Entries tagged with: Bang on a Can
by Andrew Frisicano
Just a reminder that Laurie Anderson's Delusion is still at BAM through this week (minus Monday, Sept 27). The show is definitely worth a look.
Since Laurie has the night off, tonight (9/27) is a good chance to see her Next Wave compatriot and Bang on a Can All-Star Evan Ziporyn, whose "A House in Bali" runs October 14-16 at BAM Opera House. Evan is at LPR tonight, where he duets with violinist Todd Reynolds and presents his composition "Typical Music," being performed by Todd, pianist Vicky Chow and cellist Ashley Bathgate. are on sale.
The same month of the opera, Evan will have a night at Carnegie Hall as part of their Making Music series (the performers include Brad Lubman and Signal, Gamelan Galak Tika, clarinetist David Krakauer and pianist Vicky Chow). Tickets for that October 30th show are on sale.
Video of some of Evan's pieces (and one of his BoaC compositions on Rock Band) are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
St. Vincent @ Pitchfork Fest in Chicago (more by Kate Gardiner)
David Byrne and Annie Clark are collaborating on music for a future Housing Works benefit. There's no date set for that, but Asphalt Orchestra will be debuting a version of one of the songs they've been working on...
A few months ago we had [Here Lies Love arranger] Tony Finno arrange the horns, and we performed one of the songs -- tentatively titled "Who" -- at the end of Annie's show at the Rose Room at Lincoln Center. Now, having been approached by the Bang On a Can spinoff Asphalt Orchestra, with the help of [Asphalt saxist/producer] Ken Thomson we've adapted another song called either "Two Ships" or "The Movie" for their group. This will be an instrumental version and we'll do a vocal version later. [David Byrne]Asphalt will perform that song on Wednesday, August 4th, at the first of five free shows the avant-marching band is doing around the Lincoln Center as part of LC's Out of Doors Festival. Locations and times for the band are below.
In addition to that piece, they'll be debuting a commission by Yoko Ono; other songs in the group's repertoire include commissions by Tyondai Braxton of Battles and Stew & Heid Rodewald of Passing Strange and BAM Next Wave 2010. The 12-piece will release a seven-track CD of its material on August 3rd through Canatloupe Music. That includes a blisteringly dissonant song by Swedish metal band Meshuggah and an intricately-arranged version of Bjork's "Hyper-Ballad." There are a few more typical "ra-ra" maching band songs on the album too (Zappa in particular is already quite melodic and pompy), but the band focuses on getting unusual sounds out of the limited instrumentation. Live, they move in unique coordinated patterns, so the experience is individualized to the space and where you stand.
As an aside, this Saturday at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival is going to be particularly amazing, with the "Detroit Breakdown" lineup of Mitch Ryder, ? and the Mysterians, The Gories, Death and more.
St. Vincent has her own free show this weekend, at the Central Park SummerStage Sunday (8/1) afternoon, with openers Tune-Yards and Basia Bulat.
A video of Asphalt Orchestra doing that Meshuggah song on WNYC, and their schedule, plus a video of Annie doing a nylon-string version of "Actor Out of Work," are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
The annual Bang on a Can Marathon took over the World Financial Center Winter Garden Sunday, June 27th for 13 hours (one over the expected 12).
As evidenced in the pictures below, I only caught the last quarter or so of the night (it the was the same day as Gil Scott-Heron in Central Park). The day was packed with curiosity-provoking sets, like the US premiere of Fausto Romitelli's "Professor Bad Trip," performed by the Talea Ensemble...
Broken into three "lessons," the dense piece vividly communicated a kind of doomed atmosphere, beginning with sighing, deflating sounds pouring out of the winds and violins and pitched percussion nervously skittering, and later growing into thunderous sound from the full chamber orchestra. The highlight came in the second section, with a pained, growling cello solo played with impressive control by Chris Gross.When I arrived, a group of musicians, Slagwerk Den Haag, were scribbling furiously (and rhythmically) on chalk boards.
While Romitelli had his share of devotees, there was a clear sense of relief with the contrast Buke and Gass offered next. Playing their namesake baritone ukelele (buke) and guitar-bass hybrid (it's pronounced "gase"), and a drum with tambourines embedded, their emphatic, quirky brand of rock, enhanced by buke player Arone Dyer's pure folk-singer voice, was exactly what the crowd needed.
[NJ Star Ledger]
A focus toward the end seemed to be video projections, which accompanied the double bass loops of Florent Ghys, guitarist Tim Brady's wall of sound, and the night's final performance by Signal, Shelter, a piece composed by Bang on a Can heads Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. Burkina Electric provided a late-evening burst of energy with West African dance music (they play Celebrate Brooklyn on July 8th and Central Park on July 25th).
Q2 will be broadcasting music from this year's Marathon in August (as will WNYC's New Sounds), so look out for that.
More pictures are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Bang on a Can 2009 (photo by Stephanie Berger)
The schedule is up for this year's Bang on a Can Marathon, the free day-long affair hosted at the World Financial Center Winter Garden. This year's 12-hour show takes place on Sunday, June 27th from noon to midnight. It starts with a performance by John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble and closes with sets by Burkina Electric (who also play SummerStage), and new music ensemble Signal doing a piece by BoaC cofounders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. The entire thing is posted below. There's also a Youtube playlist of this year's artists to get yourself acquainted.
The Marathon will be recorded for an episode of WNYC's New Sounds in August, but before that the station will be broadcasting and streaming (on Q2) parts of BoaC marathons past (possibly including 2007's 27-hour fest, 2008's 4am Dan Deacon set or parts of last year's thoroughly enjoyable show).
The full schedule and details on the radio programming are below...
BAM Next Wave Festival 2010 (the annual music/dance/theater/opera series to run September 21--Decemeber 19) will include work & performances by Laurie Anderson (doing the NY premiere of her work Delusion), a song cycle from Stew and Heidi Rodewald (of Passing Strange fame), music by NOLA's Trombone Shorty, Mikel Rouse's multimedia-song project Gravity Radio, and A House in Bali, an opera by Bang on a Can All-Star's Evan Ziporyn featuring Balinese Gamelan Salukat and BoaC All-Stars.
Next Wave Festival subscription tickets for Friends of BAM (as well as subscribers to both the 2010 Spring Season and 2009 Next Wave Festival) are on sale Jun 7; subscription tickets for the general public are on sale Jun 14. Single tickets for Delusion and Vollmond are on sale Aug 30 (Aug 23 for Friends of BAM).
More info on the above-mentioned shows is below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Matmos and So Percussion at the Whitney, 2006 (via Matador)
New music quartet So Percussion and electronic duo Matmos (Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt) are collaborating on a new record, Treasure State, set to come out July 13th (July 8th digitally) on Cantaloupe. They recorded the record at the SnowGhost Studios in Whitefish, Montana, where "San Francisco plunderphonicist Wobbly then chopped and edited the results on several tracks, and finally, with frequent interventions from Matmos' M. C. Schmidt, 'fifth' So Percussion member and produced by Lawson White overdubbed extra elements, processed, and mixed the results." The instruments used include ceramic planters, pails of water, aluminum beer cans and cactus needles - not totally surprising if you've seen their live show.
Matmos and So Percussion will be playing at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, June 9th. Tickets are on sale now. A full tour tour for the groups will be announced soon.
Before then, So Percussion's schedule includes an appearance at the Look & Listen Festival (which they play annually) on May 8th at Gary Snyder/Project Space (250 West 26th St). The other events for the three-day fest, details here, happen at Chelsea Art Museum. Tickets are on sale.
This summer, So Percussion will play on one night of Lincoln Center's two-night "Complete Works of Edgard Varèse" program. They'll join International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) to perform music by the highly influential composer (though Poème électronique will play itself). The second night features NY Philharmonic. Details on the program are below and tickets are on sale.
If that seems far off, in 2011 So Percussion will join Bang on a Can All-Stars, eighth blackbird and Kronos Quartet for a "Music of Steve Reich" concert at Carnegie Hall on April 30th. They'll perform new works and2009 Pulitzer Prize winning Double Sextet.
As for Matmos, they perform at Mutek Music Fest in Montreal on June 2nd.
Album tracklist, all tour dates, and more info on the Look & Listen and Lincoln Center shows are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Signal at LPR
New music ensemble Signal will visit (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, April 11th for two performances of Philip Glass's 1981 album Glassworks (its NY live premiere) along with Glass's "Music in Similar Motion" and other works. Tickets for the early set and late set are both on sale. Clips from Glassworks are posted below.
Also coming up, Signal will be at Merkin Hall on May 27th to debut a new piece by Nico Muhly and UK composer Harrison Birtwistle's The Corridor (its US premiere). The show is part of Kaufman Center's Contemporary Contexts series and Face the Music, "Kaufman Center's critically-acclaimed teen ensemble," will open with a pre-show performance of Muhly's "Honest Music" and "How About Now." Tickets are on sale for that.
Nico Muhly (who worked on the new albums by Jonsi and Sam Amidon, and who played himself quite a bit at Big Ears Fest) was commissioned along with composers Sean Shepherd and Matthias Pintscher to write a piece for Contact!, the NY Philharmonic's new music series that kicked off last December. All three pieces debut April 16th at Symphony Space (and played again a day later at Metropolitan Museum of Art). Tickets for Symphony Space show are on sale.
Outside of NYC, Signal travels upstate to join Eastman School of Music's Musica Nova and others in performing Steve Reich pieces in Rochester and Buffalo this May and June (works include Music for 18 Musicians and Pulitzer winning Double Sextet).
Another thing Signal has on its calendar is the 2010 Bang on a Can Marathon, set for Sunday, June 27th, noon-midnight, at World Financial Center Winter Garden. At the fest, the group will participate in Shelter, a multimedia work co-composed by BoaC founders Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and David Lang. The initial lineup also includes the US premiere of Professor Bad Trip by Fausto Romitelli. A video of that piece is below.
Most recently, Signal joined Shara Worden and others to perform Sarah Kirkland Snider's Penelope at Galapagos on Saturday, April 3rd.
All the above-mentioned videos posted below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Collaborations were the order of the day on Big Ears' Saturday, March 27th schedule (day two). At 1pm, the 802 Tour - Nico Muhly, Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) and Sam Amidon with violist Nadia Sirota - performed songs written by each. The National's Dessner brothers and drummer Bryan Devendorf joined for a selection of full-band Doveman songs, and the finale was a clamoring, epic version of the folk song "The Two Sisters" arranged by Nico (part of the percussion included Nico combing Thomas's hair). Sam played his own set with help from Thomas one day earlier, and later Saturday night.
Before that, the day started with Andrew W.K.'s Q&A-heavy lecture at the Knoxville Museum of Art (he played a set of music the night before) and a Bang on a Can All-Stars set that included works by Dave Longstreth, both at noon. Dirty Projectors performed later in the day (3:45pm) at Tennessee Theatre on a bill that also included DJ/Rupture and William Basinski who went on at the same time as Liturgy (who played at the Big Ears Annex at 2pm and then again at Pilot Light at midnight).
Clogs took the stage at the Bijou Theater with guests as well. Rumors of a solo set by Sufjan Steven circulated, but he only played one of his own songs, "Barn Owl Night Killer," on piano. Clogs were also assisted by Shara Worden, Aaron Dessner and Calder Quartet. Matt Berninger was delayed en route to Knoxville, so he didn't make his duet on "Last Song," for which main Clog Padma Newsome filled in. That wasn't the actual last song - new-album closer "We Were Here" was, which featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo along with Shara Worden and guitar by Aaron Dessner. A similar show happened in Brooklyn a few days earlier.
The Saturday headliners - Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom - both played to sold out crowds (Vampire Weekend at the sprawling, ornate-adorned 1600 seat Tennessee Theater with opener Abe Vigoda). Joanna Newsom's set was opened by Fred Armisen aka Jens Hannemann, a master of "complicated drummer technique." Armisen also joined her set for one song to play awkward and out-of-place cowbell.
At the Tennessee, the night ended with Terry Riley's Autodreamagraphical Tales - music from Bang on a Can over Terry reading from his actual dreams (Eastern religion and weed popped up frequently) - and In C, led by BoaC's Evan Ziporyn and featuring the rest of Bang on a Can All-Stars as well as Calder Quartet, Clogs, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, Gyan Riley, and Terry on voice. The open-ended song stretched to an hour, canceling out any chance to catch late night sets from Javelin and Gang Gang Dance. Gang Gang was stil going when I arrived, but the club shut down the power mid-song and flipped on the lights promptly at 3am, sending everyone home.
A recap of Friday is HERE. More pictures and videos from Saturday are below...
Tonight's Bang on a Can All-Stars show at Merkin Hall (2/24), which will be premiering new pieces by Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison, Christine Southworth and Dirty Projectors' David Longstreth (as well as a selection of Brian Eno's Music for Airports), will be streaming online on WQXR's online Q2 station at 7:30pm EST. More info on the evening is below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Clogs - Red Seas w/ Padma Newsome (MP3)
Dave Longstreth @ MHOW in December (more by Ryan Muir)
The final lineup for Big Ears Festival in Knoxville TN, March 26-28, has been confirmed and updated, with the addition of King Crimson's Adrian Belew, tape composer William Basinski, NYC metal Liturgy (who are also playing MtyMx), UK avant-noisemakers Konk Pack, punk band Abe Vigoda, Ches Smith (drummer for Marc Ribot and others who'll play with Tery Riley) and Sufjan Stevens, who will be appearing with Clogs.
Also joining Clogs on stage will be the other guest vocalists on their new song cycle/album ,The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton: Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and The National's Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner. They'll be performing that work. A new track from the album, featuring
Sufjan Padma on vocals, is posted above.
Other pairings at the fest include Ben Frost and Tim Hecker (collaborating for the first time) and Bang on a Can All-Stars, who will be playing music by David Longstreth, Thurston Moore, Michael Gordon and their own Evan Ziporyn. They'll also be doing a rendition of Brian Eno's Music for Airports at a show with Tim Hecker and The Books (who are also on the bill of ATP NY this year). Tickets to most Big Ears shows are currently on sale; additional shows go on sale Friday at 10am and noon.
Bang on a Can All-Stars will be performing the music of Dave Longstreth next Wednesday, February 24th at their show at Merkin Hall. At the gig, they'll also premiere work by Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison and Christine Southworth plus "performances of a recently commissioned work by Michael Nyman for a film by the celebrated 1920s New York photographer Paul Strand along with a selection from the group's acclaimed live arrangement of Brian Eno's ambient classic Music for Airports." Tickets are on sale. A video of them playing 2x5 directed by Steve Reich is below. The full Merkin Hall schedule for their New Sounds/Contemporary Contexts series (including a May 27th Signal show/Nico Muhly premiere) is below.
Longstreth, Dirty Projectors and Alarm Will Sound play The Getty Address in full at Lincoln Center's Allen Room on Friday, Februay 19th. More below...
The Big Ears Festival, happening March 26-28 in Knoxville, TN, recently expanded its lineup to include the National, Dirty Projectors, Bang On A Can All-Stars, Iva Bittova, Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, Tracy Silverman, and Buke & Gass. Those are in addition to the previously announced acts of Vampire Weekend, the Calder Quartet, 802 Tour (Nico Muhly/Doveman/Sam Amidon with Nadia Sirota), Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Andrew WK, The Ex, Gang Gang Dance, Clogs, The xx, Javelin, DJ/rupture (solo), DJ/rupture and Andy Moor, My Brightest Diamond, Gyan Riley and jj.
Big Ears is being co-curated by Bryce Dessner of the National, who's also bringing some great acts to his hometown of Cincinnati for MusicNOW Festival. For that, the city's Memorial Hall will host three shows: Joanna Newsom on March 30th, St. Vincent and yMusic on 31st, and Justin Vernon April 1st. Annie Clark a.k.a. St. Vincent has been commissioned to write a piece for the fest that yMusic will perform. More guests TBA. Tickets and three-night passes are on sale.
by Andrew Frisicano
GVSU New Music Ensemble...
In 2007, Michigan's Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble recorded a stellar version of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, which they performed that year at the Bang on a Can Marathon (which ran 27 hours). Members of the group traveled to NYC to join in the Kronos Quartet-led performance of Terry Riley's In C last April at Carnegie Hall. Now, GVSU New Music Ensemble has put together their own recording of the classic composition, and they've invited 16 musicians and composers to remix the piece for a 2-CD set, In C Remixed, that comes out November 17th on Innova (the digital version came out Oct. 27th).
The remixers, who include Glenn Kotche, Nico Muhly, BoaC cofounder David Lang, and DJ Spooky (whose BAM Next Wave show happens the first week in December), all have a lot to say about In C and have come up with some diverse, left-field takes on the piece. They run the gamut from the straightforward electronic-music path to glitch-pop and twisted orchestral turns.
The GVSU New Music Ensemble will be in NYC to perform the piece live at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, November 8th. Joining them will be two album contributors, Dennis DeSantis and R. Luke DuBois, who'll do a remix of the performance live (and add video). Also on the bill are Slow Boys (fellow In C remixers Michael Lowenstern on bass clarinet and Todd Reynolds on violin). Tickets are on sale.
A video preview of the album and its full tracklist with contibutors are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
There were (more) strings at September 25th's inaugural show for the Archipelago music series, which happens at Galapagos one Friday a month through next May. Like the Undiscovered Islands fest in May, the shows will be featuring music that crosses boundaries between classical, indie, etc. (and like that fest, it's also being set up by the New Amsterdam label.)
The full schedule is below. It's full of treats (like a way-off show with music by Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond in April). The first show featured violist Nadia Sirota and percussion quartet Line C3. Coincidentally, Worden and Nadia will both be playing with the Dessner Bros.' BAM Next Wave show, The Long Count, at the end of October.
Both acts on the first night performed works by Nico Muhly (Line C3 did "Ta and Clap," written by Nico for them in 2004, and he joined Nadia for his piece "Keep in Touch," which features a vocal sample from Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons). Nadia & Nico actually discuss their collaborations in an episode of New Amsterdam's Podcast series.
Speaking of New Amsterdam, they also have a CMJ showcase coming up with Cantaloupe Records at (Le) Poisson Rouge on October 21st. Tickets are on sale. That will feature the music of David Lang and Julia Wolfe (Bang on a Can co-founders) and performances by NOW Ensemble, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and more. Clips of the Lang-scored film (Untitled) will be screened between performances (the soundtrack of which will be out October 13th).
Full details on the Archipelago series below...
Bon Iver @ Sasquatch Fest (more by Chris Graham)
Tickets are now on sale for all of Merkin Hall's upcoming 2009/10 concerts. Those shows include the NY Guitar Festival's Silent Films/Live Guitars series (previously mentioned here), which features David Bromberg and Marc Ribot playing alongside Charlie Chaplin films on January 14th, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon (Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush) with Steve Kimock (Buster Keaton's Cops) on January 21st, and more. The full lineup, with details, is below.
The venue is also hosting the New Sounds series, which includes performances by ETHEL and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Details on those are below. Check out a video of the BoaC All-Stars rehearsing a Steve Reich piece from a few years back below too. You'll notice Bryce Dessner of the National is in the ensemble in that video. He's currently working on his own new piece with brother Aaron and Matthew Ritchie to debut at BAM this fall.
Also, as part of their trio of "Contemporary Contexts" concerts, Merkin Hall will be bringing Signal, who will premiere a new work from Nico Muhly and UK composer Harrison Birtwistle, in May.
The full schedule is below...
by Andrew Frisicano
At the June 11th Bang on a Can benefit at (Le) Poisson Rouge, Gutbucket played a set of prog jazz tunes that drew on influences that included Charlie Parker, electronica, Ornette Coleman, '80s metal and more. The quartet's No Wave-inspired ecclectism was aided by a clear melodic voice and musical virtuosity. Those were all amped up by the unbridled stage presence of saxist Ken Thomson, whose swinging baritone sax was both a musical and literal weapon.
Gutbucket will be playing two sets at a free Celebrate Brooklyn show this Saturday, June 20th. The series, which kicked off with David Byrne on June 9th, has shows booked all summer. First, Gutbucket will play an opening set that'll include material from the band's newest record, A Modest Proposal, which came out on Cuneiform Records at the beginning of this year. Then the group supports the string quartet ETHEL as they perform a live score to the sci-fi film La Nave de los Monstruos. The piece was demoed as a work-in-progress at BAM's BRIClab earlier this year -- this show will be the completed work's debut...
ETHEL, the nation's premier rock-infused, postclassical string quartet, teams up with the avant-squonk art-rock wild men of Gutbucket to tackle the vintage Mexican science fiction classic La Nave De Los Monstruos (The Monsters' Ship, 1959). In the film, the last male on Venus has died and the planet's regent sends Gamma and Beta, two gorgeous aliens, on a quest to find men on other planets. ETHEL and Gutbucket dig into this fertile ground and create a new original score which will be performed live to the film. [BAM]More photos of Gutbucket at the BoaC benefit below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Brian Snow of Newspeak...
Fiery Furnaces and NYC ensemble Newspeak are playing a Wordless Music show at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Thursday, June 11th. Tickets are still on sale.
That night, Newspeak's set will include the world premiere of a piece composed by Fiery Furnaces frontman Matt Friedberger. That song, titled "Amalgamated Bakery and Pastry and Ice and Coal Drivers Local Union No. 953 v. National Licorice Co," will be "the first time in Wordless Music history that a member of the rock band is writing a piece for the classical ensemble."
Also on the show's program is a song by Newspeak group member Caleb Burhans, "Requiem for a General Motors in Janesville, WI." The eight-piece ensemble played that tune as part of their set (photographed here) at the Bang on Can benefit at LPR on Wednesday, June 3rd. Though "Requiem" composer Burhans, the group's regular violinist, was absent from the lineup, he was ably subbed for by NYC violin luminary Todd Reynolds. Reynolds helped the group tear through songs like the dissonant, blast-beat-filled "Breaking and Entering," which closed the set.
Currently, that tune is streaming at the band's MySpace (though be warned, the recording doesn't do it justice). Also streaming is a song by band director and drummer David T. Little, "Sweet Light Crude," which is also on the program for June 11th. See the full program for that night, below.
In other Wordless Music news, the Signal performance of Steve Reich's Double Sextet on Monday, June 22nd has added a second set. Tickets for those early and late shows are on sale now.
Also coming up for Wordless Music is the US debut of Jóhann Jóhannsson at LPR on Thursday, June 25th. NYC ensemble ACME, who just played the Tribeca New Music Festival (happening through Sunday), will be accompanying Jóhannsson and opening the show. Tickets for the early set (6:30pm) and late set(9pm) are still on sale.
More Newspeak pictures below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Ryuichi Sakamoto & the Bang on a Can All-Stars
"This year's marathon offered works by 28 composers on Sunday, from noon to just past midnight, at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan. Like the last several, it was presented as a free concert, part of the River to River Festival. Early in the day listeners came and went, but by 5 p.m. the center's atrium (which holds 2,000) was packed, and it remained so to the end." [NY Times]Sunday, May 31st was the 22nd annual Bang on a Can Marathon in the World Financial Center's Winter Garden. The 2008 fest ran from 6pm to 6am, with a 4am Dan Deacon set in the early morning lull. This year's concert took a more diurnal approach, with a noon start and a finish coming after Tortoise's encore-less set a little past midnight. When the final introducer asked who'd been there since noon, a weary cheer came from that select but healthy part of crowd. Near night's finale, the Winter Garden stairs and seats were all full, and as Tortoise set up, even more filtered in, perhaps from one of the other shows that night.
Around 10pm, Ryuichi Sakamoto sat behind the room's piano for a quiet solo piece punctuated by sparks of crackling static. Mid-set he paused to call a BoaC tech over to fix the piano, before finishing with a burst of dreamy chords and carefully spare melodies.
After welcoming the Bang on a Can All-Stars on stage (a sextet of guitar, bass, percussion, cello, keys and clarinet), Sakamoto and two band members "conducted" with pocket mirrors, reflecting the room's lights on the white backdrop in what looked like lens flare from a sunny photo. The sustained textures of the ensemble's first piece gave way to a more structured, percussive songs that focused on a repeating three-bar phrase and its variations.
The BoaC All-Stars remained on stage for their performance of Steve Martland's Horses of Instruction, apparently an old standard for the group. They certainly had fun with it, adding percussionist Eduardo Leandro on marimba. Clarinetist Evan Ziporyn traded for a tenor sax as he led the piece jumping and gesticulating through the changes. The busy work juxtaposed the restrained Sakamoto songs with parts that moved from shredding cello to Frisell-like guitar comping to swinging and pulsating drums. The song was a sufficient energy boost to prep the crowd for Tortoise, who'd be closing the night.
Tortoise was recently discussed at length in a review of their show at the Bell House one night earlier, but briefly speaking, the band played a short, 7-song set largely driven by its two drum kits. Other songs abandoned the drums for malleted percussion, which moved the group away from driving jams to more minimal pastures. Their volume drowned out the room's rattling air conditioners, but at times the drums, right up front, overwhelmed the total group sound in the echoing hall. Granted, shifting, propulsive beats are kind of Tortoise's raison d'être, and their groove-heavy songs capped the Marathon with engaging, kinetic energy. A collection of psyched devotees jammed along in an area next to the stage.
The Marathon officially kicked off this year's River to River Festival, which will host many shows throughout the summer. Tortoise will be back as well, with a July tour that includes a show at (Le) Poisson Rouge.
Bang on a Can will use the Marathon's momentum to host two benefits this week -- both taking place Wednesday, June 3rd at LPR. The big-money early show and bargain-priced late show will feature established big names and talented up-and-comers, respectively. More specifically, Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, David Cossin, Wu Man, Maya Beiser, Talujon and Doug Aitken appear for the intimate dinner and music early benefit. So Percussion, Gutbucket, Newspeak and NOW Ensemble hold it down late. Tickets for the late show are still on sale.
Check out some videos from the whole day, and a few more pics from the late-night portion, below...
by Martin Longley
DOWNLOAD: Tortoise - Prepare Your Coffin (MP3)
Tortoise @ the Bell House in Brooklyn - May 30, 2009 (Ben Sisto)
Less than a month before Beacons Of Ancestorship is released, Tortoise hit town for two highly contrasting gigs over a single weekend. First, they played a sold-out show at The Bell House, in Brooklyn's deserted Gowanus canal zone, then they climax the Bang On A Can marathon at the World Financial Center (tonight, 5/31). It's a return to full-on activity, as Tortoise's sixth studio album is effectively their first in five years. And now, their summer tour schedule is dawning.
Even though The Bell House is at capacity, this still doesn't make the gig uncomfortably crowded, particularly when taking advantage of the handy raised-bar area. The stage is kinda old-fashioned in its open-access bandstand look, allowing plenty of room for the massed multi-instrumentalist antics of Tortoise. All is in near-darkness, so the constant swapping of instruments isn't so disruptive or distracting.
Once at the vanguard of research into improvised roccolage, the quintet have become old established experimenters, whose former ramming together of cut-up elements now seems like a slickly-gliding fusion. Their sound is still their own, though: a unique mixture of rock, jazz, electro and minimalism, with all parts becoming Tortoisian once fed through their stylistic masticator.
Sometimes, the Tortoise output can become a tad stodgy, veering from nimble post-rock into behemoth prog. It's as though the band have become so familiar with its once-wild techniques that their results now sound too pre-formed, with all spiny encrustations smoothed into an aerodynamically efficient shape. At some points, they are sounding alarmingly like Yes. Most of the power surges as the Johns Herndon and McEntire coincide simultaneously on the drumkits, driving through interlocking beats inspired by samba, techno and the entire continent of Africa, sometimes during a single song. There's real marimba and a virtual vibes/percussion sample-trigger set-up too, ably deployed on the more minimalist stretches. The core Tortoise set lasts for an hour, but their enthusiastically-won encore stretches out for another 25 minutes, beginning with "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In", which also opens up the new album. It's the best tune of the evening, an immediate grower that's set to become a Tortoise classic. This is finding them at their techno end, and it's these moments, as well as their several headbanging rock-riffing cluster-outbursts that provide the peaks of the show.
If you miss Tortoise this time around, they'll be back again in July. Their new video for "Prepare Your Coffin" is below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Steve Reich clapping
Tonight (5/22) the Undiscovered Islands/New Amsterdam Records series at Galapagos continues with two sets: Sarah Kirkland Snider's Penelope performed by Signal, guitarist Steven Mackey and singer Rachel Calloway (conducted by Brad Lubman), and an opening performance by So Percussion. Tickets are still on sale.
So Percussion, who played with Dan Deacon at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in December, was to premiere a new Deacon piece, but that debut has been postponed. Instead, Jason Treuting from So Percussion, writes...
we are playing some new music that we've been working on as meditations on the concept of city. the music has been focusing on the task oriented nature of a city and the parallel task-oriented nature of playing music. loops are made out of tasks and we have taken to transforming mundane objects into musical instruments like we haven't before. turning on lamps, writing on paper, pouring gravel, putting down ordinary objects in rhythm, etc. a few new videos by my sister jenise treuting will be busted out as well.The other ensemble on that bill, Signal, has several other gigs coming up. They're performing Michael Gordon's Trance, for a second time, at the Bang on a Can Marathon on May 31st.
Signal just did the music of Philip Glass at (Le) Poisson Rouge on May 17th. They'll return to the venue on Friday, June 22nd for a concert and party to celebrate Steve Reich's 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Double Sextet. Reich's original Sextet (1984) will be performed at that show, presented by Wordless Music, as well. Tickets are on sale.
That gig is your only way to check out the piece (except for streaming excerpts), as there's currently no way to buy a recording of it. Reich discussed this in a recent interview...
Newsweek: I missed the premiere of "Double Sextet" last year, and when I heard it had won, I found myself upset that there was no way to buy the piece yet.Commenters on Nico Muhly's post about the situation rightly point out that Double Sextet should be released ASAP to capitalize on the Pulitzer publicity. The 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music, won by Bang on a Can cofounder David Lang for his the little match girl passion (streaming here), is just seeing a CD release, with four other Lang works, on June 9th via Harmonia Mundi.
Reich: Yeah, that's just part of the recording business. When you have a 24-minute piece, the official recording hinges on finishing and recording two other pieces to go with it [on a CD]. I'm working on two other pieces right now, and have to finish writing the second one, actually. I've got a piece for all rock-and-roll people already completed, and it's going to premiere later this year. [Nico Muhly's blog]
Speaking of Reich and Bang on a Can, the composer will perform his own "Clapping Music" at the Bang on a Can Big Benefit Bash taking place Wednesday, June 3rd at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Other special guests include Meredith Monk, David Cossin, Wu Man, Maya Beiser, Talujon and Doug Aitken. Tickets will run you a $400 donation to the non-profit...
...which is why the regular-people-friendly festival is hosting a "Bang on a Can't Afford the Other Benefit" show at LPR later that same night (6/3) with So Percussion, Gutbucket, Newspeak and NOW Ensemble. Tickets for that are a more reasonable $20.
Full info on BoaC's Asphalt Orchestra, and its Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival plans, below...
Lincoln Center Damrosch Park bandshell - August 2008 (miro.m)
This year's Lincoln Center Out of Doors (LCOOD), three weeks of FREE music and dance on the plazas of Lincoln Center, will run from August 5 through August 23. The 39th annual edition of the festival will present a wide range of music and dance events by dozens of international, U.S. and local artists, highlighted by New York, U.S. and world premieres and debuts and special commissions. Out of Doors opens Wednesday, August 5 with the worldwide debut of the Asphalt Orchestra, a new marching band developed by Bang on a Can, premiering works commissioned for Lincoln Center's 50th Anniversary from Goran Bregovic, Tyondai Braxton (of Battles), and Stew and Heidi Rodewald. The band will also perform original arrangements of iconoclastic rock, jazz, and classical material--all to movement created by MacArthur Fellowship winning choreographer Susan Marshall. Asphalt Orchestra will kick-off the first five consecutive nights of Out of Doors at 7 p.m., performing in different locations across Lincoln Center's campus, with a varying playlist each night. The opening night concert at the Damrosch Park Bandshell at 7:30 is a double-bill with Out of Doors alum The Dave Brubeck Quartet (marking the 50th Anniversary of the landmark album Time Out) with guest soloist, oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen, and Iraqi-American jazz trumpeter Amir ElSaffar leading the New York debut of his Two Rivers Large Ensemble.]The Asphalt Ochestra shows also include "world-premiere arrangements of works by: Björk, Meshuggah, Charles Mingus, Colon Nancarrow, Frank Zappa."
And Lincoln Center and Wordless Music are again planning a performance of Rhys Chatham's Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars. It'll be happening Saturday, August 8th at Damrosch Park. Let's hope they've secured a rain location, or this could be an annual thing. Section leaders include David Daniell, John King, Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family) and Ned Sublette. The fest is taking applications to volunteer as a guitarist or bassist for the event. Also on the bill for that is "seminal funk-punk band Liquid Liquid."
Other highlights on the schedule are "a pairing of Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré with Raul Midón", The Derek Trucks Band, and Slavic Soul Party.
Closing out the festival will be the 26th Annual Roots of American Music Festival at the Damrosch Park Bandshell, an event that'll touch on the blues (Four Women: A Tribute to Odetta, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Eartha Kitt), Creole music (The Louisiana Renegades), country (Texas Tornados: Tribute to Doug Sahm), and "Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos: The Lost World of Latin-Jewish Sound" with Afro-Jazz bandleader Arturo O'Farrill.
Full schedule below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Michael Gordon - Trance 2 (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "June" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion performing Steve Reich's "Drumming, Part Three" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Melody Competition" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Fast" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Go" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "March" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Work Slow Life" (MP3)
Look & Listen Festival is bringing a three-night program of contemporary classical music to two NYC art galleries this weekend (Friday, May 1st to Sunday, May 3rd). Performances include a Friday set by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and a Saturday performance by So Percussion.
So Percussion has been busy lately -- some recent performances were two nights at the Kitchen with Matmos and PLOrk on April 10th and 11th, and playing as part of the ensemble for Terry Riley's In C at Carnegie Hall on April 24th. At Look & Listen, they'll be performing works by John Cage and Meredith Monk (the latter with composer/musician/violinist Todd Reynolds). On Sunday, the program includes percussionist Svet Stoyanov performing recent Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Reich's "Electric Counterpoint." Tickets are available at the door.
The Bang on a Can All-Stars will also be at the Bang on a Can Marathon on Sunday, May 31st at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden. Full schedule, with times, for the free, 12-hour concert is below.
At the Marathon, the All-Stars will be performing a few times. Those include "performing world premieres of brand new collaborations with oscar-winning pianist, composer, and actor Ryuichi Sakamoto and another with world-renowned guitarist Bill Frisell." Michael Gordon's Trance, which was performed on April 21st at (Le) Poisson Rouge is scheduled near the start of the show, while Tortoise will close the night. A section of Trance is posted, again, above.
Full schedules for both festivals, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Michael Gordon - Trance 2 (MP3)
For over an hour on Wednesday, April 21st, downtown space (Le) Poisson Rouge roared with the sound of Michael Gordon's Trance . Signal's performance was its debut of the work, the first of any group outside UK's Icebreaker, but it won't be Signal's last. Trance is on the schedule for the Bang on a Can Marathon on May 31st. Other acts at the fest include Ryuichi Sakamoto with Bill Frisell, Tortoise, and more.
At LPR, the 22-piece band set up in the middle of the floor. Electric guitar and bass sat centerstage -- and those two familiar rock signatures weighted the piece, signaling its shift in movements and tones with their repeating figures. In particular, the three-note electric bass pattern that starts Trance becomes intimately familiar as the work goes on and provides a through-thread of sorts for the listener (especially one attuned to rock).
It's not impossible to paint your own narrative on Trance, as its dominanant thrust shifts between bass guitar, brass, woodwind, and percussion. A sort of musical fencing match emerges, with each rhythmic component opening and closing to let another expand in its place. In the cracks of each pulse, a section across the room comes through, usually seeming to lag slightly behind.
One dialogue, between the reeds and the center sax (rocking back and forth as if in a trance himself), was particularly engaging. For a while, that group held the floor while other sections maintained side conversations, only apparent in the preeminent instruments' pauses.
In the cozy space of LPR, Trace seemed to confront each listener at different times. Parts of the piece will scare the shit out of you. Unannounced drums early on set the expectations for volume, which get continually torn down and built up again as Trance progresses. Its pre-finale lull cuts the pace to a meditative drone, before the musicians build to an inevitable, gratifying climax. Conductor Brad Lubman almost jumped out of his Jack Purcells as he cued the piece's cresting volume. It's always a pleasant surprise when an extended, nearly-hourlong piece of music leaves you wanting more.
by Andrew Frisicano
New York-based composer Steve Reich has won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his piece Double Sextet. Reich composed the work for two identical sextets of instruments, each made up of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone and piano.NPR]The award-winning piece was commissioned by new-music ensemble eighth blackbird, who toured with Double Sextet as part of their The Only Moving Thing program in 2008. That show visited New York's Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, April 17th, 2008.
The second half of The Only Moving Thing was a new joint composition by Bang on a Can artistic directors David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, called singing in the dead of night. Gordon's Trance is being performed at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, April 22nd.
On May 20, BAM is hosting a screening of The South Bank Show: Steve Reich. The event, which also includes a reception and a Q&A with Reich himself, is free, but "exclusively for Friends of BAM".
More info on Double Sextext, with a NYT review of its debut and videos of eighth blackbird rehearsing and recording the piece below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Michael Gordon - Trance 2 (MP3)
Signal @ (Le) Poisson Rouge...
New York composer and Bang on a Can co-founder/artistic director Michael Gordon will bring his 1994 piece Trance to NYC for the first time in more than ten years on Wednesday, April 22nd at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Tickets are still on sale.
Signal, who performed at last year's Bang on a Can Marathon and showcased Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at LPR in September (among other gigs), will play as a 22-piece ensemble for the performance. It will be the first time Trance has been performed by a group other than UK ensemble Icebreaker, who Gordon wrote the piece for and who has been performing the work regularly abroad.
[Gordon's] best works are characterized by insistently repeating rhythms and melodies and, in some cases, instrumentation that mixes rock and classical colorations. "Trance" (1994), an extended elaboration on a simple electric-bass riff, has become a post-Minimalist classic. [NY Times]If you miss it, Signal will visit the piece again during the free, 12-hour Bang on a Can Marathon on May 31st at World Financial Center.
An MP3 of Part Two of the six part work (which was split into 7 MP3's), performed by Icebreaker, is posted above. The other five parts are, or will be, posted as free downloads on other websites this week. We're not allowed to tell you where they are though, but we can give clues and say that you won't find them at any of the usual suspects. The MP3's are scattered mostly across classical music-related sites. Find them all, and, in addition to having them all, you'll have the chance to win tickets to Trance at LPR. More details below.
And speaking of the Bang on a Can Marathon, we now have an even more-updated version of the lineup. Check it out below.
Nico Muhly's (hint) take on Michael Gordon, more upcoming Signal dates, and everything mentioned above, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
The Bang on a Can Marathon returns to World Financial Center for its fourth year to kick-off the 2009 River To River Festival on May 31st. The 12-hour marathon (noon-midnight) of mind-boggling, genre-bending music will include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tortoise, Bill Frisell, Bang on a Can All-Stars and more.Those acts will be performing "music composed by Gavin Bryars, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Evan Ziporyn, and many more." The annual NYC event is free.
As previously reported, Tortoise will play a Saturday, May 30th show at the Bell House, in addition to the Marathon. Tortoise also has an appearance at Pitchfork Fest, plus a new album coming out and a track on Thrill Jockey's Record Store Day comp.
Michael Gordon, whose work will be performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon, is also having his composition Trance performed by Signal at a (Le) Poisson Rouge show on Wednesday, April 22nd.
The Japan Times recently profiled Japanese pianist and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who will be performing at the Bang on a Can Marathon, about his 30 year career and his connections with David Bowie, John Cage, and others. Read an excerpt from that, with videos of Sakamoto solo and with Iggy Pop, below...