Archive for the ‘Classical’ Category

REVIEW: John Zorn at 60 @ Walker Art Center & St. Mark’s (Minneapolis, MN – 4/6/13)

12th Apr 13 (Fri) Leave a comment

John Zorn - only pulled out his horn at the very end

John Zorn turns 60 this coming September, and Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center wanted to throw a Zorn Fest of sorts.  Since Zorn doesn’t like to travel, he wanted to keep it to a minimum: not a 3+ day fest, but hey, let’s do it all on one day!  And thus “Zorn @ 60” at Walker Art Center was born!

Check out what 60 of Zorn’s contemporaries have said about him… Part 1 & Part 2.

There have already been a  few great reviews already posted (Jazz Police / Walker Art / City Pages); so I’ll keep my write-up to my own personal reflections, and not as in-depth, per se.  Here’s who Zorn had with him for this fest, in different assemblies… Cyro Baptista, percussion; Joey Baron, drums; Greg Cohen, bass; Chris Cunningham, guitar; Marc Feldman, violin; Eric Friedlander, cello; Michelle Kinney, cello; John Medeski, piano, Hammond B3; Ikue Mori, electronics; Marc Ribot, guitar; Joey Schad, electric keyboards; Kenny Wollesen, vibraphone, percussion, and drums.

Well, first off, due to documentaries, I know what Zorn sounds like… and I was getting off the elevator at my hotel and I heard a familiar voice.  Then I looked up, and “whoa, John Zorn is getting on the elevator that I’m getting off of.”  I almost wanted to act like I forgot something in my room and ride up with him.  Alas, I wussed out.  Then in the lobby, Marc Ribot was futzing around on his phone, and Greg Cohen’s massive upright bass case was blocking the front desk.  It all added to my overall giddiness for the day…

John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither

The full day of Zorn @ 60 started at 3pm with a sit down with fest curator Philip Bither.  Zorn is a lively, humorous, acerbic character.  I kinda love him.  Probably more f-bombs and frivolity than most Q&A sessions, the near hourlong session was highly interesting.

The first part of the discussion talked about Zorn’s age… as the fest was all about his experience and what got him to where he is now in the scene at 60.  Zorn talked a little bit about other “60” celebrations he’s doing this year (of all things MySpace has the best list), and one that he’s doing at The Met (NYC) completely intrigued me… ten performances every hour on the hour in different galleries throughout the museum on September 1st (Facebook link).  if I can swing a way to be in NYC for most of September, I’d be happy.  Unlikely, though.

Some of the best quotes from the interview and Q&A (paraphrased from my scribbles):

[about turning 60]“You don’t have any more doubts.”

“They’ve been saying I’ve been playing ironically for decades… that’s bullshit. But they don’t believe me when I say that’s bullshit.”

“Ribot plays guitar like a mutha’fucka!”

“I live in a library [of books, LPs, CDs, DVDs]… I didn’t have a kitchen for over a decade, but I didn’t have cockroaches either!”

[on creativity] “There were probably Bach-types banging on logs [in the earliest times]. Creativity is mystical, spiritual, ineffable.”

[on his schedule for the day] “Eating is a drag… it’ll only slow you down.”

[on critics] “The secret to longevity is to stay away from negative people… all reviews are bad. We don’t need that bullshit.”

And while I write reviews (and perhaps this is one), I understand his take on the industry of critique.

Marc Ribot plays selections from The Book of Heads
(about 20 minutes)

Mark Ribot performs with Doveman at The Studio in Sydney Opera House for Vivid Live 5th June 2010. (photo by Daniel Boud)

John Zorn / Marc Ribot - The Book of HeadsFirst music of the day… Marc Ribot by himself with a guitar, some pedals, a violin bow, some balloons, and an intenseness in his eyes.  The Book of Heads, an album of solo Etudes composed by Zorn, is a very difficult listen.  It screeches, it hurtles into many different directions.  It’s hard to follow, it’s hard to even want to listen to at some times.  Seeing it live, though, was quite fascinating.  It’s highly composed, but seemingly improvised.  Just seeing Marc’s stern look at the sheet music showed the composition.  He was intently following the haphazard that was on the page.  When one of the greatest guitarists is using balloons as a key part of the music making process, you know things are weird.  Weird but gripping.

Ribot played the following Etudes (not necessarily in this order): 13, 23, 9, 24, 22, 27, 7, 2.

Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
(about 10 minutes)

John Zorn - Hockey

John Zorn - HockeyThe next piece was a trio game piece first created in 1978.  Zorn’s game pieces are a strict set of rules and is a structured, improvisational collaboration between the artists.  Hockey on record is OK to listen to, but like The Book of Heads and Cobra (below), it’s far more interesting in the live setting.

A game piece is…

As well as a sports game, a game piece may also be considered analogous to language: The performance is directed by a well defined set of rules (a grammar) but by no means fixed or predetermined (just as all sentences generated by the same grammar are not the same). The length of a piece may be arbitrary, just as a sentence can be of any imaginable length while still conforming to a strictly defined syntax.

This time is was Zorn on birdcalls, Kenny Wollesen on bird calls and percussion, and Erik Friedlander on cello.  With Kenny and Erik looking intently at Zorn for his verbal and hand motion directions.  The level of musicianship of these three players is amazing, and the game pieces are basically a way to stretch their creative musical muscles while making sounds that you’d never expect.  It’s not for the casual listener.

Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
(3 games; about 30 minutes total)

John Zorn - holding up cue card during the Northsea Jazz Fest

John Zorn heard off stage before Cobra started: “Just don’t make any mistakes!”

John Zorn - CobraCobra takes the game piece concept to whole new levels.  The rules are more complex, and John Zorn doesn’t play but directs at the front.  Based on the card he holds up and his verbal and non-verbal cues, the musicians go off on an adventure – never the same in any repeat performance.

With eleven players on stage (all listed at the top of this post), they played three games of Cobra.  This was my first time seeing Cobra.  It’s very interactive, starting with Zorn’s lead, but the players get room to lead things too.  It’s improv, but still with a structure.  Here’s a glimpse at the cue card structure:

John Zorn - Cobra cue cardsHighlight for me: Joey Baron’s smile.  I get such a kick out of watching him play.  He’s probably the musician having the most fun ever on stage every time I see him.

Cobra was the end of the first program, and the fest broke for a couple hours.

Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio, and
Bar Kokhba Sextet
(a little over an hour – total)

The second program was the chamber music segment (and also the part of the day where my notes have now gone missing).

Erik Friedlander plays Volac (John Zorn's Masada Book Two: Book of Angels)I’d seen Erik Friedlander before (both solo with his own stuff and playing Volac), and it was a great warm up for the increasingly larger groups playing music from John Zorn’s Masada Book Two set of music.  He played a gorgeous 20 minute selections from Volac.

Masada String TrioUp next was the Masada String Trio made up of the aforementioned Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, and Greg Cohen on upright bass.  While the music they played was composed (same with Bar Kokhba Sextet), John Zorn sat on the floor in front of them, conducting.  They played about 20 minutes from their Masada Book Two set.  Gorgeous players, gorgeous music!

Bar Kokhba SextetContinuing in the chamber music written & conducted by Zorn, the Bar Kokhba Sextet found the Masada String Trio joined by Joey Baron on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion, and Marc Ribot on guitar.  This was probably the best part of the night for me – outside of the experience of seeing Cobra played for the first time.  The group effortlessly brought Zorn’s Masada tunes some groove, and seeing both Baron and Baptista work together percussively was a delight.

John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed

John Zorn playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph
with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
(about 75 minutes total)

At the beginning of the third program, someone yelled out from the audience, “where’s your horn!?” to which John Zorn yelled back, “at home mother fucker!”  Irreverent and hilarious.  Even though he was lying (he brought out his alto sax for the final piece).John Zorn in Minneapolis 2013  Photo by Bryan Aaker.

Nova Express and The Concealed songs were played by Joey Baron on drums, show-stealer Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, Greg Cohen on upright bass, and John Medeski on piano.  These are two of Zorn’s better albums in the recent three years’ output (of ~36 albums!!!!).  Partly classical takes on Masada tunes (Nova Express), and partly mystical (The Concealed).

Zorn Zorn - Nova Express John Zorn - The Concealed

As mentioned, the only time John Zorn brought out his sax was for the visual installation piece Aleph – set to Wallace Bergman’s short cut-up film of the same name. Iit was a ripping, avant-garde piece in the dark, backlit by the film, with Zorn wailing on sax, Kenny Wollesen moving off of vibes on to the drums, and Greg Cohen on bass.  Stellar!

John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

John Zorn - hermetic organ

John Zorn - The Hermetic OrganA special free midnight performance of John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ was across the street after the final third program of Zorn @ 60.  Most of the crowd piled over to St. Mark’s Cathedral to watch the contrasting and turgid organ piece.  I stayed for about half of the 30+ minute set and then slowly started my 2 mile, midnight walk back to my hotel – content at the day’s musical gifts.

A brilliant, music-packed day!  If you want to check out some videos of what went down, the French Zorn website le zornographe has linked to some performances posted from the Walker Art Center “Zorn @ 60” fest on YouTube:

Bar Kokhba Sextet “Sother”

Masada String Trio “Bethor”

John Zorn’s Cobra (piece 2)

Erik Friedlander ” Sannul”

The Concealed “Towards Kafiristan”

Nova Express “Between Two Worlds”

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Soul’d Out Festival’s Charlie Hunter with Booker T. Jones & Carlton Jackson (first time as a trio) @ Dante’s (Portland 4/14)..

~Dan – np: ElleryLying Awake
Ellery - Lying Awake


John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis (soon)

9th Apr 13 (Tue) Leave a comment

John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis was awesome… I’m still decompressing, but I should have a write-up posted this week sometime…

John Zorn

John Zorn @ 60 – McGuire Theater @ Walker Art Center :: Minneapolis, MN
John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither
Marc Ribot plays selections from Book of Heads
Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio
Bar Kokhba Sextet
John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
John Zorn’s playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

REVIEW: Sarah Kirkland-Snider’s PENELOPE featuring Shara Worden & FearNoMusic @ Alberta Rose (Portland, OR – 2/2/13)

4th Feb 13 (Mon) Leave a comment

Sarah Kirkland-Snider (L) & Shara Worden (R)Ever the Shara Worden / My Brightest Diamond fanboy, I got PENELOPE – the collaboration with composer Sarah Kirkland-Snider – back when it came out in 2010.

I loved the record then… dark, light, moving, haunting, gorgeous emotions not only from Shara’s voice but also from the musical compositions.  PENELOPEPenelope is a song cycle / concept album, inspired by a journey and coming home a la Homer’s Odyssey.  Read more about it here.

Never did I think I’d have a chance to see it performed live.  I mean, I’ve seen My Brightest Diamond plenty of times, but I always thought of Penelope as a one-off – solely an album collaboration.  A very good album collaboration, but an album collaboration nonetheless.

I only found out about the one-night only show with Portland’s FearNoMusic chamber ensemble about two weeks ago, but I bought I ticket without consulting my calendar.  Luckily nothing was on my calendar… but honestly, if something had been, I would have had to change my plans anyway.

The show was as gorgeous as the record,if not more.  Quite moving and amazing to hear in the room: the strings, the horns, the woodwinds, the powerful voice.  There is a lot of pain in the words, but also a hope in starting over… blown over by the wind, turned over by the tide.  At least that’s what I take out of it.  It left me with hope.

Setlist: ~70 mins

  • The Stranger with the Face of a Man I Loved
  • This Is What You’re Like
  • The Honeyed Fruit
  • The Lotus Eaters [music video]
  • Nausicaa
  • Circe and the Hanged Man
  • I Died of Waiting
  • Home
  • Dead Friend
  • Calypso
  • And Then You Shall Be Lost Indeed
  • Open Hands
  • Baby Teeth, Bones, and Bullets
  • As He Looks Out to Sea
  • Encore: Be Brave

Shara Worden’s stunning vocal delivery was joined by FearNoMusic conducted by Katherine FitzGibbon with Inés Voglar, violin; Joël Belgique, viola; Nancy Ives, cello; Alicia Paulsen, flute; Mark Dubac, clarinet; Leander Star, French horn; Jeffrey Work, trumpet; Dan Balmer, guitar; and Sergio Carreño, drum set and percussion.

Shara kicked off her heels (literally) for the encore MBD song.  I’m glad that Shara played at least one tune from her own catalog… but honestly, it wasn’t needed.  Penelope worked on so many great levels in a live setting.

There are a few more Penelope dates scheduled… Minnesota, Indiana, and New York so far.  Check out Sarah Kirkland-Snider’s events page.

The Appropriate Linkage:

And, I promise, I’ll get my gosh-darn “Best Of 2012” list posted soon… I’m horrible this time.  The next show for me is Ben Folds Five @ Roseland (Portland) on 2/5.

~Dan – np: Tomahawk – Oddfellows
Tomahawk - Oddfellows

REVIEW: My Brightest Diamond @ Pantages Theater (Tacoma, WA – 9/22/12)

24th Sep 12 (Mon) 3 comments


Outside of a college football traffic-filled I-5 and a rainbow roll sushi before the show, there was no opener for My Brightest Diamond this weekend for me.  She was the first after “dinner break” act for Tacoma’s 9/22-9/23 weekend Broadway Center Free For All.  A free one-off show in the Pacific Northwest by one of my absolute favorite artists!!  Well, free outside of the time and gas money… I wasn’t going to pass this up.

Dressed in colorful balls, spikes, and pipe cleaner, My Brightest Diamond (Shara Worden) started the show by coming out in a mask and dumping two large trash bags full of bright orange balloons on the stage.

She played a short set, but hit some great high-points from her three album catalog and switched around a lot on various instruments: ukulele, keyboards, mbira, electric guitar…

Product Details Product Details Product Details


  • We Added It Up
  • Golden Star
  • Escape Routes
  • Be Brave
  • Apples
  • High Low Middle
  • I Have Never Loved Someone
  • Inside A Boy

Her quirkiness and fun-loving vibe shone through.  This being a free show, I’m hoping she attracted some new followers with her charms.  As far as what’s next for her?  Well, she’s bound to show up on someone’s record here, or a collaborative single there, or a remix album over there, or a new album in a bit.  She’s currently not specifically touring; so any chance she comes through your parts for a one-off show – check her out.  You shan’t be disappointed!

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Chevelle at Crystal Ballroom on 9/25.

~Dan – np: ChevelleThis Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)

My Brightest Diamond PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2012 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

REVIEW: Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra @ Mississippi Studios (Portland, OR – 2/4/12)

6th Feb 12 (Mon) Leave a comment


Montreal’s Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra appear to have an identity crisis.  They’ve been known as A Silver Mt. Zion, The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band with Choir, and Thee Silver Mountain Reveries.  For short hand, I’ll simply refer to them as Silver Mt Zion.  I’ll admit, I am new to their music… I got into them via ambient post-rock giants Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who share three members with Silver Mt Zion (singer/guitarist Efrim Menuck, violinist Sophie Trudeau, and bassist Thierry Amar).

More on Silver Mt Zion later…

The opener was a one-man band called Total Life.  He played a 25-minute, ambient/drone guitar & loop set (his clear guitar to the right).  It had a slow burn, then quickly morphed into a wall of sound.

For most opening gigs, this would not do, but for a post-something crowd, Total Life’s 25 minute experiment showed the audience’s patience and respect.  All bundled up, he was barely moving making the sounds, but sweat started dripping down his forehead and nose until the final note.

While GY!BE tend to stay in the ethereal, ambient, sweeping post-rock movement, Silver Mt Zion are a little more difficult to pin down.  They have many components similar to GY!BE, but they definitely write more in a “song” vein, with vocals.  Yet, I wouldn’t call them a singer-songwriter troupe.  The first two “songs” alone clocked in at 35 minutes.  They sweep, they go places, come back.  The vocals sometimes have choruses, and sometimes it more resembles lofty prayers… to whom? I do not know.

Their label describes their influences as “free jazz, community sight-singing, Minimalism and American folkways – still anchored to a punk-rock take on neo-classical and modern music tropes.”  If that narrows it down for you, well, you’re more forgiving of “genre-fication” than I.  Whatever you want to call them, they made great music on Saturday night at Mississippi Studios in Portland.

Setlist: about 90 minutes

  • 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
  • There Is A Light
  • What We Loved Was Not Enough
  • Black Waters Blowed / Engine Broke Blues
  • Take Away These Early Grave Blues
  • Blind, Blind, Blind
  • Horses In The Sky
  • Encore: God Bless Our Dead Marines

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

They only have a select number of dates on this tour.  Definitely go see them if you have the chance!  Check out more tour dates below.

Next shows for me… back-to-back Secret Chiefs 3 & Dengue Fever co-headlining in both Eugene (2/6 WOW Hall) and Portland (2/7 Dante’s).

~Dan – np: John ZornFilm Works IX: Trembling Before G-d

all pictures (cc) 2012 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Thee Silver Mt Zion — 2012 Jan/Feb Tour Dates

  • 31.01.12 Calgary, CAN The Republik
  • 02.02.12 Vancouver, CAN The Rickshaw Theatre
  • 03.02.12 Seattle, USA The Crocodile
  • 04.02.12 Portland, USA Mississippi Studios
  • 06.02.12 San Francisco, USA Great American Music Hall
  • 07.02.12 Santa Ana, CA, USA Constellation Room
  • 08.02.12 Los Angeles, USA Troubadour
  • 09.02.12 San Diego, USA Casbah
  • 10.02.12 Tucson, USA Club Congress
  • 12.02.12 Dallas, USA Sons of Hermann Hall
  • 13.02.12 Austin, USA The Mohawk
  • 14.02.12 New Orleans, USA One Eyed Jacks
  • 15.02.12 Birmingham, USA Bottletree
  • 16.02.12 Cincinnati, USA MOTR Pub
  • 17.02.12 Buffalo, USA Soundlab
  • 18.02.12 Ottawa, CAN First Baptist Church
  • 19.02.12 Montreal, CAN La Tulipe

REVIEW: Cellophoria @ House Concert (Creswell, OR – 12/18/11)

19th Dec 11 (Mon) Leave a comment

House concerts are the best… especially when your $$ goes straight to the artists and you get a smorgasbord of awesome food!  Super thanks to hosts Jenny & Mike (same place I co-hosted the Peter Mulvey show last month)!

Last afternoon’s show was by Cellophoria – a cello quartet made up of Eugene Symphony musicians.  Dale Bradley, Jeffrey Eaton, Ann Grabe, and Anne Ridlington all play with the Eugene Symphony.  They also have vast non-ES experience with the Eugene Opera Orchestra, Oregon Mozart Players, the OSU/Corvallis Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival and many varied teaching and playing opportunities.  They obviously keep busy, which made their ability and willingness to set aside a foggy afternoon for us into a true treat!

Their gorgeous set in a gorgeous setting…

Setlist: about an hour

  • Slavic Dance [Dale Bradley]
  • Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28, No. 4 [Frederic Chopin, arr. Laszlo Varga]
  • Four Scottish & Irish Tunes [arr. Dale Bradley]
    ….Arran Boat Song
    ….Road to Lisdoonvarna
    ….Star of the County Down
    ….Skye Boat Song
  • Every Breath You Take [Sting, arr. John Reed]
  • Ashokan Farewell [Jay Ungar, arr. David Faulkner]
  • Gagliarda del Principe di Venosa [Carlo Gesualdo, arr. Árpád Pejtsik]
  • Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D Minor For Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1004 [J.S. Bach, arr. Laszlo Varga]
  • Bagatelle No. 5 from Bagatelles for 2 Violins, Cello and Harmonium, Op. 47 [Antonin Dvorák, arr. Rosalynn Heuer]
  • Generations [Dale Bradley]
  • Eleanor Rigby [Lennon/McCartney, arr. B. Lanier]
  • All Through the Night [arr. Dale Bradley]

The sound in the high, vaulted wood ceiling living room was superb.  Full from good food and good music, it was a splendid late Fall/lazy Sunday afternoon.

That was presumably my last show of the year (unless something pops up between now and 12/30).  2011 year-end concert and album “best of” recaps coming up soon.  Next show for me… Pojama People play the music of Frank Zappa with FZ vocalist Ike Willis at Sam Bond’s on 1/7.

~Dan – np: Childish GambinoCamp

REVIEW: Erik Friedlander plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – 1/8/11)

9th Jan 11 (Sun) 5 comments


NYC-based cellist Erik Friedlander is a favorite musician of mine.  I have only a handful of his solo works, but he shows up in the subtlest of places… I mean, if I do a quick search for “Friedlander” in my iTunes, I show 32 and a half hours of music (Tzadik Records & DMG are a key component of my monthly music budget).  He has worked with Courtney Love, Dar Williams, the Mountain Goats and many more… but I primarily know his work in the NYC jazz & avant-garde scene: Dave Douglas, Ikue Mori/Death Praxis, Jamie Saft, Yuka Honda, Wadada Leo Smith, Tim Sparks, Ned Rothenberg, and of course… John Zorn.

With John Zorn, Erik has been involved in several Masada incarnations, notably the Masada String Trio (with Greg Cohen & Mark Feldman) and the Bar Kokhba Sextet.  When John Zorn was done writing music for the original acoustic Masada Quartet, he sat down and penned over 300 songs that became the Masada Book Two: Book of Angels.  I’ve talked a lot about Masada Book Two on this blog… it is the most consistently amazing set of music out on Tzadik (John Zorn’s 503(c)3 record label).  MBT is essentially John Zorn’s Masada tunes, covered by those around him.  Some of my favorites are Secret Chiefs 3’s Xaphan, Bar Kokhba Sextet’s Lucifer, and Medeski Martin & Wood’s Zaebos… but quite honestly, all sixteen releases (to date) have been stunning and essential.

Erik was one of the early invites to the Masasa Book Two Club… releasing Volac (volume 8 in 2005).  The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene commissioned Erik Friedlander to come in a perform these Volac songs last night.  I had seen Erik in Portland in 2009 with his photography & music piece – Block Ice & Propane (his music set to his father Lee Friedlander’s photography); so I knew Erik would deliver a wonderful performance.  Set-up in the Shedd Recital Hall, just off the courtyard, Erik went on around 7:40 and entranced us with his playing…

He was playing his carbon-fiber “alien cello.”  I imagine that was his easiest axe to bring for a two-night Seattle & Eugene weekend before heading back home.  Its sound was quite similar to a wooden cello – at least to my untrained ears.  Per Erik, it’s not as ornery or sensitive as a wooden cello.

The Masada songs have a definitive Jewish klezmer feel in points of the melodies.  Erik’s arrangements and playing definitely bring in a chamber music and jazz improviser aspect to the Volac songs.  He played roughly half of the songs bowed, and the rest either plucked or strummed.  Switching between the styles for each song for the most part – as is one of John Zorn’s “rules” which Erik joked about.  Hush, don’t tell John, but Erik acknowledged that he broke a few “rules” during the night.

Setlist: about 70 minutes

  • Harhazial
  • Yeruel
  • Ylrng
  • Haseha
  • Sannul
  • Rachsiel
  • Kadal
  • Anahel (the 1st written by Zorn for MBT)
  • Zumiel
  • Ahaniel
  • Zawar
  • Encore: Sidriel

Essentially the entire Volac album, just in a different order. Erik doesn’t make it out to the Pacific Northwest as much as I’d like, but when he does make it out, I’m going.  If you love cello or other chamber music – you should go, too!  Nary a disappointment. Oh, also check out his free podcast First Light which features a weekly early morning improvisation.

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Reptet (jazz combo from Seattle) at Luckey’s in Eugene, Friday, January 14th!

~Dan – np: Nine Inch NailsGhosts I-IV

all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

mini-REVIEW: Tiempo Libre @ OBF/Hilton Ballroom (Eugene, OR – 7/10/10)

11th Jul 10 (Sun) Leave a comment

How does the penultimate night of the Oregon Bach Festival keep things going?  By having a Cuban dance party… naturally. ;)

Wait… Cuban music at the Bach Fest?!  Well, Tiempo Libre melds the two seemingly disparate styles together in quite a popular way.  In fact, their latest CD, Bach in Havana, was nominated for a Grammy this past year (category: Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album).

The show moved out of the Hult Center’s confining chairs over to the Eugene Hilton’s Ballroom.  The dance floor filled up almost immediately.  Throughout Tiempo Libre’s two sets, the dancers spilled out off of the dance floor onto the surrounding carpet.  Super fun night, super hot music!

Tiempo Libre is Jorge Gomez (piano, coros, music director), Joaquin Díaz (lead vocal), Leandro G. (congas, bata & coros), Tebelio Fonte (bass, coros), Luis Beltran C. (sax & flute), Cristóbal F.G. (trumpet, trombone), and Armando Arce (drums, timbal & bata).

If you’re reading this early on Sunday… today is the last day of the Oregon Bach Festival.  Catch the festival-capping Elijah this afternoon at the Hult (3pm)!  Or check back soon for the 2011 schedule…

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: MúmSing Along to Songs You Don’t Know

REVIEW: Bobby McFerrin & Stangeland Youth Choral @ OBF/Hult Center (Eugene, OR – 7/5/10)

6th Jul 10 (Tue) 1 comment

This special Oregon Bach Festival performance brought together two diverse but compatible vocal acts – the more straight-forward orchestral-meets-gospel Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy [SFYCA] and the vocal gymnastic Bobby McFerrin.  Outside of the rendition of 23rd Psalm being penned by Bobby McFerrin, which prompted his walk on to the stage to show gratitude to the choral and conductor Anton Armstrong, the entire first set belonged to the youth.  The first piece, Kyrie, showcased their angelic voices and was the start to what would become a very religious-centric repertoire…

SFYCA’s 1st Set: ~90 mins (SFYCA only)

  • Kyrie from Mass in B Minor [Bach]
    *set change*
  • The 23rd Psalm [McFerrin]
  • Estampie Natalis [Nelhybel]
  • Jesus Christ the Apple Tree [Scriven]
  • Zigeunerleben, Op. 29, No. 3 [Schumann]
  • The Seal Lullaby [Whitacre]
  • Beautiful City [A.Thomas]

The group was very talented, but I felt they could have mixed it up in both song selection and interaction with Bobby McFerrin.  Perhaps it’s my own slant, but the church music is good in moderation.  Again, outside of Kyrie (which was from a Mass, but in another language and not so god-y), I could have done without most of the rest of the choral-only selections.  Additionally, trading off more with Bobby in both sets would have been better in my opinion.

Bobby came on right away during the second set, which was welcome…

He started off with his standard first song improvisation – which set the stage for his vocal gymnastics throughout the show.  He twisted his vocals chords into warbles, gurgles & bubbles.  He moved all over the range of several octaves with ease.  His style, for those unfamiliar, is much more than the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” guy, but one of vocal experimentation – not quite singing, not quite beat-boxing, not quite human.  He’s a one-man band with only one organic instrument.

Beyond his initial improv song, he sang and vocalized alongside the SFYCA, who for the second set was conducted by Bobby’s VOCAbuLarieS co-writer Roger Treece.  Bobby interacted a lot with both the choral group and the audience – directing us in “call & repeat” verses and improvising on some random people’s names…

SFYCA with Bobby McFerrin Setlist: ~85 mins

  • Bobby McFerrin solo improvisation
  • Circlesongs (with SFYCA)
  • VOCAbuLarieS[McFerrin & R.Treece]:
    • The Garden (with SFYCA)
    • Blackbird [Beatles]
    • I Can See Clearly Now [Johnny Nash] (with SFYCA)
    • Messages (with SFYCA)
    • He Ran the Train / Name Improvisation (with SFYCA)
    • Wailers (with SFYCA)
  • True Light [K.Hampton] (SFYCA only, Anton back conducting)

My favorite pieces of the evening were the initial improvisation and the Beatles cover.  This show gave me a great taste for Bobby’s music, and I’d definitely recommend seeing him if he comes through your town.

The Appropriate Linkage:

More OBF shows are running through July 10th.  Find out more at

Next shows for me?  The Melvins on Wednesday (not part of OBF… haha), and OBF’s Tiempo Libre on Saturday.

~Dan – np: +Live+Birds of Pray



REVIEW: Pink Martini @ OBF/Hult Center (Eugene, OR – 6/26/10)

27th Jun 10 (Sun) 3 comments


The only appropriate way to explain the multi-culturally influenced, genre hopping band Pink Martini is that they are an Oregonian treasure.  You expect some schizophrenia when you mix classical, big band, jazz, and pop with vocals in not only English, but also French, two dialects of Italian, Japanese and Turkish.  However, that schizophrenic expectation melts away when you see how seamlessly they stir the musical melting pot.

Since 1994, Pink Martini has wowed not only their local Portland Oregonians, but also the world – Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and North America.  And while Pink Martini aren’t strangers to Eugene (we’re only 100+ miles south of their hometown), this was their first appearance at the Oregon Bach Festival (OBF).

The “mini orchestra” last night was led by pianist/founder Thomas Lauderdale and vocalist China Forbes and includes Timothy Nishimoto (vocals and percussion), Robert Taylor (trombone), Gavin Bondy (trumpet), Phil Baker (bass), Dan Faehnle (guitar), Nicholas Crosa (violin), Maureen Love (harp), Brian Davis (congas, drums and percussion), Derek Rieth (percussion), Martín Zarzar (drums) and more (names announced that weren’t in the program but I didn’t catch).

Saturday’s concert was only the second day of 2010’s OBF, and Pink Martini played the first bit of Bach for the Fest – Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor.  Pink Martini also dug into many songs from their excellent back catalogue, as well as a few new tunes – including the Turkish song “A Dusty Road” from their upcoming symphonic release.

Setlist: 2 sets spanning 2+ hours

  • Set 1: Bolero
  • Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love
  • Sympathique
  • Lilly
  • Kikuchiyo To Mohshimasu
  • big band instrumental song with band solos
  • Fantasy in F-minor for Piano and 4 Hands (Schubert)
  • And Then You’re Gone
  • But Now I’m Back
  • Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (Bach)
  • Splendor in the Grass
  • instrumental song – Spanish flavor
  • Set 2: Ninna Nanna
  • Tempo Perdido (Adolfo Alves)
  • Over the Valley
  • Tuca Tuca
  • Hey Eugene
  • A Dusty Road
  • Hang On Little Tomato
  • Dosvedanya Mio Bombino
  • Encore: Amado Mio
  • Brazil

Some fan favorites throughout the double set were the entrance of China Forbes with “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love,” the tango-rific “Lilly,” and the Schubert-inspired “And Then You’re Gone” (with China on vocals) and “But Now I’m Back” (featuring Timothy Nishimoto’s vocal response).  Even though the song is not about our fair city, “Hey Eugene” got the biggest crowd reaction.  To cap the wonderful night of music, Pink Martini got the crowd on their feet for a conga line with “Brazil.”  This was a wonderful ensemble opening to the two week long 40th Annual Oregon Bach Festival.

OBF attendees can win a chance to “cuddle up with Pink Martini.” There is a raffle to win this beautiful Pink Martini quilt (pictured at the right), handsewn by Corvallis fiber artist Karen Illman Miller. It has the band members’ autographs inscribed on each of the pink fabric martini glasses. Miller designed the quilt she calls “Singing the Blues” to help mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Corvallis Youth Symphony in 2007 (Pink Martini had performed with the CYS the prior year). Raffle tickets for the Pink Martini quilt are only $5 and on sale at the Bach Boutique in the Hult Center lobby, where the quilt is on display. The winner will be announced on July 11, prior to the Festival’s Eugene performance of Elijah. All proceeds from the raffle benefit the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy Scholarship Fund.

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

More upcoming OBF shows are running through July 10th.  Find out more at

~Dan – np: Damien JuradoSaint Bartlett

all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Higher Resolution (7 pics)

Limited to 1200 pixels wide or tall (34 pics)

<p style=”text-align:center;”><span style=”color:#800000;”><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong>PINK MARTINI PHOTOS

</strong></span></span><strong><span style=”font-size:x-small;”>all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,

you may use freely under a <a href=”; target=“_blank”>creative commons attribution</a></span></strong>

<p style=”text-align:center;”><em><span style=”color:#800000;”>(click for larger)</span></em></p>

<p style=”text-align:center;”><strong><span style=”color:#0000ff;”><em>Higher Resolution (7 pics)</em></span></strong>

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<p style=”text-align:center;”><strong><span style=”color:#0000ff;”><em>Limited to 1200 pixels wide or tall (34 pics)</em></span></strong>

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REVIEW: Van Dyke Parks with Clare & the Reasons @ Mississippi Studios (Portland, OR – 2/10/10)

11th Feb 10 (Thu) 2 comments


Van Dyke Parks is recognized around the world as a musical genius… he’s a brilliant session musician, composer, arranger, lyricist, and singer.  He has contributed to many masterpieces (check out his rap sheet).  He is most well known for his collaboration with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. While Brian is a prodigiously gifted composer, he was no lyricist, and needed one who could match the daring new music he was devising in his head.  The result is their collaboration on the much vaunted SMiLE album.

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the Beach Boys.  I just don’t care for their music. Well, I connected with Van Dyke Parks via a newer band… Silverchair (VDP did string arrangements for Diorama and Young Modern).  Yeah, yeah… if you only knew them from 1995’s “Tomorrow” (from when they were 15 years old)… well, they’ve grown.


Van Dyke Parks rarely ever records or tours, putting at most one or two records per decade. When I heard about the shows via the Clare & the Reasons email, I jumped at the chance of seeing both of these artists on the stage together.  I had seen Clare & the Reasons open up for My Brightest Diamond back in Nov 2008, and I loved their French bohemian meets modern indie rock vibe.

There were only four shows slated for this rare double bill tour…

02.09.10 – Seattle, WA Triple Door
02.10.10 – Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
02.12.10 – San Francisco, CA Swedish American Hall
02.14.10 – Santa Monica, CA McCabe’s

This was only my second time up to the Mississippi Studios.  I really like the intimate setting, even the crazy hovering piano.  The last time I was there was for David Bazan in November.  For the VDP & Clare show, I’m glad they had chairs down… whew. :)

Opener Josh Mease went on around 9pm and played 6 songs.  He had a very gentle singer-songwriter style.  His guitarwork was good, but his voice was simply superb (nice lyrics, too).  Josh is on Frogstand Records, the same record label as Clare & The Reasons.  I dug his own tunes more than the Randy Newman cover.  For his last song, Clare & The Reasons came up to play with him…

Josh Mease’s Setlist: about 20 mins

  • missing song name
  • missing song name
  • Marie (Randy Newman cover)
  • Days Like This
  • Eleanor
  • Start Over (with Clare & The Reasons)

Clare & The Reasons stayed up after Josh’s last song and moved some instruments around (and subsequently lost a percussion brush).  Off to a great start! :)  They joked lightly about it and then… viola, they found it!  Their set was a sandwich of Arrow songs, The Movie songs, and more Arrow songs.

Arrow came out late last year, but I didn’t get a chance to pick it up until yesterday.  I also picked up Olivier Manchon’s brand new instrumental CD, Orchestre de Chambre Miniature Volume 1, with saxophonist John Ellis, Gregoire Maret (from a Herbie Hancock band), and more string and woodwind players.  Check their albums out (click pictures below)…

What I love about the band is not just limited to Clare Manchon’s vocals, but also the wonderful multi-instrumentation from Olivier and the well rounded guitarist and upright bassist.  The set was full of great percussion, strings, garbage ukelele, french horn, pizzicato strings, a borrowed saw, acoustic & electric guitars, and sublime vocals.  Van Dyke Parks & Josh Mease joined them on stage for their next to last song… (apparently Bill Frisell also joined them on stage up at the Seattle show).

Clare & the Reason’s Setlist: about an hour

  • You Got Time
  • All the Wine
  • Perdue A Paris
  • Ooh You Hurt Me So
  • Wake Up (You Sleepy Head)
  • You Getting Me
  • This Is The Story
  • Alphabet City
  • Pluton
  • Pluto
  • Our Team Is Grand
  • Love Can Be A Crime (with VDP & Josh)
  • That’s All (Genesis cover)

Van Dyke Parks came on after a short break.  He was seated at the piano and brought The Reasons (sans Clare) as his backing band.  They started out with a great instrumental piece.  The rest of the songs we heard were poppier tunes with some great instrumentation (as expected).  VDP is an amazing pianist and composer.  His voice wasn’t superb or sublime, but it fit the songs.  I wasn’t familiar with his songs, but of the ones he announced while we were there… Opportunity for Two, Orange Crate Art, and Sail Away.

VDP was also a great banterer in between songs.  Usually short, but funny… one of my faves was “my wife thinks that ‘cook’ is a noun.

We only stayed for half of his scheduled hour-long set (as we had a 2 hour drive back home), but it was a great set of tunes.  If anyone has the complete VDP setlist, let me know.

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: SadeSoldier of Love

all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

REVIEW: Wynton Marsalis & LCJO @ Hult (Eugene, OR – 9/17/09)

18th Sep 09 (Fri) Leave a comment

Well, I got into Wynton Marsalis from Ken Burns’ (long ass) JAZZ documentary.  I had heard of him, but never really heard him, and he was featured heavily in the movie.  I came to find out that he was the artistic director & co-producer of the documentary series.  Anyway, I love trumpet (Dave Douglas & Steven Bernstein being top of my other Top 3 living trumpeters).  This year, I’ve had a chance to see all three of them… Yay!

I like the Hult.  I saw Wynton’s brother Branford at the Hult around this time last year.  I like the Hult this week in particular (due to it being a 4 concert week): I like that the show started early (7:30pm), ended on time (9:25pm), and I got home at a reasonable time.  Double Yay!

Wynton and his near-double octet hit the stage after a short introduction.  Wynton was position at the top center of the bandstand and went directly into announcing the first song…


1st set – 40 mins

  • Free for All (Art Blakey) *a fave of night*
  • Peace (Horace Silver)
  • I Like to Take My Time (Mr Rogers)
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Up from Down (Gardner) *a fave of night*

2nd set – 45 mins

  • Weary Blues (sextet band, ragtime tune) *a fave of night*
  • Joe Turner’s Blues (septet, Wynton sang impromptu)
  • Tattooed Bride (Duke Ellington)
  • Portrait of Mahalia Jackson (Duke) *a fave of night*

The first set started off with “Free for All” which had some great solos… sax, trombone and trumpet.  The entire night was filled with some great solos, and “Free for All” kicked it off right.  For the second set we moved to some open seats near the center… right by the very energetic soundman.  He was humorous.  While I dug the first set a lot, the second set was smokin’ hot.  More ragtime and New Orleans street jazz in spots versus the more held back, big band vibe from the first set.  The first two songs of the second set were a stripped down cast (sextet and the septet before the rest of the band re-joined them for the Duke tunes.  I think my favorite tune of the whole night was “Weary Blues, ” which was really hoppin’.  Seem ironic that the entire crowd (of largely white hair) was just idly sitting in their seats. :)

All in all, a great evening of great jazz.

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Fima EphronSoul Machine

REVIEW: Erik Friedlander @ Winningstad Theatre (Portland, OR – 9/12/09)

13th Sep 09 (Sun) 3 comments


Erik Friedlander grew up spending many of his summers on the road with his family due to his photographer father, Lee Friedlander.  I knew his dad was a photographer with some notoriety, but I hadn’t known about the long, cross-country summer road trips – which were the basis for Erik’s 3-day run of Block Ice and Propane at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA)’s TBA Festival (aka T:BA:09).  More about T:BA:09 later…

I have been into Erik for a while… basically contemporaneously with my immersion into John Zorn, as Erik is a mainstay in the Downtown NYC jazz scene and finds his way on maaaaany of the Tzadik releases that I love.  He’s a part of the Masada String Trio & Bar Kokhba Sextet, and has played with Dave Douglas, Ikue Mori, Wadada Leo Smith, severalk of Zorn’s Filmworks series, et cetera.

When I showed up for the event, I was caught off guard by the vast amount of people milling about the lobby.  “Does Erik have this big of a draw in Portland?”

Well, the answer to that question is, now he does.” This was the third night of his three-night run as part of the T:BA:09 festival put on by PICA.  The entire 10-day festival was also coming to a crescendo on the 12th… needless to say, the program looked amazing, full of art of all kinds, not just music.  I’m definitely putting T:BA:10 on my radar for next year.

Erik’s solo chair, laptop stand, and microphone in front of a projector screen was nicely lit with a blue light as the herd of an audience entered the Dolores Winningstad Theatre.  I’d never been to the Winningstad Theatre, but it’s in the same complex as the Newmark Theatre (where I saw the SF Jazz Collective in ’08 and where I’ll see Patton Oswalt tonight), and it’s right next door to the Arlene Schnitzer Hall (where I’ve seen many shows).  “The Winny” was a great venue… small & intimate, but seemingly able to fit in a large amount of people, including 2 tiers of balcony seating.  Luckily I was solo; so I found a stray seat right up front-left.

As mentioned prior, the show was Erik playing solo cello in front of a backdrop of photos from his childhood, primarily taken by his father Lee Friedlander.  The performance, specifically the backdrop, had a very “Americana” feel set to non-“Americana music.”  Or perhaps it was Americana music set through the filter of the cello.  It wasn’t Woody Guthrie-esque, but it had that dirty, road weary, wow-look-at-this-wonderful-country feel to it.  Amongst the photos were also some videos shot by Bill Morrison.

Outside of photographing the country on big summer roadtrips, Erik’s father Lee also photographed many musicians… Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane… even up to the current era like a famous Madonna photo.  Lee’s love of music spilled over to Erik, who found a love for music early in his life.  He started on guitar and eventually moved to cello.  However, his basis in guitar drove much of the style of playing last night.  Only a few times did Erik pull out a bow – rather he plucked and strummed his cello like one would with a guitar… well, a guitar that you were holding like a cello. :)


  • Block Ice & Propane
  • Road Weary
  • King Rig
  • I’m Not Here
  • Cold Chicken
  • Yakima
  • Pressure Cooking
  • Winking at Highway 7
  • Rusting in Honeysuckle
  • Dream Song
  • Airstream Envy
  • Night White

Some of my favorite pieces were the lead-in, title track (to the 2007 CD of the same name), as well as “Pressure Cooking” and “Night White” (nice harmonics).  The story about “Cold Chicken” was great, about how at a diner they were served very slowly and Lee stormed into the kitchen to complain about “who wants to eat cold chicken!?” while the family scurried away.  The music, which I’ve heard several times before on the CD, totally made sense now.  Nice…

Block Ice and Propane (the 2007 CD) can be purchased directly from Erik HERE.

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Porcupine TreeThe Incident

all pictures (cc) 2009 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

REVIEW: Portland Cello Project & Emily Wells @ Cozmic Pizza (Eugene, OR – 6/13/09)

14th Jun 09 (Sun) Leave a comment

I first heard of Portland Cello Project via cellist Anna Fritz.  Her 2005 album Wake featured a couple of songs with singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey guesting, of whom I had been a longtime fan already.  Anyway, shortly thereafter, Anna Fritz was posting on her MySpace page about this new band that she was in, the Portland Cello Project.  They kept playing around on times that I couldn’t see them… so last night was the first official time for me to see them, though I guess I’ve been a fan for a while.

We showed up around 8:30 to a beyond packed house.  Oh crap, I underestimated the draw of the PCP on a Saturday night in Eugene.  Emily Wells was into her set, and some of the PCP was sitting in on her set.  Great stuff… enough to buy her Symphonies album.  I hope she comes around Eugene or Portland again… I loved her sound.

The Portland Cello Project came on around 9:30.  Their sound seemed very much standard “chamber music” until they hit the more energetic Pantera and Dave Brubeck pieces.  PCP pulls off the “modern / alternative chamber music” sound pretty well without getting lumped into the sometimes cheesy Apocalyptica and the almost always cheesy “String Quartet Tribute to…” compilations.  PCP had a mix of classical, jazz, rougher music, tween pop with John Brophy, and indie rock (the songs featuring Justin Power on guitar & voice)… seemed to be enjoyed by the very large, very diverse crowd…

Setlist: (per the PCP blog)

  • Collaborations with Emily Wells
  • The Batman Theme Song (by Danny Elfman)
  • Turkish Wine (by Norfolk and Western)
  • Denmark (by Gideon Freudmann)
  • Mouth for War (by Pantera)
  • Take 5 (by Dave Brubeck Quartet)
  • A piece by Ashia
  • Ashia and Justin Power playing Hungry Liars
  • Two more Justin Power pieces!
  • Toxic (by Britney Spears) featuring John Brophy
  • What Goes Around…/…Comes Back around (by Justin Timberlake) featuring John Brophy
  • Push-it (by Salt N Pepa) featuring John Brophy and Emily Wells
  • 3 pieces collaborating with Run-On Sentence
  • Encore: Transformation from The Dream: A Three Movement Suite for Cellos, Mallet Percussion, and Drum Set by Rachel Blumberg

We stuck around through the Justin Timberlake tune (it had been a long day).  Great stuff all around.  I was very impressed with Emily Wells set (never heard of her before), and the size of the crowd at Cozmic.  I mean, seriously, I’ve never seen that many people packed in there.  It was great to see so many people out there, but I’m wondering how they heard about it.  Here I was thinking I’d show up at 8:30 and get right in…

Next time, I’ll know to show up early for PCP in Eugene.

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: FlaregunTen Sundays

REVIEW: Oregon Percussion Ensemble’s FRANK ZAPPA Tribute @ UO’s Beall Hall (Eugene, OR – – 3/7/09)

8th Mar 09 (Sun) 6 comments

I went to the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall yesterday afternoon for a wonderful tribute to Frank Zappa put on by the UO College of Music’s Oregon Percussion Ensemble, conducted by W. Sean Wagoner.  It was a show that I found out about in the Eugene Weekly… yay for the local entertainment rag for giving us last minute cool info!

The show was great… about 90 minutes including breaks.  All percussion, except for a bass player and a violinist for “The Black Page Part 1 & 2.”  OK, there was a pianist and a tap dancer, too… but those are technically percussion instruments. :P


  • Concerto No. 1, Op. 12.3(1986) – composed by Ney Rosauro, soloist: Paul Owen (marimba)
    • I. Saudacao (Greetings)
    • II. Lamento (Lament)
    • III. Danca (Dance)
    • IV. Despedida (Farewell)
  • Ionisation for thirteen percussionists (1929-1931) – composed by Edgard Varese
  • Waltz (1958) – composed by Frank Zappa, soloist: Merlin Showalter (vibraphone)
  • Magnesium Zapp II (2009) – composed by Charles Dowd
  • The Black Page Drum Solo (1976) – composed by Frank Zappa, soloist: Paul Owen (drumset)
  • The Black Page, Part I (1976) – composed by Frank Zappa
  • The Black Page, Part II (1976) – composed by Frank Zappa

The first part of the first piece (Saudacao) was very Zappaesque… heavy on the marimba and xylophonic percussion… fast melodies, and the crazy percussive triplets or whatever you drummers call them. :)  The rest of Concerto No. 1 wasn’t as Zappaesque, but it definitely was a great warm-up to the rest of the show.  Paul Owen’s marimba work was great and the rest of the band really broke loose on this 20-something-minute piece.

Next up was Ionisation by Edgard Varese, from whom Zappa had only one degree of separation… the conductor for the first performance of Ionisation in the 30s was Nicolas Slonimsky, who later became a friend of Frank’s and also went out on tour with Zappa’s early 80s band.  The piece was an avant-garde percussive piece, if set-up as designed (which I assume they did) was 3 bass drums, 2 Side drums, 2 Snare drums, tarole, 2 bongos, tambourine, tambour militaire, crash cymbal, suspended cymbals, 3 tam-tams, gong, 2 anvils, 2 triangles, sleigh bells, chimes, celesta, piano, Chinese blocks, claves, maracas, castanets, whip (instrument), guiro, high & low sirens, and a lion’s roar.  I don’t remember a whip or lion’s roar… but regardless, it was fun and adventurous.

Waltz was the first official Zappa piece of the afternoon.  It was about a 2 minute, 12-tone vibraphone solo by Merlin Showalter.  It seemed like it was over before it started, but it was a nice piece.

Magnesium Zapp II continued in the Zappa theme… though not written by him.  It was written by UO Director of Music Charles Dowd, who drew inspiration from Frank Zappa’s “Girl in the Magnesium Dress” from The Yellow Shark.  It was somewhat avant-garde, improvisational with some structure.  It also had small melodies written in to represent F-R-A-N-K and Z-A-P-P-A, which they went over beforehand… and it was fun to pick it out when they were playing it.  Basically a 26-note run equating to the English alphabet… blah blah blah, you do the math.

Next up was The Black Page… I’d seen Terry Bozzio play this at the 2006 Zappa Plays Zappa tour in Louisville, and for the uninitiated, Zappa wrote it as a technical challenge.  The musicians dreaded seeing all of the black notes on the page… hence its name.

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Percussion/Battery drum transcript (PDF):


The Ensemble started this as simply a drum solo by Paul Owen.  He did a great job on this 3-4 minute very technical solo.  Then the solo was played again by Paul… and 9 more drummers (and a tap dancer) at the same time, nearly perfectly in sync.  It was quite mind blowing seeing all 10 drum sets around the front of the stage when we got back from the short intermission, but I had no idea they all be playing the solo together.  Crazy good stuff.  The only downside, we could barely see the tap dancer (Alli Bach) as she was behind the drum sets, but she was going nuts and hitting all of the notes as well… per W. Sean Wagoner (the conductor), this was the world premiere of a tap dance transcription for The Black Page. :)

After the solo(s), they played the Black Page in both Zappa’s variations… the “Hard Version” and the “Easy Teenage NY Version.”  Much more melodic (not all on drums, as some of the drummers moved to play other instruments).  They were also joined by piano, electric violin and bass.  Great stuff… about 5 minutes for each version.

Good stuff… well worth the $5… like criminally worth it.

~Dan – np: Ben Folds FiveWhatever and Ever Amen

REVIEW: My Brightest Diamond @ W.O.W. Hall (Eugene, OR – – 11/21/08)

22nd Nov 08 (Sat) 6 comments

FYI… my PHOTOS of the SHOW are at the BOTTOM

Yay… I’ve been waiting for this show for a few months.  I last saw Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) in April 2007 at the MusicNOW Fest in Cincinnati.  It was at that show where she debuted many songs that ended up on A Thousand Shark’s Teeth.  I was going to drive up to Portland on Thursday for the show, then they announced a Eugene show (yay!).  It was sparsely attended, though not as sparse as a Glen Phillips’ WOW Hall show earlier this year.  I don’t know… WOW Hall shows seem so hit or miss.  Maybe the Blues Traveler show at McDonald Theatre on Friday hurt MBD’s crowd?  Anyway, the artists were in good spirits and put on a great show nonetheless.

Openers, Clare and the Reasons, went on around 9pm and played 40 minutes of very cinematic-tinged, indie-pop fare.  The band was made up of singer/guitarist Clare Muldaur Manchon, multi-instrumentalist Olivier Manchon, and string-players Hiroko Taguchi & Maria Jeffers – – all four dressed in all red costumes.  (The MBD & Clare touring collaboration was also an efficient one, as Olivier, Hiroko & Maria were MBD’s backing band as well.After their set, buying their studio CD The Movie for $10 seemed like a steal. I look forward to hearing it, as it’s littered with guest artists / studio collaborators such as Van Dyke Parks (!!!!!) and Sufjan Stevens.

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Clare & the Reasons’ Setlist:

  • Pluto a fave of the set, nice pizzicatto strings
  • Better Without You
  • Pluton / Rodi a fave of the set, nice saw work, 1st song done in the dark with flashing lights
  • Nowhere
  • Can Your Car Do That? (I Don’t Think So)
  • Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears cover)
  • Cook for You

Next up was My Brightest Diamond, who has gotten a lot of dedication here on this blog – – for which I do not apologize.  In fact, she’s been the most prolific (or at least most little web goodies) of the Asthmatic Kitty artists lately.  I mean, come on, Sufjan!  You’re overdue. :)  Anyway, back to MBD…

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MBD’s performance was excellent, as usual.  As mentioned above, Olivier Manchon, Hiroko Taguchi, and Maria Jeffers were her backing band as well – – this time dressed in black & white costumes. They played around an hour, which included a magic show, a shadow & puppet show, twirling & whistling hoses, and much storytelling.

MBD’s Setlist:

  • Golden Star a fave of mine
  • If I Were Queen
  • Apples a fave of mine
  • To Pluto’s Moon
  • Olivier’s Magic Show
  • Disappear a fave of mine
  • Dragonfly a fave of mine
  • From the Top of the World started Shara’s At the Back of the North Wind storytime
  • Black & Costaud a fave, started with Olivier’s storytime
  • The Ice & The Storm
  • Inside a Boy a fave of mine
  • Je n’en connais pas la fin / Hymne à l’amour – with an excellent shadow and puppet show
  • Encore: The Gentlest Gentleman – with Shara on mandolin

Check MBD‘s music out on iTunes, Amazon, or your local record shop…

My Brightest Diamond’s CDs:

(plus she’s got a ton of remixes and b-side whatnot on iTunes)

The Appropriate Linkage:

The Next Tour Stops:

Nov 22 2008 – Swedish American Hall, San Francisco, CA
Nov 24 2008 – Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz, CA
Nov 25 2008 – Casbah, San Diego, CA
Nov 26 2008 – Hotel Café, Los Angeles, CA
Nov 29 2008 – Solar Culture, Tucson, AZ
Nov 30 2008 – The Cooperage, Albuquerque, NM
Dec 3 2008 – Granada Theater, Dallas, TX
Dec 4 2008 – Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack, Little Rock, AR
Dec 5 2008 – The Bottletree, Birmingham, AL
Dec 6 2008 – Square Room, Knoxville, TN
Dec 7 2008 – The Earl, Altanta, GA
Dec 9 2008 – Orange Peel, Asheville, NC
Dec 10 2008 – Gravity Lounge, Charlottesville, VA
Dec 11 2008 – Rock n Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
Dec 12 2008 – First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Dec 13 2008 – (Le) Poisson Rouge, New York, NY

OK, that’s all for now from me…

~Dan – np: Mostly Other People Do the KillingThis is Our Moosic

all pictures (cc) 2008 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

REVIEW: Branford Marsalis & Philarmonia Brasileira @ Hult Center (Eugene, OR – – 10/2/08)

3rd Oct 08 (Fri) 2 comments

I first got into (Grammy Award-winning saxophonist) Branford Marsalis when I sat through the 10-disc (20 hour) Ken Burns JAZZ documentary that I got from the University of Oregon Library.  Let’s just say that I spent a lot of rainy spring weekends watching these discs and getting more into the roots of jazz when there wasn’t anything to do outside.  Prior to this, my jazz experience was more on the avant-garde side of things (with John Zorn), with occasional listenings of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, et cetera.  The JAZZ documentary series opened my eyes to many more beautiful jazz greats, both past on as well as those still alive and kicking.

Branford’s brother, trumpeter/band leader Wynton Marsalis, was prominently featured in that documentary as a historian of sorts as well as a leader in the current jazz movement.  Branford also popped up in several spots.  That set up my familiarity with the “Marsalis” name… then I started getting more into Wynton’s music, as well as picking up some Branford here and there.  When I saw that Branford was coming to Eugene with a Brazilian music meets jazz concert – – well, I jumped at the tickets.

This was my first concert at the Hult Center (and thus the Silva Theater).  It’s a very gorgeous facility, and I hope I can make it here for a Eugene Symphony Orchestra or other great show in the future.  The Silva Theater at the Hult is similar to venues like the Aronoff in Cincinnati or the Palace in Columbus (i.e. – a great big, ornate concert hall).   I also got to check out the Mayor’s Art Show at the Jacob Gallery.  It had some great stuff in it, but alas, no jewelry art.  I’m still wondering why my wife and her co-worker’s great pieces didn’t make it in the show.

The musical program for tonight was Branford and the Philarmonia Brasileira conducted by Gil Jardim, celebrating the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos 49 years after his death.  It was Branford & the PB’s first show of the 40-day tour.  They had met only the day (or two) prior.  With that being said, it was unnoticeable.  They were ON

A Heitor Villa-Lobos celebration! Program

(the following was a change from the printed program – updates from the Hult Program Director)

  • Philarmonia Brasileira only playing Abertura Concertante: dedicated to Aaron Copland (by Camargo Guarnieri)
  • Philarmonia Brasileira joined by Branford Marsalis playing Fantasia for Saxophone (soprano) and piano or orchestra (1949 by Heitor Villa-Lobos) *a fave of the night*
    i. Animé
    ii. Lent
    iii. Trés Animé
  • La Creation du Monde, op 81 (1923 by Darius Mihaud)
    i. Overture
    ii. The Chaos Before Creation
    iii. The slowly lifting darkness, the creation of trees, plants, insects, birds and beasts
    iv. Man and woman created
    v. The desire of man and woman
    vi. The closing section (coda) the man and woman kiss
    < < intermission > >
  • Bachianas Brasileiras no 9 (1945 by Heitor Villa-Lobos)
    i. Prelude: Vagaroso e mistico
    ii. Fugue: Poco apressado
  • Scaramouche for Saxophone (alto) and Piano op. 165c (1937 by Darius Mihaud) *a fave of the night*
    iii. Vif
    iv. Modere
    v. Brazileira
  • Bachianas Brasileiras no 5 (1938 by Heitor Villa-Lobos)
    i. Aria (Cantilena)
    ii. Dança (Martelo)
  • Encore #1 (title not given)
  • Encore #2 (title not given)

The Philarmonia Brasileira was quite amazing.  They swapped out members and instruments for each piece, and all 8 pieces of the night had a different feel.  It was much more enjoyable than I was expecting (and I was expecting it to be quite enjoyable to start).  Several of the pieces were a full orchestra, several were more string-oriented, some with piano & orchestra, one with just piano and Branford, and some with more of an exotica with Brazilian percussion.  Branford was also quite great / amazing.  This was definitely a more classical sax setting, but he did break loose in a more “jazz way” on the song with just him and piano.  I hear he comes through often (from a Veg Club friend); so I hope to see him again in the future.

All in all = A-freakin-plus.

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Medeski Martin & Wood play John Zorn’s Masada Book Two – Zaebos

The Rest of the Branford Marsalis & Philarmonia Brasileira Tour

October 2008
03 – Seattle, WA – Benaroya Hall
05 – Stanford, CA – Stanford Memorial Hall
06 – Modesto, CA – Mary Stuart Rogers Theater
08 – San Bernardino, CA – Riverside Municipal Auditorium
09 – San Luis Obispo, CA – Christopher Cohan Center
10 – Los Angeles, CA – Royce Hall Auditorium/UCLA
11 – Orange County, CA – Segerstrom Concert Hall
13 – Santa Fe, NM – Lensic Theatre
14 – Albuquerque, NM – Popejoy Hall
16 – Lufkin, TX – Angelina Center for the Arts
18 – Fayetteville, AR – Walton Arts Center
19 – Overland Park, KS – Yardley Hall Carlsen Center
20 – Conway, AR – Reynolds Performance Hall
22 – Milwaukee, WI – The Kuttemperoor Auditorium
23 – Detroit, MI – Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts
24 – Wheaton, IL – Edman Memorial Chapel
25 – Minneapolis, MN – Orchestra Hall
26 – Winona, MN – Winona Middle School Auditorium
28 – Storrs, CT – Jorgensen Auditorium
30 – Ithaca, NY – Bailey Hall Auditorium/Cornell

November 2008
01 – Bronx, NY – Lehman Center for the Performing Arts
02 – Stony Brook, NY – Staller Center for the Arts
05 – Newport News, VA – Ferguson Center for the Arts
06 – Durham, NC – Page Auditorium/Duke
07 – Rockville, MD – Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center
09 – Birmingham, AL – Stephens Center for the Performing Arts

The Roster for the Philarmonia Brasileira

Gil Jardim

Esdras Silva
Cinthia Zanco
Daniel Stein
Flavio Meyer
Gilberto Paganini
Maria Brandào Neto
Natalia Visona
Paula Vazquez
Pedro Gobeth

Glesse Colleti
Mariana Jelen

Marisa Silveira
Ji Shim

Neimar Dias

Maria Carvalho
Clarissa Andrade

Marcos Junior
Marcelo Silverio

Erick Ariga

Michael Alpert
Flavio Faria

Alexandre Ficarelli

Wellington dos Santos
Ismael Brandào Neto

Sidnei Borgani

Nahim Marun Fo

Vinicius Barros
Glaucia Vidal philharmonic filharmonia brasil brazil brazilian brasilian

REVIEW: Ellery, CSO, Antibalas (Cincinnati – – late April 2007)

30th Apr 07 (Mon) 1 comment

Great three-concert weekend… Ellery/Over the Rhine on Friday, Paavi Järvi’s CSO with Alison Balsom on Saturday, and freakin’ ANTIBALAS on Sunday. Wow… I don’t mean to sound bitchy, but Over the Rhine was the lowlight of the weekend. I think I’m done seeing them live for a long time. So, yeah, you won’t hear me bitching about how bored I was anymore. I think I’ll set my self-imposed boycott at 4 years, and see how I do. unsure.gif I might sneak a Taft show in or a Portland show in… but I’m definitely/officially on the bubble these days for their live shows. Eh. It was a good run.

Anyway, Ellery… great stuff. Can’t wait for a follow-up album… Tasha’s got a great voice. This was my 9th time seeing them… and it doesn’t drag. Great songs, great music. I’ll miss them when we move to Oregon. Maybe they’ll have to come out and do some label showcase shows for their Seattle-based Virt Records. As for Over the Rhine, I liked some of their newer songs… but left after/during “Ohio.”

M & I saw the CSO with guest pianist Hélène Grimaud in the spring. I enjoyed it, but the piano didn’t seem to work as well (and Margarita was bored, to say the least). This show with solo trumpet, though… it was fantastic. The Paavi Järvi-led Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played SIBELIUS’s Night Ride and Sunrise, then solo trumpeter from the UK Alison Balsom came out for HAYDN’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major. It popped, and the symphony and solo trumpet really meshed. Also impressive was the way she was belting out the notes while wearing a quite elegant and long evening gown. After the intermission, Paavo led the CSO through SIBELIUS’s The Bard and SCHUMANN’s Symphony No. 4 in D Minor. Fantastic evening… including dark chocolate pretzels from Divine’s at the show… mmm…. oh, and a veggie phillycheese from Northside’s Melt to start the evening off anyway…. mmm… Hail Seitan!

Last night was Antibalas (aka Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra). Wow. They’re an 11-piece band from NYC… maybe like an east-coast Ozomatli, but instead of the Latin feel, they’ve got the Nigerian thing going on. They’re similar to Ozo in that they’re also very funky, dancable, and political-infused. They went on around 10:15 and M & I ended up bouncing and dancing with some friends until we had to call it quits around 12:15am while they were wrapping up their last pre-encore song. Of the 2 hours, they probably played 6-8 songs… smile.gif Very groove oriented and some fantastic solos by all members… they had a keyboardist, congo-player/singer, 2 guitarists, a bassist, a gourd/percussionist, a drummer, 2 trumpeters, and 2 saxaphonists (1 alto, 1 baritone). Fun evening… the main singer’s shirt was also quite spiffy.


REVIEW: MusicNOW Fest (Sufjan Stevens, Amiina, My Brightest Diamond…) Cincinnati, April 2007

9th Apr 07 (Mon) 5 comments

I’ll start this 1st review by saying that I truly feel fortunate to live in the city that is hosting this truly wonderful MusicNow Festival. It is elegantly and professionally put together and a trove of new and exciting music (many of the pieces from last night were world premieres).

Music Now Festival – April 5, 2007 (Day 1)
Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, OH

Pedro Soler:
selected works for solo guitar
We showed up a little late (maybe only 10 minutes), but luckily there were some fabulous seats up near the front left. Pedro plays an amazing flamenco guitar. Very much a virtuoso. I’d say the music was not quite noodling, but also not quite all that melodic either — sort of a cross-between. His technique was fascinating to watch, and it was oft stunning. He played probably 50 minutes or so, ended with a standing ovation. He’s 68 or 69 years old and a world renowned flamenco guitarist, but this is apparently his first tour of the U.S. — with Cincinnati being one of the first dates. Bizarre choice in city to start.

Bryce Dessner’s “Memorial” (2006):
Bryce Dessner (guitar), David Cossin (percussion), Padma Newsome (viola)
This piece for trio showed off some great playing and composition. It was originally composed for the New York Guitar Festival to show off Bryce’s Spanish guitar playing. I’d say it was probably 10-15 minutes (no idea really) with some flair and highlights from Padma and David as well. David’s percussion on this piece made us excited for the next piece…

Tan Dun’s “Water Music” for solo percussion (2007):
David Cossin (percussion)
This was a third arrangement of Dun’s “Water Music.” The initial being for percussion and orchestra and the 2nd being for a percussion quartet. The solo percussion from David Cossin was brilliant and subtley played. Not brilliant in the Alanis “My Humps” way, but brilliant in the soundscapes and avant-garde asthetic kinda way. :P His main “drums” were two big plastic bowls… BIG bowls (10 gallons each is my guess). The opening was a rainfall from a colander. Next up was an odd-looking bulb with water in it, and a stem with strings (or spokes) that David played with a cello bow. It made primarily shreeking, dissonant noises; but then he warbled it around near the mic and the water in the bulb at the base ossilated the sound. Quite neato. He then went on to play different cymbals over (and in) the water and different depths with different mallets, sticks, et cetera. Two of the cooler parts of the set — 1) the wooden bowls of different sizes placed upside-down over the water… think “water tom” drums. Nice, full sounds… he played these with bigger tympani-like sticks, as well as with his hands. And 2) the water trombone… it was a clear boxy basin of water with a clear, slender tube in it. He hit it with something that resembled a Croc shoe (but wasn’t), and he raised the tube up and down. Again, “water trombone” is the best description.

Anyway, I’m a fan of one-man musical freak-shows (That1Guy, Buckethead) and a fan of composed and avant-garde music (Zorn, Zappa, et al). This was a pleasant combination of all three of those aspects of experimental music. David Cossin’s performance wins my “surprise enjoyment” award for the evening. Surpise in that I didn’t know so many artists were playing Thursday night, but I’m glad he did. The other musicians that evening were also probably glad that their gear wasn’t set up too near his 20 gallons or so of water… as some of it made its way on to the stage.

Maria Huld Markan’s “Thorri” (2007):
Hildur Ársælsdóttir (saw), David Cossin (marimba), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)
Written by Markan of Amiina and performed here for the first time in public… it had a good vibe. Very much like most chamber music I’ve heard, but with a slight world feel (marimba) and oddities from the saw. It wasn’t as captivating/electronic as Amiina’s music, but I enjoyed it. Maria’s intro to it was funny. The title of the piece (Thorri) is all about what Icelanders call the Jan/Feb period in winter. They have a festival where they eat traditional, yet disgusting foods… “rotten shark” and “sour ram testicles” were uttered in an accent that was not-unlike that of Björk. Quaint. Anyway, she wrote the piece in London because she missed the bright, crisp winters she had in Iceland while suffering through a grey, rainy London winter. Great music, too…

Sufjan Stevens’ selections from Enjoy Your Rabbit arranged for string quartet (2007):
Michael Atkinson (arrangements), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)

Enjoy Your Rabbit is Sufjan’s experimental, instrumental electronic album. When I first got in to Sufjan, I actually liked this album the best (it’s fucking weird as was what I was craving musically at the time). Anyway, “selections from Enjoy Your Rabbit arranged for string quartet” was actually one of the biggest draws for me for this festival in the first place. I heart Enjoy Your Rabbit; and, bonus, I heart string quartets. The formerly unnamed string quartet (named themselves “Osso” {aw-so} from the stage last night) played the selections in a very chamber music way, but paying attention to the electronic blips-and-beeps from the original by vocally “shushing,” playing pizzicato, and plucking or beating on their instruments to translate the electronic structure for their organic instruments. They played what I figured they would… the more melodic tunes from the album: Year of the Ox, Enjoy Your Rabbit, Year of the Lord, and Year of the Boar. Great stuff, and I was thrilled to be part of this world premiere.

Padma Newsome / Clogs Songs (2007):
Shara Worden (vocals), Sufjan Stevens (vocals, banjo, celeste), Padma Newsome (vocals, viola, harmonium, celeste), Rachel Elliott (bassoon, celeste), Thomas Kozumplik (percussion), David Cossin (percussion), Aaron Dessner (bass, guitar), Bryce Dessner (mandola, ukelele, guitar), Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin), Michael Atkinson (horn), Irena & Vojt–ch Havel (cellos)
Another world premiere… the Clogs had heretofore been primarily an instrumental band. This collaborative Clogs (fronted by Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner) featured more “traditional” song structures and *gasp* vocals. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) lended her operatic voice to the first three songs (“On the Edge,” “The Owl of Love,” and “The Adages of Cleansing”). She’s got a beautiful voice, but I don’t think it matched well with the songs. Viola-playing Padma switched to vocals and harmonium for the 4th song (“Red Seas”). Sufjan joined the percussionist to play the celeste (like a super-sized toy piano). The Osso string quartet also joined the band for some songs (I forget which ones). The last song (“We Were Here”) featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo and Shara Worden came out and sang with Sufjan. All in all, a great set…

I’m looking forward to Day 2 (Amiina & My Brightest Diamond) and 3 (The Havels & Sufjan).

Music Now Festival – April 6, 2007 (Day 2)
Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, OH

Maria Huld Markan Sugjusdóttir, Hildur Ársælsdóttir, Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Sólrún Sumarliadóttir
I like Amiina a lot, having seen them open for Sigur Rós several times, and this show didn’t disappoint. It was good to pick up their debut LP (Kurr) without having to pay tons in shipping. Their sound also featured some gentle vocals in several tracks, which is a new direction for them. It almost seemed to Enya-y for me, but that’s OK. Maybe it’ll replace Bob Johnson‘s Musings as our house’s 1 massage CD (“oh no, not Bob Johnson!“). I dug their hour long set — it was a good mix of the string/organic sound and electronics. It was a very similar set-up as previous shows… instruments everywhere and the girls roaming about and playing just about everything. The saw song (“Seoul”) was played. They also had a short last song where all four girls played saws of various lengths. I can’t say I saw that coming…  :D

My Brightest Diamond:
Shara worden (vocals, guitar, piano), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)
Shara Worden’s been a favorite vocalist of mine since I first heard her on MySpace. Bring Me the Workhorse, her debut album under the My Brightest Diamond moniker (she has three discs as AwRy), was one of my favorite CDs in 2006. Anyway, I knew what to expect going in, but she still blew me away. Her vocals are quite possibly the richest, most beautiful in indie rock. She’s got the delicate, quirky pixie side and the grandiose, powerful operatic side. It’s compelling to see her sing. The last time I saw her, she had more of a rock-meets-strings setup. This time around, her backing band was solely the Osso string quartet (no drums/bass). I scribbled down the song titles, but I know I’m guessing on some in the italics (she didn’t give the name, or I forgot it/couldn’t hear her totally)… Apples (a very cute song), Dragonfly (from Workhorse), If I Were Queen, Bass Player (a new song), Disappear (from Workhorse), Goodbye Forever (which had the lyrics “A Thousand Shark’s Teeth” which will be her new album title), Clean Through, Gone Away (from Workhorse), Riding Horses (from her AwRy Quiet B-Sides disc), New Dawn/Day/Life (Nina Simone standard), Golden Star (from Workhorse), Black and Gusteaux (the French Sherlock Holmes), Youkali (gorgeous French lyrics, a cover from her AwRy Quiet B-Sides disc). A fantastic performance.

Sufjan is tonight… Shara and the Osso quartet will be backing him. yay!

Music Now Festival – April 7, 2007 (Day 3)
Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, OH

Irena & Vojtech Havel:
cellos, piano strings, piano
The sister of festival curator Bryce Dessner went to Prague in the mid-80’s and bought a CD by the Havels and brought it home. That CD would shape Bryce’s musical interests as he progressed into songwriting. He essentially went on a 15-20 year hunt for this band from Prague, but finally made contact last year in order to bring them to Cincinnati to play at this festival (made possible by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council). Some people in the audience might not have liked the Havels, but I thought they were quite compelling to watch – – except for perhaps when Irena was singing (I liked it more when they were both cello-ing). They played for about an hour, 10 minutes of which was vocal and the rest was all instrumental – – chiefly avant-garde, but more composed in nature than noodling, IMO. There was some bird chirping and kittie meowing cello lines, but there were also some more standard scales. Their dual cello work was all over the place, but still structured, sort of. I loved it when they were complimenting each other (one upbeat, one downbeat). I also liked some of the more adventurous plucking below the bridge and almost strumming the cello like a guitar (rather than pizzicato). Their second to last bit was of both of them playing the piano, Irena sitting and after Vojt–ch finished on the cello he came around and played on her right, then, while standing started playing on both her right and left. It was sweet and romantic.

Sufjan Stevens:
Sufjan Stevens (vocals, guitar, banjo, piano, harmonium, celeste), Shara Worden (vocals, celeste, piano), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Michael Atkinson (horn), Rachael Elliott (bassoon), Padma Newsome (viola), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)

The first time I saw Sufjan live, he and his band dressed up as cheerleaders. The second time I saw him live, he had on huge bird wings, and his band had on butterfly wings. This time, it was all about the music… no costume gimmicks. He and his lovely string-based band put on a great show. Probably my only regret in setlist was that they didn’t play “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh!” (my favorite from Illinoise), but all-in-all, it was a great-sounding, moving set… hour and a half, I think.

Here are the songs that they played (I’m not claiming 100% accuracy)…

  • “Jupiter to June” (titled guess… song from way back in his unreleased conceptual songbook about the planets)
  • “Dad’s Girlfriend” (titled guess… Sufjan on solo banjo… song about one of his dad’s crazy girlfriends)
  • Three Stars (new one?)
  • The Avalanche (from the vinyl & iTunes version of Come on Feel the Illinoise and the CD version of The Avalanche)
  • All the Trees of the Fields Will Clap Their Hands (from Seven Swans)
  • The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us! (from Illinoise)
  • Casimir Pulaski Day (from Illinoise)
  • John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (from Illinoise)
  • Come On! Feel The Illinoise! (Part 1: The World’s Columbian Exposition; Part 2: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream) (from Illinoise)
  • “???” (a new one… I think I zoned out)
  • The Transfiguration (from Seven Swans)
  • Year of the Boar (played by the string quartet, Osso… from Enjoy Your Rabbit)
  • Seven Swans (from Seven Swans)
  • ENCORE: To Be Alone With You (Sufjan solo guitar… from Seven Swans)

It seemed heavy on the Seven Swans/Jebus-y stuff, but seeing as it was “Zombie Carpenter Eve” this night, I understand why… there also may have been an instrumental or two from Michigan and/or Illinoise that I didn’t know the name — thus it didn’t make it in my notes…

Fantastic festival. Day 2 was probably the most favorite, but all three days were utterly enjoyable.


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