Saturday, February 27, 2016



February 20, 2016
Rambunctious 2.0 - Spectrum Dance Theater - Cornish Playhouse, Seattle
Simple Measures: Brittany Boulding, violin; Liza Zurlinden, violin; Mara Gearman, viola; Rajan Krishnaswami, cello and artistic director; Judith Cohen, piano

At the Octoroon Balls - String Quartet No. 1 - Wynton Marsalis
Layered Text Samples - Pamela Z
Spirit Songs for Cello and Piano - T.J. Anderson
And the Movement of the Tongue for String Quartet with tape - Pamela Z

Of course there were dances too, and if, like me, you're interested in finding your way into an understanding with dance, Donald Byrd's SDT is an excellent place to do it. It's difficult for me to understand a theater in which the music is at the service of something else, and so I regret more than I should the compromises deemed necessary to forefront the dance: primarily amplification and the side-staging of the ensemble. Nevertheless, the company uses live music, and for that I am truly grateful.

Wynton Marsalis's String Quartet No. 1 is a hugely sprawling, immensely lyrical work with room to spare for long spun solos and crunchy heterophony - a sure way to my heart these days.

Pamela Z's works both use studio/computer-reassembled collages of text sound, with a sense of humor joyously reminiscent of Charles Amirkhanian and a wonder and poignancy all her own.

T.J. Anderson's Spirit Songs lost the most, I think, for being amplified, and disappeared behind the dance (which, for the record, I thought was superb and moving) more than the other works on the program. I would need to get another crack at it, without distraction, to get a shareable sense of it.


RS raises his right eyebrow, I can raise my left!
February 23, 2016
Carmina Burana - Carl Orff - Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Robert Shaw, Judith Blegen, Hakan Hagegard, William Brown, Atlanta Boy Choir

Carmina's life as a wildly popular set piece has largely overshadowed its life as a piece of music. It is difficult to hear behind the 10,000 action film previews that have glommed onto it. I like to hear it as a sequence of abutting bits, each bit tempo-ed and metric-ed and timed to a fare-thee-well. Nothing bleeds into what follows, each is a shiny surface, glazed stone. Les Noces it is not, but it ain't hay neither.

I have been told that I am a cousin (of some several degrees and some several removes) of the late Robert Shaw, and I couldn't help feeling a bit of family pride in the clarity of performance and balanced presence of this fabulous recording.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

February 21, 2016
Autoheterophony 160221 Kum Ba Yah - Keith Eisenbrey

Sunday school songs, camp songs - kiddie hymns. These are my musical beginnings, known even before I knew myself. This project is an attempt to start coming to terms with that more directly. The process is very simple. I sing the song eight times, each successive time while listening to a rough mix of the previous tracks, and each successive time allowing more and more freedom of variation in melody and rhythm. When completed I mix them together, add reverb to suit, and that's it.

February 22, 2016
Banned Telepath 44 Seattle 160222
Banned Telepath 44 Somerville 160222
Banned Rehearsal 905 160222 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Neal Kosály-Meyer, in Seattle; Aaron Keyt in Somerville

If I were to consider Banned Rehearsal as a goal-oriented project, and to consider where we are now to be nearer that goal than where we started, (both very big fat ifs, each more like an ifsissississimo than a mezzo if), then we are headed to a place where the sound of us is indistinguishable from the sound of people bumping around in a room full of noisy toys. We have become, or perhaps always have been, a complex slow motion rattle.

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