News, Commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater, Dance & More

Maria Jean Sullivan

The Ladybugs

The Ladybugs Disney Tribute at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola >>

Tonight, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola bestows a treat for the senses, "When You Wish Upon a Star: The Ladybugs Tribute to Classic Disney Films." Laced in traditional jazz instrumentals and jingle jangle vocals, The Ladybugs are hip NYC cats percussionist Martina DaSilva, vocalist Kate Davis, trombonist Joe McDonough, guitarist Gabe Schnider and bassist Dylan Shamat.

Modest Mouse

LIVE REVIEW: Modest Mouse at Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival >>

For such a depressive sounding band, Modest Mouse attracts quite the aggressive crowd. Antics at their live performances live on both sides of the stage: Brock's brooding wide-eyed stare, moshing, crowd surfing and the occasional 'ol chick on dude's shoulder bit. In support of Strangers To Ourselves, their first album in eight years, Modest Mouse's sold out Celebrate Brooklyn! performance last night in Prospect Park was met with dutiful reprise. Overzealous pineapple-toting new fans trampled their way to the front, only to stand wavering without a clue when underrated cuts from No One's First and You're Next and, unbelievably so, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About attacked Park Slope. You can hand pick the long-time fans: those who have come to expect and alter their movements around this type of behavior opening the levy for first-timers, stammering their feet and shouting every lyric with perfect cognitive dissonance. A few words may have been off here and there, but the melody remains all the same.


PREMIERE: RighteousGIRLS Perform Pascal Le Boeuf's "GIRLS" off 'gathering blue' on New Focus Records >>

Pascal Le Boeuf's "GIRLS," the dramatic leadoff track on RighteousGIRLS debut gathering blue demands careful attention to flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi's dynamic energy. Produced by Le Boeuf, gathering blue comes to light via New Focus/Panoramic Recordings with support from New Music USA on July 10 featuring Classicalite favorites Vijay Iyer, Christian Carey, Ambrose Akinmusire, Andy Akiho, Justin Brown, Dave Molk, Mike Perdue, Jonathan Ragonese, Terence Blanchard and Randy Woolf.

Matana Roberts

EXCLUSIVE: Matana Roberts Part Two: Living on a Boat, Surfing the Rockaways and the NYC Waterways Code of Honor >>

Living on a boat in the southern tip of Brooklyn has certainly afforded Matana Roberts lifestyle choices she may not have either had access to or the mindset to take advantage of. The mystical surroundings of the NYC waterways and the inhabitants therein have found a special place in Matana’s heart and creative force. Here, then, for our last interview segment we paddle out into the post-Sandy Rockaways and explore Matana’s solitary water life directive.


EXCLUSIVE: Classicalite Q&A with Colleen >>

Much like myself, french multi-instrumentalist Colleen aka Cécile Schott takes sonic influence from Terry Riley, Arthur Russell, traditional African and Jamaican music and, naturally, the Wu Tang Clan. All of which she delved into on her edition of VF Mix 14, a vinyl-only mix series hosted by The Vinyl Factory, quoting “Bells of War” as her choice Wu cut. These influences trace back to Cecille’s childhood obsession with her parents cassette tape “The Kings of Reggae”, mostly consisting of Lee “Scratch” Perry tracks from 1976 to 1979. In her own work, she uses her voice and the baroque instrument treble viola da gamba to recite intricate tales of the human mind and heart. Her latest release, Captain of None on Thrill Jockey Records is possibly the most experimental album in her repertoire featuring tracks heavily influenced by her Jamaican and African music obsession, embossed bass lines and, new to her, percussive effects. Recorded, mixed and produced entirely by Cecille in her San Sebastian, Spain music studio, Cecille imparted dub production techniques, a melodica, a Moogerfooger and delay pedal and echo effects. Another intricacy of Captain of None: rather than bowing the instrument in a traditional manner, Cecille tunes the viola da gamba like a guitar and plucks it for a fresh perspective on what a string instrument is and can be. I had an e-conversation with Colleen on her Thrill Jockey release, where her love of the viola da gamba came from and the very real struggle for non-American artists to tour in the States.

Matana Roberts

EXCLUSIVE: Matana Roberts Part One: 'COIN COIN', #BlackLivesMatter and Beyonce, Jay Z Baltimore Bailouts >>

For the past eight years Matana Roberts has been at work on her Coin Coin series exploring themes of history, memory and ancestry through narrative, musical and visual compositions. The multi-chapter composition of self-described “panoramic sound quilting” exposes mystical roots and delves into the intuitive spirit traditions from several pockets of American pastoral past. In 2011, Constellation records began to put out the Coin Coin project, now up to it’s third release: Chapter 3 entitled River Run Thee. A set of solo compositions for electronics, multi-tracked voices and her staple saxophone, River Run Thee directly deals with the American waterways and what transpired through nautical transportation in the past interspersed with field recordings and spoken-word passages. From Sticks And Stones in the early aughts to her solo and ensemble work on Constellation and Central Control records, Matana has made a name for herself as an internationally renowned composer, bandleader, saxophonist, sound experimentalist and mixed-media artist. Late last month, Matana presented Coin Coin: The Remix, a redux of River Run Thee at The Kitchen. Joined by drummer and percussionist Tomas Fujiwara with video work conceived by Daniel Marcellus Givens, the performances offered two rare reworked stylings of Chapter 3 in relation to the first two: Coin Coin Chapter 1: Gens des Coleur Libre, and Coin Coin Chapter 2: Mississippi Moonchile. To wit, the two-night residency held the celebratory honor of the series five-year release anniversary. In this two part series we caught up with Matana to discuss The Kitchen performance, life living on a boat and what pop culture means to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Alabama Shakes

PHOTOS: Alabama Shakes at Mountain Jam #FestivalRoundUp >>

In this week alone the Alabama Shakes gave two festival performances, a Jimmy Fallon stop and the official video release for "Don't Wanna Fight" off their Billboard No.1 release Sound & Color. This, of course, was only days after a stint with the purple one in Minneapolis -- Prince that is. Their Mountain Jam performance was nothing short of perfect considering the tight schedule.

Lake Street Dive

PHOTOS: Lake Street Dive at Mountain Jam #FestivalRoundUp >>

From the New England Conservatory in Boston to the festival circuit across America, Lake Street Dive capture that essence of country infused jazz. The chamber-like group in size and instrumental repertoire gave a sun-shining performance during the lounch hour on Sunday at Mountain Jam filled with cuts from their Signature Sounds Records release "What I'm Doing Here", "Rabid Animal" and everyone's favorite singe along: Annie Lenox's "Walking on Broken Glass." A successful Kickstarter earlier this year landed them a spot in the Behind a Good Song music documentary short on Signature Sounds Records. To wit, Rachael Price herself will DJ a set at our favorite Arts Brookfield tonight. Take a look at our favorite moments, including Price's ability to rock the red lips through an entire set and encore.

The Black Keys

PHOTOS: The Black Keys at Mountain Jam #FestivalRoundUp >>

The Black Keys have been littered all over the interwebs for apperances in Dave Grohl's 'Sonic Highway' series, their 2014 Nonesuch Records release True Blue and their stint in Rolling Stones' 'Mastering The Craft' series.

Robert Plant

PHOTOS: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at Mountain Jam #FestivalRoundUp >>

Robert Plant and the Sensational Spaceshifters paid respect to Led Zeppelin, Howln' Wolf and Joan Baez on Friday night at Mountain Jam Festival in Hunter Mountain. Their recent Nonesuch Records debut lullaby and... The Ceasless Roar, an African influenced LP of reworked Led Zellplin work, recieved a well rounded 7 from Pitchfork.

Glenn Kotche

EXCLUSIVE: Classicalite Q&A with Wilco's Glenn Kotche >>

As both a modern composer and, of course, the man on the throne for modern rock 'n' roll's last band standing, Wilco, Glenn Kotche is nothing if not maddeningly prolific. With his credits on records nearing the century mark (do check out his most recent work on Missy Mazzoli's 'Vespers for a New Dark Age'), his commissions, too, are coming in fast and furious and increasingly august: Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Sō Percussion, eighth blackbird and founding BoAC cellist Maya Beiser. Add to those a national advert for Delta's Touch2O faucets and a drum kit on full display at the Rhythm Discovery Center Museum, and the city of Chicago's best drummer might just be the most heard contemporary composer in America.

Darcy James Argue

EXCLUSIVE: Classicalite Q&A with Darcy James Argue >>

10 years playing with an 18-piece ensemble seems like but a stitch in time for GRAMMY- and JUNO-nominated composer-cum-bandleader Darcy James Argue. Sure, this year was his best for winning, receiving both the Doris Duke Artist Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. But as bright as those gongs are, 2015 isn't halfway done arguing his can't stop/won't stop attitude, soldiering on with that trademark sound of his nonpareil ensemble, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society.

R.B. Schlather

EXCLUSIVE: Classicalite Q&A with R.B. Schlather >>

For all the bogus boilerplate about how classical music is dead or even well-intentioned words regarding how she can stay breathing, precious few--performers, ensembles and institutions--are actually doing anything to change both conversation and prognosis. Moreover, when it comes to remounting baroque opera in our digi-epoch, fewer still have the informed perspective, due diligence and, well, cojones to really make a difference. Save for one R.B. Schlather, of course.

Ann Cleare

EXCLUSIVE: MATA Festival Q&A Spotlight with Ann Cleare >>

Founded by Philip Glass, Lisa Bielawa and Eleonor Sandresky in 1996, the MATA Young Composers Now! Festival strives to present emerging compositional talent sourced from across the globe. The 2015 edition at The Kitchen continues in that very tradition, featuring quite the varied array of exemplary young voices. So, with a nod to the spirit of MATA, itself, Classicalite has chosen three composers to speak with about that career-defining opportunity: a MATA commission. Our final entry is Ireland's own Ann Cleare, whose MATA-commissioned piece Eöl closed out the festival Saturday night, as part of the "Incomparable Contrivances" program performed by the Talea Ensemble. Cleare's percussion-heavy mini-concerto expertly explored the resonant qualities of handmade sculpture and proved to be one of this year's highlights.

Adam de la Cour

EXCLUSIVE: MATA Festival Q&A Spotlight with Adam de la Cour >>

Founded by Philip Glass, Lisa Bielawa and Eleonor Sandresky in 1996, the MATA Young Composers Now! Festival strives to present emerging compositional talent sourced from across the globe. The 2015 edition at The Kitchen continues in that very tradition, featuring quite the varied array of exemplary young voices. So, with a nod to the spirit of MATA, itself, Classicalite has chosen three composers to speak with about that career-defining opportunity: a MATA commission. Our second entry comes care of U.K. composer Adam de la Cour, whose MATA-commissioned piece Corporate Talent Factors Next Top Idol! will premiere tonight as part of the "Bearthoven Buckshot" program performed by, well, Bearthoven. Our second composer extraordinaire is the UK's Adam de la Cour, whose MATA commissioned piece Corporate Talent Factors Next Top Idol! will premiere tonight as part of the "Bearthoven Buckshot" program performed by Bearthoven. Cour's bio reads "active as a vocalist, electric guitarist and clown" but his satire littered style of writing is really what's at the heart of his genius. A well rounded artist indeed, Cour has put in time with Michael Finnissy as well, learning the ways of the ways of the comic book artist. Below, we gain insight on how Cour's talents intertwine with the harsh realities of 2015's economic landscape.

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