Time:Spans Festival Begins

Source: New York Classical Review.

Generalities are unfair but they have their uses. Of the major new music series in New York City—Prototype Festival, MATA, and Time:Spans—the last is the most hardcore.

Supported by the Earle Brown Music Foundation Charitable Trust, Time:Spans follows in the tradition of that great avant-garde American composer by focusing on music that sits at the point where high modernism meets experimentalism. And though this year’s edition features the finest new music musicians, the emphasis is strongly on showing less how people play than on how composers think.

This year’s festival is especially extensive, running over two weeks and incorporating a sound walk and a performance installation. That will be presented by the exceptional Italian pianist Marino Formenti, who made his first appearance Tuesday night, when he and the ensemble Yarn/Wire played music by Marina Rosenfeld in the DiMenna Center’s Cary Hall.

AMN Reviews: Jazz em Agosto – Part II

By Irwin Block (irblock@hotmail.com)
Photo credit: Petra Cvelbar

LISBON – The duo of harpist Zeena Parkins and drummer Brian Chase at the Jazz em Agusto Festival Saturday was a three-part performance, a mainly acoustic hour of sonic explorations. Chase began his segment with a covered snare drum on his lap. He held a single drumstick in his right hand and tapped out rhythms with his bare left hand, uncovering microtones. He then upped the intensity slightly, using two sticks, tapping wood on wood and drum surface, then with one mallet explored pitches on his cymbal, ending with a gong. It had a workshop feel but attentive listeners appreciated the nuances. Zeena Parkins took the stage to perform on a full-sized acoustic harp, playing with sounds and textures, bending notes, scratching and striking the strings with a mallet, alternating with two-handed lyrical sweeps, and rubbing the strings with a violin bow. The final duet was an intricate call-and-response as the musicians extended each other’s ideas.

The big draw Saturday night was trumpeter-composer Ambrose Akinmusire and his Origami Harvest project. The outdoor auditorium was close to sold out for this jazz hip-hop mix that spoke to the festival theme of resistance. This was not agit-prop – the music and lyrics were developed by Akinmusire to reflect the experience of being American in these times – especially for blacks. Rapper Kokayi’s range and majestic voice resonated with the depth and scope of that experience. It is a genre-busting ensemble with drummer Justin Brown, pianist Sam Harris, and the Mivos string quartet injecting a contemporary classical dream-like quality to the ensemble sound. The focus was on Kokayi, whose first raps rang out with positive keywords. Then the music and the word images turned darker and more urgent. The searing beauty of Akinmusire’s horn and pianist Harris’ two-fisted dissonance dovetailed with Kokayi’s word pictures – “Cut down, get down! … No, no, no, no, no … he said, she said … ID ID ID ID ID, gotta get him.” The concert was reaching a climax when the rain intensified and audience members began to leave, seeking shelter under nearby trees as others gathered on the stage to hear Kokayi call out the names of young and innocent victims – Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant. He ended with a blast at the U.S. president, calling him “racist, homophobe, xenophobe.” The audience surrounding the musicians on stage in these closing moments was moving and memorable.

Sunday’s early show featured ERIS 136199, referring to the recently discovered “dwarf planet.” This improvising trio featured electric guitarists Han-earl Park and Nick Didkovsky and tenor saxophonist Catherine Sikora. Their first piece, lasting 40 minutes, consisted of the guitarists experimenting with sound using techniques such as loosening and tightening the strings and striking the fretboard as saxophonist Sikora entered at the right harmonic moment to inject lyrical passages. The second piece was more free-wheeling but some audience members were not ready for this level of improvised music and walked out.

The final concert featured guitarist Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl project, a sextet that played her music and songs, performed by vocalist Amirtha Kidambi. The idea is that the vocalist is a musician on equal footing with the ensemble. Though it was well-received by the audience who asked for an encore, the melodies and harmonies seemed repetitive. Kidambi sang with assurance and tonal clarity, often in tandem with saxophonist Maria Grand, who sang harmony. Kidambi has a powerful presence and displayed agility and an inventive spirit in her improv. But all the songs had a similar mournful feel. The saving grace were solos by trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and Halvorson whose guitar work was phenomenal. Unfortunately, with the exception of two pieces, she was overpowered by the band.

The format for this year’s festival was two, four-day segments that began Aug 1. Of the eight concerts Aug. 8-11, top marks go to drummer Tomas Fujiwara and his Triple Double formation and Ambrose Akinmusire’s Origami Harvest.

Why Do We Ignore The 70s French Underground?

Source: The Quietus. Lots of good info on 70’s French fusion / progressive rock.

English-speaking music fans don’t clumsily refer to “underground and progressive German music of the 70s”, because we have a handy shorthand: Krautrock. No such luck if you’re looking to refer collectively to a body of work that is just as challenging and impressive overall: the French avant-garde/progressive underground of the same period.

Throughout the 70s, both French and German musicians made some astonishing music: progressive, avant-garde, often anti-capitalist and usually a fuck you to Anglo-American blues-rock. Though never massively popular in their own countries, a few bands made an impact, playing live in the UK and the USA: Can, Magma, Faust, Ange. Come the 80s, the French and German undergrounds largely dropped off the radar of music fans in the English-speaking world for the best part of two decades.

Then came Julian Cope’s Krautrocksampler and the Freeman Brothers’ Crack In The Cosmic Egg. A narrative emerged that helped us understand the context of this innovative music, later developed and fleshed out by the likes of David Stubbs and Rob Young. You’d never have to tell a tQ reader that Krautrock is the result of the children of Nazi-era parents wanting to create a music that was distinctly German, yet owed nothing to their musical tradition, nor to blues-rock. We recognise Can and Neu! as among the great originators, and have record collections bulging with Popol Vuh and Amon Düül II represses. But Heldon? Lard Free? Besombes-Rizet? Not so much. France is different.

Coming to DC

Source: Transparent Productions.

23nd season, opening performances!!!

@Rhizome, 6950 Maple Street, in Takoma DC
Takoma’s Art, Learning, DIY Culture Center
Saturday, September 14, 2019@4PM $20

Jason Kao Hwang Critical Response
Jason Kao Hwang (composer/violin/viola)
Anders Nilsson (guitar)
Michael T.A. Thompson (drums)

Jason Kao Hwang has graced Transparent audiences with many original and engaging groups and performances over the years. His Critical Response ensemble creates sounds that originate and radically evolve through rhythm, melody and colors, to affirm compassion within neo-technological consciousness. With the multiple FX processing of both violin and guitar within layers of polyrhythms, this is a power trio with truly symphonic scope.

Jason Kao Hwang (composer/violin/viola) explores the vibrations and language of his history. His compositions are often narrative landscapes through which sonic beings embark upon transformational journeys. Such journeys are and have been partnered with a range of great improvisers, including Karl Berger, Anthony Braxton, William Parker, Butch Morris, Ivo Perlman, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Pauline Oliveros, Tomeka Reid, Patrick Brennan, and many others.

Anders Nilsson (guitars) is a New York-based composer and improviser, who plays electric guitars, 11-string alto guitar and baĝlama. He has performed and/or recorded with many artists, including Kalabalik (w/Raoul Björkenheim and Gerald Cleaver), Paquito D’Rivera, William Parker, Elliot Sharp, Fay Victor, and others, including many interdisciplinary interactions, collaborating with theatre, films, and dance.

Soundrhythium Michael T.A. Thompson (drums) is an artistic anomaly, who has toured and/or recorded with such a wide variety of musical artists, including Charles Gayle, Joe McPhee, Matthew Shipp, and William Parker, as well as reggae artist Owen Gray. T.A.’s palate encompasses an abundance of sound colors, as he hears everything and plays with it in a way that’s ever inventive and perceptively responsive. He’s always in the moment, inspired, as well as inspiring.

Sunday, September 15, 2019@8PM $20

Michael Bisio (double bass)
Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello)
Kirk Knuffke (cornet)

Michael Bisio, is an American jazz double bassist, composer, and bandleader. A true friend of Transparent Productions, Bisio performed in Transparent’s first performance in 1997, in duet with saxophonist Joe McPhee. Since 2009, he has been the bassist for the Matthew Shipp Trio. Music critic Paul de Barros describes Bisio’s sound as “a spare, bluesy sound, the sweet- and-sour timbres favored by Charles Mingus.”

Chicago based cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, of the Juilliard School of Music, studied under saxophonist Anthony Braxton, and composers Morton Feldman, and Pauline Oliveros. Lonberg-Holm has collaborated in groups led by saxophonists Joe McPhee, Peter Brotzmann, and Ken Vandermark. He’s also worked with saxophonist Jim Baker, John Butcher, Mats Gustafsson, bassist Peter Kowald, and flautist Nicole Mitchell, among others. He has also contributed his cello sounds to numerous recording projects by rock groups including Wilco, Freakwater, and God-is-my-co-pilot.

Kirk Knuffke, with mentors including cornetist/conductionist Lawrence “Butch” Morris, has been called one of the most expressive cornet players on the scene today, collaborating with artists such as drummers Matt Wilson and Allison Miller, guitarists Pierre Dorge and Michael Formanek, and pianist Uri Caine.

100% of the proceeds go to the artists