AMN Reviews: John Zorn at The Art Institute of Chicago

iconsquare1382315287-116932-zorn1On September 9, 2018 the Art Institute of Chicago presented performances of musical works by composer John Zorn. Zorn’s unique body of work draws on jazz, rock, punk, metal, classical, klezmer, sacred, mystical, experimental, film, cartoon and improvised music. Zorn is a musical alchemist able to transform this diverse material into something completely new. The program featured six hours of live performances plus documentary screenings. This concert provided listeners a rare opportunity to hear a variety of Zorn’s work expertly performed by many of the musicians that have been part of his universe for decades. John Zorn was also in attendance. He very briefly introduced each of the pieces and the musicians. He also performed in two of the day’s events. For the explorers of John Zorn’s musical universe this was a concert they will remember forever. For new comers and the curious, they were able to sample a very small part of the work of one of the planet’s most prolific and diverse contemporary composers.

The performances were situated in galleries that contained many of the museum’s most iconic art works. This provided an ambiance that allowed the pieces to be a “response” to the art works in the gallery.  The day began with the American Brass Quartet greeting visitors as they performed “Pulcinella” on the Grand Staircase of the Art Institute. It was a wonderful performance that echoed through the museum, announcing the beginning of the day’s events. This was followed by an absolutely sublime performance of the “Gnostic Preludes” by the Gnostic Trio – Bill Frisell(guitar), Kenny Wollesen(vibraphone) and Carol Emanuel(harp).  Hearing this music so beautifully played in a gallery containing some of the greatest art works of the Impressionist era was pure magic.

At noon it was off to the Dali room to hear members of the JACK quartet – Chris Otto(violin) and Jay Campbell(cello) with Michael Nicolas(cello) in a spectacular virtuosic performance of “Freud”, an intense spiky piece of sharp and sudden contrasts. This was followed by a stunning cello duo performance of “Ouroboros” another of Zorn’s intense virtuoso string works. Following this dramatic intensity was a performance of “Frammenti del Sappho” in the Sculpture Court by the voices of Rachel Calloway, Kirsten Sollek, Sarah Brailey, Eliza Bagg, and Elizabeth Bates. This is an incredibly delicate and beautiful work. The visual setting for this performance was wonderful and the performers were outstanding, but the acoustics didn’t work for me. This is an incredibly powerful piece that when performed in a space with acoustics similar to a church or temple would just wash over you and realign your molecular structure.

Next it was off to the Warhol room for a performance of a jazz inspired work, “Naked Lunch” with Sae Hashimoto(vibraphone), Shanir Blumenkranz(bass) and Ches Smith(drums). It was a very tight, high energy performance. Absolutely wonderful! I heard many people comment that it was their favorite performance of the day. Then it was off to the Joseph Cornell gallery for a solid performance by Erik Friedlander and Michael Nicolas of a series of “Bagatelles” for two cellos. By this point the audience had more than doubled.

At 2:00 John Zorn(saxophone) and Kenny Wollesen(drums) performed an improvisation in response to Jackson Pollock. At this point the size of the audience had greatly exceeded the capacity of the gallery and many listeners including myself had to hear the performance from one of the adjoining galleries. Despite being one room over the duo sounded fantastic and the crowd absolutely loved it. I have to say the crowd absolutely loved everything that was performed at this event.  Next it was off to the Picasso Gallery to hear Julian Lage and Gyan Riley perform selections from the “Midsummer Moons”. This music is similar in some ways to the music written for the Gnostic trio in that it’s a very beautiful melodic music.  Again, the crowd absolutely exceeded the capacity of the gallery. I along with many others had to listen from one of the adjoining galleries. It was another sublime performance!

At this point there were still four more performances and the documentary screening. Given the growing crowd I made the difficult choice to skip the documentary, the American Brass Quartet performance of “Blue Stratagem”, Michael Nicholas’s performance of “as Above, So Below”, and Chris Otto and Michael Nicholas’s performance of “Zeitgehöft”. This allowed me to get to the gallery where “Hockey”, one of Zorn’s game pieces was to be performed. John Zorn’s game pieces are a series of works for improvisers in which rules and strategies are interactively enacted upon by the improvisers during the performance of the piece. For this performance Zorn said that he chose the “wet” version of “Hockey”.  John Zorn, Kenny Wollesen and Sae Hashimoto performed the piece on little percussion instruments built and or modified by Kenny Wollesen. It was a spectacular performance that took place in a small dark gallery of contemporary Asian art works.

The final performance of the day was in the Kandinsky Room. The JACK Quartet performed “The Unseen”. At this point the biggest crowds had dispersed but the Kandinsky room and its semi-adjoining gallery were filled to hear the days final piece.  “The Unseen” is a delicate string quartet filled with shimmering harmonics that rise up from out of the silence, eventually disappearing. It was a great to end the day. The crowd really showed their appreciation for the JACK’s, John Zorn, all of the musicians that performed during this event and to the Art Institute of Chicago for programming such a rare and incredible musical event.

For me this was one of the best musical events I have ever attended.

Chris De Chiara

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BigEars Festival 2010

The BigEars Festival 2010 takes place this coming March.

The groundbreaking Big Ears Festival, slated for the weekend of March 26-28, 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee, is excited to unveil the initial line up for this year’s event.  Building on the visionary programming of last year’s inaugural festival, the 2010 Big Ears expands with a remarkable line up of even greater depth and breadth than its predecessor, with over 30 artists/bands expected to perform some 50 concerts in at least 8 venues this year.  In addition, there will be art exhibitions, installations, film screenings, workshops, interactive experiences, lectures and discussions.

The initial Big Ears line up for March includes Vampire Weekend, Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Andrew W.K., The Ex, Gang Gang Dance, Clogs, 802 Tour (Nico Muhly / Doveman / Sam Amidon with Nadia Sirota), The xx , Javelin, DJ/Rupture (solo), DJ/Rupture and Andy Moor, My Brightest Diamond,  the Calder Quartet, Gyan Riley, and jj.

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Classical Listings in the New York Times

From NYTimes.com:

MMARTISTS IN CONCERT (Friday) The Metropolitan Museum’s resident chamber group, the awkwardly named MMArtists in Concert, play Mozart’s Duo No. 2 for Violin and Viola (K. 424) and the sublime Divertimento in E flat (K. 563), as well as Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Rejoice” Sonata for Violin and Cello. The players are Colin Jacobsen, violinist; Nicholas Cords, violist; and Edward Arron, cellist. At 7 p.m., Metropolitan Museum of Art, 212-570-3949 , metmuseum.org; $40. (Kozinn)20091015

MEREDITH MONK (Wednesday and Thursday) As part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave series, Meredith Monk, for more than 40 years a composer, vocalist, performance artist, filmmaker and choreographer who has attracted an ardent following, presents “Songs of Ascension.” This multidisciplinary work explores the theme of spiritual enlightenment through ascent, from Buddhist practice to Jacob’s Ladder. The 65-minute work involves music, movement, video and spirituality. The performers are Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble and the Todd Reynolds String Quartet. (Through Oct. 25.) Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Harvey Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene , (718) 636-4100, bam.org; $20 to $50. (Tommasini)20091015

? IANNIS XENAXIS: PANEL DISCUSSION AND PERFORMANCE (Friday and Saturday) Ordinarily, music lovers who want to expose themselves to the work of a contemporary composer are wise to just jump in and listen. But the music of the Romanian-born Greek composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) may be best appreciated along with some commentary. Therefore the Miller Theater’s intriguing free panel discussion and performance, “Iannis Xenakis: Interdisciplinary Connections,” is a rare opportunity to grapple with the music of a visionary composer whose work was both formidably intellectual and intensely intuitive. Xenakis was also a mathematician, architect and political activist. The panel includes Sharon Kanach, a Xenakis biographer; Mark Wigley, the dean of Columbia University’s School of Architecture; David Lang, the composer; and Lara Pellegrinelli, an arts journalist and scholar. The percussionist Steven Schick will perform a seminal early percussion work by Xenakis. The day after the program the Miller Theater presents a Composers Portrait concert featuring Xenakis’s music, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble. Panel and performance: Friday at 7 p.m.; Composer Portraits Concert: Saturday at 8 p.m.; Miller Theater at Columbia University, Broadway at 116th Street, Morningside Heights , (212) 854-7799, millertheater.com; Friday, free; Saturday, $7 to $25. (Tommasini)

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DMG Newsletter October 2nd, 2009

From DMG:

Wadada Leo Smith: 2 groups on double Live CD! Tyshawn Sorey! Ergo with Carl Maguire! John Esposito/Jeff Marx/John Siegel! Beat Circus! Vinny Golia/Damon Smith/Weasel Walter! Tony Wilson 6tet! Roger Reynolds!

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Downtown Music Gallery FREE In-Store Performance Schedule Continues with:

Sunday, September 27th Double Header!
6pm – DAVE GROLLMAN/BRAD HENKEL/VALERIE KUEHNE!
A Fine New Drums/Trumpet/Cello Trio!
7pm – BEN GERSTEIN & TONY MALABY!
Wow! Powerful Trombone & Tenor/Soprano sax Duo!

Tuesday, September 29th at 6pm:
STEFANO PASTOR/GIACOMO MAREGA/SATOSHI TAKESHI!
Amazing violin/bass/percussion Trio!
Slam Recording Artist Performs a Rare Tuesday Set at DMG!

Sundays, October 4th & 11th – No in-store sets
While the Evan Parker Festival at The Stone Continues!

Sunday, October 18th at 6pm:
JOACHIM BADENHORST & NICO ROIG!
Superb New bass clarinet & baritone guitar duo!

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ESP-Disk’ Live Shows

ESP-Disk’ is kicking off a new series of shows in NY.

ESP-Disk’ is proud to announce a new monthly music series at the Jazz Lounge (520 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11205), starting Tuesday, October 6th. On the first Tuesday of every month, ESP will feature emerging artists from the New York music community as well as artists from the ESP-Disk’ catalog.

ESP-Disk’ LIVE @ The Jazz Lounge
Tuesday, October 6th 2009

8pm
Eli Keszler
&
Ashley Paul
http://www.myspace.com/ashleygpaul
http://www.relrecords.net/elikeszler.html

Eli Keszler Live at the Mills Gallery by Rare Frequency.
Multi-instrumentalist Eli Keszler is one of a coterie of exciting new Boston-based musicians whose music pushes the boundaries of noise, drones, improv, and electro-acoustic composition. Using a variety of percussion instruments, as well as guitar and electronics, Eli creates intense drones and fast, rhythmically complex pieces. In addition to his solo work, he currently plays in a number of ensembles including a new trio with keyboardist Anthony Coleman and reed-player/vocalist Ashley Paul, a duo with guitarist Geoff Mullen, and a longstanding partnership with fellow multi-instrumentalist Steve Pyne called Red Horse. He has a pair of CDs out on REL, both of which showcase his extraordinarily dynamic playing.

9pm
Hans Tammen “Endangered Guitar” (ESP 4031)
http://www.tammen.org/

In hundreds of solo performances since 1993, Hans Tammen has explored the sounds of concert halls and small clubs with an assortment of mechanical contrivances applied to his modified “endangered” guitars, interactive software programming, and stereo and multichannel sound systems. His music has been described as an alien world of bizarre textures and a journey through the land of unending sonic operations.

His instrument is a hybrid between a guitar and a computer, designed to react with the resonant frequencies of the room. It constantly records his sounds, and the information from the analysis of these sounds and the playing determines a wide variety of processes. This makes every performance a site-specific one, bringing the sonic qualities of the surrounding conditions to the listener’s attention.

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DMG Newsletter September 18th, 2009

From DMG:

Zorn’s Arcana Book Vol 4! Rare John Cage Book! New London Jazz Composers Orchestra! Takase & Sclavis! Die Enttauschung, Vandermark’s Frame Qt! Fred Anderson 80th B-Day CD!

Gottschalk & Fengxia! Fonda/Stevens Group! Dennis Gonzalez/Frank Lowe Qt! Allan Holdsworth/John Stevens/Danny Thompson ..and Holdsworth ‘Tony Williams‘ Tribute! Laswell’s InnerRhythmic label!

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Downtown Music Gallery FREE In-Store Performance Schedule Continues with:

Sunday, September 20th at 6pm:
MATT LAVELLE & JASON STEIN!
Two Colossal Bass Clarinetists in a Rare Duet!

Sunday, September 27th Double Header!
6pm – DAVE GROLLMAN/BRAD HENKEL/VALERIE KUEHNE!
A Fine New Drums/Trumpet/Cello Trio!
7pm – BEN GERSTEIN & TONY MALABY!
Wow! Powerful Trombone & Tenor/Soprano sax Duo!

Tuesday, September 29th at 6pm:
STEFANO PASTOR/GIACOMO MAREGA/SATOSHI TAKESHI!
Amazing violin/bass/percussion Trio!
Slam Recording Artist Performs a Rare Tuesday Set at DMG!

Sundays, October 4th & 11th – No in-store sets
While the Evan Parker Festival at The Stone Continues!

Sunday, October 18th at 6pm:
JOACHIM BADENHORST & NICO ROIG!
Superb New bass clarinet & baritone guitar duo!

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Paul Hartsaw, Kristian Aspelin, Damon Smith, and Jerome Bryerton in Chicago

An upcoming show in Chicago, announced in the Reader:

Paul Hartsaw, Kristian Aspelin, Damon Smith, and Jerome Bryerton
When: Sat., Sept. 19, 10 p.m.
Phone: heavengallery.com
Price: donation requested

For the 2007 release Ausfegen (Balance Point Acoustics), this transcontinental quartet—bassist Damon Smith and guitarist Kristian Aspelin from the Bay Area and saxophonist Paul Hartsaw and drummer Jerome Bryerton from Chicago—set out to pay homage to German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys.

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