Saturday, July 30, 2011



July 23, 2011
Unchained Melody (a capella version) - The Fleetwoods

Saxophone trio for voices alone. Aural soft-porn. This is a remarkable cut for its pacing and focus. One wonders if the parents of these kids knew what they were up to. But they were probably too busy listening to Peggy Lee.

Poeme Symphonique - Ligeti - University of Washington Contemporary Group

This performance was spearheaded by Neal Meyer back in the mid-eighties. I'm guessing Fall of '84 or sometime in 1985. We found ourselves unable to locate the requisite 100 metronomes, or to convince 100 music students to loan them to us, but we were able to locate 10. So Neal and I spent at least one long day making 9 tapes of 10 metronomes each for playback on boomboxes that we could place around the audience. I think this was in one of the lecture spaces at Kane Hall. Neal wanted each metronome to be set at a different tempo, and he wanted the piece to end naturally, with all the metronomes simply winding down on their own. The challenge of course is that each wind-up metronome is unique as to how many winds it takes to generate 10 minutes of ticking at a specified tempo. But Neal had carefully worked it all out and had all 10 metronomes set up backstage ready to go when another performer picked one of the metronomes up and, winding it a helpfully a few times, asked "So Neal, have you figured out how many winds each one of these needs?" There was not time to let that metronome run itself out to be wound back up before the show, so on we went with one wild card. It turned out to be one that was set at a pretty slow tempo (and Neal was loath to reset it) so 10 or 12 minutes after the ticking began everything started to thin out, finally leaving the one metronome slowly ticking all by itself. This went on for 10 minutes or more, generating a certain amount of audience anxiety and a few walkouts, before someone walked on stage and put the last metronome out of its tickery.

It is still one of my favorite UWCG fiasco stories. Unfortunately the recordist didn't include the long single ticker coda, but the sound is oceanic and lovely, each boombox source layering itself softly like eternally breaking waves.

We're Only In It For the Money - Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Ripped from a tape dub of the vinyl, so the sound quality isn't very good. But this whole project seems just mean-spirited and misanthropic anyway. Arch and sophomoric at the same time, it comes across as one long not funny fart joke. Yes, the 60's were idealistic and there was a great deal of stupidity running around. Was this supposed to help? The most that could be said for it is that it operates as a kind of cultural time-capsule. I guess I'd be willing to give Zappa another chance if someone could recommend a better example.

July 24, 2011
Sonata 1980 - Keith Eisenbrey

My recent studio recording.

Ain't Love Grand - X
A Cat's Life - Keith Eisenbrey

This is a rough edit I made at home with two tape decks, trying to dub in the takes with the pause button. What can I say, it was the early '90s, I didn't have money for equipment to do it right. The dates I put on the tape cases don't match up (the dub is dated in January, and the takes are February), but I think the original takes are still there, so I may be able to re-do this, or something like it, digitally. A Cat's Life is a little opera for solo piano I wrote in 1990, it has three acts, next to zero plot, and a spoken narration that provides the nearest approximation to a singer. I was listening to a lot of Wagner at the time, and I was interested in how music could function within and as a part of a narrative context. Karen illuminated the score with some darling cartoons of cats. All that and it has some really pretty tunes. I would be just completely overjoyed if some better pianist than I were to pick this up and give it a go. I've always thought it would be a sure-fire hit.

Banned Rehearsal 566 - Banned Rehearsal

A very nice session for well-developed background drones.

July 25, 2011
KEE JK 050228 - Keith Eisenbrey, Jim Knodle

This was a nine-minute improvisation Jim and I did during a 2005 Sounds of the Underbrush gig at Gallery 1412. I had separated the track out for inclusion on a CD. The rest of the SOTU show will be on the playlist in weeks to come. Mike Marlin was the particular instigator.

July 26, 2011
Gradus 174 - Neal Meyer

Among the more overtly compositional of these A-playing sessions, establishing figurational regions that can be revisited and developed.

July 28, 2011
South Street Blues - Benny Moten's KC Orchestra

E-flat clarinet? Is that what I hear slipping around up there?

St. James Infirmary - Alphonso Trent
Cotton Tail - Duke Ellington
Red Hills and Green Barns (excerpt) - Nat Pierce Orchestra
Baby, Let's Play House - Elvis Presley
Walk, Don't Run - The Ventures


July 25, 2011
Gradus 194 - Neal Meyer

Full bodied.

Saturday, July 23, 2011



July 17, 2011
A Cat's Life - Keith Eisenbrey - Keith Eisenbrey/Neal Meyer

A recording of a live performance, the narration is too low in the mix, and I'm still rushing the fast bits. Need to take it easy next time.

Kingdome Implosion on KPLU
Banned Rehearsal 680 - Banned Rehearsal
Figure Study 4 - Keith Eisenbrey

Developing chords that read like sentences.

July 19, 2011
Wolverine Blues - Jelly Roll Morton
After You've Gone - Alphonso Trent

A deftly balanced arrangement full of unobtrusive detail.

Four or Five Times - Bob Wills


Never No Lament (aka don't Get Around Much Anymore) - Duke Ellington


Dizzy Atmosphere - Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker/Al Haig

Among both the low and the high, Bebop was an insurrection. I think though that it was Mr. Ellington who left the door open.

New Piano Roll Blues - Duke Ellington/Max Roach

As I was saying. . .

Variations for Orchestra - Elliott Carter


July 18, 2011

The Funhouse, Seattle

Your Mother Should Know
High Class Wreckage

YMSK consisted solely, at this show, of my brother-in-law and longtime musical collaborator Neal Kosaly-Meyer on voice and electric guitar. My spouse Karen is in rehearsal on drums and should join in the next gig. Disclosures done.

Neal has always wanted to play loud and I am personally grateful he has found this outlet. There are still some compositional issues to work out balancing voice and guitar (aside from the accidental technical difficulties with the sound system on the first song). I would not change a thing from the engagement standpoint. Neal is all there and all out there all the time. But it is only with the very young that engagement alone is enough for a performance to achieve incandescence. For us old farts a healthy dollop of eloquence is required. To that end, I think these songs simply need to be lightened up here and there, so that we can hear the words, and so that when the power comes on full blast it makes a real impact. More Jonathan Richman, less Dead Kennedys.

I have blogged about both Pouch and High Class Wreckage before and my opinion hasn't changed much. They are both high energy high fun kick-out-the-jams bands, squarely in the louderfaster PNW tradition of The Sonics and their ilk. Hearing them together and back-to-back was great. If anything, Pouch comes across as more traditional and bluesy. A friend said, with great enthusiasm, "More cornball grunge riffs than you could shake an empty Pabst can at." High Class Wreckage is a phenomenon unto themselves. Flailing limbs, spewing beer, (us old folks with sense hang back), 96 mph downmountain on a goat path in an iffy jalopy. They are the sort of thing that is much safer as music than in real life.

Saturday, July 16, 2011



July 9, 2011
Banned Rehearsal 565 - Banned Rehearsal

A rope of guitar sound accumulates barnacles and algae. We pull to drag from the depths a great dripping roar of sound murky with life forms || then build centering on the elephant guiro (a corrugated plastic drain pipe) || the clinks clacks and clangs a rolling steel minimarble.

Downtime - Benjamin Boretz

Moments last until they become their own moment. A moment of such moments.

July 10, 2011
Banned Rehearsal 773 - Banned Rehearsal

Neal riffs on Blake, arousing variants of affective disjuncture.

Frank Du Pree - Jenkins - Blind Andy

An abstract setting in that it does not paint the words, only allows them.

Thou Carest Lord, For Me - Holy Ghost Sanctified Singers

Not about the music - about the joy of it. Jug band.

Frisky Honey - J. H. Bragg and His Rhythm Five
I'd Be Lost Without You - Helen Forrest

A come-on, but not precisely sultry, something else more complete.

Good For Nothin' Joe - Kay Starr

A complaint that ain't.

Short Wave - Maynard Ferguson

crazy slippery trumpet.

July 12, 2011
Ulysses at the Edge - Harry Partch

Partch works even when it shouldn't. No matter how prosaic the compositional accumulation of rhythm, nor how flat the affect, the visceral theater blasts through.

Ubi caritas - Durufle - Tirnavia/Anrej Rapant

July 13, 2011
Play Guitar & Play Guitar 2 - The Ventures

July 14, 2011
Wach - Stockhausen

This plays out as an essay on distance and presence, unashamedly bleepblooping.

Sonata 1980 - Keith Eisenbrey - Keith Eisenbrey

My live recording from May of 1981, at the Meany Studio Theater. The tape deteriorated some before I could rip it, but you can still hear the door opening for the guy who walked out on me.

12-inch Single (1985) - The Ramones

Ripped from a tape dubbed from vinyl, so the sound isn't great. Bonzo Goes to Bitburg is available on-line, but I couldn't find the other two songs - Go Home Ann, or Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love).

Saturday, July 9, 2011



July 4, 2011
Gradus 75 - Neal Meyer
Keyboard Shortcuts - Richard Johnson - Keith Eisenbrey, piano

This was the first home recording of these pieces that I made, in March of 2010. I hadn't had much of a chance to go over them with Richard yet, and there were some pretty significant compositional changes made before I performed them in June. The intelligence of the writing is obvious, and though they are occasionally modestly awkward from a pianistic standpoint, this doesn't come out on the far end. Richard tells me he is moving to Buffalo soon. His presence and conversation will be sorely missed.

Those Panama Mamas - Cotton Pickers
Blue, Turning Grey Over You - Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
I Ain't Got Nobody - Oliver Brown
Cherry - D. Redman - Louis Armstrong/The Mills Brothers/Norman Brown
We'll Be Together Again - Doris Day/L. Brown
Lover Come Back to Me (excerpt) - Tony Scott
Tweedle Dee - Elvis Presley
To Prove My Love - Godfrey Winham - Bethany Beardsley/Robert Helps

July 5, 2011
the memory of all that - Benjamin Boretz - Eastman Musicians

Ben was in town and stopped by, sharing this draft edit of his new piece for voice and piano, composed in response to the passing of Milton Babbitt. Last February, when the song was hot off the press and there was a need for a quick recording, Karen and I struggled heroically and cobbled together a rough approximation. The tessitura is really too low for Karen, spending much of the time below the treble staff and dropping down to a G at one point, which is about as far down as she can make a pitched sound. So it was with great pleasure that we listened to this fine performance by two musicians at Eastman, and we look forward to the final edit and release.

Tenuous and broken strands of long tones and longer tones, slowly rung words, emptiness, tautening between them a poem and the parts of a poem, long chords and longer chords, words slowly rung, intoning in and into taut suspension. The closer the further.

July 6, 2011
Piano Concerto - Elliott Carter - Cincinnati S.O./Micheal Gielen/Ursula Oppens
The Ventures Underground Fire Radio Spot - The Ventures
7 Harmonies from 'Apartment House 1776' - John Cage - Stefan Hussong

The subject matter of these lovely pieces, in a seeming contradiction to what John Cage is popularly about, is coherence and musical continuity.

Four - J.K. Randall/Marjorie Tichenor

Flute and Krumar share peace spacefully.

July 7, 2011
One:Four:Text - Benjamin Boretz
A Cat's Life - Keith Eisenbrey - Ellen Dessler/Keith Eisenbrey

My live performance from 1993, Ellen Dessler, a drama student at the UW, providing the narration. I'm thinking I may want to rethink my tempi - the quick stuff needs more time in which to register as quick, else it just sounds rushed and offhand.


July 2, 2011

Pouch at EMP Sky Church, Seattle
Sean Delaney, Jake Thompson

This two-piece band (drums & guitar) comes across like fabulous blues-anthem B-sides to High Class Wreckage. On stage the drummer looks like a long-faced hippie tree-hugger right up until he starts to play, at which point a look of existential terror takes over and he's all arms and sticks desperate to outrun a herd of stampeding dragons. Loads of energy and fun. I look forward to hearing them again in a couple of weeks. They have some tracks to download at the link above.

Saturday, July 2, 2011



June 26, 2011
Four:Text:Commentary - Benjamin Boretz

From the InterPlay tapes.

June 28, 2011
Banned Rehearsal 220 - Banned Rehearsal

Karen, Aaron, and I lay out an image of intentional unintentiality - radio roar space aliens become disalienated.

June 30, 2011
Banned Rehearsal 563 - Banned Rehearsal

Participants: Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt, Anna K, Neal Meyer. This session raises an interesting question for me about what counts as a music-structural node, and in what sense that which counts as such has a structural meaning for the listener, and further, what structural meaning, for the listener, is. Theorem: What is structural is only that which we perceive as being structural, and its structural meaning is not what we postulate it to be after stringing together the collected markers of structural nodes we have heard and whose relations we have analyzed repletely and globally, but rather it is exactly and only what we perceive that node-moment to be as structural as we perceive it so to be. Its structural meaning qua structural meaning is exactly how it sounds vis-a-vis those less-structurally-perceived graces that make up its local context.


June 26, 2011

Triptet - at Lucid Lounge, Seattle

Tom Baker, Greg Campbell, and Michael Monhart were joined in the second set by Jesse Canterbury and Stu Dempster.

Highlights, for me, of this beautiful, rich, and completely rewarding show: Michael's long slow solo in the first set, deep as a river at night; The interplay of Greg's elaborately melodic drumming and the friendly hubbub of the lounge; The palpable human warmth between the audience and performers. A truly memorable evening of mountaintop playing by all at every moment. Thank you!

July 1, 2011

Seattle Composer's Salon
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Four Songs from Seven Songs of Death - Stuart Wheeler
Stuart Wheeler, voice; John Teske, string bass; Brianna Atwood (name?), viola; Jesse Canterbury, clarinet; Richard Johnson, trombone; Tom Baker, guitar; Dianne Ashbrook (name?), bassoon.

These songs steer an interesting course through contrasts of atomospheria and concretia, among deep pools of abstract repetitive structures and gaping maws of gooey sensuality. I'm not sure where they come out in the end - but I'm sure interested to find out.

Storm Before the Calm - Jeffrey Izzo
Dana Wen, piano

Clever title, but if you're going to put 'storm' in it then put STORM in it. I think Dana did about as well as could be done, but in the end it just didn't make it for me.

Three Movements from The Cage Elegies - Tom Baker
Tom Baker, guitar

Nowhere, Questions, Middle - Luminously coherent lyric utterances, contrasting poignantly with the well-known predilections of the elegaic subject.