Lucid Culture


A Darkly Riveting Concert and an Upcoming Parkside Show by Diana Wayburn’s Dances of the World Ensemble

You might think from the name of the group that pianist/flutist Diana Wayburn‘s Dances of the World Chamber Ensemble play ballet music. That might be possible, but while their music is kinetic and intensely rhythmic, it has an edge and an individuality that transcend the boundaries of African music, classical, jazz, rock and film music while combining elements of all those styles. While Wayburn’s music often reminds of Mulatu Astatke’s Ethiopiques, or Astor Piazzolla’s shapeshifting, tango-based compositions, her sound is unique. There is no band in the world who sound anything like this group. If darkly glimmering, intense, energetic sounds are your thing, they’re playing the Parkside tonight, Nov 2 at 7 PM. Which might seem a strange place to see a chamber ensemble, but this group is just as at home in a rock venue as on a classical stage or in a jazz club.

Wayburn’s recordings – up at her Soundcloud page – encompass influences from West Africa to Spain, Argentina and beyond. The group’s concert at St. Marks Church this past September was much darker, more intense and seemingly jam-oriented than any of those tracks suggest: this is first and foremost a high-voltage, dynamic live band. Their opening number at that show began as a leapfrogging dance, Wayburn opening with a jaunty flute solo before handing off to trumpeter Marco Coco and violist Adam Matthes’ lingering lines. As the piece took on a moodily hypnotic Ethiopiques groove, trombonist Spencer Hale and then guitarist Ken Silverman took it deeper and deeper into the shadows, the guitar finally leading them up with a spiraling 70s art-rock feel before the band took it back down again. They let it wind out on an unsettled, unresolved note.

Switching to piano, Wayburn brought to mind Joy Division’s The Eternal, but with a towering, art-rock grandeur lit up with eerie chromatics and passing tones as the brooding second tune got underway. Coco added a tinge of the Middle East, Silverman some more traditional jazz phrasing and then Wayburn played bitingly rippling, incisive neoromantic lines all the way through to a triumphant downward cascade out. She and the band would revisit a similarly epic intensity with a brisk tango of sorts later in the show.

They played a more spacious, spare, bouncy number in between, with methodical solos from flute, trumpet and trombone over an insistent pulse reminiscent of American Indian music. They followed that with a gorgeously cinematic number fueled by Silverman’s insistence and Wayburn’s glistening minor-key piano, the most distinctively Ethiopian-flavored tune in the set. Andy O’Neill’s tumbling drums fueled the one-chord jam they closed with, Coco taking his time, choosing his spots and finally getting pretty wild before the group took it down into an ominously moody interlude fueled by Hale’s mournful trombone, then rising as the guitar and trumpet lept and jabbed over the murk underneath. Obviously, the lows resonated more mightily and maybe more menacingly in the church’s boomy sonics than might be the case in another room, but the intensity of this band – and Wayburn’s catchy, deceptively simple phrasing and intricate thematic variations – will be a factor no matter where they play. Catch them now before Wayburn gets a big Hollywood film score deal and all of a sudden the only place you’ll be able to find them is in much larger, pricier venues.

November 2, 2014 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, concert, folk music, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exciting, Kinetic Original Sounds from Diana Wayburn’s Dances of the World Chamber Orchestra

Composer/pianist/flutist Diana Wayburn’s lively, eclectic Dances of the World Chamber Orchestra play indie classical party music. Wayburn’s kinetic compositions draw from a vast array of global traditions. She employs interesting arrangements, unorthodox voicings and an ever-present element of surprise which is a good thing considering the hypnotic groove that anchors most of the intriguing tracks streaming at the ensemble’s Soundcloud page. Alongside Wayburn, the ensemble (whose lineup rotates from concert to concert) includes Domenica Fossati on flute, Hazy Malcolmson on bassoon, Arthur Moeller on violin, Adam Matthes on viola, Hamilton Berry on cello, John Murchison on bass, Ben Holmes on trumpet, Bert Hill on french horn, Spencer Hale on trombone and Yonatan Avi Oleiski on percussion. They’re at the Gershwin Hotel on 12/19 at 8 PM; cover is $10.

Pizzicato cello often provides the bassline or joins it on Wayburn’s looping rhythms, harmonies among the instruments growing more complex as the pieces go on. Check out Forest Conversations, a sort of Carnival of the Animals for the teens. It kicks off with a droll reggae groove anchoring muted pizzicato strings and then evolves to the point where all the happy woodland creatures are swirling, cavorting and marching around each other.

Labonie begins with a rather skeletal trance-dance minor-key groove and fleshes it out, trombone and flute in tandem leading the way to a cinematic sweep. Mendiani works a tricky, Ethiopian-flavored rhythm with airy harmonies overhead…and then the ensemble digs in for a big crescendo. The best number that the group has up now is Tango 2, which is actually closer to flamenco. Trombone solos alternate between mournful and more upbeat, the cello takes a bluesy solo, the horn goes into the baroque and eventually the percussion adds droll reggae flavor. Tbe last of the tracks that’s streaming right now is Tiriba, a dizzying, circularly polyrhythmic African-tinged piece that sets gleaming, resonant brass and wind harmonies over the tricky metrics.

December 12, 2013 Posted by | classical music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment