Saturday, October 27, 2012



October 26, 2012
Sound Effects Coffee House, Seattle

Beast of the Sky
The Hunting Club
Black Plastic Clouds
Your Mother Should Know

The band names increased in length by letter count and layout, but were arranged symmetrically by word count 4 3 3 4. Sorry, it's the sort of thing I notice.

Sound Effects Coffee House Stage
Sound Effects is a barely reconfigured commercial/light industrial space in Lower Queen Anne, used for rehearsal space upstairs, and for coffee shop and music venue downstairs. It is unfinished in fact as well as, or if, by design. But the music sounds pretty good, the stage is big and there is a lot of room to move around, sit around, hang around. Intimate in a friendly way, like Gallery 1412, but more open ended.

This was Beast of the Sky's first outing. They played a short energetic set dominated by their drummer, who seemed equal parts Moon, Animal, and Ramone. The Roar-core vocalist was not unappealing, though not exactly my cup of tea, either. A little goes a long way here, and it would be interesting if he were to wander more widely among the possibilities.

The Hunting Club participates fully in the mix-and-match of the local scene: the drummer is also the drummer with Peterman, and the bass player is the drummer with Red Ribbon and Charms. And that's just my limited connectional knowledge. They have a lot going for them instrumentally, the rhythm section is solid, and between the duo vocals, the keyboards, and the old-fashioned song-writing I kept getting earwhiffs from all over - from Paul Revere and the Raiders or Buddy Holly or ? and the Mysterians, to The True Bugs or The Humidiflyers.

No Cats Were Harmed
Black Plastic Clouds - what can one say? Horns on wheels, Paul Bunyan vocals and Blue Ox drums. I look forward to hearing them again.

The DIY sound committee did a tremendous job and Your Mother Should Know sounded 100% better and more balanced than they have anywhere else. Their set has been whittled and honed and tightened. They played well and I was proud of them. Good time to take a break and learn some new material.


October 21, 2012
Concerto No. 5 in E-flat - Beethoven - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa, Rudolf Serkin

All the ways a single force can morph into multiples. This is at least a triple concerto.

12 Waltzes - Schubert - Vladimir Ashkenzay

October 23, 2012
Sonata No. 30 in E - Beethoven - Rudolf Serkin

Never has this piece sounded so fragmented, so partial, so unfinished. Quite stunning.

October 25, 2012
Symphonie Fantastique - Berlioz - BBC Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis

A live recording : an oxymoron : the quintessential oxymoron of concert music in the recorded era : the artifice, the contraptual nature of music : page turns and podium creaks lovingly recorded and reproduced by the electo-magnetic manipulation of concerted diaphragms : The historical birth of not just the modern orchestra, but of the symphony orchestra as a theater of itself.

Liederkreis Op. 39 - Schumann - Ian Partridge, Jennifer Partridge

The song-ness intrudes as rudely into the piano solo-ness as the piano solo-ness intimates itself subtly into the song-ness.

In Session at The Tintinabulary

October 22, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 823 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt, Neal Meyer

Hey guys, this is starting to sound remarkably good.

Sunday, October 21, 2012



October 20, 2012
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Preludes in Seattle Part 4
Keith Eisenbrey, piano

Here is the program from my recital last night:

24 Preludes op. 50 - 1938-1966            Lockrem Johnson
    XIII - F-sharp Major
    XIV - E-flat minor
    XV - D-flat Major    Andantino sostenuto but flowing, gently syncopated, sleekly like a cat stretching after a nap
    XVI - B-flat minor    Poco allegro, rumbling

Patti’s Parlour Pieces  - 2000            Ken Benshoof
    13. Largo
    14. Waltz Time
    15. Freely, expressive
    16. Heavy

24 Preludes for piano  - 2003            Ken Benshoof
    13. F-sharp Major    wide, still
    14. E-flat minor        slow dance
    15. D-flat Major    jocular, teasing
    16. B-flat minor        deep, wide

24 Tonal Preludes  - 1965-1966            Greg Short
    XIII - F-sharp Major    Andante cantabile - (after R. Schumann’s F# Romance)
    XIV - E-flat minor    “Dialogue”
    XV - D-flat Major    Allegro molto - “Alberti Bass”
    XVI - B-flat minor    Andante con moto - “Himalayan Chant”

24 Preludes for piano - 2009-2011        Keith Eisenbrey
    I    C Major        Shiny
    II     A minor        Goth
    III     G Major        Pubescent
    IV     E minor        Claret
    V     D Major        Trilbied
    VI     B minor        Noir
    VII     A Major        Straight
    VIII     F-sharp minor        Brusque
    IX     E Major        Curvy
    X     C-sharp minor        Rapt
    XI     B Major        Buoyant
    XII     G-sharp minor        Turbulent
    XIII     F-sharp Major        Glow
    XIV     E-flat minor        Dark
    XV     D-flat Major        Bubbly
    XVI     B-flat minor        Quixosis
    XVII    A-flat Major         Lacustrine
    XVIII    F minor        Mirrored
    XIX    E-flat Major        Occluded
    XX    C minor        Amber
    XXI    B-flat Major        Abstract
    XXII    G minor        Ripping
    XXIII    F Major        Fungal
    XXIV    D minor        Solid


So what are preludes, and what do they precede? After considerable thought I have come to the tentative conclusion that a Prelude is a distinct creative thought about the idea of a key, and of the myriad ways in which a key can establish itself in the ear of a listener. It is, quite directly, about its own tonality. Considered this way, a cycle through the 24 keys becomes an essay upon the whole system, the particulars of how each prelude develops and evokes its key affecting how we hear the particulars of each of the others. The joy is that each composer brings a fresh quirky way of thinking to the issue. What do they precede? They precede the completed idea of themselves, their own particular lingering sense of their own ever-so-particular key - it may be C Major, but it is an emphatically unique C Major, unmistakable.

Ken Benshoof has been a familiar presence in the Seattle music world for so long that he hardly needs an introduction from me. I honestly can’t think of anyone who has met him who doesn’t smile when they think about him. But burning behind his easy just-folks manner lurks a deeply speculative and incisive musical mind. I remember composition lessons with him being as much about how one might think about music as about how one might compose it.
Patti's Parlour Pieces, though there are 24 of them, don’t follow the key scheme of the preludes. They are nevertheless in many other ways the same kind of animal. Ken writes:

“Dedicated to Patti McCall
In celebration of wonderful times with friends
After dinner with coffee, dessert and good conversation,
The warm embrace of the parlour, the fireplace,
The grand piano displaying the usual collections of small salon pieces. . .
Among which I hope this volume of little sentiments
Will find a place.”

Of the 24 Preludes, Ken writes: “These pieces were composed without interruption over several months. As a consequence they exhibit a fairly narrow range in style and expressive intent, rather like a collection of short stories that take place in restricted time and location. I chose to call the set “Preludes” partly because of the joy I still derive from sets with the same title, most notably those from Bach, Chopin and Rachmaninoff. I have not intentionally borrowed material from those composers but I did steal the key relations from Chopin - his way of going through the 24 major and minor keys. Mark David Taylor is the engraver of this edition. His passion for piano music, for odd little pieces, and for sets written through the keys served as a constant inspiration and so I dedicate these preludes to him.”

Keith Eisenbrey brings to his pianism a composer's imaginative musical understanding, and to his composition a mysterious and majestical whimsy. Cerebral and sensuous, remorselessly speculative, his music seeks to illuminate those most intimate of our personal spaces: the silences across which, in which, and out from which music, thought, and utterance unfold. A native of the Puget Sound area, he studied composition with Dell Wade, Ken Benshoof, John Rahn, and Benjamin Boretz, and piano with Victor Smiley, Joan Purswell, and Neal O'Doan. He is a charter member of The Barrytown Orchestra, an interactive music-making ensemble based in Barrytown, New York, and is a co-founder of Banned Rehearsal, an ongoing argument in creative musical expression, now in its 29th year. His critical and theoretical work has appeared in Perspectives of New Music, News of Music, and Open Space, and he assisted in the editing of Boretz’s Meta-Variations: Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought for its republication. His oeuvres includes solo pieces for various keyboards, songs, and chamber works. He opines weekly at He lives in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle with his wife Karen and their two boys, John and Isaac.

I wrote 24 Preludes for piano largely out of curiosity. Having worked so closely with the prelude cycles of Lockrem Johnson, Greg Short, and Ken Benshoof, as well as with the more well-known works of Chopin and Scriabin, I wondered what a set by me would sound like. Also, having largely abandoned tonal practice as a teenager I wondered what it would be like to compose systematically in keys. Over the course of 2 weeks in April of 2009 I sketched out a quick idea for each key, then spent the next two and a half years alternately fleshing them out and whacking them back. The descriptive titles were added last, not so much as titles or tempo indications, but rather as suggested attitudes.

Lockrem Johnson was born March 15, 1924, in Davenport, Iowa. He studied music at the Cornish School of Music and the University of Washington. He taught there 1947-49, was pianist with the Seattle Symphony 1948-51, music director of the Eleanor King Dance Company 1947-50, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952. He lived in New York for several years where he worked in the music publishing business. He was head of the Cornish School of Music 1962-69. He died March 5, 1977, in Seattle. His works include the chamber opera A Letter to Emily (1955), the ballet She, a symphony (1966), numerous chamber and vocal works, 6 piano sonatas, and a multitude of other solo piano works. In Seattle he was a well-known teacher and active supporter of local musicians. The 24 Preludes, op. 50, are arranged in circle-of-fifths order, emulating the cycles of Chopin and Scriabin. However, these are not so much concert works as teaching pieces for fairly advanced students. Variously witty, poetic, droll, and flashy, each prelude shines with a distinct and unmistakable image.

Greg Short  was born in Toppenish on August 14, 1938. He studied piano with Lonnie Epstien at Juilliard, and composition with William O. Smith at the University of Washington, and with Homer Keller, Monte Tubb, and Harold Owen at the University of Oregon. He taught music in Eugene and in the Puget Sound area from 1959 until his death on April 1, 1999. His colleague Anthony Spain writes: “Greg Short grew up in Washington State and was heavily influenced in his music by themes of the Northwest. He once stated, that by growing up in the shadow of the ‘great white one’ (Mount Rainier), that his music was heavily influenced by the themes and history of the Northwest. Because of this he composed a large number of pieces based on Native American themes and on the themes of mountains in the Northwest. Largely regarded as one of the most accomplished composers in the Northwest, he is a past recipient of the Washington State composer of the year award.” Greg’s music has been part of my repertoire since I was in elementary school, when I performed some of his short teaching pieces at a recital somewhere in North Seattle. The score of 24 Tonal Preludes appeared on my doorstep one day in 1986, with a note asking me (along with 5 other pianists) to play four of them at a concert at the Seattle Art Museum. They are big, splashy showpieces, in a forthright two-fisted style. There was nothing half-hearted about Greg, ever.


October 13, 2012
Symphony No. 43 in E-flat - Haydn - Academy of St. Martin-In-The-Fields, Neville Marriner
Concerto in D - Haydn - Moscow Virtuosi, Vladimir Spivakov, Evgeny Kissin

October 14, 2012
Klavier Trio No. 27 in C - Haydn - Beaux Arts Trio

October 15, 2012
Symphony No. 104 in D - Haydn - Austro Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, Adam Fischer

A sluggish reading, as though it were a ponderous work by Schumann.

October 16, 2012
Piano Concerto No. 1 in C - Beethoven - Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa, Rudolf Serkin

October 17, 2012
Sonata No. 9 "Kreutzer" in A - Henryk Szeryng, Ingrid Haebler

I only knew this work by repute. Very strong.

In Session at The Tintinabulary

October 15, 2012
Gradus 214 - Neal Meyer

Careful readers of this blog will notice that the last Gradus session was listed as number 215. Is time going backwards? Sort of. Due to scheduling issues we had not had a session in many months. Awhile back I had been expecting Neal so I made a notation in my logbook. He was unable to make it that night but the log entry remained. When we finally got together on the first of this month I erroneously presumed that the log entry was correct, not discovering the error until I was copying the sound file onto my hard drive. This session worked through the set of A-naturals that should have been used earlier but weren't.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


A recent picture by Allen Welsch
Coming Up This Week

Preludes in Seattle Part 4
A considerably less recent picture
Keith Eisenbrey, piano
Saturday, October 20, 2012, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center
4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle
$5 - $15 sliding scale

Seattle composer/pianist (and your blogger) Keith Eisenbrey will present a recital on Saturday, October 20, 2012, at 8pm, in the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Seattle. Keith continues his tour through the Prelude cycles of Seattle composers Ken Benshoof, Greg Short, and Lockrem Johnson. In addition he will perform the entirety of his own set of 24 Preludes for Piano (2009 - 2011).


October 6, 2012
Reverb Festival, Seattle

At New York Fashion Academy, Seattle
Perpetual Ritual

A boy and his gear. I can't help wondering what exactly the point is behind all this knob twiddling. It flattens out pretty quickly for me. Passionless and bland.

At Tractor Tavern, Seattle
The Foghorns

A quick walk up Ballard Ave brings us to this local crew, complete with three dude backup singers introduced as the "Bucket O' Bourbon Choir" or something to that effect. A bass-clarinet provided an unusual focus at the low end. Musically they are in the solidly familiar rootsy territory scoped out by The Band or by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Easy to take in, nothing fancy. Comfort food.

At The Sunset Tavern, Seattle
Chastity Belt

An all-girl four-piece band from Walla Walla playing in-your-face whiny teen punk. I suppose I'm just old, but I'll be more interested in this outfit when they discover it isn't all about them.

At The 2 Bit Saloon, Seattle
Full Toilet

Nobody likes satire. Full Toilet's show is a masterful theater of misanthropy and world-loathing, clothed (or costumed) in the garb of a late '70s punk band set. For my part, this 30-minute show simultaneously rendered both the Dead Kennedys and Frank Zappa unnecessary. Can't fault them there!

At Conor Byrne Pub, Seattle:
Shannon Stephens
Whitney Ballen
Rachel Harrington
Shelby Earl

After supper (at my company party in Fremont) we felt like sitting chill for a while. We knew we wanted to hear Shelby, so we staked out seats near the stage at Conor Byrne and drenched ourselves happily in She-bards. They were running late so we were fortunate to hear 3 or 4 songs at the end of Shannon's set. She has a pleasantly straightforward mezzo voice, full of experience. Whitney, though certainly swimming in the same pool, has a distinctly colored soprano, with tangy notes of Appalachia and high-in-the-back-of-the-head Betty Boop. Quite an interesting sound. Rachel is completely at home in the deep end - really superb grown-up music. And of course Shelby and her shine-from-the-mountain-top anthems made the night her own. We were fortunate to hear the first performance of a new song, featuring poison-tipped swift arrows and rock solid leaps into the low dusky part of Shelby's range. Her back-up band was nigh perfect, with special kudos to Faustine Hudson on drums, incandescent in her own right.

October 11, 2012

Live at The Can Can, Seattle
Vince Mira

Vince Mira
It was our anniversary and we had just had a splendid dinner at Sitka and Spruce. Instead of catching the bus home we booked a room and wandered into the market in search of something interesting going on. We sat down in The Can Can not having a clue what would be in store. Vince has a big bass voice, just made to cover, or channel, Johnny Cash, which he proceeded to do, and then some. Cash, Muddy Waters, Lead Belly, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and probably a few other Memphis legends - I lost track - throwing in some fine original songs as well. His guitar playing is rich in detail, his right hand a study in weight and placement. All that, and he's a nice looking boy for the ladies too.


October 9, 2012
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott BWV 80 - Bach - G├Ąchinger Kantorei, Helmut Rilling
Capriccio in D - Sylvius Leopold Weiss - Lutz Kirchhof

October 11, 2012
Fantasia in C - Sylvius Leopold Weiss - Lutz Kirchhof

I picked up a box-full of CDs recently from my uncle Jim Meyer, which is why there is a bunch of older music showing up in the listening all of a sudden. The lutenist/composer S. L.Weiss is new to me, but I'm digging it. The Capriccio in D has a bizarre lengthy coda to it, coming out of the blue and turning the whole sense of D Major sideways.
Sonata in E K380 - Scarlatti - Vladimir Horowitz
Symphony in C (30) - Haydn - Cantilena, Adrian Shepherd

A study in lopsided themes.

Symphony in E-flat (43) - Haydn - Cantilena, Adrian Shepherd

In Session at The Tintinabulary

October 8, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 822 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt


Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short.

Friday October 26, 2012
Your Mother Should Know, at The White Rabbit, Seattle

Saturday, October 6, 2012



October 4, 2012
Live at Blue Moon Tavern, Seattle
Andrew James Robison, Red Ribbon, Peterman, Your Mother Should Know

I have a soft-spot for throwbacks, and for all that Andrew is singing songs that are mostly pretty recent his delivery is straight ahead old-fashioned American bard - just a singer and his guitar. The effect is to highlight the old deep roots of the new. An able chanteuse joined him in a delightful cover of Chips Mormon and Dan Penn's The Dark End of the Street.

After Andrew's strong opening set Red Ribbon blew me away. I don't even know where to begin. The lead singer is a tiny woman with a big, world-weary, battle-rasped alto voice that drapes itself over the sound like a teen walrus on an armchair. The cognitive disconnects were palpable. To look at them you would think they were merely pretending to play their instruments, and in a grand Seattle tradition they don't fuss much about subtle transitions. It really shouldn't work, but it does, and in a big way. Sleater-Kinney meets Yoko Ono meets Velvet Underground meets Billie Holiday meets Jad Fair. A potent brew. Deep punk.

Peterman once again steered their rocking ship into the turbulent waters between punk and metal,  tightly wound and loosely jointed all to once. Great fun. Their cover of I Can't Help Falling In Love With You was to die for.

Your Mother Should Know is, of course, my wife's band, so I am completely biased. I thought they played well and sounded great. Neal's newly acquired white 12-string, "Daisy", looks superb and has a sweet fat sound.


October 2, 2012
Konzert in C minor BWV 1060 - Bach - Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane, Hilary Hahn, Allen Vogel

In Session at The Tintinabulary

October 1, 2012
Gradus 215 - Neal Meyer


Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short

Editor's Note: I found this languishing in my "Draft" bucket. I'm pretty sure it had been posted at some point. Not sure how it landed back in my lap. - 10/19/2013