Ornette Coleman had such an impact on my life as a saxophonist and composer. When he died last month I revisited his recordings, my memories of hearing him perform live and my experiences playing his music (mostly during ECFA’s ‘repertory’ phase–thanks Carl Smith!). That’s when I realized I’d never tried an Ornette tune on banjo.
This is a version of “Lonely Woman” from The Shape of Jazz to Come for clawhammer banjo. I chose this tune, in part, because Charlie Haden’s iconic pedal-point bass line suggested the drone string on a banjo. I bought this album as a freshman in college and remember listening to it again and again until the sheer mystery and befuddlement and out-of-tuneness of the songs gave way to familiarity, love and (hopefully) some understanding of how and why they work.
I’ll be performing as radicans at The Grocery tonight as part of their farewell event, Grocery a Go Go. I’ve got the four front windows wired for sound. Should be a treat for anyone passing by on the sidewalk.
Thanks for everything, Grocery. I’m gonna miss you.
The Sonic Frontiers Workshop Series at The Grocery concludes this week. I will present an introduction to interactive electronic music including a live performance or two. Then workshop attendees will create a one-night-only audio installation in The Grocery gallery using the Cycling ’74 Max modular programming environment. The Grocery will be closing its doors at the end of the month, so this is one of the last chances to come experience an important hub for cultural life in the Tuscaloosa area.
Sonic Frontiers Workshop #6
Wednesday June 10 7pm
900 Main Avenue
Bring an instrument/noisemaker, or just come to listen. No previous experience is necessary. The Grocery gets hot in the summer, so dress appropriately.
The Birmingham Art Music Alliance kicked off the Beyond 12, 2015 Tour featuring pianist Aron Kallay last night with a performance at the Hoover Library Theater. Aron will perform six more times through April 8. This tour features three premieres of pieces by Alabama-based composers including Monroe Golden, Brian Moon and myself.
My work is titled A History of Elevators in Film, and like all the pieces on the program it features a retuned and remapped piano keyboard. In my case, I’m using Max to retune and remap pitches on the fly in response to the pianist’s performance.
Tomorrow is the third installment of the Sonic Frontiers Workshop Series at The Grocery. I’ll lead an introduction to Cobra, a musical game created by composer, improviser and saxophonist John Zorn in the mid-eighties. Performers in Cobra use hand-signals and a set of colorful cards to cue ever-evolving musical combinations. Previous experience is not required, so bring an instrument or noisemaker to participate in this fun, fast-paced, sometimes hilarious way to make music together. (Of course, it’s also okay just to listen and watch if you want.)
Wednesday March 11 @ 7pm 900 Main Avenue
Northport AL 35476
I’m so excited to be part of Anthony Braxton’s week-long residency at the University of Alabama kicking off tonight with a free solo saxophone concert at the Bama Theatre and running through February 25th. Sonic Frontiers is presenting these events; visit their site for the full schedule of events. All events are free.
I’ll be performing on Friday’s concert as part of the Falling River Music Septet along with Anthony Braxton (reeds), Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), Andrew Raffo Dewar (soprano saxophone), Tim Feeney (percussion), Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Ingrid Laubrock (reeds). This is such an amazing lineup, and it’s just one of many throughout the 6-concert residency.
In preparation for this residency I’ve been listening to many Braxton recordings, starting with For Alto and moving through the entire Arista Records box set. I thought I had a grasp of Braxton’s work having heard selections here and there (likely beginning with the Muhal Richard Abrams duo on the Smithsonian Jazz compilation). But I was completely unprepared for both the amount of musical material and the incredible range represented: from ragtime and marching band music to post-bop solos and Sun Ra-like grooves, from the density of his music for four orchestras to the spare, spacey explorations on For Trio. And that barely gets us through the 1970s! I can’t think of another composer with such stylistic richness and diversity.
It’s hard for me to believe this piece is more than 20 years old. I wrote it while living abroad as a fellow of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, and I wrote it especially for Craig to perform. His support and encouragement was so important for me as a young composer as was the experience working alongside him in the newly-formed Birmingham Art Music Alliance. Craig premiered the piece at one of the first concerts presented by BAMA, and this will be one of his last BAMA concerts as a Birmingham resident. Craig will also perform pieces by Michael Angell, Edwin Robertson, James A. Jensen, Brian C. Moon, William Price, Monroe Golden, Bryan Page and Mark A. Lackey.
Percussionist Tim Feeney and violist Wendy Richman will premiere my Glacial Erratics for 1 or 2 sustaining instruments and electronics in a concert presented by the Birmingham Art Music Alliance. Also performing will be Osiris Molina on clarinet. The concert will feature works by Lori Ardovino, Monroe Golden, Joseph Landers, Adriana Perera, William Price and Ron Wray.
Wednesday January 21 7:30pm
Tim Feeney / Wendy Richman / Osiris J. Molina
Moody Music Building Recital Hall
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa AL