Daniel Wolf has an excellent post regarding Piano Mechanics by Gordon Monahan. I had the score for that work residing on my piano for a long time as I picked my way through it and came to love the conceptual underpinnings of each study and the sound coaxed from such restrictive focus. When I finally heard a recording of the work I was floored by Monahan's technique, precision and stamina.
Another great Monahan experience is This Piano Thing - which is included on my recording of Piano Mechanics. I first heard this work broadcast on CBC's "2 New Hours" and went out of my way to hear it live in Montreal soon after. This Piano Thing is a work for prepared piano that applies a beautifully austere concept that sounds substantially unlike anything else I've heard for the instrument.
A friendly hat-tip to the uTopian one for linking this way and adding yet more flesh to our conversation about life after John Cage and the manifesto era.
In reference to his cool Martin Williams quote (that resonated well for me) I'd say Anthony Braxton has profoundly considered the philosophical implications of ensemble improvisation (jazz or not depending on the elasticity of definitions) and how it applies to and enhances society. Having read all three of Braxton's voluminous, rough and unpublished Tri-Axiom writings I'd have to include his writings in my personal manifesto-ish reading experience. Once one acquires a fluency with his dense language and terminology there's enough ideas in there to fuel many lifetimes of creative activity.
This Mark Miller interview with Ornette Coleman is sad reading for a number of reasons:
Few people seem to have a grasp of harmelodic theory and the Gunther Schuller quote used in the article is excruciatingly off the mark. (As much as I admire Schuller's music I detest the bias his words betray in his definition and he completely misses the temporal dimension of harmelodic practice - allowing him to make a pretty glib and one-dimensional assessment of it). It's a theory that cannot be encapsulated into a single interview and it saddens me when the press makes light of such deep-thinking musical figures by dwelling unflatteringly on their willingness to discuss theory. Ornette Coleman has had more than his share of shoddy treatment in this regard.
It was also sad to learn that a living legend such as Ornette could be waiting by the phone to get a paying gig. What level of accomplishment is required to transcend such precariousness? How can there not be a national holiday honoring this great figure - not to mention a steady stream of well-paid gigs? Well, HurdAudio officially declares that this March 9th will be National Ornette Coleman Day. Spread the word.
[update: the chair recognizes the uTopian suggestion and amends the HurdAudio declaration making March 9th International Ornette Coleman Day.]