I'm less than a day after the final performance of Fiddler on the Roof, which after all the stress and hype that I built up for it in my head, turned out to be relatively fun. It was my first time ever playing with a conductor - since there really aren't all that many opportunities for the average accordionist to do so, even in the classical world, as many pieces for accordion are solo or for small, conductorless groups. And as usual, my ears are better than my eyes, so it's usually much easier for me to follow cues based on what other people are playing, rather than by counting rests and what not. All things considered, I think I've managed alright, even with some true "deer-in-headlights" moments of panic. And to my ears, the accordion sounds so good in doubling with various combinations of instruments - and the score provides ample opportunity for me to play with just about every instrument - useful to me in picking up timbral ideas as a
composer. With that said, I'm not sure if I'd ever want to play with an ensemble like that again - it took pretty much all of my time away from the writing and practicing I wanted to be doing at most times. However, if ANYONE EVER wanted to play Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 1 (op 24), that's a challenge I would leap to - if it is in fact possible to play on a Stradella bass accordion. The accordion part is largely inaudible on the Abbado recording I own.
As I've usually never ceased to mention, I'm appearing in a small role on the upcoming Sigh disc, "Scenes from Hell." The band has finally finished the master (by James Murphy, no less, who is apparently a wunderkind at this sort of thing), and announced a date for the release - January 19th. I've heard early masters and this promises to be pretty much the coolest album ever. I can't say anything the hype machine hasn't already said but seriously - full orchestration,
compiled piecemeal by fans and friends across the world, including yours truly on Bb clarinet, bass clarinet and accordion - this thing is gonna be awesome. This morning, Sigh's posted a track from the album on their Myspace page (http://www.myspace.com/sighjapan) but unfortunately the mandatory Myspace compression doesn't really do the mastering any favors. Still,
it's worth checking out, while waiting for the final release. The album art is especially stunning, too – some of the usual grim depictions of demons, violence, carnage, but done in what appears to be oil paint rather than on a computer. The artist is Eliran Kantor (http://www.elirankantor.com/).
I recently had the chance to meet with vocalist Anne Rhodes (http://www.annerhodes.net/) about the long-promised song cycle based on the poetry of Rob Talbot. Anne did a master’s thesis on the process of collaborating with composers at Wesleyan, and while I have written for voice before, this song cycle is the most in-depth work of that kind that I have yet attempted, incorporating some extended techniques and improvisation alongside some more traditional attempts at melody and texture. Meeting with her was extremely informative, as she was able to give me some more broad ideas about vocal technique and capacity in addition to her specific abilities. We had been talking about this meeting for awhile, and I feel as though this is the last step I needed to take before completing the work. I’m hoping it will be finished by year’s end, and that there will be a performance next spring. I have most of the musicians lined up, too.
Finally, I’ve been working away at some stuff for An Historic. There’s a new album in the works that will contain mostly solo material with minimal overdubs – the yet-untitled album will contain five new original songs meditating lyrically and musically on apocalyptic themes, and a few covers/arrangements of some folk songs as well. Details and format will be forthcoming. An Historic will be performing in the near and far future as well – in December, at the 1-year Anniversary show for the Fucking Discovery Zone, alongside some great local CT acts like the Dead Uncles and Bookslave, among others. Details and time TBA. Finally, next spring I’ll be helping to book a couple of fun Canadians from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and probably playing alongside them too. Fairyboy and the Official Suckers (http://www.myspace.com/fairyboyfairyboy) and Mogli (http://www.myspace.com/moglidavid) will be coming through in March, and Story (http://www.myspace.com/storysong) and Cud E (http://www.myspace.com/cudeastbound) will be coming through in April. It’s still a ways off, and details will be coming soon. Lastly, I’ve been in talks with Steven Asetta and the rest of the horn section of Goose Lane, another great, innovative CT band with some stunning horn arrangements, about the possibility of realizing the basically-completed An Historic album “Ephemeral Stampede,” both in the studio and for some shows. This is still probably a ways off, but we’re all pretty excited about the prospect. Stay tuned for a truly epic juggling act!
More recently, the acoustic offshoot of the NHIC met earlier this evening, with myself, Nathan Bontrager and Gabriel Bolanos returning, joined by Paul McGuire with saxes, recorder and shaker and Nick DiMaria on trumpet. We played for roughly an hour and a half, doing some standard NHIC exercises, some slightly tweaked for our grouping. The session produced, to me, some really extraordinary sounds and playing. We were in a a fairly enclosed space and the sheer force of three horns blowing into the center of that room produced some fairly intense textures. We also had some softer moments that produced tons of overtones that are still ringing in my ears several hours later. With acoustic instuments you have just as wide if not wider of a palette of sounds and dynamics with which to appreciate them. We really dug into that tonight, and also turned to our voices and various means of percussion for a final exercise. Several of us think that on the strength of the first two workshops we have reason to try and build momentum towards a concert. We're hoping to recruit a few more into the fold, and perhaps we'll end up having some compositions for the group as well. Stay tuned for more details.
I'm also REALLY digging this most recent Saul Williams release, "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust." It's got some really insane production by Williams, Trent Reznor and a few others, and classically great wordplay by Williams, including one really intense piece called "The Ritual" with many references to Richard Wright's Native Son. No suprise to me that this direct lyrical engagement of the subject of race, even accompanied by head-shaking electronic syncopation, apparently alienated some of Williams' fan base.
A large chunk of the 2nd movement of "Passing a Penny," the song cycle of Rob Talbot's Poetry, has been completed - leaving 3 completed in draft and one still in limbo somewhere. I'm hoping to have this performed along with a few near complete solo accordion pieces and possibly one more at an Uncertainty Series sometime next spring.
I've also finished the recording of the next G. Zarapanecko e.p. "Glitterdammerung." Production and mastering may take a wee bit longer but it's definitely in the pipelines. Format Undetermined. Check out the first G. Zarapanecko release "Zaratozom and Magnus" at Bandcamp for now, and hopefully with a physical release in the future:
Also begun work again on a cello-and-accordion duet that has been kicking arond for awhile. Details forthcoming.
Finally, the 4 songs that will probably make a future An-Historic EP (with some bonuses, I expect,) are nearly complete, lyrics and everything. It will take me awhile to learn them now but many of these came out of extended accordion improvs that turned into riffs and melodies, so I've already got them in some form.
Seriously that's it. There are a lot of projects in the works for after that, but at the moment they've been put to bed.
and now, the formalized promotional material....
The New Haven Improvisers Collective will be performing at Firehouse12 on Saturday, November 7th with sets at 8:30 and 10pm.
There was a very nice article in the New York times about NHIC.
There were some strong reviews of Inflection in the New Haven Advocate and the Hartford Courant.http://blogs.courant.com/
Cutler's Records, 27 Broadway, New Haven www.cutlers.com
NHIC Records www.nhic-records.com
For the performance at Firehouse12, two different NHIC groups will perform.