In the Studio with Braxton, Dewar, Feeney

Anthony Braxton, Tim Feeney, Andrew Dewar

Left to Right: Anthony Braxton, Tim Feeney, Andrew Dewar

Last week I had the privilege of recording as part of a quartet with Anthony Braxton, Andrew Dewar and Tim Feeney. Braxton brought in four new pieces that explored novel ways for the four of us to work together, each piece proceeding a little further into the unknown. The sessions were intense—demanding focus and attention to the notation while also requiring us to be flexible and adventurous improvisers. An amazing experience.

Grocery Runs Special on Fresh Cobra

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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

Workshops in the Sonic Frontiers Workshop Series are free and open to the public. Presented in partnership with the Sonic Frontiers Concert Series at the University of Alabama.

Anthony Braxton at Alabama

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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.

Amped Up Hemi

I recently upgraded my salad bowl hemispherical speaker with a new amp board, and I’m loving the sound. I get more volume with less distortion.

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This 6-channel board (Sure Electronics TDA7498) is significantly more powerful and easier to install than my previous configuration of 3 stereo amps. I had to use a router to make room for the cooling fan, but otherwise the installation was straightforward.

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Here’s everything hooked up before I stuffed the innards back in place and fastened the bottom plate.

Fencepost vs. Fencepost

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vs.

One is a refreshing pale ale from Back Forty Beer Co. with a modest alcohol content and an American hop profile: a touch of pine. The other is a wintry meditation on mortality from Post & Beam with an intoxicating Pythagorean minor third: slightly lower than equal tempered. Both are Alabama natives wistfully recalling a vanishing rural past.

This fall when I plow the fields under I’ll be thinking only of you.