Music Theater: ‘Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano’

Abbie Conant as the Mad Soprano

This performance was recorded in Taos, New Mexico, in September 2014. The piece had its world premiere in Germany at Theater K-9, in Konstanz, in 1996. Abbie Conant, Soprano & Trombone / William Osborne, Music Text and Video From William Osborne's brief description: Imagine a singer living among the dumpsters behind the Met. Tomorrow is her big audition at the Opera House -- if only she could think of what to sing. She colors her world with opera excerpts, grandiose Swan Songs and wild escapades on her trombone -- but as she makes … [Read more...]

More News from Paris: Huge Bookfair Opens Today

Offprint Paris (2014)

Offprint Paris at the Beaux-arts de Paris showcases publishers of art, photography, design, and experimental music labels. The 2014 edition features more than 130 publishers from nearly two dozen countries, an exhibition ("Disarming Design from Palestine"), and a variety of public discussions and signings. Special guests include Paul Soulellis (Library of the Printed Web), Mathieu Cénac (Jean Boîte Éditions), David Desrimais (Jean Boîte Éditions), and Tarek Issaoui (Rrose Editions), and art historian Mehdi Brit discussing his recent book … [Read more...]

Hard Bop: Sacha Perry in the Dwayne Clemons Quintet

Sacha Perry was the pianist in the hard-bop Dwayne Clemons Quintet at Smalls on Thursday night (May 22, 2014).

"Pianist Sacha Perry is widely known among musicians in New York as one of the brightest pianists on the scene. He studied with Barry Harris and quickly excelled in ability at the most difficult and subtle harmonies. He has been playing at Smalls for eight years, appearing with Across 7th Street, the Chris Byars Octet, Mike Mullins, Zaid Nasser, Grant Stewart, and fronting his own trio. Sacha is one of the world's foremost experts on the music of Elmo Hope, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk, and counts them, along with the late pianist Frank … [Read more...]

Words to Live By

Bruno Monsaingeon on Sviatoslav Richter

Bruno Monsaingeon on Sviatoslav Richter The performing musicians with whom I have a real affinity, those who seem to me the truly important ones, are those who reach beyond the instrument they happen to play, who travel within themselves and do not just rely on the parameters of the instrument in order to express music. [...] Richter is a world unto himself, impenetrable yet radiant; a deep water fish, blind but luminous. … [Read more...]

‘Clapping Music,’ Talking Music, and a ‘Mallet Quartet’

Steve Reich

Steve Reich has been called "our greatest living composer" by a New York Times critic. Was that hyperbole or just ink-stained enthusiasm? Listening to a performance of Reich's "Mallet Quartet" a few nights ago at the CUNY Graduate Center (followed by his conversation with New York magazine's music critic Justin Davidson), I understood why Reich was at least in the running. That's him in the baseball cap. … [Read more...]

Music for Organ, With Encore for Bosendorfer Pianos

Puck on the left, with Charlemagne Palestine

A friend of mine, Ben Schot, sent a photo he recently took of the Brooklyn-born minimalist composer and performance artist Charlemagne Palestine (born Chaim Moshe Tzadik Palestine, or Charles Martin) and his daughter Puck, a student at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. "He used to live in Rotterdam for a couple of years in the '90s," Ben wrote. "We met then and have been in touch since. He lives in Belgium now but performs in Holland every now and then. I wanted Puck to meet him, after having introduced her to his work. [...] It was great … [Read more...]

What Martin Luther King Jr. Said About Jazz

Spike Wilner

Spike Wilner writes the electronic newsletter for Smalls Jazz Club, where he's the congenial manager and one of the owners. The newsletter is always informative. Never sinks to mere PR. Which makes it one of the best around. (Wilner doesn't just write the newsletter. He's a first-class jazz pianist. Click the photo or this link to hear him play. I'm particularly fond of Wilner's solo piano playing.) Anyway, it's fitting that on Martin Luther King Day, today's newsletter showed up in my email box with a recollection of what King had to … [Read more...]

‘Aletheia,’ a Work-in-Progress

'Aletheia,' a chamber music theater work performed by Abbie Conant, with a score by William Osborne.

Abbie Conant performs as Aletheia. The score is by William Osborne. "Aletheia" is chamber music theater work about a musician in a dressing room preparing to perform for a gala benefit for an opera house that is taking place in the courtyard below her window. Though excited at first, she can't bring herself to go down and perform. As her sense of isolation increases, she becomes, in a sense, her own choir. Her voice splits into the harmonies of several voices that accompany her into a new level of being. -- William Osborne … [Read more...]

Sight Unseen, a Plug for Godfrey Reggio’s ‘Visitors’

2002: "Naqoyqatsi," meaning "life as war," was the third in Reggio's qatsi trilogy. 1988: "Powaqqatsi," meaning "life in transformation," was the second. 1982: "Koyaanisqatsi," meaning "life out of balance," was the first. Reggio's latest, "Visitors," with another score by Philip Glass, will be released in 2014. … [Read more...]

Jacques Brel, Philosophe

"l'enfance c'est une notion géographique." Childhood is a geographical notion. We are born in a place called childhood. It is geographical. Childhood is a sky close to the ground. It is grey, it is damp. There are adults I don't understand. It could've happened in Limousin, in Brittany or Paris. It took place in Belgium. It is a geographical notion rather than a historical one. Jacques Brel, Singer-Songwriter … [Read more...]

Typography Meets Country Music

CLICK FOR THE VIDEO [Steve Martin & Edie Brickell: "Love Has Come For You" ]

Hat's off to the designer whoever that is. The kinetic typography put me in mind of the clever card sequence in D.A. Pennebaker's 1967 documentary about Bob Dylan, "Don't Look Back." The design is more ingenious now, and of course the technology is far more sophisticated. But you get the idea. As to the stylish use of those primitive hand-written cards 46 years ago, Pennebaker says: "Dylan came up with the idea of cutting a lot of things written down on pieces of paper. We didn't think about what you're gonna do with them. But he had … [Read more...]

For Nonconforming Artists, the Envelope Please

Click for more details about the Acker Awards.

Are awards the staff of life? Of course not. But they certainly seem like food for the hungry. The list of awards is nearly endless. There are hundreds, maybe thousands for everything: brains, beauty, movies, theater, advertising, do-gooders, art, literature, patriotism, bravery, food, comedy, magic, radio, sports, chess, figure skating, dance, politics, architecture, theology, law, and so forth. Now comes an award intended for nonconformist achievement in the arts: the Acker Awards, named for the experimental novelist Kathy Acker … [Read more...]