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A Year With 13 In It

When I was 13, I was in the seventh grade. That was the year President Kennedy was shot. As I recall, that day was Friday because the Middle School at Sidwell Friends was in an assembly which  occurred during last period of the last day of the week. Young Robert Kennedy and Joseph were called out of the room before the assembly ended. It was not til I reached home that I knew that the President had been assassinated. That was a horrible day. But the fact that I was thirteen never influenced my memory of that day nor that year in the future.

The number 13 has always been lucky for me. I am not necessarily superstitious, veering my behavior away, for instance, from the 13th floor of a building; the 13th square in a sidewalk from the curb; Friday, the 13th. It would take a bit of obsession to count all the time. And the 13th of anything is going to come anyway.

Actually, in retrospect, the idea of 13 is liberating. As far as my age was concerned, it marked the onset of my teenage years whe…

My Top Eleven 2012

1. Wadada Leo Smith, Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform); 2. Burton Greene, Live At Kerrytown (NoBusiness);
3. Darius Jones Quartet, The Book of Maebul: Another Kind of Sunrise(AUMFidelity);
4. Jason Stein Quartet, The Story This Time (Delmark);
5. Joe McPhee and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Brooklyn DNA (CleanFeed);
6. Wadada Leo Smith's Mbira, Dark Lady of the Sonnets (TUM Records Oy); 7. Frank Rosaly, Centering And Displacement (Utech Records);
8. John Butcher and Matthew Shipp,  At Oto (Fataka 2);
9. Peter Brötzmann and Jason Adasciewicz, Going All Fancy (Eremite);
10. Fred Lonberg-Holm's Fast Citizens, Gather (Delmark); 11. Tres Hongos, Where My Dreams Go To Die (Molk Records).


David S. Ware, Reflections of The Blue Note, October, 2010

I remember you fondly, David S.Ware. And with compassion.  And the cognizance of your ardent desire and unrelenting determination to make a difference.

Michael Bisio & Matthew Shipp Duo: Floating Ice: Relative Pitch, 2012

No one can ever speculate on the process of improvised music before it happens. It just begins given the proper conditions, space and time. As does any phenomenon in this universe begin or actually simply continue. That is the reason that it is no surprise that bassist Michael Bisio and pianist Matthew Shipp can move forward together without competing: ego-less, unfettered, yet married to their sound.
InFloating Ice, the two musicians step outside of logical boundaries except perhaps when Shipp catches some rhythms in "Swing Laser" or strikes up strange melodic figures in "Disc" like a child might wonder about the frequent bursting glow of fireflies in the night. Bisio never really follows the exact flow of the stream as much as converses with it in pizzicato whispers, even as he grabs at his bass strings. When he goes down his own path, he fingers the bass strings purposefully and has serious, furious, rapid strokes to bow. Shipp pounds the keyboard with wide open …

Lyn Horton on Willard Jenkins' Open Sky Jazz

Not long ago, Willard Jenkins emailed me regarding doing an interview for his series on women "jazz writers." The questions he asks the participants are always the same.
This is the product of that interview. 
http://www.openskyjazz.com/2012/10/a-womans-perspective-pt-8-lyn-horton/

Lyn Horton: Solo Exhibit, Cross Mackenzie Gallery, Washington, DC: September, 2012

Installation Views at the Cross Mackenzie Gallery September 7-29, 2012














13 Miniatures for Albert Ayler: RogueArt: 2012

Paying tribute to an artist who is no longer around happens often in the creative improvised music world.  Albert Ayler is one of the most, if not, the most, revered improvisers in the history of the music.  Perhaps, because he vanished before he fully realized his destiny. Or so it is thought.  Or perhaps, he left this world because it was really the time and he had done everything he, alone, could do and it was time for others to develop his language and legacy.
13 Miniatures for Albert Ayler demonstrates how his influence took hold. Thirteen vignettes with distinctive cadence: cadence that would be dismissed without the Ayler context. This is especially notable: in the introductory text, “Albert Ayler à la Fondation Maeght,” read by composer Daniel Caux’s wife, Jacqueline Caux, lyrically, in French, painting an atmosphere for the upcoming testaments to the assimilation of the saxophone player’s music; and in the poetry reading by Steve Dalachinsky, who is well-known for his remarka…

Lyn Horton: Wall Drawings and Works on Paper

photo by Richard Laurie 


Lyn Horton: Wall Drawings and Works on Paper
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present a solo show of wall installations and works on paper by Massachusetts based artist, Lyn Horton, following her well-received participation in the gallery's spring group show, "TWISTED". This exhibition presents a more complete picture of Horton's oeuvre from her individual small works on paper to her monumental site-specific wall drawings that employ velvet rope for the linear elements and are applied directly onto the painted wall.
Horton's work is visual jazz - rhythmic, layered, sensuous and adheres to her own sensibilities. It is no surprise Lyn Horton writes about jazz - her passion. Her reviews have been regulars in Jazz Times, The New York Jazz Messenger, her own music blog - "The Paradigm for Beauty" and other publications, and her drawings have graced CD covers, most recently Wadada Leo Smith's "Ten Freedom Summers".…

Jamie Saft: New Zion Trio: Fighting Against Babylon: Veal Records, 2011

As a musician, Jamie Saft is not easy to pin down. Each of his ventures can and no doubt should be considered without comparison to any previous recording, composition, or performance for that matter.  Saft’s consistent inconsistency characterizes the breadth of his musicianship on keyboards, acoustic piano and electric guitar. Exposing unexpected contexts for well-known songs, compositions, and his own music puts him in that label-less zone that frustrates clear perceptions of him, but which also keeps him out of sedentary, stale ruts that are so often carved out by other musicians.
New Zion Trio is described on Saft’s Veal Records website as “bringing together three masters of Reggae and Jazz musics for the first time in a unique piano trio setting straight from Kingston [NY] Yard.” With Saft on piano and Fender Rhodes, Larry Grenadier on acoustic bass and Craig Santiago on drums are created a laid back, totally listenable set of tracks. Each track title has a metaphorical twist in…

Lyn Horton: Solo Exhibition: September 7-29, 2012

Baba Andrew Lamb: Rhapsody in Black: NoBusiness, 2012

The music of Rhapsody in Black has a distinctive character: it speaks of gentleness, humility, artfulness and dignified cultural embrace.  Sax and flute player, Baba Andrew Lamb wastes no time in manifesting the aforementioned qualities in the opening page of the liner notes. The title of the album addresses a celebration of Black Heritage.
The first percussion sounds heard are unavoidably spare and soft, but “initiate” (cf. the title of the first track,“Initiation”) a series of beautifully executed discrete strokes on the bass strings by Lamb's decade long collaborator Tom Abbs. The atmosphere built is environmental, say of the jungle, bearing some kind of tribal significance, haunting yells as testimony. Lambs’ clarinet induces an unique sound aura of calling forth spiritual power that pervades the entire album.
The bass creates strong arco and pizzicato voices within the group throughout the recording and seems just as prominent instrumentally as the reeds are. Abbs also sput…

Narada Burton Greene, Live At Kerrytown House: NoBusiness Records, 2012

The maturity of an artist is built on how far and how well the artist pursues an idea. For Narada Burton Greene, the musical idea is the one that he is playing at the moment. Although he may have something in mind before he starts a solo concert, like the one at Kerrytown Concert House, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he begins is where he begins and where he ends has a simple resonant conclusion, the seventy-eight minutes in between equivalent of a short evolution.
On Live at Kerrytown House, the music is thematic, tends to be quiet, slightly explosive, adhering to Greene’s sense of humor, lyricism and even romantic melody. He does not play without minor improvisational discords and cantankerous fingerings. For it is with these juxtapositions that Greene maintains the utmost integrity and musicianship. He has collaborated with and arranged compositions by associates, including longtime colleague Silke Röllig. With Röllig, he has created some of the most evocative contemporary piano mu…

Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers: Cuneiform Records, 2012

Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers is not simply a four disc boxed set of recorded music. It is a historical document written throughout a single period of the African-American trumpeter’s conscious lifetime about the never-ending saga of the African-American people. Smith’s concept for the relation of particularly contentious stories within the entangled context of American life not only addresses landmark events but also the underpinnings of those events in the detail that becomes as abstract as his music can make them.
These recordings diverge from the program of the live premiere in Los Angeles in October, 2011, over three nights. The recordings have more music than was performed then and the sequence of pieces has been altered.  The power of the juxtaposition of one piece to the next, however, remains the same. Absent also is the final speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” which concluded the original performance. Notable is Smith’s sensitivity to …

Renewal: Starting Again: New Perspective: Gotta Do It

For a long time, I have, in the back of mind, been considering writing exclusively for my blog and that time has come. It behooves me to share the reasons for withdrawing from the online publications and one print publication to which I have been contributing over a span of nearly twenty years.

The first to go was Jazzreview.com. I started writing scattered articles for Morrice Blackwell in 1996 and began to turn it on approaching the year 2000. In that year, my now ex-husband decided to go in a direction other than the one I thought I was traveling. Devastated and reeling with emptiness, urged by my son and Morrice and Joe McPhee, I immersed myself in music. I listened; I wrote. Not that how I wrote then was perfect-far from it. The performance reviews were extremely lengthy, to the point of exhaustion. The record reviews were better because I did not have much visual information to absorb and translate.

The more I attended concerts of creative improvised music, the more I learned t…

Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers

I do not remember when exactly Wadada Leo Smith made clear that he wanted to have my art incorporated into the cover art for his landmark music piece, Ten Freedom Summers. It could have been after I had seen the premiere in Los Angeles in October of 2011 and had written so much about it both for JazzTimes.com and this blog. 

In any event, he requested that I send him some pictures of art that I had been working on. I selected some digital images at random to forward to him. And just as randomly it seems, Wadada selected what he thought corroborated with the "feelings" that he was trying to impart in his multi-part music statement.

After he picked certain pieces of my art, he said that he needed hi-resolution photos as soon as possible. I got right on it without really understanding the impact that his request would have on me. When I opened the email which contained the finished files of the booklet and cover that went with the recordings, my heart fluttered. The elegance of t…

Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington, DC, Group Show, Apr-May 2012

"TWISTED"
Opening April 13th 6-8
Charles Anthony,
John Brown, Lyn Horton, Laurel Lukaszewski,
Ellen Wagener

Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present "Twisted", a group exhibition featuring 5 artists who share the use of a single element - the simple curving line - as the launching point to create engaging and complex works. Patterns are formed by the repeating interwoven lines in these artworks in four different media - photography, ceramics, wood and works on paper. In each piece, there is a sense that the artist is controlling and bending a force to their will to create order out of chaos. The curving, curling, wild lines have an agenda, a desire to escape the restraints of the drawing or sculpture's bounds, but are disciplined into aesthetic submission.

Lyn Horton's pencil and gouaches drawings are hypnotic. The artist has executed Sol Lewitt wall drawings and is a master of controlling her small pencil - line by line - until a large and powerful work of…

Wadada Leo Smith: Mbira: Dark Lady of the Sonnets: TUM Records, 2011

“Mbira” is the word for “thumb piano” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Mbira is also the name of a trio of musicians created in the spirit of the Shona story-telling tradition by trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Joining him in the trio is Min Xiao-Fen, Japanese pipa player and singer, and drummer Pheeroan Aklaff.  The title of Mbria’s recording, Dark Lady of the Sonnets, stems from Smith’s poem of the same title referring to Blues singer, Billie Holiday.

As with anything he does, Smith approaches the music making with the utmost integrity. Smith’s choice of instruments to include the four-string wooden lute-like Japanese pipa to play in combination with the trumpet, flugelhorn and standard drum set, is more concerned with how distinctly different sound voices relate to each other than with their ethnic origins.

The high-pitched non-resonant quick strumming of the pipa matched with the elegant slow tempo unraveling of a melody from the trumpet becomes the first piece, “Sarah Bell Wallace…

Jacob Wick, Marc Riordan, Frank Rosaly: Tres Hongos, Where Dreams Go To Die

In a trio collaboration with Jacob Wick on trumpet, Marc Riordan on piano and Frank Rosaly on drums, Tres Hongos demonstrates that improvised music from musicians, born within the last four decades, recalls as much from the past as it projects innovation and awareness of the present. The youthfulness of the musicians gives the music its rawness, its edge, its angularity, its penchant for sound examination as opposed to grandiloquent, lilting lyricism, for instance.  
The inexorable amount of detailed expression that documents the energy that goes into maintaining restraint gives the music its edge. It is no mystery that muscle and breathing control are components of managing the non-explosive retention within the playing.  No time is wasted to clarify that the trio is going to pull back and articulate no further than the tremolos or choruses that Wick repeats on his brass instrument or the notes Riordan plays mechanistically on the piano keys or the snare rolls, snaps, and cymbal hisse…

Matthew Shipp Trio: Elastic Aspects: Thirsty Ear, 2012

No matter whether he plays solo or with his trio, in his recordings, Matthew Shipp appropriates a signature design that includes introduction, evolution, climax, denouement and conclusion. The quality of the music in each recording never shifts; its character does. His fourth recording with his trio, this group including Michael Bisio on bass and Whit Dickey on drums, Elastic Aspects demonstrates clarity of motion that goes unquestionably forward but never deviates from an intensity, even in its quiet moments, that denotes universal embrace. 
This story is prefaced with a slow-tempo arco bass line layered over amplified, distorted drumming and piano. Shipp’s mid-range chords, which he exits with single treble notes, follow; and then, after a breath, the guts roll out. Bassist Bisio picks out a sturdy rhythm; drummer Dickey coincides with light cymbal to snare combinations; and the piano persistently relates thematic ostinatos. It is as if Shipp opens the gates for everyone to walk thr…