Saturday, January 29, 2011



The Bewitched - Harry Partch - University of Illinois Musical Ensemble/John Garvey

A magnificent beat-era mytho-poetic gesamtkunstwerk. One wonders whether any composer has ever been more dead serious about what they were up to and what they were up to it with. It could be a text book for sui generis aesthetic potencies in the same way that Ben Boretz claims that Pulcinella is a text book on orchestration.

Outside My Window - The Fleetwoods
Action Plus - The Ventures

I'm sure I'm not the first one to make a connection between what these guys were doing and some art-rock bands of the 70's, King Crimson of Discipline, for instance.

Pole - Stockhausen

An odd affect of these sounds is that the positive energy is that of suppression and filtering. I get the impression that the sounds self-assert. If the performer were to stop working the sounds would flood in completely and drown us utterly.

Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Singles Going Steady - The Buzzcocks

Banned Rehearsal #22 - Banned Rehearsal

An extremely noisy recording from early in 1985 with odd echo-effects that don't seem to add up to a predictable result. Sometimes the echoes precede the incitement, sometimes they follow, sometimes they are equal in volume, sometimes apparently non-existent. It took me near to the end before I remembered how it was done. Each of the four of us had our own cassette tape recorder upon which we recorded the session. These were then mixed together using extreme low-tech means.
The echoes are the result of differentials in tape speed and start times, and the echo dynamics are the result of the different mic placements and pickup patterns. I assure you these are over fancy words for the facts of the case and the modest recorders we were using. In the end I found listening to this much more interesting than pleasing - which is one of the things about Banned Rehearsal that has continued to fascinate me for all these years. 

Banned Rehearsal #208 - Banned Rehearsal
Sylvian's Wood - Christopher DeLaurenti

Shimmery sibilance.

Devils and Dust - Bruce Springsteen

It goes without saying that Bruce is a fabulous and prolific song writer. He is a less consistent arranger and performer of his own songs. For my own ear every time one of his arrangements adds an instrument the song loses something in distinctness. The bigger it gets the less I like it. I would greatly prefer to hear nothing but voice and guitar. His strongest performances are those in which there is no obvious put-on vocal persona. This stripped-down album is heading in the right direction, but it's no Nebraska.

Extracts #6 - Keith Eisenbrey

I made twelve of these empirical studies in pitch-class-set filtering as a tool for musical analysis. It is a midi-synth arrangement of twelve horizontal slices of Scriabin's Prelude op. 74 #4, each slice consisting of all and only the pitch-classes contained in a single transposition of the (0, 3, 4, 7) tetrachord. The theory under consideration is that this tetrachord is referential to the piece. The experiment is to hear what the piece sounds like in terms of only that tetrachord. Each slice is given a separate midi-synth instrument so that they can be distinguished. Extracts #1 is just these bare slices one after the other. At the tempo I chose for this project it takes about 29 minutes. Each of the succeeding Extracts consists of pairs of slices at each transposition level. For whatever other value it has it sounds kind of cool, and offers some potent compositional possibilities about which I am beginning to cogitate.

Suite in c minor BWV 813 - JS Bach - Blandine Verlet
Polonaise in e-flat minor op. 26 #2 - Chopin - Peter Katin
The Camp Meeting Jubilee - Male Quartet
St. Louis Blues - W.C. Handy - Prince's Band
Yes Sir, That's My Baby - Blossom Healey
Three Chorale Preludes - JS Bach/Respighi - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz



Is That Jazz Festival - Chapel Performance Space at The Good Shepherd Center - Seattle

Operation ID - Jared Borkowski, David Balatero, Evan Woodle, Rob Hanlon, Ivan Arteaga
Dana Reason

Disclosure: once again, Karen and I volunteer both at this event and on the 28th.

Operation ID
Almost from the moment these guys came on stage I was hitting on bands they reminded me of - but just a little - The Who (if R&R had never been invented), Pink Floyd of Umma Gumma, Captain Beefheart maybe. All sorts of things. They certainly come on stage with a distinctly r&r vibe and the giddy high energy of youth. Is it Jazz? Perhaps. I ended up not caring much even if they do have a saxophone. They were a blast. Young people should be trying crazy stuff like this as often as possible. Please contribute to their Kickstarter campaign so they can release their CD.

Dana Reason
I love Seattle for putting things together that are planets apart. Dana's performance was, in contrast, a quieting missive from the colony of the jazz diaspora that speaks in the expressive language of (loosely) lounge piano, but lifts it toward high-art. For one piece she turned the bench sideways and lay on her back, lifting her arms above her face to the keyboard. This could have been simply gimmicky shtick, but the effect was truly weird, seeing elbows bent that way to the ivories. The piece itself was clean and lovely.


Is That Jazz Festival - Chapel Performance Space at The Good Shepherd Center - Seattle

Amy Denio and Lucio Menegone
Douglas Detrick's Anywhen Ensemble with guest Wayne Horvitz - Douglas Detrick, Hashem Assadullahi, Shirley Hunt, Steve Vacchi, Ryan Biesack, Wayne Horvitz

Amy Denio and Lucio Menegone
This was a literally disconcerting set. Although the sounds they made invariably resolved into music, and even into pieces of music, the effect was not of a concert given but of a buoyantly delightful conspiracy joined in.

Douglas Detrick's Anywhen Ensemble with guest Wayne Horvitz
A young man with the beginnings of an interesting idea and a fine band to help him out with. They play with a low-key virtuosity that brings forward the ensemble sound (trumpet, drums, cello, saxophone, bassoon, and piano) more than the individual players. Wayne took one extended blues solo, but it was far more thoughtful than showy, as I would expect from a performer of his experience and sensitivity. Douglas is exploring different corners of folk tradition than are usually associated with jazz - the folk song John Hardy, the ballad Awake, Awake - not exactly the standards found in most jazz fake-books. It ends up being pretty heady stuff. I look forward to hearing where this goes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011



Patti's Parlour Pieces 9-12 - Ken Benshoof - Keith Eisenbrey
Postlude with Jim Randall in Mind (midi) - Benjamin Boretz

An image of immediate thought - cleared of anything that isn't now. Midi exerts no body-english to the tone production, leaving us frozen cleansed phraseless breathless - a stillness through which we hear the earth spinning beneath our feet.

Blood and Fire Hallelujah test B - Keith Eisenbrey

I had completely forgotten having done this one. Please see my post of 12/4/2010 for the first idea behind this project. I was thinking that if the recorded piano part and the live piano part were too much alike in sound the performance would just end up a kind of mush. So I recorded 10 minutes of accelerating piano chords and then ran the result through a digital distorter - probably one of the guitar amplifiers in Sound Forge. As a stand-alone thing it works spectacularly well in a ham-handed way.

Suite in b minor BWV 814 - JS Bach - Blandine Verlet
Wenn wir in hochsten Not sein BWV 668a - JS Bach - Michael Chapuis
Polonaise in c-sharp minor op. 26 #1 - Chopin - Peter Katin
Symphony in D (#9) - Mahler - New Philharmonia Orchestra/Klemperer

I love the part in the 3rd movement where the harp run keeps changing the slides on our interior nostalgia show. This performance is engineered to give the listener a podium seat. Too much really, though it isn't either.

Blame it on the Blues - Victor Military Orchestra

Lament for Beowulf - Howard Hanson - Seattle SO/Schwarz

Flabby reliance on rhythmic grounds to set off colorless figures, treating the moodcolor as a given invariant rather than as material to be manipulated.

Symphony in C (#4) op. 47 version 1930 - Prokofiev - Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neemi Jarvi

Juicy concentrate intricate innards

Viola Quebrada - Villa Lobos - New York Chamber Symphony/Schwarz/Robert Bonfiglio
Symphony in C - Stravinksy - London SO/Colin Davis

Lovely and transparent - as though listening from just the right seat in a very fine space.

Up Jumped the Devil - Wooden Joe Nicholas
Symphony #3 - Paul Creston - Seattle SO/Schwarz

first movement: wiggly stands for active - arrival stands for triumph
second movement: I fared better with this one. I love how it ends spectrally with high violin and low bass ppp
third movement: If A cooperates with B in manner C it will always do so. Gets big and stops.



Karin Blaine - Live at Egan's Ballard Jam House - Seattle

Disclosure time: Karin is a cousin of mine - we share a set of great grandparents. (McAbee, that's we!)
Just voice and acoustic guitar (a pretty, used looking red Gibson), Karin sang us two sets of folkish arch-pop. She has a supplely worn alto vocal persona that pairs nicely with her fancy but unshowy guitar playing. Altogether quite enjoyable and we had a lovely dinner as well. Thank you for schlepping all the way down to drippy Seattle!


Is That Jazz Festival - Chapel Performance Space at The Good Shepherd Center - Seattle

Empty Cage Quartet - Paul Kikuchi, Kris Tiner, Jason Mears, Ivan Johnson
Sun Ra Tribute Band - Stuart Dempster, William O. Smith, Lynette Westendorf, Greg Campbell, Dan O'Brien, Jim Knodle, Tom Baker, Michael Monhart, Greg Sinibaldi

More disclosure: I volunteer at this event. Karen & I ran the box office.

empty cage quartet

old dudes bar riffing on a grump
transfigure wallowy gruff trip the
grime ecstatic

sun ra tribute band

low to the road

parade float mardi gras

swamp raft

pimped out cadi

silent canoe sneak

Saturday, January 15, 2011



Symphony in d, op. 40 (#2) - Prokofiev - Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Naemi Jarvi

Bracing - like a brisk early morning run through a shelling.

Symphony #6 Aria and Final - Vierne - Douglas Cleveland
The Lord's Prayer - Malotte - Jerry Sams/Kia Sams
Symphony in C - Stravinksy - CBC Symphony Orchestra/Stravinksy

Symphony as ancient myth.

Lover Man - Sarah Vaughan
Song of the Wanderer - Al Hibler

Symphony #6 - Piston - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz

Dreary and heavy.

No Trespassing - The Ventures
Gone - the Fleetwoods

Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon

A public diary entry, unembarrassed to have been cobbled together clumsily. A stunningly dirty sound.   

Whistler's Waltz - Kirk Brandenberger, Art Rosenbaum
Scary Monsters - David Bowie

Pastorale 850106 - Eisenbrey - Fehrwood Ensemble

This was an early rehearsal of a recorder quintet written in 1984 for my mom's amateur ensemble. I wrote the piece with the intention of exploiting the recorder's pinpoint intonation to explore a wildly strained pitchspace.The pacing is as slow as breath will allow, holding long tones out to their exquisitely saggy conclusions. Unfortunately this aspect of the piece is problematic socially. The experience from the performer's side is of valiantly attempting to play everything with perfect intonation. Failure at this is a foregone conclusion, and from the listener's standpoint success on the performer's part would wipe out the whole point of the piece. The Fehrwood Ensemble were singularly game, but I'm not sure a professional outfit would put up with it.

Banned Rehearsal 207 - Banned Rehearsal
James Brown's Funky Christmas - James Brown

Saturday, January 8, 2011



Banned Rehearsal #206

Patti's Parlour Pieces 5-8 - Benshoof - Keith Eisenbrey
Polestar - Francis Houle - Jesse Canterbury and William O. Smith
PCKE 100124 - Pete Comley & Keith Eisenbrey

Suite in a, BWV 807 - JS Bach - Colin Tilney
Von Gott will Ich nicht lassen, BWV 658 - JS Bach - Michael Chapuis

Bach draws the listener miles deep in a few notes. On any path within the intricate web one cannot step solidly down and be in a place. The ground will shift and fall you will.

Nocturne in D-flat, op. 72 #2 - Chopin - Claudio Arrau

Chopin accomplishes much the same result, but from behind a stagy curtain. His actor emerges suddenly hyper-ornate. Taken aback, the ear reels.

St. Louis Tickle - Pince's Orchestra

Symphony in D, (#9) - Mahler - Columbia SO/Bruno Walter

Manfred carefully eviscerating himself with his own reflection.

When You're a Long Way From Home - John Sawyer's Persia Garden Orchestra


Chamber Cymbeline
Seattle Shakespeare Company - Center House Theater

I want those bells. Wow!

Seattle Composers Salon
Chapel Performance Space at The Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

5 (of 6) Gemtian Songs - Christian Asplund - John Teske, Jesse Canterbury, Greg Campbell, Tom Baker, Stuart Wheeler

Prelude (title undetermined) - Michael Nicolella

Found Soundscape (excerpt) - Christopher DeLaurenti

Two (of 6) Graphic Scores - John Teske

Encore (title undetermined) - Scott Teske

I'm afraid I wasn't able to hear all of Christian's songs, as the effects of a long and exhausting week caught up with me. I was nodding off from the start of #3 to near the end. I'm sorry, and would like to apologize to the performers. It had nothing to do with them. My spouse informs me that I did not snore, for which I am glad.

Michael's intricate little prelude for classical guitar deserves more than one listen. Amid the pleasing ostinato lull sudden scrabblyquick figures drew sparks. I was like whoa dude, what just happened there? Devious.

There are just too many ways to think about what Christopher was up to in his presentation of an excerpt of an electro-acoustic project involving an historic recording of a well-known string quartet performing a mid-20th-century European avante-garde work of some renown, and so I will only mention the odd sense I had that the performance of it began precisely with his own spoken prelude to it, with his purported explanation of what he had done, and continued as much in the theater between his bemused face tilted in pallid macbookglow and the expansive shared space between him and us, as in the relation between the sounds of the example itself and the astonishingly un-present piece of repertoire music. So much to chew on!

After the break the floor to the right of us was filled with a huge orchestra - 20 players for John's piece, and 19 for Scott's (with a conductor): 2 violins, 2 violas, cello, 4 to 5 string basses (I kid you not!), flute, oboe, bassoon, two clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 trombones (one of which doubled on didgeridoo), and a trumpet. For Scott's piece one of the bass players conducted. We all turned our chairs to face the music.

This was my second time with John's Graphic Scores. In September, in this same space, two smaller ensembles performed the whole cycle. Due to the wide layout and the size of the orchestra the arc from which sound came to us was much wider this time, accentuating the dialogue these scores have with focus and diffusion, collectivity and individuality, coherence and sequentiality. I am pleased that these quick performances are still not pieces in any easy way. They are not demonstrations of solutions but problems for (and of!) sharing.

Scott's composition returned us to more comfortable musical ground, and struck me as being un-finished, which for the composer is a good way for a piece to be. The more work there is to do on a project the more fun there is still to be had. The sound of the band, with all those heavy low strings and brass, was awesome. Go to!

Saturday, January 1, 2011



Symphony #6 - Nielsen - Danish Radio SO/Herbert Blomstedt

Nielsen's toy symphony. The material has an arbitrary, offhand, scribbly sensibility to it - no better or other than it needs to be - devoid of stage-business, or at least where all gimmickry is full exposed - the propagation of imperfections into a system - a strangely anti-social vibe to the whole affair, as though all and each party were playing its own thing for its own self - a patchwork.

Symphony #2 - Hanson - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz

It wells up to evaporate. "Romantic" only from an American-Impressionist, sentimental-triumphalist stance. Far from the hard-edged "Romantic" symphony of Bruckner, or the HonestToGod Romanticism of Schumann's Rhenische.

Riddle Rhythm - Farr Brothers
New Falling Down Blues - Cliff Bruner
Did You Ever Love a Woman - Gatemouth Moore

Three more fine cuts from Allen Lowe's killer "That Devilin' Tune" collection.

Samba-Classico - Villa Lobos - New York Chamber Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz/Robert Bonfiglio

Symphony #2 "Mysterious Mountain" - Hovhaness - Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz

This is a strong, exquisitely sumptuous piece. A mood without interruption or progression. Seamless to a fault. What his music could sound like if it hadn't turned into a brand.

Mr. Blue - a capella version - The Fleetwoods
Dick Tracy - The Ventures

Riff gloves off right in the kisser. Pow!

Music From The Body - Waters/Geesin

Two Sides of The Moon - Keith Moon

Keith's party mix. Enjoyably unpretentious.

Remain in the Light - Talking Heads

An image of tabla: tight, staccato and narrow. Carefully restrained.

One: onetext commentary - Boretz

Can we talk in music, and not concern ourselves with making a music out of it?


The Distract Band at Le Pichet, Seattle

Jim Knodle and his band were at their sweetest last night to bring the new year to Belltown. Like Bill Evans at his best, their sound was deceptively smooth, only occasionally hinting at their hoch-bebop potential. But slip just once through into the depths and be lost. A fine evening of music and food and wine.

Happy New Year!