AMN Reviews: Silt Ensemble / Michael Zerang – Follow the Light (2019; Pink Palace Recordings)

Drummer Michael Zerang is no stranger to those of us in Chicago, and has made a name for himself outside of the Windy City as well through his many collaborative recordings and live performances. Follow the Light, released on January 9, marks yet another a new direction for him – a drone-heavy chamber string ensemble.

Joined by violists Julie Pomerleau and Johanna Brock and contrabassists Jason Roebke and Anton Hatwich, Zerang provides the composition and plays his custom instrument, Queequeg’s Coffin. As described by Zerang, “[t]he instrument has the scale length of a full sized cello, with four strings that are vibrated by a circular, wooden wheel – the same mechanism that sounds a Hurdy Gurdy.”

Consisting of one 43-minute track, the album features several movements with most or all performers active throughout. It begins with a detailed, layered drone that lasts until about the 14 minute mark. This morphs into an amalgam of glissando workouts from the entire group, taking the piece in a 20th-century classical direction. Around the half-way point, aggressive and disjointed bowed sawing takes over, which later synchronizes into a handful of chaotic but discernable themes. Toward the end, the ensemble bangs on their instruments along with playing fractured melodies before a droning reprise.

As with many recordings of this ilk (if indeed an ilk can be identified here), it can be hard to tell to what extent Zerang is instructing the group.  To hazard a guess, his composition is likely more of a framework that provides a degree of improvisational freedom to the individual players. Regardless, each member appears to head in his or her own direction under Zerang’s rubric, the end result being a polyphonous cacophony. Tension, a sense of urgency, and perhaps anxiety are the dominant moods.

Follow the Light is a recording that has to be experienced to be understood. Despite its harshness and angularity, this is a very compelling listen and highly enjoyable. Two thumbs way up.

San Francisco Scene: January 25 – February 1, 2019

Source: Bay Improviser.

Friday, January 25

Fri 1/25 7:30 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Latitudes: Arrington de Dionyso and DunkelpeK
On the latest installment of Latitudes, Arrington de Dionyso conjures utopic zones through ritual trance and the high spirits of electrified rock and roll. The iconoclastic duo DunkelpeK transmits an amalgamated soundworld through percussion and electric guitar, chopping their many influences to bits and reassembling them in a quest for new musical possibilities.

Fri 1/25 7:30 PM Open Secret Bookstore [923 C St., San Rafael, CA]
TBD Quintet
TBD Quintet – a group of Bay Area Most Valuable Players: guitarist John Schott, trumpeters Mario Guarneri, Erik Jekabson, bassist John Wiitala and master drummer Akira Tana

Saturday, January 26

Sat 1/26 4:00 PM San Francisco Public Library, Richmond Branch [351 9th Ave. San Francisco, CA 94118]
Composer John Bischoff will present a 20 minute slideshow on the history of electroacoustic music, then perform 3 works of live computer music.

Sat 1/26 7:30 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
56×54: But Wait! There’s More!

Sat 1/26 7:30 PM CCRMA [660 Lomita Dr, Stanford, CA 94305]
Improvisation and performance by: Michele Cheng, Julie Herndon, Barbara Nerness, Stephanie Sherriff, Michiko Theurer, Julie Zhu
Works by: Michele Cheng, Robert Fleitz, Kerrith Livengood with instruments created and extended by Patricia Alessandrini, Barbara Nerness, Stephanie Sherriff, and Julie Zhu.

Sunday, January 27

Sun 1/27 1:00 PM VAMP music • art • consignment [331 19th Street Oakland]
Oakland Freedom Jazz Society 6th Anniversary Festival
@ VAMP vintage • art • music for the people

Sun 1/27 6:00 PM The Armory Club [1799 Mission St, San Francisco, California 94103]
Modular Synth Electronic music with Juan Rosales, Franck Martin and guests in the dungeon of the The Armory Club

Monday, January 28

Mon 1/28 9:30 PM Studio Grand [3234 Grand Ave, Oakland]
OFJS: George Cory Todd & Citizen Fly 2

Tuesday, January 29

Tue 1/29 6:45 PM Mills College Littlefield Concert Hall [5000 MacArthur Blvd Oakland]
OKKYUNG LEE (Artist-in-Residence) – Okkyung Lee is a cellist, composer, and improviser who moves freely between artistic disciples and contingencies. Since moving to New York in 2000 she has worked in disparate contexts as a solo artist and collaborator with a wide range of creators.

Tue 1/29 7:00 PM PianoFight [144 Taylor St SF]
Women’s Audio Mission presents Local Sirens featuring the Real Vocal String Quartet, Hae Voces and For Now.

Tue 1/29 9:30 PM Octopus Literary Salon [2101 Webster St. #170 Oakland]
Jakob Pek Trio, Crystal Pascucci & Ends Meat

Wednesday, January 30

Wed 1/30 7:30 PM CCRMA [660 Lomita Dr, Stanford, CA 94305]
“this title refers to a counterproductive piece of private property”
Colin Tucker and Charlie Sdraulig realize a new work by Colin Tucker for speakers and two performers thematizing the given embodied actualities in everyday and performance settings. The work begins with an installation in which recordings of ambient sounds of the performance space are played back, activating ambiguities between live and recorded sounds. The installation proceeds seamlessly into a work for two human performers and speakers featuring subtle modifications of breath sounds.

Thursday, January 31

Thu 1/31 4:00 PM Mills College Ensemble Room [5000 MacArthur Blvd Oakland]
OKKYUNG LEE (Artist-in-Residence) – Okkyung Lee is a cellist, composer, and improviser who moves freely between artistic disciples and contingencies. Since moving to New York in 2000 she has worked in disparate contexts as a solo artist and collaborator with a wide range of creators.

Thu 1/31 7:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Tracking Series #3, Women Composers and Gender Equity

Thu 1/31 8:00 PM Luggage Store Creative Music Series [1007 Market Street SF]
8:00pm RiRaeRo
Ric Louchard, piano; Rachel Condry, clarinet and bass clarinet; Ron Heglin, voice, tuba and trombone
…like a soft conversation late at night in the dark
9:00 pm David Molina’s Transient

Friday, February 1

Fri 2/01 7:30 PM Bing Concert Hall [327 Lasuen St, Stanford, CA 94305]
Please join us for two different evening programs of multichannel immersive music and soundscapes at Bing Concert Hall. We will deploy our CCRMA Grail sound system for a selection of pieces from CCRMA and around the world. Featured artists will include CCRMA students, faculty, and guest artists. More details about the two programs to follow.

Fri 2/01 8:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
In her solo violin project “Meshes,” Leslee Smucker explores the strange and unnerving relationship between dream and reality by juxtaposing the music of Conor Abbott Brown, Lera Auerbach, Luc Brewaeys, Michel van der Aa, Locatelli, and film of Maya Deren. Sound design by Conor Abbott Brown.

Fri 2/01 8:00 PM August Hall [420 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102]
FURY is an immersive concert experience, fusing the music of indie-pop band YASSOU and string composer Kristina Dutton. Created with dancers from two world-class ballet companies, San Francisco Ballet and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, this concert takes you on a musical journey inspired by the iconic movie, “Mad Max – Fury Road”.

Fri 2/01 8:00 PM The Lab [2948 16th St SF]
Okkyung Lee & Bill Orcutt

Fri 2/01 9:00 PM Bird & Beckett Books and Records [653 Chenery St. SF]
Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble

Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

John Zorn // Sofia Rey & JC Maillard! Andrew Cyrille / Wadada Leo Smith / Bill Frisell! New from Cantaloupe: Michael Gordon & Bill Morrison Kronos Quartet! Bang on a Can All-Stars! David Lang’s Mystery Sonatas! New on Leo: Slava Ganelin Duo! Exodos w/ Gerry Hemingway! Stephen Rush/Andrew Bishop! Pago Libre & Christy Doran! Ivo Perelman & Jason Stein!

Reut Regev R*Time w/ Jean-Paul Bourelly! Steve Kuhn/Steve Swallow/Joey Baron! Plus Historic Discs from Dexter Gordon! Howard Riley! Keith Tippett Group! Amalgam! LP’s from Maya Deren! Hampton Greaseband and Axiom Funk Cronomicon!

Upcoming Sets at Downtown Music Gallery – FREE, every Sunday at 6pm

Sunday, January 27th:
7pm: SAM WEINBERG / ANDREW FURLONG – Saxophone / Bass

Sunday, February 3rd:
7pm: THE BEYOND GROUP: CHERYL PYLE – C Alto Flutes / MICHAEL EATON – Soprano Sax /
CLAIRE de BRUNNER – Bassoon / GENE COLEMAN – Bass Flute & Piccolo

Sunday, February 10th:

Sunday, February 17th:

Sunday, February 24th: The REGGIE SYLVESTER Double Header:
6pm: ED KELLER / REGGIE SYLVESTER – Guitar & Drums Duo!

Jazz Concerts in N.Y.C. This Weekend 

Source: The New York Times.

VIJAY IYER at Jazz Standard (through Jan. 27, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). Iyer’s sextet has been one of the hottest commodities in jazz since the release of its debut, “Far From Over,” in 2017. A version of that band will play on Friday and Saturday, presenting Iyer’s beaming, rhythmically interleaved original music. Then on Sunday, Iyer will perform with a newer group that features some of his colleagues and students at Harvard University, where he teaches. (He’s also a MacArthur fellow.) That band is called the Ritual Ensemble, and it features Ganavya Doraiswamy on vocals, Yosvany Terry on saxophones and Rajna Swaminathan on mridangam, an Indian percussion instrument.

AVA MENDOZA ET AL. at H0L0 (Jan. 31, 7 p.m.). A conclave of young avant-garde improvisers will descend on this darkened basement in Ridgewood, Queens, for a night of free playing. It’s hard to know where things will go; if you go, steel yourself for a wide variety of musical textures and temperaments, most of them liberated from standard time and harmony. The performers include the thrashing, post-metal guitarist Ava Mendoza; the pensive tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock; and the bassist Brandon Lopez, who uses his instrument in a variety of nontraditional ways.

‘THE MUSIC OF ANTHONY BRAXTON’ at Roulette (Jan. 25, 8 p.m.). One of the premier — and most prolific — living American composers, Braxton continues to release reams of new music, typically drawing on improvisation and built around his own complex musical systems. On Friday his 12-disc collection titled “GTM (Syntax) 2017,” featuring his Tri-Centric Vocal Ensemble, comes out. Here an 11-person version of that group performs in celebration of the record’s release. Afterward, the electronic musician Carl Testa and the pianist Cory Smythe will play music from a different part of Braxton’s repertoire, using a compositional system of his called Echo Echo Mirror House Music.

WADADA LEO SMITH at the Appel Room (Jan. 26, 7 and 9:30 p.m.). Every recording Smith releases feels apt to be called a “landmark.” It’s the awe-inspiring, wide-screen breadth of his trumpet sound, the slowly accruing power of his compositions, and his way of making even small ensembles sound spacious — and ancient. “America’s National Parks,” his widely acclaimed 2016 release celebrating the natural wonders of North America, stands out in particular for its tumultuous melodic beauty and the bristling, mutating forms of its compositions. At Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smith presents the New York City debut of this work, joined by the personnel from the album: the pianist Anthony Davis, the cellist Ashley Walters, the bassist John Lindberg and the drummer Pheeroan akLaff.

Zappa In New York Deluxe CD Set 


Zappa In New York – Deluxe consists of five CDs from the Vault celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the album’s release in 1978. Featured is the main album in its original mix, remastered by Bob Ludwig and available for the first time digitally. Also included is a disc of relevant Vault nuggets and over 3 hours of unreleased live performances from the NYC Palladium concerts, representing every composition played during the post-Christmas 4 show engagement of 1976 and newly mixed in 2018. Extensive Liner Notes by Ruth Underwood, Ray White & Joe Travers with Jen Jewel Brown. Limited edition metal tin mimicking a New York street manhole houses the 5CD collection. Digital editions in 96kHz 24-bit will also be made available.