In Conversation with Matana Roberts

The ISSUE Project Room interviews Ms. Roberts.

Matana, a 2006 Van Lier fellow, Brecht Forum fellow, and 2008 and 2009 Alpert Award in the Arts nominee, has appeared as a collaborator on recordings and performances in the U.S., Europe, and Canada with her own ensembles as well as with the collaborative jazz trio Sticks and Stones, Black Rock Coalition founder Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar, Reg E Gaines and Savion Glover’s homage project to the late John Coltrane, the Oliver Lake Big Band, the Julius Hemphill Sextet, and the Merce Cunningham dance company. She recently released a homage project to her hometown, entitled “The Chicago Project,” on Barry Adamson’s Central Control International, produced by pianist extraordinaire Vijay Iyer, featuring friends and supporters of her Chicago development. She has also recorded as a side person on recordings with such iconic bands as Godspeed You Black Emperor, TV on the Radio, Guillermo Scott Herren’s Savath and Savalas, Silver Mt Zion, and sound artist Daniel Given’s Day Clear/Day dark. Matana is a member of the AACM– Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the BRC– Black Rock Coalition.

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The Squid’s Ear Reviews

From The Squid’s Ear:

Nurse With Wound:
The Surveillance Lounge
(Dirter Promotions)

Oren Ambarchi:
(Black Truffle)

Polwechsel & John Tilbury:

Lawrence English:
A Colour for Autumn

Florian Hecker:
Acid in the Style of David Tudor
(Editions Mego)

Greg Davis:
Mutually Arising

Mary Oliver / Johanna Varner:

Urs Leimgruber & Thomas Lehn:

John Cage:

Lussier / Tetreault / Yoshihide:
Elektrik Toboggan

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New on Deep Listening

From Deep Listening, three new releases.

A dance-opera in primeval time

Written and directed by Ione
Music and sound design by Pauline Oliveros

A collaborative venture among artists of all types, this “dance-opera” is a multimedia panorama of experimental theatre and technical virtuosity that includes aerial ballet, masks, video projection, a sinister thousand-eyed monster, and a highly imaginative electronic soundscape.


Stephan Moore has spent the last five years touring with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as a core member of their live band. At the same time, he has been collaborating with a number of younger choreographers to create sound scores for their performance works. To Build A Field collects the best of these pieces, drawn from six of his commissions by four very different choreographers. The CD’s title refers to Moore’s view of his role in these collaborations: designing and executing sonic structures that define the emotional and rhythmic topography of time. Each track negotiates a balance between acoustic sound sources and electronics, live performance and studio composition, and human vs. algorithmic control of sound materials. Time is continually bent into new shapes, challenging the listener, and his collaborators, to think beyond the easy comforts of a regular tempo, and confront rhythm as texture instead of a reliable grid.


The trio Triple Point was founded by Jonas Braasch, Pauline Oliveros, and Doug Van Nort in 2008 and complemented by Stuart Dempster for this recording. The band derives its name from the thermodynamical point in the phase diagram where all three phases of water exist. Figuratively, this is where the trio operates exploring musical spaces and boundary conditions where contrasting ideas and streams can co-exist, while expanding the vocabulary of musical instruments acoustically (Braasch on soprano saxophone) and electronically (Oliveros, digital accordion and Expanded Instrument System, EIS, Doug van Nort on laptop and GREIS).

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Free Music General

Edgar Varèse and the Jazzmen

A rare set of recordings has been discovered, including Edgard Varese conducting Charles Mingus. They are now available for free download.

Edgard Varèse conducts a workshop with jazzmen Art Farmer (trumpet), Hal McKusik (clarinet, alto sax), Teo Macero (tenor sax), Eddie Bert (trombone), Frank Rehak (trombone), Don Butterfield (tuba), Hall Overton (piano), Charlie Mingus (bass), Ed Shaughnessy (drums), probably John La Porta (alto sax)… We don’t know who is on vibes…

It might be the first free jazz recording (totally unissued) of History of Music. Varèse might have influenced jazzmen or was he only aware of what was happening on the jazz scene? No matter of the answer, it’s a bomb, as this music is 3 years earlier than Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman! We also know Charlie Parker wanted to study with Varèse in autumn 1954 but the composer flew to Europe to conduct Déserts. When he came back to New York in May 1955, Parker had already died. We also know that Varèse used to listen to John Coltrane at the Village.

Between March and August 1957, these Sunday jam-sessions were followed by arranger George Handy, journalist Robert Reisner, composers James Tenney, Earle Brown and John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham. The organizers were Earle Brown and Teo Macero who will become Miles Davis‘ producer among others. Varèse used certain extracts of the workshop for his Poème électronique.

The original of this tape is at Fondation Paul Sacher.

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Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

John Cage in 1956.
Image via Wikipedia

This fest gets yet another review.

It should be no surprise, on Beecham’s account, to find that the British play host to one of the best-loved avant-garde music festivals, where musicians from all over the world come each November to witness the latest fruits of musical experimentation in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. That said, with the festival reaching its 30th anniversary, this year’s event had a distinctly retrospective flavour to it, with the closing event consisting of a modified recreation of a John Cage concert organised in 1958 by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

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New World Records Releases

Telharmonium, Thaddeus Cahill, 1897.Image via Wikipedia New material from New World Records:

September 2008

Michael Byron: Dreamers of Pearl
Composer(s): Michael Byron

Michael Byron (b. 1953) was a pupil of James Tenney, and later, of Richard Teitelbaum. The body of music he has composed over the past thirty years has been harmonically rich, rhythmically detailed, and increasingly virtuosic. Dreamers of Pearl (2004–05) evinces a sensitivity for the sound of the piano, a sensibility of extended playing/listening, and an interest in repetition and change through gradual and seemingly clandestine processes that transform and extend what we hear.

Gordon Mumma: Music for Solo Piano (1960-2001)
Composer(s): Gordon Mumma

Gordon Mumma (b. 1935) is best known for his pioneering role in the development and evolution of electronic and live-electronic music. The piano has played a significant if underestimated role in his career. With a few notable exceptions, this collection by pianist Daan Vandewalle marks the first commercial recordings of Mumma’s music for solo piano composed over more than forty years. It provides an important new perspective on his work as a composer.

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