AMN Reviews: Gregory Oakes – Aesthetic Apparatus [New Focus FCR196]

Some of the most challenging music of recent years—challenging to play as well as to listen to—has been written by German composer Helmut Lachenmann (b. 1935). The conceptual core of much of his music has consisted in laying bare the conditions underlying and assumed by music production—essentially, the physical prerequisites of performance practice, as well as the determinations, both accepted and rejected, of genre. For Lachenmann, musical sound is a complex of factors reaching back within the tradition or genre in relation to which it is created, and reaching forward into the moment—the physical situation of specific possibilities and the choices they elicit—in which it is actually produced. Thus the title of his book of writings, which translates as “music as existential experience.” This standpoint puts extraordinary demands on the performer, who must be familiar with all the aspects and resources his or her instrument has to offer. With Aesthetic Apparatus, a set of three Lachenmann compositions, clarinetist Gregory Oakes takes up the challenge.

Oakes, who is principal clarinetist for the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra as well as an assistant professor of clarinet at Iowa State University in Ames, is particularly interested in contemporary art music. Much of his repertoire is the product of collaboration with currently active composers, and he seems especially drawn to new music that assumes a broad notion of what kinds of sounds are permissible in the concert hall. Thus Lachenmann’s music is a natural fit for him.

The affinity between Oakes and Lachenmann’s sound world is immediately apparent with the first piece, 1970’s Dal Niente (Interieur III) for solo clarinet. The composition calls for a number of extended techniques for the instrument, many of which involve the sounds of breath on the borderline of silence. In his liner note, Oakes points out that the title of the piece derives from a musical marking that translates as “from nothing;” his performance accordingly pivots on the flux of sounds proceeding from and returning to nothing. The Trio Fluido for clarinet, viola and percussion of 1966, in which Oakes is joined by violist Jonathan Sturm and Matthew Coley on marimba, also centers on sound but in a more assertive way. The piece begins with a fragmented Modernist counterpoint that, through a kind of compositional auto-deconstruction, gradually dissolves into abstract sound. What’s striking about the piece is its underlying consistency; the division of the three voices focuses attention on their individual timbral characteristics, whether played conventionally or with the extended techniques that come to dominate the final third or so of the performance. The interplay among the three performers manages to be both refined and (subtly) dramatic. The final performance, the nearly 32 minute long Allegro Sostenuto (1986/1988), is a trio for clarinet, cello (George Work) and piano (Mei-Hsuan Huang) that Lachenmann has described as mediating between resonance and movement. The piece begins as an archipelago of rapid bursts, truncated phrases and points of sound that accumulate and build length and mass over time. The resonance inheres in the individuation of each of the three instruments, which is helped by the three players’ precise articulation. Here as on all three pieces, Oakes plays with a fine-grained, well-modulated and vivid sound.


Daniel Barbiero


McCoy Tyner In The ’70s: Part 1 

Source: burning ambulance.

Pianist McCoy Tyner is one of the most important musicians in modern jazz. He first popped up on some folks’ radar as a member of the Jazztet, a group co-led by flugelhornist Art Farmer and saxophonist Benny Golson, but his career was made in 1960, when he joined John Coltrane‘s group. Though he made a few trio albums under his own name, and did some sideman work here and there, he mostly stayed with Coltrane until 1965, making a string of legendary albums. He finally left when the saxophonist’s music had become so free and so aggressive that Tyner claimed he could no longer hear himself. That can seem hard to believe when listening to his playing, because he can be as torrential and overwhelming as Coltrane was—but, at the same time, he’s capable of extraordinary tenderness and beauty.

This Week in New York 


CompCord Big Band returns to The Cutting Room to premiere ten brand new compositions by Aaron Alter, Richard Sussman, Franz Hackl, John Clark, Gene Pritsker, Dan Cooper, Melanie Mitrano, Gerson Galante, Carlton Holmes, Alon Nechushtan, and Scott Hoefling.
Monday, March 5 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $20 advance, $25 at door
The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street, New York, NY

Yarn/WireLong DescriptionYarn/Wire
Yarn/Wire perform the US premiere of Catherine Lamb’s curvo totalitas, is a 45-minute work that shifts perceptions, allowing the listener to get lost in its sound world.
Tuesday, March 6 at 6:00 PM
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY

Sō Percussion and JACK Quartet come together for an evening of premieres including the US premiere of Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 8 and the world premiere of Donnacha Dennehy’s Broken Unison, both co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall as part of its 125 Commissions Project. The program also includes the New York premiere of Dan Trueman’s Songs That Are Hard To Sing for the two ensembles together.
Tuesday, March 6 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $38-$48
Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall, 881 7th Avenue, New York, NY

Unheard-of//Ensemble performs new works from their upcoming album, Unheard-of//Dialogues. The album explores the connections of modern artistic voices musically, personally, and historically, examining the modern voice of Messiaen quartet instrumentation through works by Erin Rogers, Reiko Fueting, Nathan Hudson, Michael Lanci, Kevin Laskey, and Nickitas Demos.
Friday, March 9 at 8:00 PM
MISE-EN_PLACE, 678 Hart Street, Brooklyn, NY

The New Amsterdam Singers will give the world premiere performances of composer/vocalist Lisa Bielawa’s new choral work Walks of Life. The concerts also include music by Carson Cooman, Hugo Distler, Morton Gould, Gustav Holst, György Orbán, Per Gunnar Petersson, Willy Richter, Wallingford Riegger, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Nancy Wertsch, and explore the theme of songs of serenity and joy.
Friday, March 9 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $25
Broadway Presbyterian Church, 601 West 114th Street, New York, NY

The New Amsterdam Singers will give the world premiere performances of composer/vocalist Lisa Bielawa’s new choral work Walks of Life. The concerts also include music by Carson Cooman, Hugo Distler, Morton Gould, Gustav Holst, György Orbán, Per Gunnar Petersson, Willy Richter, Wallingford Riegger, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Nancy Wertsch, and explore the theme of songs of serenity and joy.
Sunday, March 11 at 4:00 PM
Tickets $25
Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East 88th Street, New York, NY

Anna Högberg: Interview

Source: The Free Jazz Collective.

Swedish sax player Anna Högberg returns this year with several strong releases. The leader of the sextet Attack has just released new albums with her power trio Doglife and the free jazz quartet Se och Hör, augmented now by guest vibes player Mattias Ståhl, and planning to release later this year the sophomore album of Attack and a debut solo sax album.

Myra Melford News

Source: Myra Melford.

It will be a good year for Snowy Egret. We recorded our second album, which I’m very excited about, last October for Firehouse 12, and it will be coming out in later this fall! More info on that soon.

In the meantime, we are performing at the Kennedy Center in D.C. on March 10 as part of their Direct Current Series .

And I will play a solo concert in the Philips Collection on March 9 as part of the same series, responding to drawings by the artist Paul Klee.

Then Snowy Egret will be going to Europe March 15 – 23, playing concerts in Madrid, Aberdeen, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Cologne and Gent .

I’ll reach out later in the year with more details about a bunch of other things, including:

Upcoming dates in August (Deer Isle Festival in Maine) and November (west coast, Dizzy’s in NYC, and Europe).

A beautiful vinyl version of my solo project, Life Carries Me This Way, released by Firehouse 12 along with the Snowy Egret release later this fall (definitely worth the wait!).

Firehouse 12 will also be releasing the DVD series from my 2015 retrospective at the Stone in NYC with pieces from each of the 12 sets and a special 30-minute documentary by Gil Corre of the week-long event.

Tour with Tiger Trio (Nicole Mitchel, Joelle Leandre, and myself) next October in the U.S. and Europe.

And I just participated in a recording session with Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom – promises to be another great record!

Apples & Olives Festival in Zurich

Source: Apples & Olives.

New Amsterdam Records is pleased to announce the 2018 Apples & Olives Festival! After two successful editions in 2014 and 2016, the Swiss festival returns from March 7-10 in Zürich clubs EXIL and Moods, showcasing unexpected connections between contemporary classical, avant-garde pop, improvised and jazz music on all four evenings. This year’s festival is programmed by an international team of curators, consisting of conductor and violinist Etienne Abelin (CH), pianist and composer Nik Bärtsch (CH) and NewAm co-founder and co-artistic director Judd Greenstein.

See below for the full festival line-up, and for more information please visit

Wednesday, Mar. 7, 8:00pm – EXIL
Nik Bärtsch (CH) with students from
Zurich University of the Arts
Greg Fox (US)

Thursday, Mar. 8, 8:00pm – EXIL
Nicolas Stocker (CH)
Daniel Wohl (FR / US)

Friday, Mar. 9, 8:30pm – Moods
Bent Knee (US) with students from
Zurich University of the Arts
Marena Whitcher (CH) and ensemble

Saturday, Mar. 10, 8:30pm – Moods
Maarja Nuut & HH
Kaspar Ewald’s Exorbitantes Kabinett