Six Organs of Admittance releases Companion Rises, their first full length in three years, on February 21, 2020 via Drag City Records. The band has shared a teaser track on various digital platforms, titled “Two Forms Moving.” Great loping rhythm guitar line here Offset by strings and overdubbed backing singers, the lead vocal is gently paced: a dash of indie meeting a slab of folk. A vibrant lead guitar solo pushes the track into effervescent terrain.
How to Live?, Modern Nature’s recorded debut, is out now on Bella Union.
Modern Nature Tour Dates:
Wed. Dec. 18 – Bristol, UK @ Friendly Records End Of Year Party
Fri. Dec. 20 – Southend, UK @ South Records End Of Year Party
Thu. Jan. 9 – Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
Fri. Jan. 10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
Sat. Jan. 11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Sun. Jan. 12 – Boston, MA @ The Lilypad
Mon. Jan. 13 – Burlington, VT @ The Monkey HouseTue. Jan. 14 – Montreal, QC @ Bar Le ‘Ritz’ P.D.B.
Wed. Jan. 15 – Toronto, ON @ The Monarch
Thu. Jan. 16 – Detroit, MI @ Deluxx Fluxx
Sat. Jan. 18 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
Mon. Jan. 20 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Tue. March 3 – Brighton, UK @ Green Door Store
Wed. Mar. 4 – London, UK @ Omeara
Sat. Mar. 7 – Antwerp, BE @ Trix Bar
Mon. Mar. 9 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
Wed. Mar. 11 – Barcelona, ES @ Sala Vol
Thu. Mar. 12 – Madrid, ES @ Siroco
Fri. Mar. 13 – Oviedo, ES @ Lata De Zinc
On Saturday October 17th, the Byrne:Kozar Duo is performing “A Lady” at the NienteForte Festival at Tulane University in New Orleans (7 PM at NOLA Sidebar).
On October 25th, the recording Composers at Westminster (WCC19109) will be released via digital platforms. I coordinated the project and two of my Magnificat Antiphons, performed by Westminster Kantorei, and three of my Jane Kenyon settings, performed by Victoria Browers and J.J. Penna, are among the programmed works. The program notes are below.
“Composers at Westminster”
The five composers featured on this recording are full-time members of the composition faculty at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. The programmed selections display a range of musical styles and works for different forces: three of the college’s choirs as well as voice faculty, pianists, and visiting string artists.
Stefan Young is not only a composer but an estimable pianist. He performs some of his own piano pieces from a musical diary called Thoughts for the Day: here we get a peek at his ponderings for January. Young also plays in Ronald Hemmel’s string quintet Night Moves, a work written to accompany dance. The Other World is Young’s choral setting of an ancient Egyptian text (in translation), performed by Schola Cantorum, conducted by James Jordan. Clarum Sonum, a group of recent graduates, contribute Jay Kawarsky’s setting of Rami Shapiro’s poem Unending Love.
Joel Phillips is represented by two Christina Rosetti songs, performed by voice faculty member Victoria Browers and pianist J.J. Penna, as well as a setting of William Blake’s beloved poem “Little Lamb,” performed by Westminster Choir, conducted by Joe Miller. Two of Christian Carey’s Seven Magnificat Antiphons are performed by Kantorei, conducted by Amanda Quist. They are settings of ancient Latin texts that traditionally are sung during Advent. Carey’s first of two groups of Jane Kenyon songs are also performed by Browers and Penna.
Composers at Westminster celebrates the creativity of its faculty. It serves as a document of just some of the many collaborations they regularly undertake with Westminster faculty and students and in the wider musical community.
- The Other World – 5:27
(text: Egyptian, 3500 BC, translated by Robert Hillyer, music by Stefan Young, Copyright 2018)
Westminster Schola Cantorum, James Jordan, conductor
2- Press Onward – 3:24
3- Sleep, Little Baby – 3:38
(poems by Christina Rossetti, music by Joel Phillips, copyright 1999)
Victoria Browers, soprano; J.J. Penna, piano
4-O Sapientia – 2:20
5-O Oriens – 2:45
(texts – 5th Century Latin, music by Christian B. Carey, GIA Publications, copyright 2019)
Westminster Kantorei, Amanda Quist, conductor
Ronald A. Hemmel –
6- Night Moves (Piano Quintet) – 10:55
(music by Ronald A. Hemmel, copyright 2014)
Leah Asher, Maya Bennardo, Meagan Burke, and Erin Wright, strings; Stefan Young, piano
J. A. Kawarsky
7- Unending Love – 3:41
(poem by Rami Shapiro, music by J.A. Kawarsky, copyright 2015)
Clarum Sonum, conducted by Rider Foster.
Stefan Young – Thoughts for the Day – January
(music by Stefan Young, copyright 2018)
8- Jan. 4. Vigorous – 1:52
9- Jan. 11. Driving – 1:43
10- Jan. 28. Slowly – 1:00
11- Jan. 31. Remembering Peter – 2:20
Stefan Young, piano
Christian B. Carey – Three Kenyon Songs
12- Song – 2:17
13 – Otherwise – 4:32
14- Let Evening Come – 4:13
(poems by Jane Kenyon used by kind permission of Graywolf Press,
music by Christian B. Carey, File Under Music, copyright 2019)
Victoria Browers, soprano; J.J. Penna, piano
15- Little Lamb – 4:09
(poem by William Blake, music by Joel Phillips, G. Schirmer, copyright 1997)
Westminster Choir, Joe Miller, conductor
Total timing: 54 minutes
Dr. Stefan Hayden Young is Professor at Westminster Choir College. He received a B.M. from Rollins College, certificates in harmony, piano, and solfège from the American School of the Arts, Fontainebleau, France, an M.M. in piano from the Juilliard School, and a Ph.D. in composition from Rutgers University. Commissions have included the Haverford Singers and NJMTA. He has written for various media including orchestra, band, choir, chamber ensembles, voice and piano, and a variety of solo instruments. He has also served as director of music and organist at a number of churches in New Jersey and on Martha’s Vineyard. At Westminster, Dr. Young is director of the Composition Week summer session, coordinator of the student composition concerts, and coordinator of the composers’ project with the Westminster Community Orchestra. In 2003, his Anthology of Art Songs was released on CD.
Joel Phillips is Professor at Westminster Choir College where he has taught since 1985. Phillips has received a number of commissions well as awards, the latter including annual recognition from ASCAP, the G. Schirmer Young Composer’s Award, and a BMI Award. His choral works are published by G. Schirmer, Inc., Transcontinental Music Publications, GIA, and Mark Foster Music (Shawnee Press).
Dr. J.A. Kawarsky is Professor at Westminster Choir College. He received a B.M. from Iowa State University, and an M.M. and D.M.A. from Northwestern University. He has written for all genres including solo instrument, orchestra, band, choral, vocal and theater. Prayers for Bobby. for choir, orchestra, narrator and soloists, has received numerous performances throughout the United States and Canada and was recorded by the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus and members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC. Iowa State University premiered the alto saxophone and orchestral winds piece, Fastidious Notes. 17 universities throughout the United States commissioned the symphonic band work Red Training Reels. The cantata Sacred Rights, Sacred Song has been performed throughout the USA and Israel. Navona Recordings released Kawarsky’s 2018 portrait CD, Spoon Hanging from My Nose. Yelton Rhodes Music, Transcontinental Music, and Southern Music publish his compositions.
Ronald A. Hemmel is Professor at Westminster Choir College. Dr. Hemmel received his B.M. in Music Education from Westminster Choir College, his M.M. in Music Theory/Composition and Organ Performance from James Madison University, and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. He is a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists. Before coming to Westminster, in 1994 he directed the music program at Woodberry Forest School. His compositions include works for solo instruments, voice and piano, choir, and both small and large ensembles. Several of his choral works are published by Yelton Rhodes Music, G.I.A. Publications, and Transcontinental Music Publications.
Christian Carey is Associate Professor at Westminster Choir College. He has created over eighty musical works in a variety of genres and styles, performed throughout the United States and in England, Italy, and Japan. Performances of his compositions have been given by ACME, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Atlantic Chamber Orchestra, C4, Cassatt String Quartet, Chamber Players of the League of Composers, loadbang, Locrian Chamber Players, Manhattan Choral Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, Righteous Girls, Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, and Westminster Kantorei. His score for the play Gilgamesh Variations was staged at Bushwick Starr Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. For Milton, a flute/piano duo, has been recorded twice, for Perspectives of New Music/Open Space and New Focus Recordings.
In recent years, pianist Ethan Iverson has been collaborating with a number of artists, particularly elder statesmen of the jazz tradition. In 2017, he appeared at the Village Vanguard with trumpeter Tom Harrell. The performances were document on Common Practice, Iverson’s most recent ECM recording. In addition to Harrell, the CD’s personnel includes bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric McPherson, longtime associates of the pianist.
The common practice to which the title refers are jazz standards, mostly from the Great American Songbook but also bebop originals. The group investigates a range of styles, from ardent balladry on “The Man I Love” to smoky lyricism on “I Can’t Get Started” to puckish wit on “Sentimental Journey.” Harrell and Iverson display imaginative recasting of harmonic changes throughout, but especially on vigorous versions of “All the Things You Are” and “Wee.” Iverson contributes two tunes, “Philadelphia Creamer” and “Jed from Teaneck,” both blues with twists and turns of the form.
On Wednesday, October 16th, the quartet reunites for two sets at Jazz Standard (details below). Their take on jazz’s common practice is not to be missed.
Ethan Iverson Quartet featuring Tom Harrell
Wednesday, October 16 - shows at 7:30 and 9:30 PM
116 E. 27th Street, NYC
Ethan Iverson – piano
Tom Harrell – trumpet, flugelhorn
Ben Street – bass
Eric McPherson – drums
William Byrd – The Great Service and Anthems
Odyssean Ensemble, Colm Carey, director; Christian Wilson, organ
William Byrd is often associated with Catholic church music, contributing three masses and collections of propers. He also composed one of the finest collections of Anglican music, a “full” or “long” service of the music for the daily offices. After his death, it was dubbed “The Great Service.” One can readily hear why in this superlative debut recording by Odyssean Ensemble, directed by Colm Carey. Written for two vocal quintets – placed on either side of the chancel – the piece is a feast of antiphonal effects with many vocal combinations and a plethora of contrapuntal techniques. Byrd was mindful of reformers’ insistence on textual clarity and primarily syllabic declamation; all of these peregrinations are accomplished while incisive text-setting is maintained.
Singing from a new edition of the piece prepared by Andrew Johnstone (who also contributes informative liner notes), recorded in a sumptuous space, Odyssean Ensemble deploys a warm sound with impressive diction. Carey’s shaping of the piece yields spry rhythms and elegant phrasing. A selection of English anthems appealingly augment the program. In addition to accompanying the singers on the lovingly reconstructed St. Tello instrument, organist Christian Wilson contributes a nimble reading of a Fantasy by Byrd. Devotional texts, read by the actor David Suchet, are a welcome inclusion. The recording is an example of fastidious detail to history breathing new life into an underserved work. One hopes that a recording of Byrd’s masses will be soon to follow.
By Christian Carey
May 20, 2019
NEW YORK – ECM Records has released a number of great solo bass recordings. The label’s producer, Manfred Eicher, was himself a bassist, and he has invited a number of fellow low string players to record for ECM. Barre Phillips is a pathfinder in the genre, releasing one of the first solo bass recordings, Journal Violone, on Opus One in 1968. Eicher and he have been keen collaborators for many years, beginning in 1971 with a duo recording of Phillips with Dave Holland, Music from Two Basses, the first of its kind, which was followed by a number of solo and ensemble outings for ECM. In 2018, the imprint released what was announced as Phillips last solo CD, End to End, which he called the last entry in his “Journal Violone.”
It has been more than thirty years since Phillips last performed in New York. Originally from San Francisco and long a resident of France, much of the bassist’s career has been made playing in Europe. On Monday, May 20th, he appearedat the Zürcher Gallery, an art venue on Bleecker Street in lower Manhattan. The crowd was standing room only and contained a number of jazz and experimental music luminaries. They were attentive and enthusiastic throughout.
Phillips turns eighty-five in October. In his performance on Monday night, he appeared energetic and fit. He easily hoisted a sizeable double bass to his shoulder, and deftly moved it around to play its entirety: not just the strings. His playing and demeanor are vibrant, inquisitive, and often imbued with puckish humor.
The bassist gave a veritable masterclass of standard and extended playing techniques. The latter appear prolifically on End to End, among them high harmonics, different varieties of strumming such as plucking notes with both hands, a number of approaches to bowing, microtones, glissandos, and all manner of percussive playing. However, the CD intersperses these with a fair bit of cantabile playing. Less of that was on offer live. Instead, with a mischievous twinkle and disarming banter, Phillips went to work showing what it meant to “do your own thing” when, as he described it, career paths in more traditional jazz and classical music were denied him.
Each piece, most of them improvised but some selections fromEnd to End that had been crafted into compositions, centered on a different palette of techniques. At times Phillips played his instrument caressingly, seeming to coax delicate high notes and thrumming vibrations from the strings at a pianissimo dynamic. At others, he virtually attacked the instrument, scratching it from stem to stern with his bow. If a luthier were in attendance, they would have likely had a panic attack.
There was considerable variation in the harmonic vocabulary employed. Some of the music was in the ‘out’ post-tonal language of free jazz. Phillips also supplied an etude of octaves, another of open string drones, a third a chameleon-like shift to Eastern scales and gestures, and on “Inner Door, Pt. 4,” a plaintive modal jazz solo grounded in double-stopped fifths. Here, as elsewhere, Phillips displayed a penchant for executing a long, unerringly controlled decrescendo, bringing the music to a whispered close. Zürcher was an ideal location in which to hear these small details: an intimate space but one with good acoustics.
It is unfortunate that New Yorkers haven’t had more opportunities to hear Barre Phillips up close and personal. His performance was an unforgettable experience. Phillips joins Mat Maneri, Emilie Lesbros, and Hank Roberts for a performance on Saturday night at 8 PM at Brooklyn’s I-Beam. One more chance …
Matthew Shipp Trio
ESP (ESPDISK 5029CD)
Pianist Matthew Shipp has recorded prolifically, but Signature is the first outing of his current piano trio. Joined by bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, Shipp thrives in this configuration, one of the most celebrated and venerable in jazz history. Indeed, taking the piano trio to new places seems tailor-made to his adventurous style and superlative musicianship.
All of the pieces here are improvised first takes. The title track hews the closest to a more traditional approach, with post-bop chord voicings and engaging colloquy between the three performers. Pleasing twists and turns in the sequencing make for welcome surprises. The collaborators take solo turns that intersperse group ventures. Bisio’s “Deep to Deep” serves as an arco droning intro to “Flying Saucer,” in which the piano and bass lines are both nimbly played yet forcefully delineated while the drums provide a propulsive underpinning; a thunderous, virtuosic excursion. Baker presents a New Orleans inflected solo called “Snap.” As if to belie its lineage, the drum solo is followed by the group in a contemporary mindset on “The Way,” which begins suavely only to build to somber cadence points that sound like dissonant chorales. A return to delicacy allows room for Bisio to take an arcing solo, only to have it washed away by a stentorian oscillating pattern from Shipp. This encourages a convergence on an ostinato which builds the piece to a boisterous climax, with fleet soloing matched beat-for-beat by rollicking rhythms.
“Stage Ten” features Shipp performing inside the piano against a swinging bass line from Bisio and drumming by Taylor Baker filled with fills. It is an arresting melange of modernity, both of the classical and jazz varieties, like Henry Cowell meeting Thelonious Monk. “Speech of Form” finds Shipp playing solo in a vein of chromatic, modally inflected jazz that he has mined before and returns to here with good results. “Zo #2” is an uptempo number that owes debts both to Bud Powell and Cecil Taylor. Shipp’s elegant pirouettes and unison octave lines are complemented by skittering drums and articulate bass.
“New Z,” another solo, gives Taylor Baker an opportunity to use world music percussion alongside shimmering cymbals. The CD concludes with “This Matrix,” the most extended cut on the date, clocking in at more than sixteen minutes. Driving playing, with quick angular melodies punctuated by booming clusters, “This Matrix” is an excellent example of the trio at its best: ardent, musically sophisticated, and capable of turning on a dime. The piece builds to a tremendously dexterous double time section. It is followed by a languorous solo from Bisio that starts a long denouement, gradually reintroducing the entire trio in a coda of poignant delicacy.
Signature is very much an album of 2019, in which jazz seems more capable than ever of acting in dialogue with its long tradition while simultaneously forging promising pathways forward. Shipp has a large discography, but each successive release captures the moment in which it lives, epitomizing the essence of improvised music. Recommended.
- Christian Carey (christianbcarey.com)