Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Picturesque, Darkly Kaleidoscopic Album of New Wendy Griffiths Piano Music

Wendy Griffiths is best known as the primary songwriter, lead singer and one of three keyboardists in brilliantly shapeshifting New York art-rock band Changing Modes. In addition to her eleven records with the band, she’s also a prolific classical composer who’s written ballet music, string quartets and works for piano. The latest album of Griffiths’ instrumental music is Views from the Keyboard, a collection of solo piano pieces played by Elizabeth Rodgers, streaming at youtube.

Unsurprisingly, these short pieces reflect the same outside-the-box sensibility, quirky humor and vividness of Griffiths’ rock songs. Rodgers plays with grace and fluidity throughout a series of often labyrinthine idiomatic twists which flash by in a split second. This is 21st century composition as entertainment, informed by a sensibility that’s sometimes phantasmagorical, at other times irresistibly comedic. The intensity of the music on both sides of the emotional spectrum rises as the album goes along.

Three Views From Mexico has hints of flamenco modalities, ragtime, Webern and a brisk close-harmonied stroll which could be Mompou in a rare high-energy moment. A suite of miniatures, Rogue Taxidermy includes the tiptoeing, playfully sotto-voce Consider the Hortle; the deviously phrased Tortitude; the evocatively kinetic, neoromantic Moth Frog; the delightful Meowl; Lone Wolf, a defiantly individualistic vignette; Lunar Mothfish, a slightly turbulent mini-nocturne; the determined March of the Pengupines and finally, the disquietingly warped Zebra Prawn Blues.

The Sheltering Suite comprises My Corona, a light-fingered romp which is about neither beer nor a vintage Toyota; the self-explanatory Jumping Bean; Climbing the Walls, which is more troublingly self-descriptive; Dream Song, which is essentially a synopsis of the whole album; an opaque Lamentation; and the mutedly strutting Danse Mechanique.

Christmas, 1989 appears to have been less than festive time. Griffiths’ Seven Places in America captures Los Angeles as thisclose to frantic (a recent portrait, maybe?); paints Miami as a danse macabre; and uncovers a sinister poltergeist amid San Francisco fog. In fifty-seven seconds, New York decays from steady forebearance to a somber, unresolved lull, while the picture brightens considerably for Maine’s Isle au Haut and the bluesy solidity of Chicago.

The concluding suite, Four Strong Winds begins with the icy pointillisms and clusters but also the friendlier sway of Boreas. Zephyr hops and skips between blithe and brooding; Eurus comes across as a moody, insistent Balkan dance. Rodgers closes the album with Notos, an early Ligeti-flavored coda. Much like Griffiths’ rock band, this is as charming as it is disconcerting.

Changing Modes are playing Bar Freda, 801 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood on Nov 13 at 8 PM; cover is $10. Take the M to Seneca Ave.

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November 11, 2022 Posted by | classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Thoughtful, Understatedly Gorgeous Live Album From Eric Vloeimans and Will Holshouser

Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and accordionist Will Holshouser‘s new album Two for the Road – streaming at Bandcamp – is yet more proof that more artists should make live records. The duo recorded it about a year ago while on tour in the Netherlands. Vloeimans has a richly lyrical resonance which is ideally suited to this unorthodox duo format, and Holshouser – a connoisseur of Punjabi music – has found a similarly simpatico sparring partner. There’s lots of unselfconscious beauty here, whether you call this pastoral jazz, or new classical music, or folk tunes for that matter.

Vloeimans opens Tibi Gratias, a stately, gentle canon, with a wafting solo; later, Holshouser builds it to a lush, steady chordal drive. The miking on the accordion is fantastic and captures the entirety of Holshouser’s range, including the lows that some accordion recordings miss out on. In general, he gets more time in the spotlight here than his collaborator.

There are three “innermissions” by Vloeimans here, all composed during the 2020 lockdown. The first makes a good segue, the two slowly working their way out of waltz time to more trickier syncopation, an unexpectedly murky accordion interlude and a gorgeous, distantly flamenco-tinged conclusion.

Deep Gap is even more straightforwardly bright: it could be a Civil War-era march with moments of unexpectedly puckish humor. The duo continue in a playful vein with Innermission 12 as they build around a goofy quote, Holshouser spiraling and blipping steadily, Vloeimans picking up the pace. The good cheer continues in the bluesy waltz Innermission 2, Vloeimans choosing his spots with a New Orleans flair.

The two musicians remain in 3/4 time to reinvent a Muppets movie theme as a spare, surprisingly pensive, terse ballad. They take more of a charge into the album’s most expansive track, Redbud Winter, lithe trumpet over puffing, emphatic accordion with echoes of Indian music. Holshouser introduces an enigmatically balmy waltz interlude followed by a jaunty contrapuntal conversation before they bring it full circle.

They emerge from a bit of a haze to minimalist variations on a slowly staggered ballad theme in MoMu and follow with Innermission 9, working an insistent bounce over a moody, vampy 70s soul-inflected tune. It has more bite than anything else on the album, Vloeimans picking up with his jovial arpeggios as the two wind it out.

To Louis seems to be a homage to someone beyond the obvious, a slinky 6/8 tune where Vloeimans ranges from hazy, to incisive, to some of the album’s most soaring moments. Variations on a tensely rhythmic, Indian-flavored theme alternate with balmy balladry in Innermission 1l, then the two musicians make catchy reggae out of it. They close with a lullaby.

November 6, 2022 Posted by | classical music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enigmatically Ominous Michael Hersch Works for Soprano, Orchestra and Small Ensemble

Michael Hersch might be the most macabre of all contemporary classical composers. While the macabre is one of many themes in his music, it’s hard to think of anyone who goes as deeply into it as he has, from his chilling musical portraits of the inmates of a closed ward in a mental hospital, to the torments of terminal cancer patients. His latest album The Script of Storms – streaming at New Focus Recordings – comprises two suites.

The first is Cortext and Ankle, a setting of texts by the doomed writer Christopher Middleton, sung by soprano Ah Young Hong and backed by innovative chamber group Ensemble Klang. In the second, she sings the words of Fawzi Karim with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tito Muñoz.

There’s horror, and fingertips being torn off, “the dead tangled in a heap,” and an ineluctable end to all things in the initial eleven-part sequence. It’s prime material for prime Hersch, although the music itself is generally more airily portentous than sinister.

The brief overture is the closest thing to traditional film noir music that Hersch has written: an anxious, acidic bustle with furtive percussion flickers. Hong enters with a poignant, wistful resonance, until the group explodes with brassy growl and dramatic intensity behind her, a recurrent and judiciously utilized device. Austere, slowly shifting segments follow in turn. Hersch is known for employing a lot of space, and he does that here.

Anton van Houten’s determined trombone crescendos along with sudden bursts of activity from saxophonists Michiel van Dijk and Erik-Jan de With contrast with Hong’s resolute calm, but she leaps without warning to a full-throttle arioso power. Pianist Saskia Lankhoorn is often required to do the same. Percussionist Joey Marijs gets to contribute occasional surreal, clanking industrial textures, while guitarist Pete Harden’s contributions are even more skeletal.

The nine-part title suite, a grim reflection on the 1958 coup d’etat in Iraq and summary execution of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Said, is closer to Hersch’s earlier work, even as it follows much of the same template as the album’s first piece.

Ominous trombone also features heavily here. Anxious clusters of strings and reeds burst in, only to disappear. Familiar and juicily spine-tingling Bernard Herrmann tropes appear everywhere: shrieking high winds, ghostly slithers, and doppler crescendos. The drifting close harmonies and microtonal mist toward the end of the suite are particularly delicious, if disquiet is your thing. The persistent rhythmic overlays are just as clever as they are effective. As fits the subject matter, this is a horror film for the ears and a mighty effective one. Not for the faint of heart, but Hersch is the rare composer who seems committed to never backing away from any subject matter, no matter how disturbing.

October 27, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, Music, music, concert, opera, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Incendiary Second Part of The Real Anthony Fauci Documentary Goes Live

“People don’t want to compare the Holocaust to anything else. Why?” asks Holocaust survivor and medical rights crusader Vera Sharav in the second part of Jeff Hays‘ stunning documentary The Real Anthony Fauci, which just went live about a day ago, hot on the heels of the first half. This latest installment is ostensibly going to VOD in two days, but you can watch it for free now – and you should, even if you’ve read Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s bestseller. The conclusion is only about an hour long, and if Hays is involved, there’s a good chance it’ll be up for viewing for longer…or will make a mysterious return to the web in a few days.

If you don’t have the time to watch this relatively brief movie, Sage Hana is cutting up part two into easily digestible excerpts just as she did with the first segment. If you see just one of her clips, your best bet is her second segment from part two. This is where the really juicy history kicks in.

Kennedy provides a shocking insider account of Operation Northwoods, the false flag CIA operation targeting American civilians, which served as the prototype for 9/11, and, arguably, the plandemic.

If there’s any doubt that Bill Gates has power over Presidents, the newly released footage here puts that to rest. The funniest of many blackly amusing moments is an artfully sequenced series of Anderson Cooper CNN clips, where a little Pfizer money seems to go a long way.

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny – one of the first physicians to speak out about the lethality of the Covid shot campaign – gets considerably more time in the spotlight in part two, succinctly tracing how deep state and big pharma laid the groundwork for a slow walk to fascism in 2020: “SARS, MERS, H1N1: same playbook, different virus.” In between, she touches on how the childhood vaccines were weaponized as a cash cow for big pharma: “When they vaccinate those kids, they basically become customers for life with their allergies, asthma, eczema. ADHD. diabetes.”

Kennedy, who also gets more screen time here than in part one, unpacks how the Pentagon turned to Fauci as a conduit for shady gain-of-function viral research. As he did in the first part of the film, Hays unflinchingly connects the dots between the 2001 anthrax attacks, 9/11, the military germ warfare establishment and the fateful rollout of the PREP act, which set up the Emergency Use Authorization for the lethal Covid injection scheme.

Dr. Robert Malone, the controversial mRNA researcher who is widely seen as controlled opposition, makes some chillingly revealing comments here that are too central to his role in the operation to spoil. You have to make up your own mind.

Fauci the individual is subject to considerably more scrutiny than he was in part one, which is more of a history of how the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s was a soft launch for the plandemic. He comes off as part arrogant twit and part coldblooded sociopath. Without giving anything away, you could call this Kennedy and Hays’ Godfather 2. Commentary from investigative journalist Celia Farber  and  Dr. Pierre Kory, the ivermectin pioneer and hero of the early treatment movement, is witheringly funny and spot-on. Fauci’s whiteboard game with the other NAIAD functionaries is just plain creepy.

Whitney Webb adds important context on anthrax, as does UK doctor Tess Lawrie on how Fauci took remdesevir, a failed and terrifyingly lethal ebola drug, and repurposed it as a Covid “cure.” At the end of the film, we get a parade of familiar faces in the freedom movement, and a searing coda from Kennedy and  Mark Crispin Miller, the world’s leading expert on propaganda. If you have to choose between seeing part one and part two, see part two (Sage’s clips will help). But you should really see them both while you can.

Musically, the first film has a better and more sparse score than the second, although it’s good to hear that uneasy string quartet theme again as the credits roll for the final time.

October 25, 2022 Posted by | Film, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

See The Real Anthony Fauci – The Movie – For Free

The most stunning moment in Jeff Hays’ film version of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s book The Real Anthony Faucistreaming on demand for free for the next few days – is not where Fauci confesses on camera to crimes against humanity. That sequence epitomizes the banality of evil. To give away the film’s most horrific images would be a spoiler. A spoiler which deserves a reveal here is that this film has a sequel: if this is any indication, part two will be even more of an indictment.

Fauci’s biggest confession (so far) is a dry if damning one. Maybe out of sheer cluelessness, maybe out of sheer hubris, he equates remdesivir to the deadly cancer chemotherapy drug AZT. Fauci spearheaded the repurposing and deployment of both drugs. As he explains, in 2020, he was behind the drive to incentivize hospitals to employ remdesivir, a failed ebola treatment, as a lethal inpatient protocol for Covid. AZT killed over three hundred thousand gay men diagnosed with AIDS in the 80s and 90s after Fauci fought doctors and scientists to promote it as a standard of care.

Thirty years later, it’s still being used to kill people in the global south.

Even if you’ve read the book – a million-seller which has also been circulating as a PDF since last summer – you should see the movie. It’s a lot different, and has a lot of new information. If you’re feeling pressed for time (the movie runs at about an hour and fifty minutes), Sage Hana has cut it up into easily digestible excerpts which will probably lure you into watching the whole thing (her episode 7, which includes the entire televised Tiffany Dover collapse, is particularly searing).

One by one, a formidable and ferociously articulate lineup of visionary scientists, writers and doctors speak truth to power in a narrative which begins with the final, fall 2019 rehearsal for the 2020 plandemic, Event 201. From that instant, it underscores how Kennedy – whose infrequent appearances serve as a Greek chorus – has researched the film as rigorously as the book.

Fauci is less a central character than he is connective tissue in a sinister and deadly global pharmaceutical cabal, dating back to his appointment at NIAID four decades ago (Kennedy and most of the contributors here only touch lightly on deep state’s part in the plandemic). As with the book, Fauci’s role shaping the AIDS narrative, from the suppression of off-patent drugs, to the creation of the AIDS-industrial complex, is succinctly and piquantly documented.

Hays switches between individual testimonies with the mastery of a great guitarist blending textures with his effects pedals throughout a sizzling solo. Pairing Mark Crispin Miller – the world’s foremost expert on propaganda – at his most concisely professorial, with Holocaust survivor and medical rights activist Vera Sharav, pays off mightily.

Likewise, Celia Farber – arguably the most important journalist to cover the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s and its aftermath – is regal, and radiant, and simmering with rage as she connects the trail of the dead that Fauci has left in his wake, highlighting his role as plandemic point man. “Fauci’s reign begins in 1984, everything changes in 1984…Fauci is essentially a social engineer. He reeingineers how people think about human interaction: touch, human intimacy…not only sex, but all forms of human contact.”

Other crucial resistance figures who contribute here include investigative journalist Whitney Webb, cardiologist Dr. Peter McCullough, ivermectin maven Dr. Pierre Kory, Daily Clout’s Naomi Wolf, emergency room physician Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, one of the earliest fighters to emerge in the summer of 2020. We also learn from RFK Jr. about how the CIA outsources its spying on Americans to foreign intelligence agencies, and how, on the night of September 12, 2019, the Chinese military went into the Wuhan lab, took 21,000 samples of coronavirus that have never been seen again and then changed the locks.

Many of the creepiest Bill Gates moments which have achieved memetic infamy since March of 2020 are included here. There’s also the infamous photo of EcoHealth Alliance head and CIA spook Peter Daszak with his arm around Fauci, along with plenty of other equally juicy pieces of evidence. Over and over, we get to see political and corporate figures contradicting themselves and engaging in hypocrisy with reverberations on both a symbolic and real-world level.

The music direction, credited to The Griffiths, is spare and unobtrusive but packs a wallop when utilized for effect. A cartoonish vibraphone theme behind images of Fauci flip-flopping on the use of surgical masks in the spring of 2020 is reprised as an even more uneasy string quartet  as the closing credits roll. Although there are important issues here that Kennedy does not spend much time on – notably, central bank digital coupons and prison planet surveillance – this is as important a film as anyone has released since the fateful days of March, 2020.

October 21, 2022 Posted by | Film, review, Reviews | Leave a comment

A Dave Brubeck Rarity Finally Surfaces After More Than Half a Century

It was the night of November 12, 1967 and Dave Brubeck was pissed. He had a sold-out show to play at the Konzerthaus in Vienna and his saxophonist, Paul Desmond, was AWOL.

Desmond’s battle with the needle was an open secret by this time, but he’d always been able to manage his addiction. This time, he’d overdone it – and his bandmates had no idea where he was. This was especially problematic because Desmond was so central to the classic Brubeck quartet’s sound: it meant they’d have to come up with a completely different set and leave out many of their biggest hits.

Brubeck may have been just as worried as he was angry, and whatever the case, the situation lit a fire under the pianist as well as bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello. The result ended up being captured on tape. It’s the only known recording of the three jazz icons playing as a trio. Fifty-five years later, it’s finally available and streaming at Spotify.

They open with St. Louis Blues, Morello hinting at a loose-limbed cha-cha before Wright swings the changes and the bandleader works a sardonically phantasmagorical edge. Wright quotes from the Broadway tune I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair in a long, scrambling solo: a sarcastic band-insider joke, as the liner notes allude.

Brubeck picks up on that in One Moment Worth Years and peppers his precisely punchy attack with even more quotes, when he isn’t making Messiaenic modes out of New Orleans riffage: it’s erudite but savage in places. Wright chooses his spots as he works variations on the melody line: vaulted into the spotlight, he delivers.

Morello gets centerstage with an especially exuberant take of Swanee River. By now, everybody’s having fun despite the circumstances, particularly as Brubeck stays focused on playing good cop against some pretty ridiculously vaudevillian drumwork.

He works his way gingerly into a bittersweet, lingering intro to La Paloma Azul, then Morello lures him into understatedly jaunty blues with some steadily misty cymbals. The trio mine the thorny rhythmic complexity they knew well, first waltzing insistently into Someday My Prince Will Come before Brubeck jabs and spirals against the beat. They close the show with a scampering, no-nonsense version of Take the A Train

Unlike untold “rediscoveries” from European tours of the era, the recording quality is excellent

Desmond ended up rejoining the band the following night in Paris – where the group picked up like they never left off, musically at least, and recorded another, completely different live album The Last Time We Saw Paris.

October 4, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dora Pejačević’s Richly Exhilarating Orchestral Works Rescued From Obscurity on a New Album

Dora Pejačević was rich. She was glamorous. She was talented. But she would eventually estrange herself from the medieval castles she grew up with in order to pursue her passion as a classical composer. She wrote some of her most compelling works while serving as a volunteer nurse during World War I.

She foretold her own death at 37.

The Budapest-born pianist and violinist remains a revered cult figure in Eastern Europe but is largely unknown in the west. While other women in the first decades of the 20th century struggled to succeed in the classical music world, Pejačević became the first Croatian composer to write both a modern symphony and piano concerto. There’s an album by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with pianist Peter Donohoe which contains both, streaming at youtube, here and here. It should go long way toward bringing this often exhilarating composer’s output to a larger audience.

Sakari Oramo leads the orchestra in a lavish, towering performance of Pejačević’s Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 33 and her Symphony in F sharp minor, Op. 41. This is not subtle music, but for those who gravitate toward toward epic grandeur and High Romantic angst, Donohoe and the ensemble are irresistible forces.

He revels in the unbridled Rachmaninovian crush,, determined flourishes, persistent longing and sharp-fanged chromatics of the first movement of the Concerto. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 2 are the obvious antecedents, and Oramo rolls with that rollercoaster of emotion spiced with deceptively simple textural contrasts: this isn’t merely virtuoso piano awash in strings.

Hushed anticipation and delicately starry glitter interchange in the second movement. Donohoe really gets to flex in the precise volleys and cascades of the third as the composer adds unexpectedly puckish humor and Rachmaninovian triumph. It leaves you breathless.

The dynamics are no less striking in the Symphony. Oramo nimbly negotiating the first movement’s shifts between brassy heroics, a light-footed dance awash in dreamy counterpoint, Dvorakian swells and moments of puffy pageantry.

Searchingly crystalline solos from oboe, bassoon and horn figure pointedly in the second movement, its unease muted but ever-present amidst the swells and foreshadowing: the sheer terseness and purpose of Pejačević’s craftsmanship really shines here.

Movement three, a minuet, echoes Tschaikovsky at his most balletsque and goofy. Oramo holds back on the throttle just a little in the battle scene that kicks off the final movement, exercising similar restraint in the dissociatively reflective, nostalgic succession of scenes that follow. Can’t this war be over, Pejačević seems to ask with more than a little cynicism, as the orchestra finally reach for the rafters.

Both these pieces deserve to be standard repertoire: everyone involved with the project deserves a mention for helping to lead the way.

In case you’re wondering what happened to Pejačević, she died in 1923, a month after giving birth to her only child.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dan Kurfirst Brings His Tranquilly Kinetic, Meditative Grooves to a Perfect Outdoor Spot

Said it before, time to say it again: drummers always pull together the best bands because everybody wants to play with the good ones. Dan Kurfirst is the latest to take centerstage with his new album Arkinetics, streaming at Bandcamp. He’s immersed himself in both Middle Eastern and Indian music, so his beats are especially well informed by touch along with unlimited kinds of boom. He’s bringing this project to the ongoing series of city garden shows on Oct 2 at 4 PM in the space at 129 Stanton St. east of Essex: the lineup includes Rodney Chapman on sax, Alexis Marcelo on keys, John Merritt on bass and Roshni Samlal on tabla. The afternoon opens at 1:30 PM with the tersely propulsive duo of Aquiles Navarro on trumpet and Tchesser Holmes on drums, followed at 2:30 by, pianist Albert Marquès’ Freedom First project featuring the poetry of unjustly convicted death row inmate Keith LaMar, and then at 3:30 singer Lisa Sokolov.

On Kurfirst’s new album, Daniel Carter plays trumpet and winds, with Damon Banks on bass, otherwise the group is the same. A handful of the tunes have samples from mystic and author Alan Watts, reflecting Kurfirst’s longstanding meditation practice and interest in spirituality. The opening number, Peace In is set to a catchy, syncopated piano-and-synth backdrop by Fima Chupakhin, with a voiceover ending with Watts’ observation that “The godhead is never an object of its own knowledge.” What’s your take on that?

A gently churning drums-and-tabla piece sets up the delicately qawwali-tinged Meditation Groove, with balmy Rhodes by Marcelo and trumpet from Carter: Silent Way Miles with delicate Indian tinges. This sets the stage for much of the rest of the album.

The lingering, Bob Belden-esque nocturnal ambience continues, Carter beginning on flute and then switching back to muted trumpet in Birth Beats 1, set against Marcelo’s saturnine glimmer.

Banks’ catchy, loopy trebly chromatic riffage anchors Ghost Killers as Kurfirst and Samlal circle around an artfully orchestrated series of crescendos from Marcelo’s Rhodes while Carter raises the anxious ante with his sax. Dreamscape is aptly titled: with the hypnotic tabla, Kurfirst’s elegant brushwork and Carter’s balmy sax, it could be a Bill Withers backing track.

Kurfirst follows the trippy, shamanic drumscape Two Chants with Not Yet, Carter’s modal sax floating uneasily over Banks’ tightly clustering, catchy bass variations and Marcelo’s spare, atmospheric lines. The group bring the album full circle with a benedictory full-band version of the opening number.

September 27, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Magical, Deviously Dynamic, Cutting-Edge Debut Album From Violinist Sarah Bernstein’s Veer Quartet

Violinist Sarah Bernstein inhabits one of the most magically otherworldly and distinctive sound worlds around. She’s the rare composer who can write catchy, riff-based microtonal music, and she’s also a rapturous improviser. One of the most enjoyable concerts anyone at this blog has been at over the past few years was an afternoon with her intricate Veer Quartet in an East Village community garden in the fall of 2019.

Shortly thereafter, she recorded her debut album with the group: of all the releases which were derailed by the 2020 plandemic, this is arguably the best and is up at Bandcamp. It’s more chromatically focused than microtonal, and it’s the high point among Bernstein’s many and often somewhat more jazz-oriented albums. She and her bandmates – violinist Sana Nagano. violist Leonor Falcon and cellist Nick Jozwiak – are playing the album release show this Halloween at 8 PM at the Zurcher Gallery at 33 Bleecker St. off Lafayette. Cover is $20. And Nagano has a show with her louder but similarly otherworldly Atomic Pigeons band on Sept 28 at 8 PM at Mama Tried in Gowanus.

The quartet open the first number on the new record. Frames No.1 with an irresistibly goofy joke, then Jozwiak racewalks a bassline, Falcon climbs and descends with an uneasy calm. The group coalesce, first with stabbing unison motives that expand into spacious washes, gracefully dancing pizzicato and another couple of ridiculous jokes juxtaposed with bracing glissandos and rhythmic accents. All string quartets should be this diversely funny – and not just when they’re playing Beethoven.

There’s a sense of longing and loss in the second cut, News Cycle Progression, a diptych which begins lingering and resonant and shifts to a series of increasingly agitated, incisive flickers; Bernstein makes a palimpsest out of them at the end.

The group open the album’s big epic, Clay Myth as a ballad without words, Bernstein’s wistful melody over a hazy vamp from the rest of the ensemble. An enigmatic, blues-tinged solo from Jozwiak over circular pizzicato eventually cedes for a tantalizingly acerbic variation on the opening theme. The quartet take it out with a bouncy, tightly ornamented, increasingly biting folk-tinged violin theme and a couple of unexpected detours.

Bernstein interpolates stabbing riffage within an uneasy, steadily crescendoing theme in World Warrior, then the individual voices square off. With its paint-peeling, slithery breaks it’s the closest thing to violin metal here.

The ensemble open Nightmorning with a stern heroic theme, Bernstein quickly disassembling and scattering it to the wind across a vast, mostly vacant lot. A shivery, cello-fueled return, simmering fires bobbing up among slides and misty microtonal harmonies follow in turn, with striking hints of a cheery swing jazz tune. Ligeti’s most haunting work from the 1950s comes to mind: it’s the most adventurous and gripping piece here.

There’s a similarly somber, circling, Bartokian sensibility as well as a furtive Bernard Herrmann passage in the final cut, Hidden, a hauntingly insistent coda. Barring the unforeseen, you’ll see this on the best albums of 2022 page here at the end of the year.

September 24, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zoh Amba Brings Her Thoughtful Intensity to a Brooklyn Gig

Tenor saxophonist Zoh Amba draws comparisons to Albert Ayler, but ultimately she’s her own animal, more influenced by the blues in a JD Allen vein. Isaiah Collier is also a reference point, but where he goes completely feral, Amba is more likely to reach for biting, sometimes acidic Jackie McLean incisions. Amba is leading a quintet with Matt Hollenberg on guitar, Micah Thomas on piano, Thomas Morgan on bass and Marc Edwards on drums at Roulette on Sept 27 at 8 PM. You can get in for $25 in advance.

You can hear a little more than half of her latest album O Life, O Light at Bandcamp – unfortunately, the vinyl of this killer trio session with bassist William Parker and drummer Francisco Mela is sold out. The opening number is Mother’s Hymn: variations on a somber, Birmingham-era Coltrane style theme stripped to its broodingly rustic oldtime gospel roots. Parker bows plaintive responses to Amba’s slow blues riffs as she rises to increasingly imploring intonations. Almost imperceptibly, she takes her blue notes further down toward calm as Mela raises the energy with hypnotic waves of echo effects while Parker fills a familiar role as rock-solid anchor. The interlude where he joins Mela’s vivid splashes against the shoreline is over way too soon The trio bring it full circle in almost fourteen understatedly intense minutes.

The second number, the title track, begins sort of a reverse image with hints of calypso and New Orleans echoes, but it isn’t long before Amba starts with the insistent, trilling motives as Mela builds concentric circles and Parker artfully expands his own modal terrain. Again, Amba brings the ambience back around to a solemn rusticity.

She switches to flute for Mountains in the Predawn Light, pulling back on the attack atop the rhythm section’s slinky chassis. With Mela’s judiciously colorful accents around the kit and every piece of hardware within reach, this is a GREAT drum-and-bass record. There’s also a brief bonus track, Satya reprising the initial theme where Amba cuts loose right off the bat. Finding the perfect balance between melody and squall is always daunting, but these three celebrate that here with purpose and cool triumph.

September 23, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment