Rova Saxophone Quartet Profiled

Source: San Francisco Classical Voice.

For an individual, hitting 40 can be a moment of angst or affirmation, reflection or rebellion in the face of a midlife milestone. But for an ensemble, concluding a fourth decade is a signature accomplishment that calls for a major celebration. Instead of making a big deal marking the group’s 40th anniversary, Rova Saxophone Quartet is going about its business, releasing a magnificent album of new music, In Transverse Time (Victo), and playing an SF Live Arts concert Friday, May 4 at St. Cyprian’s in San Francisco.

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Frederic Rzewski at 80

Source: Second Inversion.

Composer/pianist Frederic Rzewski, who turned 80 on April 13, has had one of the most impactful careers in modern music. He has experimented with, embraced and advanced many of contemporary music’s most significant ideas, and his credits include such landmarks as the minimalist masterpiece Coming Together and the monumental piano variations The People United Will Never Be Defeated!. He’s arguably the most important living composer of piano music, and is surely one of the dozen or so most important living American composers.

Henry Cowell Profiled and Reviewed

Henry Cowell

Source: San Francisco Classical Voice.

“The World of Henry Cowell” marks the second composer portrait series of Bard Music West, a Californian clone of Bard College’s annual music festival. Following the model of their inaugural 2017 season in honor of György Ligeti, artistic directors Allegra Chapman and Laura Gaynon carefully curated a program that traced Henry Cowell’s life and legacy. Three concerts at Noe Valley Ministry this past weekend featured choral and chamber performances of Cowell favorites and rarities, as well as works by his contemporaries, students, and spiritual successors.

Mary Halvorson Profiled and New Album Reviewed

English: Mary Halvorson with Anti-House at Clu...

Source: NPR.

There’s a telling admission about a minute and a half into Code Girl, the riveting new double album by Mary Halvorson. It arrives after she sets a mood on guitar, using pedal effects to loop her lines into a web — a tactic you’ll recognize if you know her heralded work as an improviser.

“It is not predictable, my mind,” goes the line in question, from a song called “My Mind in Time.” And the message in that refrain, sung with penetrating calm by Amirtha Kidambi, feels almost self-fulfilling. Halvorson’s music has always had the capacity to surprise, but Code Girl amounts to the most startling move in her solo career. It’s clearly the work of an unpredictable mind, and a personality drawn at once to unruly possibility and fastidious detail.

Keiji Haino Profiled

English: Keiji Haino at Moers Festival 2007

Source: NPR.

Over four decades, Haino, who will turn 66 in May, has thrived at the fringes of improvised music, becoming both a pioneer of and paragon for turning rock music inside out. An early student of primitive blues and classic rock staples, Haino earned attention during the ’80s for Fushitsusha, his on-again, off-again psychedelic powerhouse. Across the next quarter-century, he steadily emerged from Japan’s underground as an experimental extremist, often pitting torrents of distortion and walls of noise against shards of poetry that he would shriek and repeat like some coded prayer. After a string of cutting-edge labels in the United States and Canada began to catch on and issue his music in the west during the ’90s, his reputation as one of music’s most electrifying and enigmatic guitarists and one of its most oddly evocative singers spread to the point that he even became a model and muse for fashion designer Marc Jacobs. For some, working with Haino — or, for others, simply seeing him live or finding one of his albums — has became an avant-garde holy grail.

A Tom Waits Listening Primer

English: Tom Waits during an interview in Buen...

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

“The songs are coming all the time,” Tom Waits said in 1999, more than 25 years after he first debuted with 1973’s singer-songwriter classic Closing Time. “Just because you didn’t go fishing today doesn’t mean there aren’t any fish out there.”

Throughout his 45-year recording career, Tom Waits has amassed one of the most enduring songbooks in American popular music. Waits, 68, is the rare songwriter whose body of work includes both an entire collection of songs that are distinctly and uniquely his (“The Piano Has Been Drinking,” “Bad As Me”) and a whole collection of ballads that have become modern standards (“Picture in a Frame,” “Ol’ 55”).

Waits’s longtime songwriting partner is Kathleen Brennan, who helped expose Waits to more experimental sounds and styles and has co-written nearly every song Waits has composed since the couple met in 1980.

Anthony Davis Profiled

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Anthony Davis blurs the lines between jazz, opera, world music, the avant-garde and other styles with unique skill and daring. He has been doing so since even before his first opera, the Grammy-nominated “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” premiered at City Opera in New York in 1986. That was about 15 years after he was invited to become the keyboardist in the Grateful Dead. “It’s all music to me,” said Davis, who is now completing his ninth opera and performs here May 2 at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall with contrabass great — and fellow UC San Diego music professor — Mark Dresser. Collaborators since the 1970s, when they met while Davis a student at Yale, the two will perform composed and improvised solo pieces and duets.