Saturday, December 25, 2010



Suite in F BWV 809 - JS Bach - Colin Tilney
Trio super Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 660 - JS Bach - Michel Chapuis
Symphony in D-dur K213a(204) - Mozart - Academy of Ancient Music/Schroder/Hogwood

Odd clunky grand design for last movement.

Nocturne in c-sharp op. 27 #1 - Chopin - Arrau

What oppresses or represses also grounds.

Quasi Waltz in F op. 47 - Scriabin - Ponti
String Quartet op. 3 - Berg - The Weller Qtt
Three Tone Pictures - Griffes - Michael Lewin


Gradus #185 - Neal Meyer

Neal usually plays two rungs of Gradus when he comes over, and this was no exception. Unusually though, each rung exhibited a radically different compositional obsession. The first was a study in singularities and dualities, the second in episodes of repetition and episodes of nilpetition.

Saturday, December 18, 2010



Our Father - Slaus - Prospect Singers
Banned Rehearsal 21 (part 1) - Banned Rehearsal

Banned Rehearsal 21 (parts 2 and 3) - Banned Rehearsal

At the heart of the Banned Rehearsal project is a hunch that the need to be musically good is a stifling burden upon creativity. The musically good can certainly have its place, but one must take great care to keep it there, and not let it seep into invention and experimentation.

Banned Rehearsal 205 - Banned Rehearsal

Essay - William O. Smith - Jesse Canterbury, William O. Smith

Two clarinets concern themselves with space: the room of reverberance and the created rooms of the images of reverberance made by the image of echo and the abstraction of rooms of reverberance. The classical notion of ensemble: a togetherness that eliminates the individual performer in favor of the image of the voice or part. The players disappear behind the scrim projected by their performance.

Patti's Parlour Pieces 1-4 - Ken Benshoof - Eisenbrey

This was from a recital given in 2006. The recorded sound isn't too bad, but I think I could have taken more time with these. Often I sacrifice clarity of phrasing to an obsession for continuity and steady beat, which I don't really manage either. I need to relax and allow the phrases their space, not rush.

Cymbalism - Tom Baker - Chris Leonard, Dale Speicher

This recording sounds so luscious it obscures the thought behind it - but in a good way. I love love love the chalkboardsqueal sounds toward the end. Yowza!

Vertigo - Jesse Canterbury - Tom Baker, Jesse Canterbury, Joanne de Mars, Chris Stover

Grunge minimalism. Completely plain but utterly alien. Devastatingly sensual.



Dennis Rea and James DeJoie
Wally Shoup Quartet - Gust Burns, piano; Paul Kemmish, bass; Mark Ostrowski, drums; Wally Shoup, alto saxophone
at Gallery 1412, Seattle

I couldn't find much to hang on to during the Rea/DeJoie set. It consisted primarily of James doing "spoken word" with Dennis accompanying on electric guitar. James has an attractively smoky baritone voice, but I fear "spoken word" is the name for a kind of poetry that I just don't like very much - vaguely hip sentiments and dream images, devoid of either humor or fervor. Dennis' guitar playing is always pretty, but tended strongly toward the bland. For one segment James stopped talking and played bass clarinet. This was an improvement.

The Wally Shoup Quartet is kickass, muscular, breakneck punkjazz.  Ecstatically loose - wildly bang on.Their sound exploded and the room shrunk tiny.

Saturday, December 11, 2010



Symphony in c-minor (#8) - Bruckner - Staatskapelle Dresden/Eugen Jochum

Lives on what it seems about to do, long deferred. I often get strong whiffs of late Schubert piano sonatas while listening to Bruckner. In addition to that, something about the way entrances appear out of nowhere was giving me a shiver of Varese, an image of dire spiritual necessity. Seeking, then re-seeking. Expanding, then re-expanding. Dreaming, then re-dreaming. In-radiating, then re-in-radiating. Blazing, then re-blazing. Opening an inner space of infinite depth.

Three-Page Sonata - Ives - Clive Lythgoe

Streichsextette in F-Dur, op. 118 - Reger - Die Kammermusiker Zurich

Contrapuntal expressionism. The way out is long from here and night deepens. No sweetness without poignance.

Three Orchestral Preludes from "Palestrina" - Pfitzner - Berliner Philharmoniker/Ferdinand Leitner

Concerning: a desire to let the world have its evil if only we can remain unsullied.
Concerning: worldly business and domestic business
Concerning: responsibility and conculpitude

 Lovin' Sam from Alabam - Mamie Smith

Symphony #1, op. 35 - Alexander Krein - London PO/Martyn Brabbins


Sweet Sweet Woman - Douglas Finnell and his Royal Stompers
String Quartet No. 1, op. 7 - Hans Erich Apostel - LaSalle Q

A frantic plea - shriller - desparater

A Good Man is Hard to Find (exerpt) - Miff Mole
Don't Blame Me - Billy Eckstein Orchestra/Sarah Vaughn

Most of the jazz & blues stuff that gets thrown into the listening comes from the collections That Devilin' Tune, and Really The Blues put together by Allen Lowe. I can not give Mr. Lowe a big enough shoutout for these. Bravo!

Quintet for Clarinet, Two Violas, and Two Cellos - Diamond - Chamber Music Northwest

It isn't that Diamond is deaf to the high histrionics of Apostel & Co. or even trying to pretend they didn't happen, but that he is attempting to comfort us in the face of it. The music runs a risk of flippancy for all its musical sophistication, a notion that, in spite of what has just occurred, we can can continue as we were.

Sunflower Sutra - Allen Ginsberg

Mr. Ginsberg begs to differ.

Mr. Blue - The Fleetwoods
Diamond Head - The Ventures
Radio Spot for Hawaii Five-O Album - The Ventures

An afternoon of local bands on the make.

The Who by Numbers - The Who

Default move: Go to power. This quickly runs into diminishing returns. It is always a pleasure to listen to Keith & John do their thing, but the general bad-feeling of the album gets tiresome.


Gradus #184 - Neal Meyer

Crosstalk (website)
Jesse Canterbury, clarinet & bass clarinet; Brian Cobb, bass; Paul Kikuchi, drums; Tiffany Lin, piano
at the Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

#3 - Jesse Canterbury

Arrangement of "Cage" - Charles Ives
Steady - Brian Cobb

I lost track of what the pieces were, and also of who did the arrangement of the Charles Ives song Cage (??), though Jesse gave credit from the stage.

One aspect of jazz that can distinguish it as a mode of musical discourse is the play between images of tight and loose. A typical expression of 'tight' comes during the high-bebop, wickedly syncopated, unison performance of the head, that of 'loose' during the more strictly improvisatory solo bits. The joy of it is in how this works out in the wild of the event, the loose invading the tight and the tight the loose. Crosstalk is a newly formed group with strong players still learning to deal with each other in this configuration. Personally I love listening to learning happen and I was having a great time. I look forward to hearing this group as their tight gets tighter and their loose gets looser.

Being a pianist myself, in ensembles like this I tend to root for the keyboard player. I was sitting where I felt I had the best chance of hearing what Tiffany was doing, but even at that she may have been working at an acoustic disadvantage. Much of what distinguishes the piano sound from the timbrally similar clarinet & upright bass (slightly amplified) is the quality of its attack. The Kimball at the Chapel has a lovely, subtle, rich attack, but it is asking too much of it, without help, to compete with a drum-kit's huge dynamic. When Paul was playing with brushes (low incidence of attacks) the balance was just about perfect. I'm not sure there's a good solution to this. Amplification of the piano may be the best. What gets lost in the process may not have been audible live anyhow. None of this should be a problem on well-engineered recordings.

That aside, I really loved what this crew was doing and enjoyed myself immensely. Thank you!

Saturday, December 4, 2010



String Quartet (midi version) - Boretz
Blood and Fire Hallelujah (first tests) - Eisenbrey

Coincidentally, this first concept test run comes up on the listening list within a few weeks of my performance of the finished work at the Chapel. The original idea for the piece was to record a track of solo piano playing slow big chords that would gradually increase in speed and intensity to a head-banging end. In performance I would try to do essentially the same thing, but squeezing the live chords between the canned ones. I was going for an overtly theatrical image, with an undercurrent of Petroushka. To that end I recorded several takes of the canned bit last January, playing the old Kingsbury upright grand out in the studio. This is not a bad sounding recording, but I ended up being disappointed both with the effect I was getting and with my playing. Before ever getting around to trying again the concept of the piece had developed considerably.

S. Eric Scribner found some interesting things to say about the live performance of the finished work on his blog. Some of his comments surprised me considerably, but thinking it over I can certainly understand what he was reacting to. It proves once again that the most we can hope to do as creative people is stimulate the imaginations of our collaborators. We are powerless to control the image itself. If we wish we can control the facts, the texts, of what we make, but the images awakened by those facts and texts, in the wild, always get the final say. This is, in a nutshell, the dissonance that propels creativity.

Suite in E-flat (Franzosische) - JS Bach - Blandine Verlet
Trio super Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, BWV 655 - JS Bach - Michel Chapuis

Andante in C K315 - Mozart - Marriner/Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Claude Monteux
Symphony in E-flat (Rhenische) - Schumann - Seattle SO/Schwarz