Archive for the ‘Field Recordings of the Future’ Category

Drawing

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Richard Serra oil stick drawing at MoMA

We didn’t want to cut out of yoga early so we missed the first piece of Ossia’s “ShadeShifting” program this evening at Kilbourn Hall. It was called “Zugvogal” and it incorporated bird calls. The pieces we heard, all composed in the past twelve years, were spacey and beautiful, just what the doctor ordered after splitting wood for most of the day.

The final piece was stunning. The program notes described Toshio Hosokawa’s “Drawing” as “composed of highly intimate details. The smallest gestures and lines carry great weight. Subtle changes of color contain whole worlds of meaning. Airy canons at the beginning give way to splashes in the winds, until at the end the piece becomes meditative again, disappearing into a wisp of a cloud.”

It lived up to the billing.

Space.

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Couple in front of Louise Bourgeois drawings at MoMA

This is my kind of holiday. Gathering with friends and family to celebrate the harvest and express our thanks for such a bountiful life. I’m down with all of that.

My brother came out tonight with his Vietnmese squeeze. I haven’t gotten confirmation from Peggi yet but I could swear she played a South East Asian melody when they walked in. Our Buffalo fans were there, first time they’ve heard the band with Phil. And Phil stood up while he played. Bob established a guitar template before leaving for Chicago and Phil is in the process of shattering that. Geoff and Sara were up from NYC. Ken’s wife, Lisa, was there and it is always so much fun to see her although I get the message that we’re a little too tame for her.

Peggi is our leader and tonight she led us into an ultra lounge thing, suspending time as if there wasn’t anyone in the house. Ken sounded better than ever. The quieter I play the better he sounds. Pete was sensational on the grand piano. Even though we had five players in the mix there was all kinds of space. It was the best gig ever and I’m thankful for that.

Golden Banana

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

John Cale at performing Velvet Underground at BAM

How may times a day do you think the accordion guy on the F train plays “New York, New York?” He must be nearly out of his mind. We put a dollar in his hat and he got off the train when the song ended.

The first time we saw John Cale was at CBGB’s. I think it was late 1976. I just remember the New Math guys seemed to be impressed when I tried out for the band and told them we had just seen John Cale. New Math opened for John Cale at the Penny Arcade but I had already quit the band by then. Cale took the stage solo, playing bass guitar and wearing a hockey mask. And on election night in ’84 Personal Effects opened for John Cale. He had a TV set on stage tuned to coverage but with the sound off and he was chanting “four more years.”

He is playing three nights at the Brooklyn Acadamey of Music in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Velvet Underground’s first album. I bought that album when it came out based solely on the cover. It took me a few listens to warm up to it but it has always been one of my favorites.

At BAM he was in good form and he had a great band and plenty of guests. He opened with “Waiting For My Man.” The drummer channeled Maureen Tucker with no rack tom and only two cymbals. A tuba player joined him for “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and Cale played viola on “Venus in Furs.” Kurt Vile sang and played guitar on “Run Run Run” and was fantastic. And TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe did a great job with “Heroin.”

The various configurations of the band all sounded so good it was a letdown when the drummer put headphones on to play to a sequenced track. Thankfully, they only tried that on a handful of songs. I think Lou would have loved it.

A Night Like No Other

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Snake on the rad in the park, Rochester, New York

Tonight. Margaret Explosion plays the Little Theater Café Wednesday night 7-9pm. Hope you can stop out.

Margaret Explosion - Witness

Margaret Explosion – Witness

The Last Eggplant

Friday, November 10th, 2017

First snowfall with Autumn Leaves

Our kale plants are still thriving in this weather but the jalapeños and eggplants have had it. We picked the last of those. With the temperatures in the twenties we determined it was safe to go back in the woods. Our favorite trails had become so overgrown with invasive plants that we avoided them this summer. We feel like tick nets in warmer weather and hope science can find a way around this menace. For now, we feel safe below 20 degrees.

We met Phil Marshall for lunch at a Thai restaurant. It was basically a band rehearsal, one where we talked philosophy rather than play instruments. I guess it was a goals clarification discussion, confirmation that we are all on the same page and all want to get there quicker. I think it went well.

Margaret Explosion - Tonic Party

Margaret Explosion – Tonic Party

Celebramos

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Boat, dressed Shriners for a gig at Snake Sisters (now Lux) for a Halloween gig in the late eighties.

Kool & The Gang did a Spanish language version of their song, “Celebration.” It is the first thing i think of when I hear the word, “celebrate.” Phil Marshall is not even 24 hours into his 60th year on Planet Earth and we plan to celebrate tonight at the Little Theatre Café. Although this is only Phil’s third official gig with Margaret Explosion, he played guitar on two tracks of our 2002 cd “Happy Hour.” A link to “Three Chins,” an outtake from that project, is included here. Phil also played guitar with us (along with Bob Martin) in Boat, a late eighties party band. We’re shown here below on Halloween at Snake Sister’s Café, now “Lux” in the South Wedge. Phil is conspicuously not wearing the Shriner nose piece.

Margaret Explosion - Three Chins

Margaret Explosion – Three Chins

Abstract Instructions

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Orange motorcycle in front of Trata Restaurant in Rochester New York

Without rehearsals to talk things over you have to find time to talk between sets. The first week I felt as though it might help to gently reinforce the idea that Phil did not have to do Bob. I don’t even know if I got that out. Phil sounds great so I did not want to jinx anything. I did talk about how I find it most satisfying when I lose awareness of the part I am playing and find myself listening to the whole. Phil said he had a few of those moments. And I was thinking, “What kind of instructions are these to be giving to someone the first time they’ve played with us?”

Tonight, I said, “Don’t feel like you have to be polite.” That was a real clunker so I’m just gonna stay out of this. Margaret Explosion is an ongoing experiment, Wednesday nights in the Little Theater Café until December.

Jeff Spevak’s blog got a real shot in the arm when his Gannett gig ended. I’m thinking he’s going to write his way into the future. He came to my talk on Saturday and reviewed the show. Alan Singer is an artist, a teacher and the son of Arthur, a sensational wildlife artist. He came to the Witness opening and reviewed the show on his blog.

Witness, The Soundtrack

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Music at The Liquor Store on West Main Street in Rochester, New York

Ossia’s New Music program for Thursday night was just what the doctor ordered, a real palette cleanser from the intense preparations for “Witness.” With six pieces from the past forty years the program was called “One +” and my guess is that is because each of the pieces, whether a duo, quartet, small ensemble or large ensemble, featured one instrument in dialog with the rest of the group.

A brass quartet opened the night with a piece called “Call,” “a short musical ceremony, “a call to the audience, an invitation to listen” – before the feast begins.

“Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say,” for soprano and flute, was like eavesdropping on a three disjointed conversations, maybe one end of a phone call. Wore thin for me but got the night’s best response. Oliver Knussen “Cantata,” with oboe and strings, was abstract and transportive, my favorite piece of the night.

“Splintered Instruments” for harp and ensemble was a call and response where the ensemble mimicked and fleshed out the pizzicato harp. “A Lyrical Concertino,” performed here for the first time, lived up to its title. “Songs from Solomon’s Garden,” for baritone voice and large ensemble was mysterious and weighty. Listening to this piece I felt as though our destiny may have been determined in that garden.

Ossia’s New Music series gives us hope for the future.

Joe Sorriero and Tim Polland from Nod played a set outside of RoCo on Friday night. They were hired by the Rochester Biennial to perform and I missed the whole thing. They were packing up by the time I came out of the “Witness” opening but they gave us directions to the performance space on West Main, an old Liquor Store, where Joe Tunis had organized an “post-free jazz electronic music” performance. We heard Rafael Toral coax otherworldly sounds from a mysterious, hand-held box.

Developing My Picture

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Leo Dodd working on watercolor of Margaret Explosion

Leo Dodd is shown here, working on his painting of Margaret Explosion. Although it is unfinished, that is definitely Ken Frank on bass, Peggi Fournier on soprano sax and Paul Dodd on drums. And that’s Pete LaBonne on piano but he only plays with the band every couple of months. Is that Bob Martin? No. Wait, I think that is Phil Marshall, Margaret Explosion’s newest member, on guitar. Hope you can stop tonight and say hello to him. You can see the finished painting on Leo Dodd’ website.

Of course, we have not rehearsed with Phil. We never rehearsed with Bob or in the twenty year history of the band. That would spoil everything. We don’t have any songs to rehearse. We only have songs after having played them live and they will never sound better than they did that first time. We have tested this hypothesis. The interaction and exchange that goes on while the song is developing is something you cannot recreate. And why would you want to recreate when you could be part of creation?

Our first show with Phil is tonight at the Little Theatre Café 7-9pm Free Admission. Hope you can stop out.
Paul and Peggi

Leo Dodd and Paul Dodd have a show called “Witness” at Rochester Contemporary – Opening Friday Oct. 6, 6-9pm

And here’s a link to George Jones’ song.

Molly Malone

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Funny that John Gilmore stopped by today. It was 90 degrees and he wanted to soak in our pool but by the time we got down there he thought it was too cold. This time of year I don’t stick my toe in, I just jump in. I say “funny” because I was editing this 2014 footage of my father speaking at an artist’s talk at I-Square in 2014. John videoed it and he gave us a copy. My brother John and I were also in the show but I edited our parts out. I may post them as parts 2 and 3 somewhere down the road.

There is an artist’s talk at RoCo on October 7th for the “Witness” show with Leo and me. I guess they are doing it FB Live so you don’t have to leave home. My father won’t be able to be there so I’m posting this footage. It’s 23 minutes long and and I don’t want to spoil it for you if you actually slog your way through but my father mentions this song at the end and I want to dedicate it to him.

These Times

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Brian Wilson playing Pet Sounds at Eastmand Theater in Rochester, New York

The Squire was there. Rob Filardo too. And Kinloch Nelson. Brian Wilson played Pet Sounds start to finish in Kodak Hall. We got our tickets at the the last minute, nudged into it when our thirty year old neighbor asked if we were going. Brian had an eleven piece band with him, a Wrecking Crew on wheels. His cousin, Rochester native, Al Jardine, was there along with Al’s son on vocals. The musical director played every kind of horn. Mike D’Amico and a percussionist played drum fills like Hal Blaine. A keyboard player sang like a Beach Boy and a second keyboard player, from Heart’s old road band, solidified the sound. Brian pretty much just had to sit there but he went for it in about half the songs.

First set was Beach Boys gold, Little Honda, In My Room, Surfer Girl, Wild Honey, Darlin, Add Some Music. No Surf’s Up, but that masterpiece should not ever be touched again.

We had to be there. I bought every Beach Boy album as they were released and still love them. Brian is a musical saint. He introduced Pet Sounds, the song, by warning the crowd that the song had no words. His version of Carline No, the last song on the album and the evening’s last tune was fittingly, achingly longing. “Where did your long hair go?” sung by the boy that wrote that in his latter years. I wanted to cry. Love and Mercy was a great tune to send us home with but I woke up singing, I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.

I Remember Maggie

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Actually I don’t remember doing this show at all. And I wish I didn’t remember all those years we had Maggie Brooks as our County Executive. I read this morning’s obit for the Cuban boxer, Sugar Ramos, whose opponent, Davey Moore, died three days after their bout in Dodger Stadium. Bob Dylan’s “Who Killed Davey Moore?” started going through my head and sure enough, as I read on, Dylan wrote the song based on this story. He lays the blame right where it belongs.

So off to the right, as I’m watching the video to Dylan’s song I see this “Personal Effects featuring Eddie Allen” link suggestion. Who the heck is Eddie Allen? The WHEC guy who talks over the performance and says “Let me see the little girl singer Camera 5″?

Ignoring The Crowd

Monday, August 28th, 2017

We have been to Salvatore’s on Bay Road in Webster three times now and we’ve never had their pizza. We go there to hear the Debbie Kendrick Project. It’s a pretty comfortable place. No cover, a good choice of craft beers and a nice sounding room. The band sets up in the corner and sit in a circle with Sean, the guitar player with his back to the crowd. They basically play for themselves and we eavesdrop.

Mike Patric plays bass with Joe Beard and is a real pro. Drummer Pete Monacelli got his start playing with big bands in Albion and he has a perfect touch. I have no idea where Sean Pfiefer, the guitar player, came from but I love the way he plays. And Debbie Kendrick is otherworldly. She has an incredible voice and a beautiful spirit. Her voice fills the room. The first time we heard them I spent half an hour trying to figure out where the speakers were for her voice. Turns out she runs her mic cord into Sean’s tiny Fishman guitar amp. They play blues and R&B and anything in between. Here they are doing a song Amy Winehouse made popular.

Volunteers Of America

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Marine Billboard near Record Archive in Rochester, New York

IMHO Jefferson Airplane peaked with “Crown of Creation” but they still had some magic when I saw them in the old football/then soccer stadium at Indiana University. My brother was in town, we had our drugs lined up and we sat on the lawn about a hundred feet from the stage. The draft lottery had not yet been instituted. We both had college deferments. Neither one of us were going to volunteer for Viet Nam duty.

Mountain opened with their cowbell thing. Loud as hell, so we had to clear out for a bit. The Airplane were touring with “Volunteers,” their followup to “Crown of Creation.” I heard Marty Balin was busted in his hotel room the night before so he didn’t perform. The sixties had turned its final corner. Nearly everything now had dark overtones. Which is what gave the seventies its edge.

Contemplation

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Lions at entrance to subdivision Williamstown, Massachusetts

I recently advised my friend, John, to call Apple for advice on migrating from his old eMac to a new iMac. That recommendation was mostly for time-saving, selfish reasons but John has spent hours with his new friends at Apple and recently thanked us for the recommendation. He stopped by the other night to borrow an old operating system so he can reformat his old machine before putting it out to pasture and he wanted to bring a few things to our attention, things he had learned from hours spent in his “library.”

He had book-marked pages in the recent “Genius” issue of National Geographic and he read those passages aloud to us. “The aha moment, the flash of clarity that arises at unexpected times—in a dream, in the shower, on a walk—often emerges after a period of contemplation.” His experience in stewing over a problem has found this to be true. And, although I didn’t say anything, I have found the same. I’d spend hours knocking out logo designs under a deadline and then hop in the shower to have the winning entry reveal itself. So, us common folk can at least recognize the concept. There’s also an “Age and Achievement” graph in the issue that charts peak output of a dozen geniuses and makes it pretty clear that in most cases that point is around thirty or forty. But what about Philip Guston?

Next passage, read aloud, voice of John: “This may help explain the astounding performances of jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. Jarrett, who improvises concerts that last for as long as two hours. When he sits down in front of audiences, he purposefully pushes notes out of his mind, moving his hands to keys he had no intention of playing. ‘I’m bypassing the brain completely,’ he tells me. ‘I am being pulled by a force that I can only be thankful for.’ Jarrett specifically remembers one concert in Munich, where he felt as if he had disappeared into the high notes of the keyboard. His creative artistry, nurtured by decades of listening, learning, and practicing melodies, emerges when he is least in control. ‘It’s a vast space in which I trust there will be music,’ he says.”

Esperanza Spalding, a professor at Harvard University, where she teaches composition and performance, plans to record her next album in a 72 hour live stream. She tells students that in order to speak honestly in your own voice, you have to control the urge to plan everything out. “Only play in response to what you just played — and if you lose your focus, then only play in response to that. This helps them focus on a conversational flow, maintaining contact with the energy of the moment rather than wandering through some calculated narrative. They get in touch with what they already have going on. Which is a lot.”

“I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration energy. Knowing someone is watching and listening to what you’re making seems to conjure up a sort of ‘can’t fail’ energy. The necessity to keep going because it’s live draws up another depth of creative facility that can’t be reached when you know you can try again tomorrow. Having such limited time to write and record 10 songs will also force us to rely on improvisation and first instinct. Not allowing us time to judge, second guess, question, or alter the initial hits of inspiration that drive the creation of each song.”

Long Live Suicide

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Kid jumping logs on bike at the end of our street in Rochester, New York

Are we really going to be going back down to New York for the fourth time before July is out? NYT had an article a couple of weeks ago about Alan Vega and his artwork. I really liked the portrait they pictured, one of his last paintings, and Invisible-Exports, a gallery on the Lower East Side, has a show on now of those portraits. The article mentioned that Jeffery Deitch will also have a show in his SoHo gallery “that will feature drawings and assemblages from Vega’s earliest days to his last, as well as a larger-than-life projection of Suicide in concert that, he promises, will make people “feel as if they’re there.”

I sent a link to the article to Duane and sure enough the live Suicide video is the footage that he and Howard Thompson shot in that same gallery (from a Suicide performance that took place in that same space if I am not mistaken.)

25 million posted “Dream Baby Dream” from the old Midnight Special show and it has crossed the one million views mark. Duane is, with approval from Vega’s wife, assembling the compilation video for Deitch. Let’s hope his footage is rendered in time for the opening.

We did get to see Suicide a few times and I know I’ve told this story before. But here goes. After their first album came out we drove down after work to hear them at Max’s on a Friday night. It was during the gas crunch and we were unable to find a gas station that was open. We finally ran out and spent the night in the car, parked in front of a gas tank in New Jersey. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t trigger something.

Happy Independence Day

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Highlife

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Pink earth art on filled in Inner Loop

I thought it was interesting that people pulled right out onto the filled-in Inner Loop to park for free last night. The city was packed for the last night of Jazz Fest. Tonight was for the backup musicians, David Bowie’s Blackstar band at Xerox and Bruno Mars backup band at one of the outdoor stages. I’ve kept track of the acts we’ve seen here and posted some notes below.

We started with the Donny McCaslin Group, a four piece, who sounded really great in the Xerox auditorium. The keyboard player has a big role in their sound and he had plenty of unusual sounds but his Mopho x4 was a little overbearing. And there was a little too much four-on-the-floor from the drums for my tastes. I really liked the sax player’s playing. Peggi talked to him after the gig about his EarthQuaker effects. The band’s new record is based on their experience working with David Bowie and they played an instrumental version of Bowie’s “Lazarus.” It was the best song they did.

The trio over at the Lutheran Church was led by the drummer. Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity had a light airy sound but they played fast and furious. The drummer soloed with brushes. The sax player played tenor and soprano and both at once. The bass played reminded me of Charlie Haden. They played so well together it was quite amazing.

We stopped in Christ Church to hear a bit of Tessa Souter. I was glad to see Billy Drummond in the drum chair. Souter sounds like a really good lounge singer. I don’t mean that as any kind of slight. I would love to be stuck in a hotel bar somewhere or on a cruise ship and have the Spanish guitar, the double bass and Billy’s drums backing her chanteuse show. They weren’t serving drinks in the church though.

We ran into my brother the other night and he was disappointed because there was no band in front of the University Club. He comes down for the free stuff. He likes blues and he usually finds something he likes there. Tonight there was a band there and they were doing James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” when we walked by.

The guitar player in International Orange at the Little Theater was really great. He played all kinds of fingerpicking, slide and whammy bar stuff. He sounded a bit like one of those African Highlife players. I kind of wish he had a different band. The drummer was a little heavy handed and the electric piano just didn’t sound that good with the guitar. And the bass player certainly didn’t need two five string basses. They did a Pat Methany song and something off Keith Jarrett’s “Belonging” but the guitar player’s stuff was the best.

One To Go

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Mushroom on the front lawn

Day 8 of Jazz Fest. We are experiencing prime mushroom weather. I found this baby on our front lawn.

We stuck our head into the Wilder Room but the band sounded way too ordinary.

We caught Phil Marshall’s son, Roy, playing on the Gibb’s Street stage in an odd combo with kids and maybe a music teacher on bass. Roy sound like a million bucks.

Binker and Moses, a duo with sax and drums tore it up in Christ Church. They used the ambience here like street performers in a giant subway station. They reached for the sky like those Coltrane and Rashid Ali duos near the end of Coltrane’s life. But this wasn’t all they had. The next number reminded me of something a band would play in an early 60’s movie where the partygoers, drinks hoisted, would form a conga line and dance out of the living room. How old are these guys?

We only heard Bonarama long enough for Peggi to go to the bathroom and we were out of there. Horrendous, bombastic sound.

We tried Iris Bergcrantz Group at the Lutheran Church but no luck. Not much of a line-up tonight. We made an early night of it.

No Monk

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

New light sculpture at Memorial Art Gallery

4 By Monk By 4” started at 4 o’clock at the Lyric Theater. Four piano players were on the bill but only two pianos were on the stage. Cyrus Chestnut started alone and then Benny Green played one and then George Cables played a duo with Green. Kenny Barron played a duo with Cables and then a couple on his own. Then, of course, all four players, two on a piano, which made me think of the merry-ground music at Sea Breeze. George Cables was the most interesting.

Young Sun Nah did an Al Green song, a Joni Mitchell song and a Hendrix song all in a row. A pretty good set list of other people’s material. She has an odd manor, smiling during sad songs, an incredible voice but strangely detached from the material.

Phronesis was back, for the third time, at Christ Church. It is not the best venue for them. They have a frenetic sound and the cavernous church takes that edge off. The bass player and band leader is both the foundation and the lead instrument. The piano and drums decorate his playing. It is kind of unusual. No matter how flowery the piano player gets you are still drawn to the bass. And rhythmically the drummer never gets out front of the bass. Here I am trying to describe the band and the bass player just invited the crowd back to the second set by saying. “All different music. If you like weird rhythms, slightly dark, melancholic, Scandinavian music, by all means, come back”

Oskar Stenmaek NYC Quartet let their arrangements run and wander but they always landed with a lovely, mellow, folky, flugelhorn melody from Stenmaek. Despite their name the melodies were all old world.

Cello, djembe, tom tom, accordion and vocals from all four and even some throat singing. Dakha Brakha are from the Ukraine. We were standing next to Olga and Peggi asked her if this was pretty authentic Ukrainian music and she said it was but the music is usually sung by old women and there usually are no drums.

We finished the night over at the MAG where they unveiled their newest acquisition, the light sculpture above.