter Jacobson + Paul Livingstone• Scott Worthington • Aperture Duo • Peter Kuhn Trio • Dollshot • Kamini Natarajan • Chris Douthitt • Jonathan Morgan • Daniel Pate • Tholl/Fogel/Hoff

San Francisco Scene: August 25 – September 1, 2017

Source: Bay Improviser.

Friday, August 25

Fri 8/25 8:00 PM Artists’ Television Access [992 Valencia SF]
Dina Maccabee: San Francisco Solo CD Release!

Saturday, August 26

Sat 8/26 2:00 PM Alley Cat Bookshop [3036 24th St San Francisco, CA 94110]
Del Sol String Quartet
Alley Cat Bookshop Album Release Event (San Francisco) Aug 26 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Del Sol performs selections from their latest album “Dark Queen Mantra”, featuring music of Terry Riley, with some discussions and album signing.

Sat 8/26 8:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Alone/Not Alone #1 – Marian Yang, violin and electronics
“Alone/Not Alone”, a concert series by curator Emma Logan, explores the performer’s role in a sonic world created between acoustic and electronic elements. Part one of the series features the talented Bay Area violinist Marian Yang, performing works for violin and electronics by living women composers.

Sunday, August 27

Sun 8/27 4:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Soundsmiths 2017
The third annual Window Gallery fundraiser!!!! Celebrate the Bay Area instrument inventing community, with an auction, food and beverage, and special performances.

Monday, August 28

Mon 8/28 7:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Sven Edward Olbash, baritone & Kevin Korth, piano: The New Music
Baritone Sven Edward Olbash and pianist Kevin Korth present a recital of songs and arias by Caccini, Monteverdi, and Benjamin Britten as a benefit for Lacuna Arts, a 501(c)3 nonprofit choral music organization in San Francisco

Mon 8/28 9:30 PM Studio Grand [3234 Grand Ave, Oakland]
OFJS: Noiseature + Wen/Kipperman Duo

Thursday, August 31

Thu 8/31 8:00 PM Luggage Store Creative Music Series [1007 Market Street SF]
8:15: Skullkrusher (Philip Everett – electronics)
8:45: Collin McKelvey (electronics)
9:30: [ruidobello] (Jorge Bachmann – electronics)

Coming to Detroit’s Trinosophes

Source: Trinosophes.

Saturday, Aug.26: Kenneth Green’s Relativity
Afro-futurist jazz from pianist’keyboardist Kenneth Green’s newly revived ensemble, featuring the talents of Tony Holland (saxophones, bass clarinet, f;ute etc.) Ed Colburn (double-bass), Che Rain Green (percussion) and Ras Kente Knight (guitar).

Relativity has all the hallmarks of a Kenny Green project: space funk, spiritual jazz and some electric drive putting fire beneath the soloists. Also the co-leader of The Vizitors, Green has worked with Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, Leroy Jenkins, Faruq Z. Bey, Donald Washington and many others. Tony Holland is best known as a member of the legendary Griot Galaxy, and has worked with Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Kenny Cox and James Brown. Ed Colburn has also had a distinguished career with Ed Wilkson, James Tatum andFred Hammond.
Doors at 8 pm; $10 suggested minimum

Coming Soon
9/4: Nakatani Gong Orchestra
9/7: Friends & Neighbors (André Roligheten – reeds, Thomas Johansson – trumpet, Jon Rune Strøm – double bass, Tollef Østvang – drums)
9/9: Keir Nueringer
9/16: Swell, Gjerstadt, Strom, Nilssen-Love
9/19: Hans-Joachim ROEDELIUS! with Hydro Park and Dave Shettler
9/22: New Music Detroit’s Strange and Beautiful Music opening night
with music by Khemia Ensemble, Juxtatonal: Jocelyn Zelasko and Bryan Hayslett, YAK, Joel Peterson (with Lisa Raschiatore clarinet, James Greer viola, Abby Alwin cello), New Music Detroit (featuring cellist Una O’Riordan) and Rebecca Goldberg

Classical Music in NYC This Week

English: (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Source: The New York Times.

HERE AND NOW SERIES LABOR DAY FESTIVAL at Bargemusic (Aug. 30 and Sept. 1-2, 8 p.m.). Credit to Bargemusic for taking a stand, at last, with the latest iteration of its new-music series: All three of these programs, for the most part the same but all slightly different, are made up wholly of work by female composers. World premieres come from Dalit Warshaw, Missy Mazzoli, Alexandra du Bois, Miya Masaoka, Milica Paranosic, Gity Razaz, Whitney George, Nina C. Young and Paula Matthusen; additional works are by names including Laura Kaminsky and Paola Prestini. And the players are all women, too, Ursula Oppens, Jennifer Choi and Kathleen Supové among them.

TAKA KIGAWA at Le Poisson Rouge (Aug. 28, 7 p.m.). You can rely on Mr. Kigawa for programs that step beyond the ordinary repertoire of most pianists, and here is another one: a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Catalogue d’Oiseaux.” Written in the late 1950s for Yvonne Loriod, a former student of Messiaen’s whom he went on to marryand who was a crucial pianist for postwar composers, it’s a series of portraits of birds and their surroundings, 13 in all, stretching well over two hours of playing. To experience it all, in one sitting, is a rare sighting indeed.

LOCRIAN CHAMBER PLAYERS at Riverside Church (Aug. 25, 8 p.m.). Among the New York contemporary music scene’s best-kept secrets, this group continues its mission to present music from the last 10 years or so, in the unusual setting of a church tower in Morningside Heights. On the bill this time are pieces by John Luther Adams, Adrienne Albert, Aaron Alter, Caroline Mallonée, Andrew Lovett and David Macdonald.

Yarn / Wire Upcoming Performances

Source: Yarn / Wire.

Four Essential New York City Concerts

The Kitchen, October 6, 2017
Music of Enno Poppe: Tonband (2012), Feld (2017) [Yarn/Wire commission, NYC premiere]

Yarn/Wire/Currents, presented by Blank Forms December 2, 2017
New Commissions from Klaus Lang, Michelle Lou

Miller Theatre, February 1, 2018
Raphaël Cendo Portrait Concert (with Either/Or ensemble)

Miller Theatre – Popup Concert, March 6, 2018
Catherine Lamb, curvo totalitas (US premiere of extended 2017 version)

United States Touring and Residencies

Yarn/Wire continues its dedication to the promotion of diverse contemporary musical styles throughout 2017-18 through festival appearances and university residencies around the United States. During these residencies, the quartet will reach out to the entire community in a series of workshops, master classes and lectures while presenting music from its ever-evolving and expanding repertoire. Yarn/Wire brings programs and residency activities to some of the top institutions in the US, including:

EMPAC, Troy NY – September 22, 2017 (Music of Enno Poppe: Tonband (2012), Feld (2017) [Yarn/Wire commission, world premiere]
Monday Evening Concerts, Los Angeles – January 8, 2018
UNC Chapel Hill – February 2/3, 2018
Columbia Composers Concert, March 10, 2018 – NYC venue TBA
Brandeis University, March 15-18, 2018
Southern Exposure festival, University of South Carolina, March 21-24, 2018
Brown University, April 5/6, 2018
Austin Texas, Spring 2018 date tba
Yarn/Wire 2017-18 Repertoire Summary
Rick Burkhardt – new work (WP, Rainy Days Festival Commission)
Raphaël Cendo – Direct Action
Ann Cleare – I Should Live in Wires for Leaving You Behind (2014)
Aaron Einbond – The Kind of Problem a City is (2016)
Catherine Lamb – curvo totalitas (WP new version – Rainy Days Comm)
Klaus Lang – new work (WP – YW Commission)
Michelle Lou – new work (WP – YW Commission)
Alvin Lucier – Oases (2016)
Thomas Meadowcroft – Walkman Antiquarian (2013)
Alex Mincek – Images of Duration (2016)
Enno Poppe – Feld (WP – YW commission), Tonband
Jasper Vanpaemel – new work (Transit Festival Commission)
Anthony Vine – distance/absence (2016)

Yarn/Wire is a New York-based percussion and piano quartet (Ian Antonio and Russell Greenberg, percussion / Laura Barger and Ning Yu, pianos). Noted for its “spellbinding virtuosity” (TimeOut NY) and “mesmerizing” performances (New York Times) the ensemble is admired for the energy and precision it brings to performances of today’s most adventurous music. Founded in 2005, Yarn/Wire is dedicated to expanding the repertoire written for its instrumentation, through commissions and collaborative initiatives that aim to build a new and lasting body of work. Influenced by its members’ experiences with classical music, avant-garde theatre, and rock music, the ensemble champions a varied and probing repertoire. In 2016, the ensemble won first prize in the open category as part of the inaugural M-Prize competition at the University of Michigan. More recently, it is has been honored by Stony Brook University as one of its “40 under 40”alumni who are leaders in their field. Yarn/Wire has commissioned many American and international composers including Raphaël Cendo, Zosha Di Castri, Peter Evans, Michael Gordon, George Lewis, Alex Mincek, Thomas Meadowcroft, Misato Mochizuki, Tristan Murail, Sam Pluta, Kate Soper, and Øyvind Torvund. The group has given the United States premieres of works by Enno Poppe, Stefano Gervasoni, and Georg Friedrich Haas, among others. As well, the ensemble enjoys collaborations with genre-bending artists such as Tristan Perich, David Bithell, Sufjan Stevens, and Pete Swanson. Yarn/Wire has recorded for the WERGO, Distributed Objects, Populist, and Carrier record labels in addition to maintaining their own imprint. Yarn/Wire appears internationally at prominent festivals and venues including the Lincoln Center Festival, BAM, New York’s Miller Theatre, River-to-River Festival, La MaMa Theatre, Festival of New American Music, London’s Barbican Centre, the Edinburgh International Festival, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall, and Hong Kong New Music Ensemble’s Modern Academy. Their ongoing series, Yarn/Wire/Currents, serves as an incubator for new experimental music at ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn, NY. Through these and other activities, including educational residencies and other outreach programs, Yarn/Wire works to promote new music in the United States.