Clean Feed Fest and the New Languages Festival Reviewed writes about both of these festivals.

By default and by design, there is no firm center of avant-garde jazz culture. Its music can be freely improvised or densely plotted, ecstatic or brooding, concussive or tranquil. So on some level it was fitting that an accident of timing brought an overlap of the New Languages Festival, in its fifth year, and the Clean Feed Fest, in its fourth. Both present a cavalcade of independent-minded artists, but neither makes any comprehensive claims.

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Moving Sounds Festival Review has words about this avant-garde fest.

The Moving Sounds Festival means its title to be taken in every possible way. The works performed during this three-day event are meant to be moving, if not always emotionally then viscerally or intellectually. Some of the pieces make significant use of spatial elements: the sounds move around the stage. And because the ambitious schedule of concerts, symposiums and exhibitions is split between two locations — the Austrian Cultural Forum and Le Poisson Rouge — the sounds are moving around town as well.

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Jim O’Rourke, Once an Insider, Worked Alone and on the Outside for ‘The Visitor’

Jim O’Rourke is profiled and his new release is discussed.

Mr. O’Rourke, 40, is about equally known for his own music — albums like “Eureka,” “Insignificance” and his remarkable new one, “The Visitor” — as for his work for other people. For about 10 years, starting in the mid-1990s, Mr. O’Rourke, based in Chicago and then New York, saw his craft, knowledge and legendarily selfless work ethic connect some far-apart poles in music: pop, improvised music, contemporary classical and noise.

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Jazz History Scrambled, With Love and Respect, at Zebulon in Brooklyn reviews Mostly Other People Do the Killing.

There’s a bustling, ostentatious impiety in the music of Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Led by the bassist Moppa Elliott, it’s a jazz quartet with a diligent grasp of history but an anarchic take on convention. At Zebulon in Brooklyn late on Thursday night, the group riffled through jazz idioms with hammy geniality, like an impressionist flaunting celebrity voices. The unruliness didn’t remotely make it a mess.

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Improvised Silence Amid the Sounds at the Stone

Tyshawn Sorey at Stain Bar, Brooklyn
Image by dalvinyard via Flickr reviews Tyshawn Sorey at the Stone.

The drummer Tyshawn Sorey confounds easy assumptions, including the assumption that because he is a drummer, his own music should favor the drums, or the assumption that because he plays jazz, all of his music should sound like jazz. His new band is a trio with guitar and bass, but it’s pretty far from any standard model with that setup.

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Tyshawn Sorey’s New Album Featured and Previewed

From Destination Out:

We’re pleased to continue previews of extraordinary upcoming albums with several tracks from Tyshawn Sorey’s Koan, which will be released in September on 482 Music.

Tyshawn Sorey is best known as an extraordinary drummer, having performed with Muhal Richard Abrams, Mark Helias, Butch Morris, Steve Lehman, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, and many others. The New York Times recently dubbed him one of “five drummers whose time is now.” But Sorey’s composition skills are equally formidable, evidenced on his work in Fieldwork (a collaborative project with Steve Lehman and Vijay Iyer) and his solo debut That/Not.

He’s taken a new turn on Koan – de-emphasizing drums, spotlighting guitars, and embracing an almost minimalist aesthetic. The tunes are hauntingly spare, radiating a gentle beauty where each gesture carries maximum weight. You can get a sense of the album’s range from the brief solo guitar piece “Only One Sky” and the open improvisational environment of “Correct Truth.”

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Issue Project Room, an Avant-Garde Arts Group, Bites Off a Lot to Chew profiles the Issue Project Room.

But last year Issue Project Room, a nonprofit arts space that was founded in the East Village and for the last four years has been in Brooklyn, was dealt a dauntingly large number. As part of a city deal, a developer that was converting the former Board of Education building in downtown Brooklyn into condominiums was required to offer 5,000 square feet on its ground floor to a cultural group on a 20-year, rent-free lease.

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Van der Graaf Generator – Asking Existential Questions, 40 Years On

A recent VDGG show is reviewed:

Van der Graaf Generator cited general relativity theory in the first song it played on Sunday night at the Nokia Theater, “Interference Patterns.” The music reflected the song title: jagged, overlapping keyboard patterns moving in and out of phase, precise and tricky, as Peter Hammill sang, in counterpoint with his own piano parts, about physics and the nature of reality. Then came ruminations on war (“Scorched Earth”), totalitarianism (“Every Bloody Emperor”) and self-destruction versus survival (“Lemmings”). Mr. Hammill, the band’s main songwriter, doesn’t take on small or frivolous topics. His lyrics are philosophical disquisitions, carried by ambitious progressive rock.

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Henry Brant at the Guggenheim


Frank Lloyd Wright might never have anticipated this. But the rotunda of his late masterpiece the Guggenheim Museum — which opened in 1959, six months after his death — is an ideal place to perform one of the most mesmerizing and eclectic musical works ever written: “Orbits” for 80 trombones, soprano and organ by the Montreal-born American composer Henry Brant.

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Elaine di Falco on Hugh Hopper

Elaine di Falco writes on her times with Hugh Hopper.

I had known for a long time that though Hugh might not have been a frequently active part of my life, the parts of my life that did involve him meant a great deal to me. Some of the following details are a little foggy; others are vivid. It’s been years, but this is the story of how he touched my life.

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