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.

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