Sunday, May 31, 2009

In a Quiet Way

Eivind Nordset Lønning/Espen Reinertsen + R2D3 + Sabbaticus Rex @ The Compound Gallery, Oakland, CA
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eivind Nordset Lønning: trumpet
Espen Reinertsen: alto saxophone, flute

Ron Heglin: trombone, voice
Tom Nunn: electro-acoustic percussion
Doug Carroll: cello

Sabbaticus Rex:
Cornelius Boots: shakuhachi, throat singing
Karen Stackpole: gongs, percussion

"We play pretty quiet, the best spot is probably right in front," Norway's Eivind Nordset Lønning cautioned the small audience gathered within the alternative space at Oakland's Compound Gallery. The trumpet and alto saxophone pair then proceeded to send a near continuous stream of air through their instruments for more than half an hour. Working within a soundscape of breath, air, sub-harmonics and wide swatches of shifting timbral materials within a fragile, almost transparent existence Lønning and Reinertsen blured their sound into a singular brush stroke. Late in the set the two locked into eerie rhythmic unison with a series of short, ghostly tones. The percussive world of flute pads and unscrewed trumpet valves opening up an incredible study of micro-sound within the musical sensibilities of these improvisers.

R2D3 followed this set with a decidedly more amplified expression of amplified combs (used to play invented percussion instruments), cello and trombone. The ear-driven improvisations added volume to the middle set before giving way to the dreamy, droning bowed gong with shakuhachi music of Sabbaticus Rex. Giving the evening itself a large contour of stillness giving way to noise and returning to a meditative solace.

Scale of the Day: E Flat Aeolian diminished 4 1% wide


The intervallic content of the E Flat Aeolian diminished 4 1% wide Scale.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Bach, Beethoven, Ayler

J.S. Bach: Bach Edition: Complete Works[disc II-1]. 1996, 1999. Brilliant Classics: 93102/24.

Leon Berben: harpsichord/Cembalo

The Well Tempered Clavier, book I

Preludium, Fuga, and Preludium again, and Fuga again. One has to appreciate the task - perfectly executed here - of systematically composing a prelude and fugue in every major and minor key found upon the well tempered instrument. Book 1 takes the journey from C major, to C minor, then chromatically up to F minor. Key centers do take on extraordinary focus in this music - as it often does with Baroque works. So much has grown from the tonality and the compositional answers posed by these pieces that one can't help also hearing one's memory reverberating with so many pieces that have drawn upon these creations.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets [disc 6]. Recorded in 1994. Delos: DE 3036.

The Orford String Quartet:
Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3
String Quartet in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131

The Opus 18 is nice. Structured and well developed. The Opus 131 is a marvel. Moments of startling arranging prowess dart by unexpectedly. The level of detail in this late piece is amazing. Again, the level of fetish these string quartets invite should - but oddly doesn't - rival that of the symphonies. I need to visit these pieces with scores in hand at some point.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost (box set) [disc 5]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Albert Ayler Quintet @ Berlin Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany - November 3, 1966
Albert Ayler Quintet @ De Doelen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands - November 8, 1966

Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Bill Folwell: bass
Beaver Harris: drums

It is surprisingly easy to hear past the roughness of the recording and get right at the simmering substance of this music. Michel Samson! There has to be more documentation of this incredible violinist. Each spin adds to the curiosity and thirst to hear more of his improvising. This was a quintet sympathetic to the new sound Albert Ayler forged through uncompromising honesty and spiritual instinct. And it's performed before European audiences that "got it." These sets crackle with a barely contained, raw energy and prayer-like fervor that carries a clear conviction through the haze of decades past.

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian 1% wide


The G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian 1% wide Scale. The equal tempered Aeolian de-tuned just slightly to fit the 1212-cent "octave."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Aeolian mapped to the Cube-root-of-2


The G Sharp Aeolian mapped to the Cube-root-of-2 Scale. The "natural" minor compressed into the span of an equal tempered major third.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Exquisite Improvisation of Dream States

O Sleep - an improvised opera and work in progress directed by Theresa Wong @ The Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin Headlands, Sausalito, CA
Sunday, May 24, 2009

Performaners: Theresa Wong, Ellen Fullman, Kanoko Nishi, Dohee Lee, Luciano Chessa, Michael Carter, Shayna Dunkleman, Heike Liss
Alice Wu: costumes

Structured along the stages of sleep, O Sleep features a range of dream-state inspired improvisations, movement and creative staging. At times, one could be tempted to close the eyes and drift along with the percussive textures.

O Sleep has its visual highlights as well. The projected video of a curtain by an open window onto a sheer curtain suspended in the middle of the room by a wire was striking. Theresa Wong stood behind this projected image with another performer standing behind her as their vocals twisted within one another's critical band. One of many moments that left an indelible visual and aural impression.

At one particular sleep stage, the room itself became an instrument as performers worked within the low light, exploring the sounds of frictions along the walls, floor and windows of the old gymnasium at the Marin Headlands. The dance-like kinetic motion of the performers, the vibrations that nearly engulf the observer and the spatial dynamic of this moment captured the essence and mystery of sleep in a uniquely familiar and unsettling manner.

Occupying the core of the stage and sound of O Sleep was the droning and harmonically dynamic sounds of Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument. Stretched along the entire length of the gymnasium with wires tuned to just intervals, Fullman walked forward and backward with fists full of strings like a human bow. Coaxing a room-sized, tamboura-esque sound. The addition of percussion, drums, voice, koto and electronics filled out the dreams of this work.

O Sleep incorporates the instruments and performers into a cohesive whole. Musicians move with the grace of dancers. The staging realizes the corporeality of performance and drama as part of a cohesive whole. Improvisation allows the collective ears to focus upon the realization of sleep states. The result is fantastic. As a work "in progress," O Sleep holds enormous potential.

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Aeolian diminished 4 mapped to the 3/2


The G Sharp Aeolian diminished 4 mapped to the 3/2 Scale.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Flat Aeolian dminished 4 mapped to the Triative


The intervallic content of the E Flat Aeolian diminished 4 mapped to the Triative Scale.

The Utopia Will Not Be Televised

Rovate: Fissures, Futures @ Kanbar Hall, Jewish Community Center, San Francisco, CA
Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rova Saxophone Quartet:
Larry Ochs: tenor saxophone, sopranino saxophone
Jon Raskin: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
Bruce Ackley: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
Steve Adams: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone

with guests:
Lillevan: video
Lisle Ellis: bass, electronics
Charlotte Hug: viola
Joan Jeanrenaud: cello
Carla Kihlstedt: violin
Thomas Lehn: electronics
Kjell Nordeson: drums, percussion

Collaborative, structured improvisation as an aural utopia and expressive resurrection of the "Spaceship Earth" idealism of Buckminster Fuller. The musicians seated in a semicircle - spilling off of and back onto the stage - with their backs to the audience to keep an eye upon the video screen. Ironically, the video artist is seated with his back to that very screen. Video responding to aural inputs. Improvisers responding to visual stimuli. Somehow, this particular vision of utopia makes sparing use of color.

The individual members of this all-star ensemble contribute compositions that draw out thoughtful group improvisations. Composition as structured improvisation. Much of the notation is graphic and temporally laid out along grids with shapes and images triggering sound. The social order behind this music being collaborative to the point of allowing few individual forays into the sonic (and visual) foreground. Images of fluids, microscopic slides and geometric shapes often dominating the video content. Moments of conversant interplay between players bubble up and back into the mix. The sounds are alluring. The compositional structures are particularly captivating. Given the mix of media and the musical prowess of these players the event never collapses into spectacle.

The contrast between individual compositions is striking. Charlotte Hug's slipway to galaxies concludes the final set with an exploration of sparse beauty. Lisle Ellis's In Praise of the Living Verb opens the first set with a pulsating sequencing of individual players that mixes the density of its parts through addition and subtraction. The dynamic range of materials and ideas offering a glimpse into musical territories barely realized and explored. Composed music often falls well short of the intensity and extended potential mined by good "free" improvisers. These structured improvisations provide a sense of form often lacking in uninhibited creativity. Compositions that demand an active ear from the performer along with a collaborative ethic. The result is often stimulating to the ears and the brain that sits between them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

HurdAudio Rotation: Staples of the Downtown, AACM and American Mavericks Scenes

Jim Staley: Mumbo Jumbo. 1993. Einstein Records: 004.

Jim Staley: trombone - in assorted trios with:
Wayne Horvitz: piano, DX7, RX11, drum machine
Elliott Sharp: double-neck guitar/bass, soprano saxophone
Shelley Hirsch: voice
Samm Bennett: drums, percussion, electronic percussion
Bill Frisell: guitar
Ikue Mori: drums, drum machine
Fred Frith: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
John Zorn: alto saxophone

Free improvised trombone at the center of an outer shell of major figures of the old New York downtown scene. After spending time listening - and witnessing - Ikue Mori as a laptop/electronics figure it's interesting to hear her work as a drummer on this project. The transition from drum kit to drum machine to laptop is a clear - sonically contiguous - evolution. Jim Staley holds his own and thrives within each trio environment. The dose of early Frisell, Bennett, Sharp and Horvitz is most welcome to these ears.

Roscoe Mitchell Sextet: Sound. 1966 (re-released in 1996). Delmark Records: DE-408.

Roscoe Mitchell: alto saxophone, clarinet, recorder, etc.
Lester Bowie: trumpet, flugelhorn, harmonica
Lester Lashley: trombone, cello
Maurice McIntyre: tenor saxophone
Malachi Favors: bass
Alvin Fielder: drums

If there is any Delmark presence in your collection it simply must include this landmark recording. The first shot across the bow from the AACM and the first documented evidence of a movement at the core of creative improvised music through the decades. And if you do have this release you need to put it on right now and touch upon this Sound periodically. The short burst expressions of "Ornette" (represented in an alternate take and the original recording on this disc) and "The Little Suite" contrast nicely against the long-form, group expressions of "Sound 1" and "Sound 2." The range of joyful whimsy to meditative stretches of jagged improvisation hints at the captivating energies yet to come from this important movement.

Edgard Varese: The Complete Works. 1994, 1998. Decca/London Records: 289 460 208-2.

Riccardo Chailly: conductor
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
ASKO Ensemble

The "reconstructed" Tuning Up, "edited and completed" Nocturnal and "orchestrated" version of Un grand sommeil noir don't sound particularly like Varese to me. They are unfamiliar works in a soundscape of pieces like Ameriques, Arcana or Octandre that are practically part of my DNA. But it's more than unfamiliarity. Tuning Up finds itself juxtaposed against Ameriques and the contrast is devastating. The thick, dissonant slabs of Varese's familiar works are made of a substance while the brief appetizer - and admittedly gimmick driven - Tuning Up is a different fabric entirely. At the same time, the "extras" are in and of themselves great works of music. Nocturnal in particular is a fascinating piece. I wonder if they need to be considered outside the context of a "complete" Varese experience where they almost whither under the white-hot accomplishments of a Poem electronique or Deserts.

There is one other, less familiar piece, that is clearly Varese even as its brief, quiet arrangement would almost disappear in the wake of Offrandes. The original version of Un grand sommeil noir for voice and piano is a gem within a rich vein of creative accomplishment.

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian mapped to the Triative


The G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian mapped to the Triative Scale. 3-limit intervals stretched into the 3/1 framework.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Aeolian augmented 4 mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The G Sharp Aeolian augmented 4 mapped the Square-root-of-2 Scale. A sequence of intervals repeating at the the 600-cent "tritone" featuring two quarter-tones.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Flat Aeolian augmented 4


The intervallic content of the E Flat Aeolian augmented 4 Scale as one would find it on any conventionally tuned, equal tempered instrument.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Scale of the Day: G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian diminished 4


The G Sharp Pythagorean Aeolian diminished 4 Scale. The alteration of the fourth degree swaps out the utonal 4/3 perfect fourth for the otonal 6561/4096 diminished fourth - changing the balance of otonal and utonal intervals contained within the scale.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Phrygian 1% narrow


The E Phrygian 1% narrow Scale. Each interval is compressed just slightly for a deliberately "out-of-tune" quality.

HurdAudio Rotation: Hearing the Unstated

Matthew Shipp Duo with Roscoe Mitchell: 2-Z. 1996. Thirsty Ear: thi21312.2.

Matthew Shipp: piano
Roscoe Mitchell: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone

Subtitled "The Physics of Angels," it is Roscoe Mitchell that displays all the effortless ability of dancing upon the head of a pin with his tremendous flights and sensitive counterbalance to the pianism of Matthew Shipp. Shipp's lines maintain an impressive clarity and his explosive reserve is also well on display. For a pair known for blistering virtuosity it is the tranquil patches that fall in between that are most amazing. A recording worthy of many return visits.

Erik Friedlander: Maldoror. 2003. Brassland: HWY005.

Erik Friedlander: cello

Solo cello improvisations guided by Friedlander's creative interpretation of the surrealist poetry of Comte De Lautreamont. Well worth hearing. There is a warmly detached quality to this music as it hovers somewhere between Friedlander's psyche and the dark and strange verbiage left unspoken.

Gavin Bryars: The Marvellous Aphorisms of Gavin Bryers - The Early Years. 2007. Mode Records: Mode 177.

The Squirrel and the Ricketty-Rachetty Bridge (1971)
Seth Josel: guitars

Pre-Mediaeval Metrics (1970)
Ulrich Krieger: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, contrabass saxophone, tom-tom
Seth Josel: electric guitar, 12-string guitar, electric bass

Made in Hong Kong (1970)
Ulrich Krieger: diverse toys

1, 2, 1-2-3-4 (1971) - Interpolating music by The Beatles: Help; Helter Skelter; Glass Onion; Fixing a Hole; I Want You; A Day in a Life; Sexy Sadie; Good Night
Ulrich Krieger: tenor saxophone, recorder, tambourine, maracas
Seth Josel: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar
Eli Friedmann: electric guitar
Yayoi Ikawa: piano
John Davis: electric bass
Kenny Growhowski: drums

These "aphorisms" may not be the best starting point for those not yet acquainted with the unique sonic universe of Gavin Bryars. There is an admirable conceptual purity and unpolished quality to these early works. Sometimes striking a nerve with their ragged beauty. At other times getting on those same nerves with their rigid adherence to uninspired process. Often achieving both results within the same work - as is the case with 1, 2, 1-2-3-4. The Squirrel and the Ricketty-Racketty Bridge is the most interesting work in this collection as Seth Josel brings a clean interpretation to this oddity. Made in Hong Kong is the least interesting as the loosely guided "playing with toys" is clearly lacking the theatrical element found in live performance. The later works of Gavin Bryars that clearly developed from the path explored in these early pieces was well worth the journey. Even if those later works can only be heard as a foreshadow in this collection.

Chance Encounters with Bass, Bass, Drums and Horn

Chance Encounters @ 21 Grand, Oakland, CA
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scott Amendola: drums
Mark Dresser: bass
Lisle Ellis: E bass and circuitry
Larry Ochs: tenor saxophone, sopranino saxophone

Free improvised music operates along an inverse bell curve. It is rarely mediocre. Frequently it is either the most sublime creative expression imaginable or an embarrassment of unchecked indulgence. Live free improvised music rarely triggers indifference. These two sets were concentrated doses of the good stuff.

The interaction between the two bassists was rich and wildly varied in texture, range and timbre. Lisle Ellis brings a light - but noticeable - touch with his electronics while Mark Dresser weaves in a subtle counterpoint with the unique combination of pick-ups behind the fingerboard of his acoustic controlled by volume pedals. Together, these bassists provided material that could stand alone - or as in this performance - invite creative improvisers to jump into the pool of sound.

Scott Amendola works a ragged edge between control and uncontrol. A piano wire woven through parts of the drum kit, an over sized necklace of rope and cymbals draped against a gong or a brush protruding within the clenched halves of a hi hat - each struck at controlled moments to set in motion a complicated rhythmic pattern of uncontrolled quality. Each side working along a tension of playing within and outside of time. As a drummer, Amendola is capable of doing both convincingly. At one point Lisle Ellis' electronics emitted a pulsating, repeated pattern that Amendola instinctively locked into and played around its ragged edges.

Coexisting with this intense rhythm section was Larry Ochs on reeds. Ochs alternated between laying out, laying low within the texture and asserting his way into the sonic foreground with tasteful intervals. He featured a taut sound that reinforced the collaborative quality of this music and reflected the mature restraint at work within this quartet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dempster Acoustilogical Gardening

Abundant Sound Gardens: In Memory of Toyoji Tomita @ Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Featuring works by composer/performer Stuart Dempster and artist Suiren (Renko Ishida Dempster)

Stuart Dempster: trombone, didgeridoo, conch shell, hose
Suiren: art
Jen Baker: trombone, didgeridoo, conch shell, hose
Ron Heglin: trombone, didgeridoo, conch shell, hose
Andy Strain: trombone, didgeridoo, conch shell, hose

The Cornelius Cardew Choir
Tom Bickley: director
Rachel Wood-Rome, Tony Williams, Eric Theise, Sarah Rose Stiles, Katherine Setar, Jaime Robles, Bob Marsh, Marianne Tomita McDonald, Cathryn Hrudicka, Brad Fischer, Tom Bickley, Nancy Beckman

Sound Garden Fanfare (2009) - Stuart Dempster
Circles of Peace (2007) - Suiren
Dream Timepiece (2002) - Stuart Dempster
Meridian Hosery (2009) - Stuart Dempster
Choral Riffs (2007) - Stuart Dempster
Toyoji Trombones Tonings (2009) - Stuart Dempster
Toyo Ener-ji (2009) - Stuart Dempster

With Stuart Dempster, deep listening leads toward an unassuming crossroads of sound, improvisation and visual art. When offered up as a reflective memorial tribute to the memory of Toyoji Tomita - trombonist, gardener and artistic manager at the Meridian Gallery - creative expression turns toward fond solemnity. Memory and physical space were as much an instrument as voice, conch shell, trombone and didgeridoo.

Choral Riffs was the most sonically engaging work of the evening. Stuart Dempster "directed" the Cornelius Cardew Choir by playing short segments directly at individual vocalists that they would then sing back repeatedly as he directs other vocalists gathered in a circle around him. The audience is invited to sing or hum a steady C drone as the canvas for this sound. Meanwhile, Suiren applied brush and paint to three panels - a visual canvas - with strokes guided by the sounding environment.

Meridian Hosery was performed upon a set of hoses coiled along the stairway of the gallery by the four wind players. Each inserting mouthpieces into various openings to explore the sonic properties available. Communally altering the air pressure along the shared column of air. Stuart Dempster applied a whimsical disposition to this performance as he worked his way up the two stories of the gallery space. This fit the piece well - though a more serious study of the sounds at hand would have also been equally suggestive.

The common thread running through these memorial offerings was the gentle return to the ambient sounds of the world at large at the conclusion of each performance. The serene Sound Garden Fanfare of four conch shells in the garden behind the gallery space calmly giving way to the steady din of traffic and street cars in the early evening streets of San Francisco was a recurring element. The unique sonic textures of drones and breath opening the ears a little wider into the ambient spaces just beyond the frame of coda. And the hopeful presence of a dear friend only recently departed.

Scale of the Day: A Phrygian 1% wide


The intervallic content of the A Phrygian 1% wide Scale.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Phrygian mapped to the 3/2


The E Phrygian mapped to the 3/2. The equal tempered Phrygian scale squeezed into a just perfect fifth.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scale of the Day: E Phrygian diminished 4 mapped to the Triative


The E Phrygian diminished 4 mapped to the Triative Scale.

Hello, Left Coast

It's a familiar story - it has probably happened to everyone at one time or another. I pack up for a cross-town move and end up moving to the other side of the country. Plans tend to change at odd intervals with unexpected consequences.

HurdAudio has returned to the Pacific time zone.

I'll miss the noise makers and collaborators of Baltimore. I wish continued success for the Mobtown Modern - it sounds like the Out To Lunch concert carried their adventurous sonic trajectory of a season to a fine conclusion. May the High Zero get a little higher every year. I'll miss that worn path that brought me to An Die Musik or the Red Room every weekend. May the early promise of The Hexagon Space and The Windup Space be fulfilled in the years ahead. May the Metro Gallery and Hybrid Groove Project also leave their respective marks. The humor found in chance encounters with Matmos, the thrill of scoring a pile of used Peter Brötzmann CDs at The True Vine and the inexplicable addiction to Sophi's Crepes are just a few of the charms of Charm City I leave behind.

With the settling in to a new geography there is the promise of music in the Bay Area. The land of Other Minds, Amoebas and Bay Improvisers is a fertile one for these ears. Not to mention my psychological connection to the American League West division. It's time to make noise and play ball.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scale of the Day: D Sharp Phrygian mapped to the Square-root-of-2

Audio example of the D Sharp Phrygian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale.

see also:
D Sharp Phrygian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale notated
D Sharp Phrygian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale interval analysis

HurdAudio Rotation: Spiritually Impious

Joe Henderson: Page One. 1963. Blue Note Records: CDP 7 84140 2.

Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Kenny Dorham: trumpet
McCoy Tyner: piano
Butch Warren: bass
Pete La Roca: drums

The jazz loving ear is enticed from several different directions from this one. Joe Henderson is a known entity of excellence in tenor saxo
phone playing from this era of Blue Note Records. But just lurking beneath that band leader draw is a dose of Kenny Dorham's trumpet and arranging chops. Add in the ivory stylings of McCoy Tyner and this one shapes up to be a straight ahead classic that does not disappoint.

Satanized: Sickness and Hellth: The Secular Chansons of ... 2007. Badmaster Records: BM010.

Andrew Gaspar: voice, turntable
Alex Nagle: guitar
Evan Lipson: bass
Pete Angevine: drums

"Purple Pickle" deserves hit status in the world of lewd-core music. Satanized is an indulgence of Philadelphia's collision of noise, rage and creativity. Alex Nagle's guitar dominates my impression of this collection of jams and screaming this time through. And of course, I came back for seconds on "Purple Pickle."

The Bad Plus: Prog. 2007. Do the Math Records/Heads Up International: HUCD 3125.

Reid Anderson: bass
Ethan Iverson: piano
David King: drums

Perhaps too much is made of choice of cover tunes featured by the Bad Plus. Perhaps a generation raised on show tunes as the body of accepted jazz "standards" has not yet comprehended the straight parallel of a piano trio interpreting Tears for Fears or David Bowie. What is apparent in this music - most of it originals composed by the members of The Bad Plus - is a polished, tightly realized music from this world. Ethan Iverson hears around the confines of didactically defined jazz and draws out a sound that grooves, pounds and finds pools of carefully placed lyricism. Making direct references to Rush or Burt Bacharach with the same rhythmic crispness of Thelonius Monk brings a refreshing respect to all music regardless of its position on the spectrum between sacred and profane.

Collective Ears

The Emergency String Xtet/The Spirit Moves Us @ Studio 1510, Oakland, CA
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Emergency String Xtet:
Angela Hsu: violin
Adria Otte: violin
Leif Shackleford: viola
Doug Carroll: cello
Bob Marsh: cello
Tony Dryer: double bass

The Spirit Moves Us:
Jim Ryan: flute, saxophones, kalimba
Bob Marsh: cello
Spirit: percussion

Assembling a group of musicians and turning them loose in a free context quickly reveals the ears involved. The larger the ensemble, the more ripples in the texture each pair of ears brings to the overall sound. With the Emergency String Xtet, a sextet of strings turned their ears toward a collective realization with beautiful results. The small room adding a proximity to an intoxicating live sound rich with overtone and timbral variance expanded by the extended techniques of Tony Dryer's bass. The bass often set the overall sound in motion with a large gesture that dissipated through the ensemble.

With The Spirit Moves Us, it is indeed Spirit operating at the core of the trio sound with a drum kit assembled from undersized drum heads and a roto-tom. The percussive bed providing an inviting texture for free improvising flights. Jim Ryan occupied a layer near the top end of this sound while Bob Marsh added electronic processing to his cello for a sound woven tightly to the Spirit driven fabric.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An Evening with Evangelista

Karl Evangelista Thesis Recital @ Littlefield Concert Hall, Mills College, Oakland, CA
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Karl Evangelista: guitar, voice
Margaret Rei Scampavia: piano, flute, accordion, voice
Christopher M. Skebo: trumpet
Luigi Marino: zarb
Andrew Conklin: guitar
Jason Hoopes: bass
Jordan Glenn: drums

The collaborative duo of Karl Evangelista and Margaret Rei Scampavia (known formally as Grex) presented a suite of short pieces drawing upon a range of stylistic materials. Scampavia shifted from one instrument to the other as Evangelista's electric guitar mined a similarly broad range of sonics. The striking thing about this music was its stubborn refusal to eschew any element in favor of another. There were comfortable grooves along side stretches of pulse-less sound. Textures of song mixed between slabs of instrumental exploits. Musical quotations interspersed within original ideas. Noise co-existing nicely along side tonality. Each offered with a headlong creative urge that made the unexpected turns and sequences into a joyful expression.

Also featured on this thesis recital were brief performances of Evangelista's electric guitar improvisation along with its inclusion in a trio of guitar, trumpet and drum and a brief set from the two-guitar quartet called Host Family that mixed elements of free jazz molded around Evangelista's charts. The range of ideas drawing upon a passionate and grounded sense of materials available to the creative musician was a glimpse of the ecclectic forces being assimilated through a healthy mix of formal study and ear-driven play.

Scale of the Day: E Pythagorean Phrygian mapped to the Square-root-of-2


The E Pythagorean Phrygian mapped to the Square-root-of-2 Scale.


Back after a slightly longer-than-planned-on hiatus (and move).