Dusted: Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12)

January 4, 2010

Dusted‘s Bill Meyer kicks off the new year in style with a review of Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records).

“He gives each element room to move,” Meyer writes, “and each personal/instrumental combination enough space for their interactions to be clearly perceived. Despite the size of the band on Tapestries (which includes Michel Côté on bass and contrabass clarinetist, cellist Glynis Lomon, bassist Ken Filiano, percussionist Warren Smith, and Rob Mazurek, Stephen Haynes, Graham Haynes, and Taylor Ho Bynum on cornets and trumpets), each contribution stands out so clearly that this music sounds even more transparent than that of Vade Mecum and Papyrus, the multi-volume recordings for two-to-four musicians that Dixon made during the 1990s. Each part, no matter how small, is played with conviction and sensitivity so to fit into the bigger picture.”


Positive Catastrophe Trio At Barbès Tonight

December 21, 2009

A scaled down and more mobile trio version of the 10-piece avant-salsa ensemble Positive Catastrophe will perform the early set tonight at Barbès in Brooklyn.

This new incarnation features Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Reut Regev (trombone) and Abraham Gomez-Delgado (Hybrid Guitar percussion set).

Check out this video of co-leaders Bynum and Gomez-Delgado performing music from the band’s debut Garabatos Volume One (Cuneiform Records) in the Time Out New York offices this past May.


Festival Of New Trumpet Music Announces Complete Schedule Of Events For Forward Flight

December 17, 2009

The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) is proud to announce the complete schedule of events for Forward Flight, a four-night celebration of the trumpet’s eclectic and integral role in contemporary music at New York’s Abrons Arts Center.

Co-curated by trumpeter Dave Douglas and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, and named after a late fifties album by Booker Little, Forward Flight will begin on Wednesday, January 13th with a FONT Music benefit concert honoring the esteemed trumpet player, and longtime FONT Music board member, Wilmer Wise. The following three nights will feature free workshop events and concerts on two stages by a diverse range of ensembles representing various countries, genres and musical traditions.

Tickets for the opening night benefit concert are $35, which also includes a membership in FONT Music and admission to the pre-concert reception. Tickets for the other three nights are $15 ($12 for students with ID and FONT Music members) per night. A festival pass, covering all non-fundraiser events, is available for $40 ($30 students with ID and FONT members).

Schedule of Events:

Wednesday, January 13th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
FONT Music Celebrates The Music And Legacy of Wilmer Wise
A multi-faceted event and FONT Music fundraiser featuring a pre-concert reception and performances by Dave Douglas, Wilmer Wise and a gathering of special surprise guests. Wise’s eclectic and groundbreaking body of work includes countless collaborations with many of the most prominent musicians, composers, conductors and ensembles of the 20th Century. Over the course of his 50-year career, he has worked with everyone from Pablo Casals to Placido Domingo, Philip Glass to Steven Sondheim, Rudolph Serkin to Leonard Bernstein, the Marlboro Festival Orchestra to the New York Philharmonic, Quincy Jones to Weather Report and many others in between.

Thursday, January 14th at 5:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Free workshop: Oral History Project with Wilmer Wise
Veteran trumpet player Wilmer Wise will share some of the wisdom he acquired during the course of his 50-year career as a first-call trumpet player working with many of the 20th Century’s most respected names in jazz, Broadway and classical music.

Thursday, January 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Anti-Social Music, Inc.
The New York-based composer/performer collective Anti-Social Music, Inc., known for its own fresh and unpretentious semi-annual concert series, will present a program of world premieres, including new music written by David Durst, Bradley Kemp, Andrea La Rose and Pat Muchmore, featuring trumpeters Tim Byrnes, Chris DiMeglio, Stephanie Richards and Kelly Rossum.

Thursday, January 14th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Brass Music of Charles Wuorinen and Du Yun
The Urban Brass Quintet will present the New York premiere of Charles Wuorinen‘s Brass Quintet with the composer conducting, and The New York Trumpet Ensemble, under the direction of Mark Gould, will perform Wuorinen’s “Big Epithalamium” for eight trumpets and Du Yun‘s “Air Glow”, a 2005 FONT Music commission for five trumpets and laptop. Known as “a leading light of American contemporary music” (The New York Times), Wourinen has been one of the world’s foremost composers for more than four decades and Chinese-born Du Yun is one of its most eclectic and respected new voices.

Thursday, January 14th at 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Brass Music of Ornette Coleman featuring Wilmer Wise and Lew Soloff
Distinguished trumpet player Wilmer Wise will lead a performance of chamber music composed by Ornette Coleman, highlighted by the rarely heard work, “The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin”, featuring special guest trumpeter Lew Soloff. The program will also include new arrangements of Coleman works featuring Soloff and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum created by Darcy James Argue, Joseph C. Phillips, Jr. and JC Sanford of the Pulse Composer Federation.

Friday, January 15th at 5:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Free workshop: Ableton Live User Group
Co-hosted by FONT Music and the Ableton Certified Training Center, Dubspot, this free workshop will offer guidance and practice for brass players interested in using Ableton Live software in their performances.

Friday, January 15th at 6:30 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Opsvik & Jennings meets Ignite a Noise Trumpet Trio
In his review of experimental chamber-pop duo Opsvik & Jennings‘ latest recording, A Dream I Used To Remember (Loyal Label, 2009), AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins writes, “the duo’s improvisational skills are reflected in the sophisticated harmonies and concise arrangements that drive their buoyant songs. Bursting with verdant Americana, pastoral folk and nostalgic old world ambience, these pieces sit comfortably alongside the work of their indie rock brethren.” For this performance at Forward Flight, the three year-old group will join forces with the Ignite a Noise Trumpet Trio featuring three of New York’s most adventurous trumpet players, Rich Johnson, Russ Johnson and Kirk Knuffke.

Friday, January 15th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
Chicago Underground Duo
Cornetist Rob Mazurek and drummer Chad Taylor will celebrate the release of Boca Negra, their fifth recording for Chicago’s Thrill Jockey Records. The longstanding group is known for its adventurous explorations of sound and texture, fueled by the musicians’ ability to bring more than a dozen different instruments, as well as programmed sounds, into the mix on their recordings. Its music draws on elements such as modern composition, free-form improvisation and avant-rock. Boca Negra, the band’s first recording since 2006, will be released in January 2010.

Friday, January 15th at 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Low Anthem with special appearance by Dave Douglas
“At times languid and haunting, but with detours into Tom Waits-esque stomping and hollering, The Low Anthem’s music seems equally informed by Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, The Band and a late-night ride home in Joni Mitchell’s car,” explains NPR Song of the Day reviewer Bruce Warren. “Like fellow new-acoustic greats—Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, et al.—The Low Anthem has created something strange, beautiful and new.” The Providence-based trio’s 2009 release, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Nonesuch), earned Album of the Year honors at the Boston Music Awards and is listed on year-end lists in publications including the Boston Herald, The Independent, Q, Rough Trade and Uncut.

Saturday, January 16th at 5:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Free workshop: The York College Blue Notes
The York College Blue Notes, an elite high school big band-in-residence at York College/CUNY, will join with other student ensembles and members of the Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble to demonstrate techniques for collective improvisation.

Saturday, January 16th at 6:00 p.m. in the Blackbox Theatre
Trumpets in Traditional Folk Music: Mr. Tamerman’s Maggot and Sarah Ferholt’s Veveritse
Named after “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot”, a once popular English country dance—in the folk tradition a maggot is a bit of whimsical and extravagantly different bit of music brought on by the madness caused by an actual maggot bite—trumpeter Erol Tamerman‘s new quintet romps through fanciful jigs, reels, ballads, waltzes, polkas and more, including original compositions. Joining Tamerman are Nadje Noordhius (trumpet, flugelhorn and pennywhistle), Will Holshouser (accordian), Jaqueline Schwab (piano) and Andrew VanNostrand (guitar and bouzouki).

Veveritse is eight horn players and two percussionists exploring the Romany (Gypsy) brass band tradition of Serbia. Led by Brooklyn-based musician and educator Sarah Ferholt, the group also features Erin Bell (baritone truba), Patty Farrell (alto horn), Emily Geller (bubanj), Don Godwin (baritone truba), JR Hankins (truba), Joe Keady (tuba), Quince Marcum (alto horn), Luke Schnieders (snare drum), Greg Squared (alto sax) and Ben Syversen (trumpet).

Saturday, January 16th at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage
The Meridian Arts Ensemble featuring special guest Dave Ballou
This eclectic new music ensemble will be joined by trumpeter Dave Ballou to present the world premiere of David Sanford‘s Seven Kings, a multi-movement work for brass quintet and trumpet soloist inspired by the complex interplay in King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, commissioned by FONT Music and Chamber Music America. The program will also include music by Ballou and Mark Applebaum. The New York-based Meridian Arts Ensemble features John Ferrari (drums), Daniel Grabois (French horn), Benjamin Herrington (trombone), Brain McWhorter (trumpet), Jon Nelson (trumpet) and Raymond Stewart (tuba).

Saturday, January 16th at 9:00 p.m. on the Main Stage
Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble
Forward Flight concludes with the American debut of this international all-star ensemble featuring trumpeters Taylor Ho Bynum, Jean-Luc Cappozza, Franz Hautzinger, Joe McPhee, Itaru Oki and Herb Robertson and the world-class rhythm section of bassist William Parker and drummer John Betsch. First assembled in May 2008 for a two-night stand at Le Petit Faucheaux in Tours, France, the Open Circuit International Trumpet Ensemble comes to the United States thanks to a grant from the CMA/FACE French-American Jazz Exchange that will provide funding for this performance and a second at the International House in Philadelphia the following night as part of a traveling FONT Music triple-bill with The Chicago Underground Duo and The Meridian Arts Ensemble with special guest Dave Ballou.

Learn more about FONT Music at http://fontmusic.org


Exclaim: Taylor Ho Bynum + Bill Dixon

December 17, 2009

Nilan Perera’s reviews of Firehouse 12 Records‘ two latest releases, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings’ Madeleine Dreams and Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra, are now posted at Exclaim.ca

“The music is performed by a wonderful ensemble,” Perera explains in his review of Madeleine Dreams, “with the music providing a strong and compelling counterpoint to the succinct yet supremely poetic text. The mix of composition and improvisation provides a focused yet flexible collaborator to the images evoked by the sometimes sung, sometimes spoken text, and is never contrived or obvious. The remaining three pieces by Ellington, Coleman and Sun Ra are also infused with a sly originality, completing a very satisfying work.”

“[Tapestries for Small Orchestra] marks Bill Dixon‘s 84th year in a life creating and developing one of the most singularly identifiable and personal visions in music,” Perera writes. “While this double CD set of music bristles with the glacial counterpoints, sprays of energy and the throbbing subtexts of tension that define his music, it has in some ways a rawness and presence that sound more restrained than in previous work. This aspect has been ably spelled out in the accompanying documentary on his process, in which his focus on the playing aspect of limited written material (sometimes fragments and sketches) is detailed. This CD/DVD set is not only a great set of music, but an object lesson in process.”


Festival Of New Trumpet Music To Honor Wilmer Wise January 13th

December 15, 2009

Wilmer Wise

On Wednesday, January 13th at 7:30 p.m., The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) will honor esteemed trumpet player Wilmer Wise with a special concert and reception at Abrons Arts Center in New York. This festive presentation, which will feature performances by FONT Music co-founder Dave Douglas, Wise himself and a number of surprise special guests, will serve as both a fundraiser for the organization and the opening night of Forward Flight, its third and final event of the 2009-10 concert season. Forward Flight, which celebrates the eclecticism of the trumpet in contemporary music with a variety of concerts and free workshops on both of Abrons Arts Center stages, will continue through Saturday, January 16th.

Tickets for the opening night benefit concert are $35, which also includes a membership in FONT Music and admission to the pre-concert reception, and can be purchased here. Tickets for the other three nights are $15 ($12 for students with ID and FONT Music members) per night and can be purchased at (212) 352-3101 or online. A festival pass is also available for $40 ($30 students with ID and FONT members). Passes can be purchased here. The Abrons Arts Center is located at 466 Grand Street (at the corner of Pitt Street) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Venue information is available at (212) 598-0400 and http://www.abronsartscenter.org

FONT Music is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that sustains trumpeters and new trumpet music by commissioning composers, producing concerts, presenting workshops and panels, and supporting music programs in New York City’s public schools. Founded in 2003 by trumpeters for trumpeters, the organization and its diverse programs are currently overseen by Douglas and a volunteer board featuring some of contemporary trumpet music’s most celebrated practitioners.

It has presented over 200 concerts by emerging artists and creative pioneers alike at venues all over New York, commissioned new works from more than a dozen young trumpet players and paid tribute to a variety to the instrument’s legendary performers. “By definition,” adds the New York Times‘ Nate Chinen, “the Festival of New Trumpet Music prizes a spirit of innovation; that ‘new’ in the title is no accident.” Learn more about FONT Music at http://fontmusic.org

About Wilmer Wise:

More than two decades before Wynton Marsalis was famously straddling the worlds of jazz and classical music in the 1980’s, trumpeter Wilmer Wise was blazing a trail for musicians with the versatility to perform in settings ranging from jazz to Broadway to the highest levels of the classical music establishment. As an African-American musician of advanced abilities and an impressive classical pedigree coming onto the scene in the years leading up to the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Wise carved a unique path as the only black trumpet player in the ensembles he performed with in the early days of his career.

Fifty years and a wealth of experience later, his eclectic and groundbreaking body of work includes faculty positions at Morgan State University and Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory and countless collaborations with many of the most prominent musicians, composers, conductors and ensembles of the 20th Century. Working with everyone from Pablo Casals to Placido Domingo, Philip Glass to Steven Sondheim, Rudolph Serkin to Leonard Bernstein, the Marlboro Festival Orchestra to the New York Philharmonic, Quincy Jones to Weather Report and many others in between, Wise has truly been there and done that.

Born in Philadelphia on December 21st, 1936, Wise began playing the trumpet when he was eight years old. His first teacher was Anthony DelCampo, a general music teacher at the local high school who also taught Wise’s fellow Philadelphians, Eddie Fisher and Mario Lanza. DelCampo’s class featured students on various instruments, giving Wise early experience playing with other musicians, transposing music into various keys and reading in different clefs thanks to the teacher’s insistence that the students learn solfeggio.

Growing up, his main musical influences at home were his mother’s player piano, which his sister also practiced on, and the radio shows favored by his father, including live broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic. He was also a fan of cornetist James F. Burke, a veteran of Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman’s famous band and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, thanks to Burke’s performances as a soloist with the The Cities Service Band of America, which had its own weekly radio show from 1948-1954. Little did he know at the time that he would fulfill his childhood dreams by performing with both Burke (as a member of the Trenton Symphony) and the New York Philharmonic in the coming years.

Wise went on to study for six years with the legendary Sigmund Hering, a forty-year veteran of the Philadelphia Orchestra and widely considered the most influential trumpet teacher of his day, as well as Hering student Gil Johnson, Sam Krauss and Nat Prager, before turning professional in 1960. He began his career as the only black musician in the orchestras for the Broadway show previews in Philadelphia, including Showgirl with Carol Channing, and also performed as a guest soloist with groups such as Quincy Jones’ band as they passed through town. In the early 60’s, he also joined the trumpet section of Johnny Lynch’s Club Harlem Band of Atlantic City, which already included Johnny Coles and Lamar Wright.

In 1965, Wise began a five-year stint as the Baltimore Symphony’s Assistant Principal Trumpet. In a city that was slow to accept racial integration, the only place he could live was the Mount Royal Hotel, a well-known haven for African-American entertainers such as Flip Wilson and Richard Pryor, who Wise already knew from his days in Philadelphia. That same year, he also joined the Symphony of the New World, a fully integrated orchestra that featured both black and white performers, as well as men and women. The group, which also featured Joe Wilder on first cornet, was sponsored in part by the Ford Foundation and played its own concert at Carnegie Hall. 1965 was also the year he toured Europe as first trumpet in the Marlboro Festival Orchestra, conducted by Rudolf Serkin, and played on the ensemble’s famous recordings with cellist Pablo Casals.

One of the first jobs he got upon relocating to New York in 1970 was playing in the American Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski. A year later, he played in his first show on Broadway, Lovely Ladies and Kind Gentlemen, an unmemorable flop that actually led to a more lucrative job at Madison Square Garden. Wise would go on to become a first-call trumpeter on Broadway, playing lead trumpet in more than 30 shows, including five of Steven Sondheim’s biggest hits and their original cast recordings. He also played lead trumpet on the only recording of West Side Story conducted by Leonard Bernstein, as well as on many of Philip Glass’ movie soundtracks. His most long-lasting job was as the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s principal trumpet, a position he held for more than three decades until his retirement in 2003.

“At nearly 73, he is still playing at the top of his game,” declares cornetist/composer and fellow Festival of New Trumpet Music board member, Taylor Ho Bynum. “Wilmer shows that all these streams of contemporary music are deeply intertwined; that American music is not about the differences between genres, but the conversations and exchanges amongst them. It’s a great honor to work with him on the FONT Music board, and to hear him and fellow trumpet legend Lew Soloff perform Ornette Coleman’s ‘The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin’, and talk about his long and prestigious career as part of the free FONT Music Workshop Series, is going to be amazing. I’m so glad we’ll be able to honor him, hear him play and give him the recognition he deserves at this year’s Forward Flight event. ”


Signal To Noise: Taylor Ho Bynum, Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, Darius Jones and Joe Morris

December 14, 2009

The Winter 2010 issue of Signal To Noise arrived this weekend and with it reviews of the latest releases from Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings, the Fonda/Stevens Group, The Fully Celebrated, the Darius Jones Trio and the Joe Morris Quartet.

“Bynum’s compositions consistently engage and amplify the texts [from his sister’s novel, Madeleine is Sleeping],” writes Stuart Broomer in his review of Madeleine Dreams (Firehouse 12 Records), “and the performances are at a high level. Vocalist Kyoko Kitamura ranges from pensive dramatic readings to jazz-inflected vocals and creative improvisations, performing admirably in the divergent settings. The group’s improvisational skills come to the fore on pieces by three great composers—Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington and Sun Ra—whose works are all subtly complementary…the results are driving, focused, expressive performances that make the most of the jazz tradition.”

“After 20 years of musical partnership, pianist Michael Jefry Stevens, bassist Joe Fonda, drummer Harvey Sorgen and trumpeter Herb Robertson have developed a rich chemistry,” declares James Hale. “On Memphis, their 11th recording, the quartet surges with energy—equal parts Stevens’ proclivity for aggresive vamps, Robertson’s slippery slalom runs, and a wrecking crew of a rhythm duo. When the mood turns somber individual members find ways of keeping the tension high, whether its Fonda’s abrasive arco on ‘For My Brother’ or the free segments that alternate with Stevens’ pretty theme on ‘Whale Majesty.'”

“Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, bassist Timo Shanko and drummer Django Carranza hammer away at eight slices of groove-based music that is is peppy, incisive and yes, amusing,” explains Jay Collins in his review of Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones (AUM Fidelity). “The Fully Celebrated is a group that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is of high caliber and a hell of a lot of fun.”

Marc Medwin describes the Darius Jones Trio’s debut, Man’ish Boy (AUM Fidelity), as “a barn-burner from note one. Jones could not have chosen better musicians to enter into his world, with Cooper-Moore and drummer Rakalam Bob Moses enhancing every moan, cry and shriek emanating from his alto.”

Jay Collins calls the Joe Morris Quartet’s second release, Today On Earth (AUM Fidelity), “Morris at his most accessible. His tremendous single-note flurries come to bear immediately on the boppish ‘Backbone’ and the exuberantly swinging ‘Imaginary Solutions.’ The quartet’s keen melodic sense is eveident on ‘Ashes’ and the ruminative ‘Animal,’ especially in Hobbs’s earthy, gripping saxophone playing. Hobbs and Morris’s unison lines against the rhythm section’s restless activity are part of the record’s pleasures. Like Drunk on the Blood of the Holy Ones, Today on Earth has it all: smart compositional structures that launch tasty, unpredictable improvisations.”


NY Times: Bill Dixon’s Tapestries For Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12)

December 7, 2009

The new Critics’ Choice column in today’s New York Times features a review of Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra (Firehouse 12 Records) by Ben Ratliff.

“The low notes in Bill Dixon’s Tapestries for Small Orchestra loom like great whales,” he writes, “powering through the best of its long, patient, texture-obsessed performances. They’re played by double-bass and contrabass clarinet; above them floats a cloud of brass, directed and defined by Mr. Dixon’s own trumpet-playing. [He] has some deep and original thoughts about abstraction in music, and doesn’t leave beauty behind…a few of these pieces—especially ‘Motorcycle ’66: Reflections & Ruminations,’ ‘Adagio: Slow Mauve Scribblings’ and ‘Allusions I’—have a majesty for which you have to write in your own meaning.”