AMN Reviews: Alvin Lucier – Orpheus Variations [Important Records IMPREC469]

Orpheus Variations, a recent work for cello and seven wind instruments by Alvin Lucier, is a thirty-one minute piece based on a single seven-note chord. This would seem to be extremely limited material for a work of this length—and it is—but by exploring the timbral and resonant effects of distributing these seven notes across winds and cello, Lucier develops in detail a rich sound world that manages to be both hypnotic and kaleidoscopic at the same time.

Lucier has said that he thinks of this collection of tones primarily as a sonority, by which he seems to mean he imagines them as they would actually be played with the specific timbres and registers appropriate to the instruments for which they’re scored. It is a concern with the concrete qualities of sounds as they are actually played. He realizes this in the way he orchestrates his pitch set: throughout the piece he has the seven notes circulate through the ensemble in a constantly shifting pattern of arpeggiated long tones played with and against various instrumental combinations. Although the piece is long, its recurrent cycling of this closed set of material in changing registers and voices defeats any mundane sense of duration the listener may have; in my own repeated listenings the piece has seemed considerably shorter than its run time as measured by the clock.

The chord that forms the basis for the Orpheus Variations appears in Stravinsky’s score for the first part of George Balanchine’s 1947 ballet Orpheus. A product of Stravinsky’s neoclassical period, the music for the ballet was inspired by Monteverdi. The chord itself is highly unstable, a quality Lucier dramatizes by breaking it down into consonant and dissonant subsets that overlap, clash, float and dissolve at an unhurried pace.

Orpheus Variations was composed for cellist Charles Curtis and was premiered by Curtis in August, 2015 at the Ostrava days; here, it’s performed by Curtis with members of the SEM Ensemble.

Daniel Barbiero

Nels Cline Interviewed About Tonight’s Orlando Performance

Source: Orlando Weekly.

This week, Cline comes to town in the heavy company of saxophonist Larry Ochs and drummer Gerald Cleaver for a night of mindbending improvisation on the heels of their latest work, What Is To Be Done, released this year on Clean Feed Records. The nameless trio bring the noise, and then some, with enough combined experience to fill a lifetime. Ochs is one of the founding members of free jazz legends Rova Saxophone Quartet. Cleaver has lent his percussion acumen to jazz heroes like Jeremy Pelt, Miroslav Vitous and Roscoe Mitchell. Cline’s résumé is more like a compact history of underground music, with experiences ranging from Sonic Youth to William Parker, down through Wilco and the Geraldine Fibbers. Collectively the trio can take performance, and their audience, to the outer limits of musical experience with focused energy and dazzling ferocity. Don’t fear the skronk, though – they let beauty shine through too.

AMN Picks of the Week: Karris Adams Duo / Sharp, Domene & Caratti / Neraterræ / RAIC / Monocube

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.

Karris Adams Duo – Nothing Stays Buried (la la la la) (2019)
Elliott Sharp / Alvaro Domene / Mike Caratti – Expressed by the Circumference (2019)
Neraterræ – The Substance of Perception (2019)
RAIC (Richmond Avant Improv Collective) – Lamentations (2019)
Monocube – Substratum (2019)

Avant Scena Reviews

Source: Avant Scena.

Grencsó Collective Special 5 with Ken Vandermark – “Do Not Slam The Door!” (BMC Records, 2019)

Christian Lillinger’s Open Form For Society – “Open Form For Society” (Plaist, 2019)

Charles Rumback w/Jim Baker, James Singleton & Greg Ward – “Cadillac Turns” (Astral Spirits, 2019)

Michael Davidson & Dan Fortin – “Clock Radio” (Elastic Recordings, 2019)

Cherry | Holt | Stott – “Live At Glenwood Books” (The Pink Lady Apple House, 2019)

Michael Bisio / Kirk Knuffke / Fred Lonberg-Holm – “Requiem for a New York Slice” (Iluso Records, 2019)

Ten Composers Who Didn’t Quit Their Day Jobs

Source: LISZTS. Xenakis, Cage, Glass…

Not too long ago, artists would often hold down day jobs. T.S. Eliot sketched out “The Waste Land” between the hours of seven and midnight, all while brokering foreign accounts at Lloyds Bank during the day. Ernest Hemingway famously worked as a reporter for the Toronto Star. Then something strange happened; the idea of being a successful artist with a day job disappeared.

Eugene Chadbourne Interviewed, Dallas Performance

Source: Dallas Observer.

He’s an avant-garde music legend and creator of the electric rake, but Eugene Chadbourne’s music may not attract more than a so-called cult following of true music fanatics. Just don’t say that around the musician himself.

“I have always thought the use of this word (cult) in reference to people with informed, specific interests in music, films, books, art, scenery and so forth was cutesy-cutesy,” Chadbourne says. “It is a way of putting down people who learn about things. Just because a bunch of people like Ben Webster on tenor saxophone doesn’t mean he has a cult.

Smalltown Supersound Launches Free Jazz Label 

Source: The Vinyl Factory.

Smalltown Supersound has launched a new sublabel called Actions For Free Jazz. AFFJ follows Smalltown Supersound’s subsidiary imprint Smalltown Superjazzz, which ran from 2005-2012. Its name is an homage to Don Cherry & Krystzof Penderecki’s The New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra track ‘Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra’ from their 1971 album Actions. The label’s first release will be a collaborative album by Christian Marclay and Mats Gustafsson called Link, followed by a Joe McPhee & Paal Nilssen-Love record called Lift Every Voice And Sing.