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.

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