On Friday, June 23rd at 8 PM, organist Christopher Houlihan finishes his tenure at Church of the Holy Apostleswith a recital on the space’s J.L. van den Heuvel organ.
The program will include staples from the repertoire – J.S. Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 (a piece that Houlihan plays compellingly on his latest all-Bach CD for Azica), and Maurice Duruflé’s Suite, opus 5 . It also features a transcription by Alexandre Guilmant of the Andantino from Claude Debussy’s String Quartet and the premiere of a commissioned work, Ludus by Hannah Lash. This is Lash’s first work for organ, but given her imaginative use of colorful scoring in both operas and instrumental works, one imagines the van Den Heuvel will get a workout.
On Friday, June 16th from 7:30 to 10 at the New York jazz venue Smalls, pianist Aaron Parks celebrates the release of Find the Way, his second release on ECM as a leader (and third overall). On 2013’s Arborescence, Parks appeared on the label as a solo artist, crafting improvisations in a live setting that were gently sculpted but nevertheless stirring selections. This time out, Parks plays in a trio; he has a versatile and well-versed rhythm section at his disposal and to his credit, the pianist adopts an attitude of collaboration, encouraging each artist to take a turn in the spotlight. He is joined by eminent jazz drummer and frequent ECM recording artist Billy Hart and bassist Ben Street, a musician with many avant-jazz credentials who also plays in Hart’s quartet.
With energetic tom fills and textural cymbal playing, Hart particularly stands out on “Hold Music,” one of eight originals on the recording (the only cover is the title song, a chestnut that isn’t a household name, but ought to be). On “Song for Sashou,” Street supports a supple quasi-bossa, gliding in and out of register with Parks’ comping to underscore both rhythmic elements and a fetching countermelody.
There’s a painterly quality to the tune “Adrift.” It serves as a point of departure from the washes of sound that Parks evokes in his solo playing. These are now incorporated into a multifaceted context with a rhythm section’s underpinning. Still, the title is an accurate one; even with drums and bass, there is a delicacy of approach here that prevents the music from feeling too strongly grounded. Often Parks takes neo-impressionist approach. “Unravel” flirts with Ravel in its extended chord arpeggiations and revels in delightful offsets in the interplay between the hands. “The Storyteller” pits Parks’ stacking of extended chords against bluesy right hand licks. Meanwhile, Hart makes space for fills to spur things onwards and Street plays multi-register melodies, once again finding a melodic role for the bass to navigate. “Alice,” with aching suspensions and deft filigrees in its intro, followed by a rousing colloquy for the trio, is a particularly memorable composition and one that demonstrates that there is a bit of welcome steel in the midst of this trio’s buoyant demeanor. Find the Way is a big step forward in the development of Parks’ already potent musicality – one imagines that this will be a memorable gig!
Locrian Chamber Players will present a concert at 8 PM on Friday at their regular venue, the 10th Floor Performance Space at beautiful Riverside Church. Quite a program too – all works composed in the past decade, which is the group’s mission and demonstrates their strong connection to the now!
George Crumb”The Yellow Moon of Andalusia”
Michael Gordon”Clouded Yellow”
Carlton Wilkinson”String Quartet” [World premiere]
David Macdonald”The Gates of Sleep” [World premiere]
Brian Fennelly”Maverick Tango”
Calvin Wiersma and Conrad Harris, violin; Daniel Panner, viola; Greg Hesselink, cello; Jonathan Faiman, piano; Stanley Alexandrowicz, guitar; Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano
On Saturday March 25th at 8 PM, Locrian Chamber Players present a concert at their home base of operations, the performance space at Riverside Church. The program celebrates the legacy of Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016) with two works: The Last Runo for flute and string quartet and the violin-piano duo Summer Thoughts. It also features New York composer Harold Meltzer’s Piano Quartet. The evening is rounded out with pieces by Paolo Marchettini, Anthony Donofrio, and Chia-Yu Hsu. Admission is free; reception to follow.