Saturday, January 6, 2018



"What am I doing, mind in the concert hall like that? Maybe it's better to state things more generally: something happens, which will have had, quite inadvertently, any number of complex, variable, and unforeseen interactions with everything else, down to the molecular level. This immanent vitality is quite incidental, belying the notion that one ever does more or less than simply take part in it. Music situates parts -- gathering up bundles of messy connectivity, listening in; putting an ear to all that vast, tangled darkness, we draw close to the beating heart. The question of what we do in music is therefore revitalized by the exploration of incident."
Mark So "Music is Full of Incident (Christian Wolff at 80)" Open Space Magazine Issue 17/18 spring 2015/fall 2015



December 31, 2017
Sheridan Riley (with 5-Track)
Red Ribbon
Ben von Wildenhaus (with Amanda (?) Blue (sp?))

Gainsbourg, Seattle

Decades ago I lived in an apartment that shared a long wall with Benjamin Boretz's basement music studio in Red Hook, NY. When improvisation sessions were happening in that next room I would often turn the television on without the sound and see what the crazy music next door did unto Barney Miller or baseball. It was more often than not the best thing that had ever happened to television. Gainsbourg is a 'French themed' bistro in Greenwood, Seattle, that, among other things (including excellent food), features (or at least did that night) old French films projected silently, with sub-titles, on the wall behind the tiny stage. These continued through the three musical presentations. I have seen many intentional multi-media works, strenuous juxtapositions of elements, curatorial and high-toned, but rarely have I been so ravished as by this haphazard mashup. Earnest late night conversations across the traveled years.
Red Ribbon at Gainsbourg, December 31, 2017

Sheridan Riley presented as a well-dressed drummer/guitarist/singer joined by 5-Track (or so I'm told), who is a local musician playing bass (or playing guitar as though it were a bass - memory fails). They came on so gently into the evening as to be a near ambience, inviting and warm. It was fabulous to see Red Ribbon again, this time as Emma Danner just herself, her guitar and a little keyboard. Freed from any need to rise over a full band, she was finding all sorts of wonderful spots in her upper register that I had not heard before. A marvelous voice with, I suspect, riches she hasn't discovered yet. More please. Ben von Wildenhaus, back to mostly guitar playing, but with occasional vocal-percussive interjections. A singer, costumed to the French nines, joined him on several numbers, or perhaps stepped forward out of the old time cinema wall, for sure at least playing along with the oldies act, hand gestures and vocal styling streaming from mid-20th century continental torch-song. Too bad she couldn't bring one of those old radio show microphones along with!

January 5, 2018
Seattle Composers' Salon
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Ian McKnight - The Trees Awaken

Story telling is a mode of experiencing time. Melody is another. The reticence with which many composers approach even the notion that they might be exploring the landscape created between them is due, in part, I think, to the unquestionable difficulty of, first: getting the story and melody modes right, and second: getting those modes to work together as a synthesis. Or rather, the issue may simply be one of trajectory. Is this a melody that tells or is it a tale told in melody? In this case, clearly the former. Unfortunately Ian was ill, but we experienced his piece as a projected video file of a live (situated in a lively Tacoma cafe) performance. The players were Ian on flute, Clement Reid on piano, and Carson Farley on cello.

Carson Farley - Film Music

Same set up, same ensemble, video from the same cafe performance, customers walking through the frame, coffee grinders grinding, espresso makers hissing. I must admit it is quite a mind bend to experience, on film, as it were, a performance of a music written for a different film than that which we were witnessing. Between the mind bend, the frozen-eye videography, and my increasing anxiety concerning my own impending performance, I admit to not being as focussed on the music as I would like to be.

Patrick O'Keefe - A Morning Stroll - Thornton Creek Clarinet Quartet

We heard an earlier version of this piece last year. Patrick has tightened it up considerably, and the ensemble of 3 regular sized clarinets (not sure if they were B-flats or A's) and one bass clarinet sounded great. An attractive and entertaining jaunt somewhat in the vein of Nielsen, but happier.

Aaron Keyt - Selections from Music for Wallace

Aaron and I go way back. Wayyy back. On top of that, these pieces are in my stack of "prepare these next" scores, so I wasn't hearing them cold. However, hearing them while playing them is quite different from hearing them while not also concerned with fingering and note reading. What shines, and it shines bright, is their knife-edge poetic focus. These pieces do not bludgeon, they incise.

Keith Eisenbrey - Selections from Second Thoughts

I'll refrain (this time) from commenting on my own pieces, other than to list their names: A a, B a, B b, C a, C b, C c, D a, D b, D c, D d. Since I only found out I was on this show at 1:30 that afternoon (at the time it was thought that Ian's illness might leave two spots open) I stopped before I got to any that were difficult to play. I mentioned during the Q&A a midi version of all the parts packed in the box. Here it is:

And here are all the parts spread out on the floor, performed on a real life piano:


January 1, 2018
The Fifte Pavian and the Galliarde to the Fifte Pavian - William Byrd - Elizabeth Farr [from My Ladye Nevells Booke]

Phrases to savor in the mouth, ornamented with florid scholarly encrustations, glossed, commentaried, captioned, titled, moraled, glowing with all of text's accoutrements.

Black Cat Blues - Old Pal SmokeShop Four [from Alan Lowe's Really The Blues]

Sitting close to that uncomfortable region where the blues veer near or into their own caricature.

Jackhammer Blues - Woody Guthrie [from Columbia River Collection]

Each line is short a beat, which is to say that they is some sevens in there snuck among the eights.

I Walk The Line - Johnny Cash [from Sun Records Essential Hits]

There is a quiet bowed tone just before JC enters, or is it hummed? It sounds like a cello to me.

My mom, seated in the middle, with me. 1959.
Elijah Rock - arr. by Jester Hairston - Lake Washington Singers, Betty Eisenbrey, Joanne Deacon [from my mom's tape]

The Hollywood style counted then, in 1961 suburbia, as popular, modern, with it. It wasn't.

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Bob Dylan [from Biograph]

Rhythmically aware accentuation of the verse in at least three independent modes of delineation -  pitch, duration, emphasis - all cooperating at different rates.

January 2, 2018
Going Mobile - The Who [from Who's Next]

beep beep. The lighter acoustic guitar arrangement upfront allows room for the electric to enter into the space opened up by the drums.

TVC 15 - David Bowie [from Station to Station]

What it's about (its words) is not the point. What it is is an excuse for rhythm games, how to accentuate the title as an ordered set of syllables.

Improvisation - University of Washington Contemporary Group Improvisation Ensemble [from Neal's Recital Tape, May 1981]

applause bravo author
goes rockish
heroic fanfare
count ONE!
the gavel bangs

In good humor I suppose. We tried.

January 4, 2018
Fall On Me - REM [from Life's Rich Pageant]

Even the drum track sounds strummed with subtle tambourine, softening the whole harmony.

Banned Rehearsal 257 - John E, Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Aaron Keyt [June 1991]

Me and John, 1991
Oh that new parent yawn! I guess it had finally caught up with us. Reed organ (a toy) beset by radio on radio off. Shifting sounds, that is, the sound of us shifting ourselves, picking up instruments, moving about in the room. We have weight and bodies. We can be heard. These instruments do not magically appear. Sudden entrances, sudden blossoms.

Hot Foot - The Boss Martians [from 13 Evil Tales]

Sliding down the Ventures' side of Surf Mountain.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

January 1, 2018

Greenwood 180101 - Keith Eisenbrey
Waiting for a bus at Greenwood Avenue North and North 85th Street. Fireworks for a new year and a tow-truck. beep beep.

Banned Rehearsal 949 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt

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