AMN Reviews: Nate Wooley “Columbia Icefield” [Northern SPY NS 112]

Inspired by the largest icefield in the Rocky Mountains trumpeter Nate Wooley set out to explore “ … large structures that have a feeling of being really large and slightly disturbing, but also, natural, … it’s not an attack on our senses. We understand it.”  On “Columbia Icefield” Wooley’s amplified trumpet is joined by drummer Ryan Sawyer, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and guitarist Mary Halverson. The three compositions on “Columbia Icefield” while unique in content and form seem to share an overall point of view or perhaps mood. The recording itself also contributes to this overall mood. The album’s mix beautifully exploits the stereo field to project a big and open sound that still seems close and intimate.

The album opens with “Lionel Trilling”, a piece that seems like it would make a great soundtrack for a journey by train to visit the ice field. The piece slowly builds up from very deliberate but somewhat overlapping melodic and rhymical patterns on the guitars. The interplay between Halverson and Alcorn is very tight and balanced. These patterns could be imagined as representing the sounds of the train. They are eventually joined by other patterns played by the drums along with the very effective use of the amplified trumpet as percussion. This builds up over time but not in a sentimental or obvious way.  The train continues to climb till out of nowhere ethereal voices arrive and the mood abruptly changes.  They have arrived and set out to explore the expanse in a floating dialogue. This gives way to a new section of contrapuntal questions and episodic improvisations till it is time to leave and then we get back on the train to return to where the journey began.

“Seven in the Woods” is a piece where its shape slowly forms over time. It begins as an abstraction of what it will become with a slow counterpoint of melodic fragments between the guitars and muted trumpet. When the drums finally enter it tries to subvert the developing shape with march like rhythmic attacks. Eventually the drums give in and all of this abstraction crystallizes into a soulful melodic hymn accompanied by beautiful brush work from the drums. The piece then moves through a series of wonderful moments with solos from each of the musicians. Eventually it begins to fall back apart but is interrupted by the guitars with chiming church bell chords that slowly fade away.

The last piece “With Condolences” starts slowly and quietly but as the sonic conversation grows it becomes more and more animated over time. As it builds up into a chatter, spoken word lyrics emerge and push it back into a more reflective instrumental conversation that slowly winds itself down.

The playing by each of the musicians on “Columbia Icefield” is nothing short of outstanding. I hope that Nate Wooley is able to do a lot more recording with this particular group. As an ensemble they demonstrate real chemistry. Make no mistake “Columbia Icefield” is a great album. So, do your ears a favor and spend some quiet time listening to “Columbia Icefield”.

Highly Recommended!

Chris De Chiara

AMN Reviews: Daniel Barbiero, Ken Moore, Dave Vosh – “transparent points on four axes”[pyr260]

Transparent-Points-on-Four-Axes-cover-768x768“transparent points on four axes” is a studio collaboration by Daniel Barbiero on double bass, sylosynth app and microbrute synthesizer. (Yes, AMN Readers this is the same Daniel Barbiero that frequently posts reviews here on AMN.) Ken Moore on STEIM Crackle Box, minimoog, emax sampler and various percussion. Dave Vosh on analogue modular synthesizer. It is a very interesting album that is bound to be the best free download you will get all year. It has been released on pan y rosas discos. A netlabel out of Chicago that focuses on experimental, noise, improvisation and weirdo rock.  It has a catalog of 260 releases all of which are free downloads.

The eight pieces on “transparent points on four axes” each began as a single layer of either a composed or improvised track to form a ground layer from which each of the participants then added additional layers. The use of this ground layer provides an underlying sense of direction as each piece’s dialog develops and unfolds. The pieces have a great deal of sonic and textural variety and the album is very well recorded and mixed. There are pieces that are driven by exceptional bass playing with lyrical use of bowed harmonics and the extreme upper register of the bass. Other pieces seem to be driven by more sensitive and nuanced percussion. The analog synth work is really interesting because it can at times give the pieces that retro analog early electronic music vibe, however I think that it really works on this album because it completely avoids the repetitive sequencer driven drivel that is currently being produced by so many contemporary musicians using analog and modular synths.

“transparent points on four axes” is a really interesting listen of solid contemporary experimental  music and it is free. So grab it and enjoy it!  And maybe poke around the rest of the releases on pan y rosas discos and explore some new sounds.

Highly recommended!

Chris De Chiara

 

American Contemporary Music Ensemble – Kindred Spirits in John Cage and Phil Kline, at Tank

From NYTimes.com:

Finding connections between John Cage and Phil Kline, experimental composers from different generations and backgrounds, is not very hard. Cage, the Zen master whose chance operations loosened the strictures of contemporary music, surely provided an early model for the random serendipities of Mr. Kline’s subsequent boombox compositions like “Unsilent Night,” a seasonal processional that wound through Greenwich Village streets just over a week ago.

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FONT Music To Present Four-Night Event At Abrons Arts Center In January

Dave Douglas, SFJAZZ Collective
Image by @Siebe! via Flickr

From Improvised Communications:

The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) will present Forward Flight, the third and final event of its 7th annual performance season, from Wednesday, January 13th through Saturday, January 16th at New York’s Abrons Arts Center.

This four-night celebration of the eclecticism of the trumpet in contemporary music, curated by Dave Douglas and Taylor Ho Bynum, will feature events on two stages, including performances by a diverse range of ensembles, three free FONT Music Workshop Series events and an opening night tribute to unheralded veteran trumpet player, Wilmer Wise.

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Cleveland contemporary-music ensemble No Exit ready to introduce itself

Lutos?awski
Image via Wikipedia

From cleveland.com:

No Exit New Music Ensemble will make its debut with free concerts at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Recital Hall, 2001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Barking Spider Tavern, 11310 Juniper Rd., Cleveland.

Founded by composer Timothy Beyer, the core group comprises pianist Nicholas Underhill, violinist Cara Tweed, violist Tom Bowling and cellist Nick Diodore.

Their inaugural program will include Witold Lutoslawski‘s “Sacher Variation” for cello, the Adagio from Zoltan Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello, works by Underhill and Beyer and new pieces by Al Kovach and James Praznik.

According to Beyer, “Our mission is to promote and perform contemporary concert music with an eye towards the avant-garde. We will have a strong focus on living composers and are particularly interested in championing the music of talented young composers who have not yet received much exposure.”

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Dal Niente to Perform Saariaho, Yim, Broberg, Lindberg

From Dal Niente:

Layers and Threads–Thursday, December 3 – 8:00pm – $10/5
Immanuel Lutheran Church
1500 W Elmdale Dr.
Chicago, IL 60660

Featured composers: Kaija Saariaho, Jay Alan Yim, Kirsten Broberg, Magnus Lindberg
Featured performers: Gareth Davis, clarinet; J. Austin Wulliman, violin

Layers and Threads explores timbre and texture within both traditionally and unconventionally
structured works. Virtuoso Amsterdam-based clarinetist Gareth Davis joins the group for a
performance of Magnus Lindberg’s Ablauf for clarinet and percussion, a wild and untamed work that dances with fast-flowing polyphony in the clarinet. ensemble dal niente’s principal violinist J. Austin Wulliman will be joined by Notre Dame professor Daniel Schlosberg for the American premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s new work for violin and piano, Calices, and the world premiere of founding composer Kirsten Broberg’s Origins involves a mix of ensembles with guest soloist Gareth Davis featured in the final movement. The U.S. premiere of Northwestern University professor Jay Alan Yim’s Songs in Memory of a Circle simultaneously layers three individual sections of the larger work and is coupled with a video installation by Northwestern professor Marlena Novak.

Founded in 2004 ensemble dal niente performs a broad range of 20th- and 21st- century music for enthusiastic audiences across the country. Through concerts, commissions and educational activities, we explore the wealth and diversity of music composed in the past century — from the European avant-garde, to American high modernism, to styles influenced by popular music and jazz. The ensemble is comprised of young artists and international virtuosos who bring this challenging repertoire to life with enthusiasm and devotion.

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