Innova is the home for New Music in America
First, the big news, Innova has a wonderful new web site. Be sure to visit. I will be featuring their new releases. But, you need not wait for me, you can visit the site any time. Look near the top of the opening page for Featured Releases.
Guy Klucevsek The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour
Guy Klucevsek,Alex Meixner, Brandon Seabrook, Marcus Rojas, Kenny Wollesen, Pete Donovan, John Hollenbeck, Jo Lawry, Theo Bleckmann,
Peter Eldridge, Steve Elson, Dave Douglas, Brave Combo, Jeffrey Barnes, Carl Finch, Little Jack Melody, Alan Emert
“If there’s one adverb-adjective combo that can describe composer/accordionist Guy Klucevsek, it’s unabashedly eclectic. Over the course of twenty-one releases, his music has combined the heart-pounding rhythms of eastern Europe with teeming contrapuntal passages, gorgeous melodies, and Klucevsek’s own ‘trailblazing virtuosity’ [Wall Street Journal]. But his twenty-second release, The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour, might be his most ambitious yet.
It’s a global tour, a worldwide tribute to the composers and musicians who have shaped him as a creative artist. From France to Bulgaria to Spain, he pays homage to Erik Satie and the Swingle Singers, Ivan Milev, and Basque trikitixa maestro, Kepa Junkera. On “The C&M Waltz” and “Moja Baba Je Pijana,” Klucevsek harks back to the Slovenian-American polkas and waltzes of his childhood, while Martin Denny’s exotica gets a nod on “O’O.” Middle Eastern pop even creeps in in the form of “Pink Elephant.”
But he couldn’t have done it alone. The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour is very much a group effort, made possible by a generous United States Artists Collins Fellowship. Carl Finch co-produced six of the tracks, and performed on them with his group, Brave Combo, winners of two Grammy awards for Best Polka Album. Featured on these tracks are two accordion prodigies, Alex Meixner (whose Polka Freak Out was nominated for a Grammy) and exciting young Texas Swing specialist Ginny Mac.
In addition to these special guests, the album features Klucevsek’s longtime Charms of the Night Sky bandleader, trumpeter Dave Douglas and an all-star cast of New York City’s finest musicians: singers Jo Lawry (currently on tour with Sting), fellow innova artist Theo Bleckmann and Peter Eldridge; drummers John Hollenbeck and Kenny Wollesen; Marcus Rojas on tuba; Pete Donovan on bass; Steve Elson on clarinet and saxes; and Brandon Seabrook on tenor banjo and acoustic guitar.
Guy Klucevsek is one of the world’s most versatile and highly-respected accordionists. He has performed and/or recorded with Accordion Tribe, Laurie Anderson, Bang On a Can, Alan Bern, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Coleman, Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell, Rahim al Haj, Robin Holcomb, Kepa Junkera, the Kronos Quartet, Natalie Merchant, Present Music, Relâche, John Williams, Zeitgeist, and John Zorn.
He has premiered over 50 solo accordion pieces, including his own, as well as those he has commissioned from Mary Ellen Childs, William Duckworth, Fred Frith, Aaron Jay Kernis, Jerome Kitzke, Stephen Montague, Somei Satoh, Lois V Vierk, and John Zorn. He has also appeared on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Zack Browning Secret Pulse
Cadillac Moon Ensemble
University of Central Florida Percussion Ensemble
“Imagine multiple collisions of musical worlds where sparks fly and mediations flow through secret pulses dictated by a magic square. This is the world of Secret Pulse where composer Zack Browning presents a dramatic music of rhythmically-charged pop-inspired riffs battling transcendental melodies. Each composition can be compared to a spider’s web; musically spinning out events whose design is based on a secret pulse derived from the birth dates of the performers using the Lo Shu Square and feng shui.
The special connection between the virtuosic performers on this CD and the music is captured in their powerful performances. Ensemble Unity of Taiwan rocks on the Hakka folksong “Cutting Flowers” in Hakka Fusion. The Cadillac Moon Ensemble becomes speed devils in Secret Pulse and then makes it funky in Moon Thrust and its use of Van Morrison’s “Moondance”. The JACK Quartet both mesmerizes and marvels in their interpretation of the String Quartet, moving effortlessly from soft chorales to loud funk. In Flying Tones, the UCF Percussion Ensemble grooves and grinds then provides a personal and moving rendition of the UCF Alma Mater. The four ensembles consist of musical all stars whose performances on this CD are extraordinary.
The music of Zack Browning is described as ‘way-cool in attitude’ and ‘speed-demon music’ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and ‘propulsive, giddy, rocking…, a rush of cyclic riffs and fractured meters’ (The New York Times). The Irish Times has proclaimed he is ‘bringing together the procedures of high musical art with the taste of popular culture’. Browning’s composition awards have included two Illinois Arts Council Composer Fellowships, a Chamber Music America Commission, and two Arnold O. Beckman Awards and two FAA Fellowships from the University of Illinois. Performances include the Bonk Festival of New Music (Tampa), the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival (Miami), International Computer Music Conference (New Orleans), Spark Festival (Minneapolis), Gaudeamus Music Week (Amsterdam), Composers Choice Festival (Dublin), Sonorities Festival (Belfast) , Skinneskatteberg Festival (Sweden), Asian Contemporary Music Festival (Seoul), and National Chiang Kai Shek Cultural Center (Taipei). “
Marc Rossi Group Mantra Revealed
Marc Rossi, Lance Van Lenten, Bill Urmson, Mauricio Zottarelli, Geetha Ramanathan Bennett, Prasanna, Bruce Arnold
“Since it began, jazz has been—like America itself—a place where disparate and diverse streams have met as they flow towards the ocean. Consider Boston-based pianist/composer Marc Rossi and the members of the Marc Rossi Group as ambassadors from an exotic locale where the dizzying modal runs of South and North Indian music swirl and blend with jazz and Afro-Latin forms. These deep, rich waters have nourished musicians before; think of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Impressions of Eurasia or Ellington’s Far East Suite. Think of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration Sketches of Spain or the Mahavishnu Orchestra. John McLaughlin himself, the grand master of eastern jazz fusion, commenting on Rossi’s composition and performance calls the work “very nice indeed!”
With Mantra Revealed, Rossi continues the work he began on Hidden Mandala: bearing the standard for pan-Indian jazz fusion into the present tense and beyond.
As a student of both Hindustani and Carnatic Indian music and a professor of piano and jazz composition at Berklee College of Music, Rossi has been a vital part of the Boston music scene for the past two decades, and he’s assembled an all-star cast for Mantra Revealed. Lance Van Lenten (saxophone and flute), Bill Urmson (electric bass), Mauricio Zottarelli (drums), and Rossi himself make up the core Marc Rossi Group, supplemented by Prassana’s adventurous, Indian-inflected guitar on opener “Jazz Impressions of a Kriti,” the sumptuous voice of Geetha Ramanathan Bennett, and the furious fret work of Bruce Arnold.
The album’s rich panoply of colors and textures comes from the interplay of Rossi’s own distinctive compositions and the players’ absorbing improvisational skills. It’s become commonplace to refer to an album as a “journey” these days, but few navigate a path as wide-ranging, engaging and multi-hued as Mantra Revealed.”
Anna Thorvaldsdottir Rhizoma
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
“The works on Rhízōma, the debut album by prominent Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, rise from the earth, born from ghostly roots. Deep sustained tones evoke subterranean caverns; fractured cascades mimic the intricate crystalline structure of giant glaciers. A fleeting rustle of percussion here, the stony scrape of a prepared piano there—a living landscape listened to and learned from. Against these textures skate lines of melody that evoke an enigmatic lyricism. The works throughout the collection display a keen and unique perception of the world through music, despite the variety of settings, perhaps flavored by the composer dividing her time between La Jolla and Reykjavik, between the sunny California coast and Iceland’s volcanic vistas. Rhízōma consists of three larger pieces for orchestra and chamber orchestra, punctuated by five smaller movements from a solo percussed piano work. The larger works are given life by two ensembles who couldn’t be better suited to the task: the Grammy-nominated Iceland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Bjarnson perform the cinematic Dreaming, while the award-winning Icelandic CAPUT Ensemble conducted by Snorri Sigfus Birgisson perform Streaming Arhythmia and the opening Hrím, which was awarded Composition of the Year for 2010 at this year’s Icelandic Music Awards. Between these larger works lie five movements from the work Hidden, performed on prepared piano by percussionist Justin DeHart. Although her compositions have appeared on a number of albums, Rhízōma is the first full album to consist only of her works and heralds the arrival of a vital new voice in classical music. Anna is a composer whose work is frequently performed by both ensembles and soloists throughout the US and Europe and has been nominated, and won awards, including for the Prix Europa and the International Rostrum of Composers. The Icelandic CAPUT Ensemble specializes in the performance of contemporary music. Established in 1987, CAPUT has premiered countless works, ranging from solo pieces to large chamber orchestra works. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1950 and is one of the leading Nordic orchestras, recording regularly for BIS, Chandos, and Naxos. Percussionist Justin DeHart received his DMA from UCSD in 2010. Although he specializes in contemporary music, he works in a variety of genres.”
Mimi Stillman / Charles Abramovic Odyssey
“Odyssey: 11 American Premieres for Flute and Piano is the latest release from flute superstar Mimi Stillman. This 2-CD collection, with pianist Charles Abramovic, is a breathtaking tour de force that brings together nearly a dozen works – mostly written for Ms. Stillman – highlighting the richness and diversity of the American contemporary music scene.
Odyssey takes its title from the work by Gerald Levinson, and more broadly, it is the adventurous journey representing the recording as a whole. There is stunning breadth and variety of musical styles from eleven composers of different compositional languages and approaches. Mason Bates’s Elements is a virtuosic essay from a composer who is as comfortable in electronica as he is as composer-in-residence for Chicago Symphony. Benjamin C.S. Boyle’s Sonata-Cantilena showcases the vocal nature of the flute in lushly sensuous writing.
Gerald Levinson’s eponymous Odyssey is a 15½ -minute monster of a piece for solo flute, a test of stamina and control. David Ludwig’s Sonata features two outer movements which are fast rides with inexorable momentum propelling flute and piano, surrounding a lyrical, introspective inner movement. Odyssey draws on music of diverse world cultures – David Ludwig was inspired by traditional Argentinean music, Katherine Hoover by Hungarian, American Indian, and Chinese music, Michael Djupstrom by a Balkan folk song. Zhou Tian references his own heritage of Chinese music. David Bennett Thomas cites jazz as an influence on his Whim for Solo Flute, along with elements of Messiaen. In her Mountain and Mesa, Katherine Hoover quotes a Hopi lullaby recorded by an ethnomusicologist. Grammy Award winner Richard Danielpour’s A Quality Love, Stillman and Abramovic’s arrangement of an aria from his opera Margaret Garner, is a poignantly simple song of love in a folk-like vein.
Hailed by The Washington Post as ‘a magically gifted flutist, a breath of fresh air’ and described by Broad Street Review as ‘lyricism combined with introspection, fire and energy,’ Yamaha Performing Artist Mimi Stillman dazzles audiences with her virtuosity, passion, dynamism, and ‘full-toned charisma’ (The Philadelphia Inquirer). The New York Times praised her as ‘technically agile and imaginative in her use of color.’ Philadelphia City Paper marveled at her ‘rock-solid chops and affecting conviction.’ She has performed as soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Orquesta Sinfónica Carlos Chávez, and other orchestras and as recitalist and chamber musician at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Verbier Festival, and other major international venues. Mimi Stillman is a Renaissance woman – consummate artist, entrepreneuse, historian, writer, and educator. A child prodigy, Mimi was at age 12 the youngest wind player ever admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music, and at 17 she became the youngest wind player ever to win the prestigious Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Equally at home with the classical canon, contemporary music, and Latin and Sephardic world music, she has performed with Paquito D’Rivera, recorded a film score for Kevin Bacon, and was given a long standing ovation for her brilliant performance with Charles Abramovic of the complete flute chamber works of Bach. She is Artistic and Executive Director of Dolce Suono Ensemble, which she founded in 2005, a highly regarded pioneering force in the music world that has produced 23 world premieres in seven seasons.”
So, that is the current crop of the new and adventurous artists at Innova. But, please visit the web site. Especially check out the Links pages, where you can still find Philip Blackburn’s wonderful interview series, Alive and Composing and Measure for Measure.
Innova Recordings is truly a treasure.
Innova is the recording arm of American Composers Forum, St Paul Mn.