As A Far Cry founding member Megumi Stohs Lewis tells it, when the orchestra was created in 2007, several members were finishing up graduate degree programs at the New England Conservatory. Not all of the “Criers” are NEC alums, but the conservatory grounds proved to be a thoughtful gathering spot for most of the original members. Everyone, though, was interested in exploring chamber music, with many having played under Donald Palma in NEC's finely tuned chamber orchestra.
Today, bassist Stanley Clarke is known as the "Liberator Of The Electric And Acoustic Basses." Mike Greenblatt sits down with the legend for an exclusive Blogarrhea Q&A.
At the age of nine, Miguel Vásquez was an aspiring classical violinist/cellist in Panama. There on the isthmus, though, getting proper musical education proved difficult--especially as his skills improved. His grandfather, Luis Vásquez--a professional double bassist, guitarist and English horn player--first inspired the would-be musician. And years later, the younger Vásquez still remains thankful for the dutiful instruction provided by his elder.
Wagner had Bayreuth in northern Bavaria. Years later, Pierre Boulez would get his IRCAM under the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. And on Thursday, July 27, 2006, on the outskirts of a frazione in the province of Pisa, finally, a lawyer-cum-tenor from nearby Lajatico christened his own grand edificio d'arte: Andrea Bocelli's Teatro del Silenzio.
Sarah Jarosz grew up in Wimberley, Texas, a town just outside of Austin. At a very early age, she earned credibility in the space where roots, Americana and contemporary folk intersect. Ever since, Jarosz's sterling reputation has been built on three fronts: gifted multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, banjo), expressive and distinctive vocalist, accomplished songwriter. It's not just her peers who are taking notice.
Violinist Xiang “Angelo” Yu was born in Inner Mongolia, an area he calls, simultaneously, “one of the least modernized” yet "one of the simplest and most beautiful places in the world.” At the tender age 11, he moved with his family to the bustling central coast city of Shanghai. A stark contrast in locale, indeed.
How do you prepare for an interview with an insult comic? Do you find the thickest hard hat and flak jacket available and, well, just hope for the best? More importantly, how should you prep to interview the ultimate insult comic, the "Queen of Mean" herself, Lisa Lampanelli? Turns out, ya just chat.
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.
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.
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.
No doubt, you've heard Elliot Goldenthal before. Be it early efforts scoring Gus Van Sant's 'Cocaine Cowboys,' mid-career cues care of Joel Schumacher's 'Batman' reboot or his exquisite contributions to the five feature films of his partner Julie Taymor, yes, Goldenthal's music is heard most often on the big screen. Having studied under American compositional royalty like Aaron Copland and John Corigliano, though, Goldenthal is hardly some Hollywood hack.
"If there was going to be music on the planet, I wanted to be involved." -- BRUCE BRUBAKER
"I don't remember actually making a choice to become a musician." -- MONICA GERMINO
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.
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.