Friday February 3, I’ll join Bandcamp’s #NoBanNoWall initiative. Bandcamp will donate 100% of their profits to the ACLU. I’ll donate 200% of mine. Over 200 other artists and labels will also participate.
Here’s a recording of the premiere performance of Follows from Hummingbird for 3 or more sustaining instruments. The performers are Hillary Tidman, flute; Brad Whitfield, clarinet; and Laura Usiskin, cello.
I’m so happy with this first performance; the musicians nailed it. My scores often require a period of workshopping—work that reaches beyond typical rehearsal activity to include comparing alternate realizations, discussing timing, and lots of listening—so premiere performances can be risky. These performers, however, really embraced the spirit of the piece and pulled it off with elegance and aplomb.
The work is based on Hummingbirds (1997) a group of small Oil paintings on linen by the artist Enrique Martínez Celaya.
These works began last spring with recordings of Hank’s students reading phrases from his poem. This summer I edited the recordings, processed them beyond recognition, added more sounds, used the shape of each line from the poem to guide electronic improvisations, and otherwise had a great time designing sounds in the studio. Hank reigned it all in and helped me shape the material into three sections.
Check out the journal for a reproduction of Hank’s visual poetry, or listen to all the audio from the issue below (including a piece by Pauline Oliveros).
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.
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.
Here are live recordings from this spring’s Parkside performance with John Wiese, Steve Jansen and Brad Davis. This is from my buzzy, noisy Radicans project which uses small motors and soundbug transducers (audio speakers without cones) to transform ordinary objects in the performance space into speakers.