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Showing posts from September, 2013

Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd: Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dream Project, Pi Recordings, 2013

The third collaboration between composer/pianist, Vijay Iyer, and poet/electronics artist, Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dream Project, intensifies its subject matter so much so that the music and words seize the heart and haunt the mind with stark and irrevocable truths. 
Originally commissioned and premiered at the Harlem Stage in New York, this provocative work took four years to produce. Two veterans, USMC writer, Maurice Decaul, and USAF service woman, Lynn Hill, contributed directly to the performance of the piece speaking their own words.  Decaul and Hill also linked Ladd and Patricia McGregor (Director of the Harlem Stage) to other veterans of multiple ethnic backgrounds, who had been in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be interviewed on the basis of their post-war experiences, specifically with a focus on their dreams and memories, which evolved into expressions of anguish, solitude, fear and hope. Iyer has said that this musical work allowed “the space” for veterans to be…

Matthew Shipp: Piano Sutras, Thirsty Ear, 2013

What if Matthew Shipp’s Piano Sutras were to appear in record stores and in the catalogs of online distributors out of the blue. And we were to say: Who is this pianist, Matthew Shipp?
Perhaps then, his music could be seen as itself, without history, as a beginning of contemporary jazz and improvised music.  For in this recording, Shipp establishes a new set of formulas, which embody just a mere wisp of meaning behind the Eastern religious word, sutra.
To lift one’s listening into a consciousness not involving what one already knows is difficult, perhaps. But it isn’t, if the piano music travels on a journey that is peaceful, far from arrogant, certain, strong and pure.
That Shipp simply plays straightforwardly, without any flourishes or superficial performance drama, becomes the vehicle for perceiving his language. The way he combines and integrates the notes into instinctively measured phrasing, takes them through shifting repetitions and non-perfunctory rhythm structures present…