The classical calendar of summer is light even under normal conditions – so during a pandemic, it can seem almost non-existent.
But now comes the deluge, delta version be damned. Over the past few days, New York audiences have had the chance to catch a live set of two famous groups presenting the new repertoire. And there were connections to even more deserving artists introducing new material to those sets.
On Saturday, the Attaka Quartet played a highly amplified but lovingly composed event for hundreds of people in Prospect Park as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn festivities. (Pop group San Fermin made headlines in the evening.) In a half-hour sprint that managed not to feel rushed, the group played excerpts from the beginning of July on the Sony Classical label: the dance music-stricken (but not any). not scholastic by the way) “real life.”
Joined by some selections by percussionist Shayna Dunkelman, Attaka made propulsive arrangements of music by Flying Lotus, and an excerpt from Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 3 – which was featured on the group’s next Sony album in November. The set was balanced with tender movements from Caroline Shaw’s “Plan and Elevation”, recorded for the quartet Nonesuch and the New Amsterdam label. in 2019.
Sunday evening brought the premiere of New York City Composer and Multi-Instrumentalist Tyson Sory’s “For George Lewis,” performed by Alarm Will Sound on the final night of this year’s Time Span festival at the Dimena Center for Classical Music in Manhattan. Recordings of the group’s work came out almost simultaneously cantaloupe on the label, so “For George Lewis” not only registered as the obvious highlight of the concerts I caught during the final week of Time Span, but was also on the album of the year.
The piece stands on its own, although there is little context here. When Lewis, a musician, reformer and scholar, released the electro-acoustic “Tribute to Charles Parker” in 1979, their tribute wasting no time imitating Parker’s quick silver sound. lewis playing with Trumpets, Organs and Electronics, his rigorously sentimental work managed to honor his devoted following by creating new stylistic possibilities within the existing tradition – as did Parker.
Now Sori, long mentored by Lewis, has echoed the favor. Built largely from a pool of slowly but steadily alternating near-harmony dissonance, “For George Lewis” does not immediately recall Lewis’ recent Y, rioter music for orchestra and chamber ensemble. And though its overall arc gradually shifts from grit to sweet flower, Souri’s aesthetic also stays distinct from Lewis’s Parker homage.
Instead, as “Tribute to Charles Parker” was true for Lewis, so “To George Lewis” is true for Soare. The fully notched piece is closely related to the music Soare composed for his own improvisational trio on albums such as “Alloy”. The first minutes and changes of “For George Lewis” are dominated by continuous flute vocals, and piano figures with the elegance of sad ritual. But the subtle addition of a pair of vibrophonists quickly makes anything that happens on autopilot disappear. Nearly (but not quite) synchronous hits from every mallet-fielding player give the still-quiet dynamics a significant edge.
These are the kinds of details that make “George Lewis” feel immediate throughout its nearly hour-long period. On Saturday, in the intimate room of the Dimena Center, I tasted evidence of the Catholic taste of soiree. Violins with sharp vibrations were reminiscent of early Minimalist pioneers such as Tony Conrad; The sometimes falling complication in woodwinds was the later Stockhausen’s dramatic action; Towards the end, the lines of a sweet flugelhorn recalled Miles Davis of “Miles Ahead”. But the pacing – and the attentiveness to the timbral blends – was pure sourness.
No less catchy is the new album The Rest of the Alarm Will Sound. A second disc is dedicated to pieces from Soare’s “Autoschidiasms”. Inspired by The “drive” system developed (and trademarked) by Butch Morris And this “Language Music” NS Anthony BraxtonThese improvised pieces, cited by Soare as conductor, need the right interpreters. And the alarm will have become a sound, To my ear, one of his greatest allies For such exercises – whether live or on videoconferencing software.
The “autoskidiums” weren’t the only reminder of Butch Morris’s influence over the weekend. Before the set of Attaka Quartet, I saw veteran avant-rock, funk and jazz outfit The Orchestral Chamber of Burnt Sugar Exhibit twice at the Brooklyn Museum, part of the opening ceremony of a touring exhibition of official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.
A group of 15 instrumentalists and vocalists were led by the group’s co-founder and conductor, Greg Tate. the guide cultural critic Joe cites Morris’s “moving” style as the glue that holds Bunt Sugar’s post-everything aesthetic together. Aspects of Sun Ra and Funkadelic blended in from moment to moment, with Tate using Morris-inspired gestures to prompt a sudden deviation from the band’s recorded versions. During the final minutes of the group’s upcoming September 23 release of the title track, “Angels Over Okanda”, Tate turned an already heated rendition into a new realm of frenzied frenzy.
The veterans from both the Time Span Festival and Burnt Sugar’s previous lineup appeared together on another album released over the weekend.
The Weight Ink Ensemble cellist Mariel Roberts (who premiered) A New Fragment in Time Span) and pre-burnt sugar Violinist Maz Swift Composer and saxophonist Carolyn Davis’s encouraging new album each contributed strong solo features. “Portal Vol. 1: Mourning,” Issued by Sunnyside imprint.
Roberts’ hoarse then can be heard on the lyrical cello “hop on hop off,” While Swift’s improvised contributions help start the track “Left.” But like both Sore and Burnt Sugar, improvisation is only part of the draw. The rest comes from Davis’ soft compositional art—which mixes muscular dexterity with emotional vulnerability in a way that’s rare in both contemporary room music and improvisational scenes.
A version of the group heard on “Portals” – consisting of a string quartet and Davis’ regular improvised quintet – will appear at the Jazz Gallery on September 10. But even for those who aren’t comfortable attending concerts, the album version is a sign among many that home listening, too, is gaining energy with the coming of fall. .