AMN Reviews: A Sphere of Simple Green – With an Oblique Glance [Azoth Recordings rebis005]

Some creative partnerships are the product of steady work: regular rehearsals, residencies or running engagements at clubs or other performance spaces. The Sardinian trio A Sphere of Simple Green are something else. This electroacoustic ensemble of double bassist Adriano Orrù, pianist/toy pianist Silvia Corda, and electronics sound artist Simon Balestrazzi released one album shortly after forming in 2010, 2011’s Untitled Soundscapes; With an Oblique Glance, their second release, follows after a six-year lapse.

One of the advantages—at least in theory—of a freely-improvising ensemble’s playing together relatively infrequently is that it keeps the participants at the edge of alertness and the music consequently fresh and, when desired, unpredictable. At the same time, the internal dynamic will be driven by at least some prior experience of the sensibilities in play: as an analogy, imagine a field open to exploration that contains a handful of familiar landmarks, rather than a completely new situation that solicits a sometimes serendipitous but still essentially blind groping. With this new recording, A Sphere of Simple Green put that theory into practice.

The group’s ability to strike a fine balance among their voices is apparent from the very first track. Stabs of piano and toy piano complement a bass whose strings are struck with the bow and scraped as well; the acoustic instruments’ abstract sounds fold naturally into a discreet wash of electronics. Over the course of the set, Orrù and Corda display an adeptness at combining extended techniques on their respective instruments to create hybrid timbres whose quasi-artificiality blends well with the more natural artificiality of Balestrazzi’s palette of sounds. And yet the more conventionally produced sounds—the long tones bowed on the bass or sparse piano chords—feel just as appropriately placed. The trio’s particular gift is their sensitivity to audio space as an almost three-dimensional container of sound: something to be filled but never over-filled, a room in which objects are defined as much by what they leave open around them as by how far they extend.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Picks of the Week: Rudresh Mahanthappa / Arcana / Ensemble et al. / Wadada Leo Smith

Rudresh Mahanthappa

Here is where I post, at a frequency of about once a week, a list of the new music that has caught my attention that week. All of the releases listed below I’ve heard for the first time this week and come recommended.

Rudresh Mahanthappa – Agrima (2017)
Arcana – Petrichor (2017)
Ensemble et al. – The Slow Reveal (2017)
Wadada Leo Smith – Najwa (2017)

Coming to Philadelphia

English: Nels Cline @ All tomorrow's parties f...

Via Ars Nova Workshop.

Tuesday, November 7 – 8:00pm
with Bernhard Rietbrock, guitar; Jan Thoben, guitar; Oren Ambarchi, guitar; Gary Schmalzl, guitar; Felix Profos, piano; Charles Ng, saxophone; Joan Jordi, saxophone; Oliver Arcos, saxophone; Valentine Michaud, saxophone; Rebecca Thies, violin; Fabienne Früh, violin; Cecile Vonderwahl, violin; and Nora Peterhans, violin

FringeArts, 140 N. Christopher Columbus Blvd.
$18 General Admission

Ars Nova Workshop and FringeArts are pleased to present the Philadelphia premiere of the Ever Present Orchestra, a 12-piece ensemble dedicated to performing the music of experimental music composer Alvin Lucier. The concert will also celebrate the publication of a new Lucier box set featuring four vinyl LPs, a CD, and a book with essays, interviews, scientific articles and archival photos, edited by EPO Artistic Director Bernhard Rietbrock.

The Ever Present Orchestra, based in Berlin and Zurich, was founded on the occasion of a festival celebrating American composer Alvin Lucier’s 85th birthday. The orchestra attempts to make Lucier’s beating-pattern-focused instrumental music approachable to a wide audience with its uncommon instrumentation of four electric guitars, three saxophones, four violins and a piano. Along with classical musicians, the EPO features prominent Lucier interpreters from other genres such as experimental guitarist Oren Ambarchi.

The evening’s repertoire is highlighted by Double Cross-Hatch (2017), a new piece composed by Lucier specifically for the EPO. The line-up also includes: Criss-Cross (2013), a piece written for two guitars, and adaptations of existing works Hanover (2015), originally written for the Dartmouth College Jazz Band, Braid (2012), and Two Circles (2012).



Saturday, November 25 – 8:30pm

Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street
$30 General Admission

Ars Nova Workshop and Union Transfer are pleased to present the inventive, electrifying saxophonist, composer and bandleader Kamasi Washington.

Part of the expansive, genre-warping West Coast musical collective known as the “West Coast Get Down,” Kamasi Washington seized the world’s attention with his sprawling three-disc, 172-minute album The Epic. Both a wildly ambitious debut and a career-defining magnum opus, the aptly-named album featured Washington’s 10-piece ensemble The Next Step along with a full string orchestra and choir.

Rolling Stone hailed Washington as “the most audacious player in a movement making the electric flurry of Seventies fusion jazz cool again,” while Pitchfork called him “unusually well poised to secure the attention of listeners who have previously been uninterested in jazz.”



Friday, December 1 – 8:00pm
with Mark Guiliana, drums; Jason Rigby, saxophones; Fabian Almazan, piano; and Chris Morrissey, bass

Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street
$25 General Admission

Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present eclectic drummer/composer Mark Guiliana and his Jazz Quartet.

Drummer/composer Mark Guiliana is at the forefront of top drummers in the world for creating an entirely new vernacular on the instrument – blending virtuosic skills on acoustic drums alongside electronic elements and processing. The New York Times recognized Guiliana as “a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed.” Guiliana’s prowess, conceptual approach and unmistakable sound were recently featured in Blackstar, the critically and commercially acclaimed final studio recording from the late David Bowie. Over the past decade, Guiliana has recorded and toured around the world with artists including Brad Mehldau, Meshell Ndegeocello, Gretchen Parlato, bassist Avishai Cohen, Matisyahu, Lionel Loueke, and his own groups, Beat Music and the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet.

Praising the Quartet’s performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and its deviation from the sonic world that Guiliana explores in his electronic music, Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen wrote that the band “delighted the packed house with strictly acoustic music that throbbed with imagination and refined but rugged playing, if not bass drops and rewinds.”



Sunday, December 10 – 7:00pm
with Nels Cline, el. guitar; Larry Ochs, saxophones; Gerald Cleaver, drums

Admore Music Hall, 23 E. Lancaster Avenue
$17 Advance / $20 Day of Show / $27 Reserved

Ars Nova Workshop and Ardmore Music Hall are thrilled to present the return of the explosive trio of guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and saxophonist Larry Ochs. Three experimental icons, individually and collectively drawing upon the outer limits of Midwestern free jazz, Bay Area structured improvisation, and bicoastal noise punk, reconvene in Philadelphia for a rare meeting.


This Week in New York


Violinist Mari Kimura’s Mugic in Hues comprises of two world premieres — Ao-Hagi (Blue ‘Hagi’), inspired by the work of Japanese master ceramic artist Susumu Notomi, and Rossby Waving, taken from Rossby waves, a natural atmospheric phenomenon relating to rotation of the planet. Kimura will perform using Mugic (Musical Gesture Interface Control), a motion sensor expanding the expressive capabilities of instrumental performance, developed in conjunction with physicist Liubo Borissov. The Mugic sensor tracks the intrinsic musical gestures and physical gestures of the performer, interacting with interactive processing of audio and video.
Monday, November 6 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Simultaneously set in the mind and afterlife of the revolutionary activist and political philosopher, Thomas Paine in Violence is a new work of opera theater, setting the Founding Father in a cosmic radio station, struggling to organize and communicate a message of economic justice amidst a whirlwind of strange figures, audio speakers, microphones and electronic gadgetry orbiting around the space, enveloping the audience in a whirlwind of sound and text.
Monday, November 6 to Tuesday, November 7 & Thursday, November 9 to Sunday, November 12 at 8:30 PM
Tickets $25 to $45
HERE, 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY

American Composers Orchestra. Photo credit: RMK PhotosAmerican Composers Orchestra. Photo credit: RMK Photos
ACO’s 40th Birthday Concert celebrates ACO’s legacy and future, and includes the U.S. premiere of Elizabeth Ogonek’s Sleep and Unremembrance; Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata; Paola Prestini’s Prelude and Aria from Gilgamesh; Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown & Beige; selections from the American songbook including works by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen; and ACO co-founder Francis Thorne’s Fanfare, Fugue and Funk.
Tuesday, November 7 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $78-$120
Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY

In the latest installment of composer-performer Michael Harren’s multi-media performance, The Animal Show, Harren blends humor with candor to convey the importance of keeping all animals safe from harm. Through stories, music, and video from his residency at Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary and activism on the road, The Animal Show is a thoughtful exploration of humans’ relationships with non-human animals.
Wednesday, November 8 & Thursday, November 9 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $18, $15 students/seniors
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, New York, NY

CompCord Ensemble will perform a program of new music written for an exciting instrumentation, featuring countertenor Juecheng Chen, tap dancer/percussionist LeeAnet Noble, classical guitarist Sean Satin, electric guitarist Gene Pritsker, pianist Jai Jeffryes, and conductor Charles Coleman. The performance will include the premiere of Gene Pritsker’s Dowland Meditations, Joseph Water’s Gratitude, as well as compositions by Dan Cooper, Dylan Maulucci, Matt Herskowitz, Anton Rovner, and P. Kellach Waddle. In the second set, SWARMIUS Meets Opera will feature selections from Joseph Martin Waters opera-in-progress, Saint Francis De Los Barrios, as well as new repertoire.
Friday, November 10 at 6:00 PM
Tickets $15
Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY

Hotel Elefant presents its second show of the 2017-18 season, featuring ensemble members Jascha Narveson and Kirsten Volness. The program will center on music for piano and electronics, with special guest appearances by saxophonist Shelley Washington and laptop ensemble Sideband.
Friday, November 10 at 7:30 PM
Pay What You Want
Scholes Street Studio, 375 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, NY

Violinist Marie Oka and pianist Mayuko Yamashita perform Takemitsu’s Distance de Fée, Ives’s Violin Sonata No. 4, Ysaÿe Violin Sonata No. 3, Pärt’s Fratres, and Debussy’s Images.
Saturday, November 11 at 4:00 PM
Tickets $20
The National Opera Center, Marc A. Scorca Hall, 330 7th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY

Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley return with TROIKA, a new album to explore music of the Slavic soul. Anchored by the cello sonatas of the iconic triumvirate of Russian composers – Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich – and inspired by the subversive irony of Shostakovich’s Sonata, TROIKA also delves into more recently-written, unexpected, and popular works. Whether subtle or blatantly rebellious, each work potently reveals the strength of the artistic voice in the face of political repression in mother Russia.
Saturday, November 11 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $29
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

All About Jazz Reviews

Wadada Leo Smith

Via All About Jazz.

Bob Gluck & Tani Tabbal
At This Time: Duets (Ictus Records)

Rez Abbasi
Unfiltered Universe (Whirlwind Recordings Ltd)

Seems Like a Lifetime Ago 1977 – 1980 (Gonzo Multimedia)

Borderlands Trio
Asteroidea (Intakt Records)

Wadada Leo Smith
Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk (TUM Records)

Stephan Crump / Ingrid Laubrock / Cory Smythe

Demons 1 (Clean Feed Records)

Nicole Mitchell & Haki Madhubuti
Liberation Narratives (Third World Press)