Readers and friends,
It’s been a fun ride. Effective immediately, bagatellen is permanently closing shop. What started as a joint music blog in early 2003 quickly grew into a community, so it’s saddening to have to put it to rest. Looking back over the archives in recent months, it’s been amazing to consider [...]
Throughout the companion book for A Quiet Reverie, Mark Peter Wright thematically refers to the idea of an “incomplete presence”. The idea is that, whether standing in awe on historical grounds, or at the miraculous cusp of a forest’s density, the senses absorb virtually everything, while the mind reaches inward and outward for metaphor [...]
Lamenting the passing of Max Neuhaus (8.9.39 — 2.3.09). Played what no one else would play. Inspired the unsuspecting. Assaulted the sleepers. Neuhaus made sound visible and its shadow was never cast.
The Postcards You had Provided us, we Suspect You Knew all along they could never Prepare us for the Majesty [...]
Seattle’s Colin Andrew Sheffield has been quietly destroying sound since the late 1990’s. Beginning with 1998’s side one/side two, on his own Elevator Bath imprint – also home to recordings from Adam Pacione and Rick Reed, among others – he’s been utilizing man-made and “found” sounds in a continually sweeping effort to restructure what [...]
An avalanche of pixels and ink has been spent documenting the instrumental prowess of Taylor Ho Bynum. His command of the trumpet family is almost scary in its completeness. This second project by his sextet offers another cargo of proof, but perhaps more importantly it points attention to the expansiveness in his compositional acumen. Bynum’s [...]
Photoshopped as a face-off, the merger of visages on the cover of this new Delmark disc hints at a potential caveat to the project. The danger inherent with tandem piano settings comes in the tendency on the part of the principals to devolve into combative duels. In other words, a few drops of donnybrook tend [...]
It’s somewhat bittersweet that in the last year or so of English altoist Mike Osborne’s life, he finally got a bit of renaissance-due from the jazz world, following almost a quarter-century of absence from the scene. Ogun has reissued some of his finest commercially available LPs, and the Cuneiform tape archive has produced [...]
The third of four concerts in this season’s Interpretations series took place at Roulette on November 8th and featured the music of Maria de Alvear and Gavin Bryars, presenting material from recently issued CDs on Mode Records.
This was my first exposure to the music of de Alvear. Before the performance, the composer gave a [...]
There’s difficult and then there’s difficult.
OgreOgress, in recent years, has devoted a large percentage of its releases to first recordings of the John Cage works often referred to as the “Number Pieces”, compositions from late in his life. They’ve taken to issuing audio DVDs allowing the listener to hear extended works without pause. The disc [...]
A Non-Believer’s Appreciation of Bill Evans by Tom Djll
After all these years, I find myself unable to avoid an unhappy conclusion: jazz criticism is a bad idea, poorly executed. – Orrin Keepnews, from The View From Within, 1987
A piano teacher at the Berklee School of Music made me hate Bill Evans. I presented a singular [...]
Managed by a Milwaukee visual artist on an extremely modest budget, the eponymous Utech imprint still maintains a release schedule that many independent labels would envy. Pressings are tiny and a sizeable portion of back catalog (15 titles) is already out of print. Packaging is lean too, with cardboard sheathes and distinctive silk screen art [...]
I have all my life occupied myself in a part of the world where one can talk about seasonal change only in couplets consisting of extremes: freeze and fry; storm and calm; flood and drought. Seasons in East Texas either last for days or for half-year stretches. Summer for us begins in May [...]
ErstQuake 2 – New York City, 23rd – 25th September.
The vaguely defined boundaries of the genre of music we have come to know as EAI seem to be in a constant state of flux. As this youthful field of activity continues to grow and expand at an alarming rate new directions appear, pulling and expanding [...]
Friday afternoon July 22: Sten Sandell is first musician to arrive that afternoon. Orders a beer and wiener schnitzel in the restaurant. By midnite he has his head in his hands and doesn’t move for an entire set of music. White suit, cream t-shirt on, still life with happy exhausted ears.
First actual set [...]
IANNIS XENAKIS, LA LEGENDE D’EER, DVD and CD, MODE 148
Somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia, I saw a retrospective of the work of the painter, Francesco Clemente. Surveying his pieces, my eyes were drawn to a series of miniatures he had created in collaboration with some painters [...]
I’m going to stop simply asserting that West Coast improv is overlooked, in the perhaps naïve hope that by now listeners have realized this and begun purchasing releases on Nine Winds, Pfmentum, Balance Point Acoustics, and other labels. Of course one of the first places to listen in on what’s happening out West is the [...]
I’m continually surprised at the rate with which Ernesto Rodrigues releases discs on his superb Creative Sources imprint. As most folks reading this know, the excellent viola/violin/electronics improviser began to document Portuguese and Spanish improvisation several years back and has quickly developed his label into one of the premier outlets for improvisation at the intersection [...]
Yo Miles! The appellation chosen by this loose collective fronted by trumpeter Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Henry Kaiser is both apt and evocative. It is an argot affirmation, a transgenerational shout of acceptance and homage across the decades to the challenges laid down by Miles Davis when he began committing this [...]
(photo courtesy of Ed Howard)
Joe drew attention to this festival a while ago here, so it would only be fitting for me to follow up with a little report on that it was like to be so awash in these musics for the last week. Even better than reading this missive would be to check [...]
Perched atop magazine mastheads and perched upon by both musicians and their fans, musical genres are precarious things. With even the most gentle nudging, they can topple into one another. Play AMM’s The Crypt at high enough volume, and people might think you’ve pulled your Blindfold Test item from the Chondritic Sound [...]