Recent Wonder

Yesterday, I played for the first time at Firehouse 12 with the Erasmus Quintet, a subheading of the NHIC that features Jeff Cedrone and Bob Gorry playing guitars, Paul McGuire on Soprano and Alto Saxophones, Steve Zieminski playing Electro Vibraphone and myself on Accordion and Clarinet. This group at its best plays highy charismatic, vaguely tonal avant-garde chamber music, pulsing and many-headed. I've had the pleasure of seeing music at that space before, and playing there is an even greater experience - Firehouse 12 has a fairly intimate listening setup but one that feels like it almost encourages careful dialogue between listener and performer. Or something. The gig went quite well for much of the set, and we had a fairly good turnout, too. Set two was a different group, the Mayhem Circus Electric with some nice rhythm section work by Steve and Pete Brunelli, and the added presence of Nate Trier and John Venter on keys and bass clarinet respectively. Hopefully this day turned out some recording-worthy items for somewhere down the line. Both groups are relatively young and have yet to be documented adequately.

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.

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