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  • richardmitnick 5:07 PM on April 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From NPR/music and WNYC’s New Sounds: “The Unsound Music Festival – Hear A Mix Of Modern Composers From This Year’s Concert Series” 

    by John Schaefer


    “There is music, and there is noise. That statement, uninteresting in itself, becomes less so when you try to determine the boundary between the two. Sound exists as a spectrum, and the bar between music and noise exists in very different places along that spectrum for each listener. At one extreme, you can still find, say, a diehard Bach fan who says that all rock music sounds like noise. This may not be just a dismissive opinion, but a genuine experience of amplified music as being disorganized and grating. In other words, noise. At the other end, you have someone like the late John Cage, who famously said that everything we do is music, and who loved to listen to the sounds of the world coming through the window of his Sixth Avenue apartment in Manhattan. Even Cage, though, was initially repulsed by the dense blocks of sound created by Glenn Branca in his symphonies for electric guitars. The point is, “music” and “noise” are in the ear of the beholder, and the ways we divide and organize the sounds around us are as unpredictable as we are.

    This kind of thinking seems to reside at the heart of the Unsound Festival. It has certainly been a part of my thinking in programming New Sounds, the long-running WNYC new-music show that was distributed by NPR for much of the 1980s and ’90s. Sounds that may not seem musical at first can become musical in context, and sounds that some people have deep emotional and physical responses to may not be recognizable as “music” to many others. Examples: Train whistles and spoken voices become not just musical, but melodic in Steve Reich’s Different Trains. Listening to Ben Frost’s By the Throat can be genuinely unsettling, and nowhere more so than in the moments where the recognizable instruments fall away, leaving the whistling Arctic wind, wolf howls and blocks of distorted sound. These are the types of artists who have appeared, both on recordings and in person, on New Sounds over the years, and both will be represented in the Unsound Festival this year, as well.

    Brian Eno (right) and his protege, composer Ben Frost, are featured at this year’s Unsound Festival in New York City.

    See John’s full article here. And take a lokk at “New Sounds’ “Unsound” Playlist” at the end of the page. Wow!

  • richardmitnick 8:33 AM on April 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Blue Note Records Points to Soundcheck and Amos Lee 

    Blue Note Records

    Amos Lee in performance

    Streaming from a visit to Soundcheck, “…Philadelphia-born singer-songwriter Amos Lee topped the Billboard 200 chart in January with his album Mission Bell. We hear some of the smoky soul and folk songs from the record when Lee joins us to perform live in our studio.”

    When you visit the web page you can stream or download the program.

    Thanks, John.

  • richardmitnick 12:24 PM on March 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The New Sounds Archive at WNYC 

    One of the best things to ever happen for Music in the USA was the 1982 birth on WNYC of John Schaefer’s program New Sounds.


    During its long time on the air, New Sounds has brought forward all sorts of music, musicians and composers. While there are sometimes guests in the studio, this program sticks pretty much to the presentation of the music.

    So, guess what? If you visit the show page at the WNYC web site, and scroll down, on the right you will see a calendar which can lead you to probably every New Sounds program ever broadcast. This is the current incarnation of the New Sounds Archive, long may it live.

    Give yourself a treat. Access the archive, dig around and find what you might enjoy hearing.

    You can also hunt stuff up by just doing a search on the WNYC web site. Just search on the name of the composer, musician, genre, group, whatever.

  • richardmitnick 4:01 PM on March 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    From New Sounds: “New Music Youngsters” 

    If you are interested in the New York City New Music scene, visit this program, New Music Youngsters at WNYC’s New Sounds. Host John Schaefer explores the music of composers like Caleb Burhans, Matt McBane, Sara Kirkland Snider, and Missy Mazzoli.

    John Schaefer

    The groups whose performances are presented are yMusic, ACME, Newspeak, Victoire, eighth blackbird, and Signal.

    The home for New Music, every day, 24/7, is the Q2 internet only audio stream from WQXR.

    And, the person within who all of this is tied together is Ms Nadia Sirota, the gifted violist. She performs with ACME and with yMusic. At Q2, she has a twice a day four hour program, Nadia Sirota on Q2.

    This is a wonderful program. If you visit the web page, there is an audio track archive for your listening pleasure. The only things missing from John’s production of this program is any mention of Ms Sirota, who did indeed deserve mention; and possibly the presence of Ms Sirota in the program. She is an extremely well educated and articulate young woman, her life is inextricably bound in this art. She could well have added to the presentation.

    Nadia Sirota

    Please visit the web page and take a listen.

  • richardmitnick 11:44 AM on December 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    From Cuneiform Records: The Microscopic Septet in NYC 

    From Cuneiform Records

    “one of the most beloved & widely acclaimed jazz groups in the history of NYC jazz
    THE MICROSCOPIC SEPTET reunites for several live club and radio performances in NEW YORK CITY

    December 2010


    The Micros’ live performances are legendary. Be at the Micros’ BIRDLAND and THE HOTEL GERSHWIN concerts to see the Micros in action. And turn on your radio or go online to also hear them perform two radio concerts in the studios of WNYC & WBGO.

    The Microscopic Septet’s December 2010 NYC performances will celebrate
    Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk, their new album on Cuneiform, as well as featuring the band’s other material.


    on-air & online

    Wednesday Dec. 1, 2010:
    WNYC Sound Check with John Schaefer
    December 1, 2010 @ 2PM (Rebroadcast @ 10PM)
    The Microscopic Septet will be performing live on WNYC-FM’s ‘Sound Check’ with John Schaefer tomorrow, Wednesday at 2PM (and rebroadcast at 10PM) on 93.9FM. It will also be archived online. http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/

    Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010:
    WBGO The Checkout with Joshua Jackson
    December 7, 2010 @ 6:30PM
    Josh Jackson invites the Microscopic Septet to join him “The Checkout”. This show will be aired on Tuesday, December 7th at 6:30pm. Listen in the NYC area on 88.3FM or online at http://www.wbgo.org/
    An archive of the show will be available on http://www.checkoutjazz.org

  • richardmitnick 1:13 PM on November 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    WNYC Wins 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award 

    We recently noted that Q2’s programming had won the 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. Nadia Sirota on Q2 and Q2 With Terrance McKnight were both winners of the Radio Broadcast Award .

    Now comes news that WNYC programming has also won the award.
    Winners of the Multimedia Award “…were three inter-related undertakings: the book The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965, Written by Sam Stephenson, Published by Alfred A. Knopf; a radio program, The Jazz Loft Project Radio Series: Produced at WNYC Radio (in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) by Sara Fishko with Dean Cappello, Julie Burstein and Edward Haber; and a website, http://www.jazzloftproject.org, produced at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University by Sam Stephenson, Lauren Hart and Dan Partridge.”


    Kudos (props?) to WNYC and the other award recipients.

  • richardmitnick 1:29 PM on November 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Who Is Nico Muhly And Why Should I Care? 

    On May 14, 2010, at the great New Music blog Sequenza 21, the question was raised: Is Nico Muhly really all that great? To be exact, “…Is Nico Overrated? ” The site Comments showed that there were 67 responses.

    Nico Muhly

    First, I need to state that I am not am musician. I am not a critic. I have zero musical background, not even any appreciation courses in college. I am simply a passionate listener and a Public Radio zealot.

    At the time that I saw the Sequenza 21 piece, I had only heard a bit of Nico Muhly. I mostly knew his name from his connection to the violist Nadia Sirota.

    So, just a bit on Ms. Sirota. I knew of Ms Sirota from her work as a commentator first on WNYC and now as the host of “Nadia Sirota on Q2”, the 24 hour New Music stream from WQXR. I believe that Nadia was pulling the over night air shift for WNYC, and did the same at WQXR when that station became part of the Megalith New York Public Radio. Since I am not up in the middle of the night, I first became aware of Nadia when she served as a commentator on documentary projects at WNYC and then WQXR. I do believe that she did a lot of work on the WNYC John Cage Project 24’33”, a 24 hour John Cage marathon documentary and music lesson. The name is based on the John Cage piece 4’33’, a silent piece. But, I cannot point you to the programming. I just cannot find it. I also remember Nadia as being a big part of the WNYC “Remembering Lenny” project, which celebrated the legacy of Leonard Bernstein. I wish that I could give links to these various sources, but I cannot. The WNYC and WQXR web sites have become such a massive jumble and jungle that I simply cannot ferret them out. Suffice it to say that I was smitten with a great desire just to hear Nadia speak about music. She is Juilliard trained. She is bright, witty, simply brilliant. So, anyone with whom she is associated I needed to know more about. Nadia is a member of ACME, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. She also is one of the “satellite” players who augment the work of the Bedroom Community group described below.

    Nadia Sirota

    Nico Muhly with Nadia Sirota

    At WQXR, I watched the video Keep In Touch, a duet with Nico on piano and Nadia on viola. That was my first experience at seeing and hearing Nico Muhly.
    I purchased Nadia’s album First Things First; and Nico’s albums, Mothertongue, Speaks Volumes, and The Reader (music for the film of the same name). But, I still knew very little about him.

    The next thing that happened was that I learned about The Whale Watching Tour for 2009. This takes a bit of explanation. Nico is part of a group associated with the Icelandic music production company called Bedroom Community with Valgeir Sigurðsson, Sam Amidon, and Ben Frost. I sort of got wind of this tour and watched some of their videos. The tour included the four major players just noted, plus four other musicians including Nadia Sirota. Now, I was hooked. These four guys and their associates just blew the doors off the place. I got on Bedroom Community’s mailing list. When Nico’s album I Drink The Air Before Me was available in .mp3, I bought it at the Bedroom Community web site. I normally buy music at Amazon in .mp3. But, this album I wanted to buy from the source, if I paid more for it, I did not care.

    So, that was pretty much it, until yesterday. Some alert I had set on the computer, WQXR or WNYC, popped up a 2008 New Yorker piece by Rebecca Mead, Eerily Composed – Nico Muhly’s sonic magic . Eight pages of dense prose. Now a fan, I read every word. There is a huge amount of material here about Nico Muhly’s background.

    [Message to Nico: I went looking for some “public domain” information about you. Naturally, I went to Wikipedia. There is an article; but it is sparce, mostly taken up with lists of your prodigious output. You should go to Wikipedia, read Ms Mead’s article, and flesh out the Wikipedia entry. Ms Mead probably knows more about you than know about yourself. You can do it. All you need do is register. I am registered and I even wrote an article, The Sourland Mountain Preserve, a place where I go hiking. So, give it a shot.]

    If you are able to access the article via the internet, I recommend it. I do not know what the rules are at the New Yorker web site. I am a subscriber to the print and digital editions, so when I visit one or the other, I am automatically “logged in”. I see the whole of any article I find. Material in The New Yorker is protected by copyright, or I would reproduce the whole article here for those who are unable to see it. But, I think it is O.K. to just give a couple of snippets. I think that these comments will well answer the question raised back in May at Sequenza 21.

    Philip Glass, for whom Muhly has worked since his sophomore year of college, at Columbia, says that he finds in Muhly ‘a curious ear, a restless listening, and a maker of works. He’s doing his own
    thing.’ ”

    “Muhly formed alliances with a number of musicians who have become regular collaborators, including Nadia Sirota, a violist. Sirota says of Muhly, ‘He is different from a lot of composers his age in that he prefers a kind of old-school way of approaching string playing, from the style of the forties and fifties, with lots of vibrato, and very romantic. ‘ ”

    At Juilliard, where he was studying with the composers Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano, Muhly was unusually productive. ‘He would bring in thirty or forty pages of music a week, and if twenty-five of them didn’t work out he would have no problem with that,’ Corigliano says. ‘We worked on structure, but the skill of writing virtuosically for winds, brass, percussion, strings—he came in the door with that.’ ”

    Philip Glass told me, ‘The great anxiety among young composers is, when are you going to hear your own voice? But the real problem is, how do you get rid of it, how do you develop? Nico hasn’t got to that yet. There is a lot of rapid growth in one’s twenties, but the big challenge is to keep that alive over the long stretch, for the next forty years, and not let it get stifled by the meanness of the world we live in. ‘”

    John Adams, who curated the Zankel Hall series in which Muhly’s work appeared last year, says that Muhly’s music is ‘eclectic, nondenominational in the world of contemporary classical music, which tends to split off into lots of different orthodoxies. He obviously shows influences from the minimalist composers, but his music is not nearly as rigorously designed. It is very much like him: it is open, it is attractive, it is pleasing.’ Adams says that he hears his own influence on Muhly’s work—‘It’s like meeting a twenty-year-old who looks strangely familiar, only to discover he’s your long-lost son’—but adds that he finds it oddly untroubled. ‘I could use a little more edge, or a little more violence,’ Adams says. ‘At times, there is a surfeit of prettiness in Nico’s music, and I am not sure it is a good thing for someone so young to be so concerned with attractiveness.’ ”

    Neal Goren, the artistic director of Gotham Chamber Opera, which plans to commission a work from Muhly, says, ‘Nico is not one of those composers who writes music to hide who he is.’ “

    Now, these are just quotes. They do not begin to flesh out the story told by Ms Mead. So, I hope that anyone interested – and, you should be interested – will try to get Ms. Mead’s article.

    But, look who the people are who are quoted: Philip Glass, John Corigliano, John Adams. While I am most often not brave enough for Mr. Corigliano’s music, I certainly am aware of the respect he is shown. Regarding Philip Glass and John Adams, I have large libraries of their music. Just in case I do not get enough of them on Q2.

    I have been enjoying Nico Muhly’s music for some time now. Even so, the thing at Sequenza 21 nagged at me. My own comment had been: “Nico is very important. It is widely accepted that he is a gifted composer. Beyond that, what he is doing is showing that it is still possible for a young musician/composer to make a difference in all of the noise that is around the New Music world today. That is especially important for other younger talented people to see.”

    At the time I wrote this, I knew really very little of Nico’s background. Now, with the benefit of Ms. Mead’s piece, I have a much better understanding of Nico as a composer. The answer is no, no and emphatically no, Nico is not overrated. I am sure that I will be acquiring a lot more of his work as it becomes available.

    Thank you Nico. And, thank you Nadia for giving me Nico.

  • richardmitnick 10:20 AM on November 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    For Lovers of Good Music: Videos At The GreeneSpace 

    The GreeneSpace, is a part of the WNYC/WQXR mega PubRadio organization, known as New York Public Radio.

    Slowly but surely, the masters of The GreeneSpace are awakening to the possibility of long form music program videos at their site. And, it is about time. In the past, the best place in this megalith to find video was at WQXR. Strangely believe it, at least for the moment, the link for a group of videos at WQXR is not working. They might at least have put a re-direct on it. Turns out, some are at something called WQXR Features, which I cannot even find on the WQXR web site. I found it by searching for a video.

    But, go to The GreeneSpace and look to the right, you will see a column headed “Video”.

    Most recently, you will find an hour plus video, Leonard Lopate hosting Elvis Costello and a band, another fairly long video with Elliott Forrest hosting Jazz genius George Wein with clarinet specialist Anat Cohen and bassist Esperanza Spalding, and the brilliant Cubano piano master Chucho Valdez. From the past, you will find David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize winning Little Match Girl Passion, and John Schaefer hosting Phil Collins and David Byrne.

    One which should be included with The GreeneSpace videos but is not is Polygraph Lounge, at something called WQXR Features, which does not even show up anywhere on the WQXR web site. This wonderful video features Mark Stewart of the Bang on A Can All Stars with pianist Rob Schwimmer giving us a history of music. There is a brief appearance by Elliot Sharp on a large reed, not easily identified by this amateur. In The GreeneSpace. There is tons of stuff at WQXR Features; but it is a hodgepodge, even great things from WNYC like The Ring and I: The Passion, The Myth, The Mania from March of 2004. On about Page 6 is David Lang Explains Bach Connection, a video with John Schaefer. In The GreeneSpace. Buried on Page 8 is Nico Muhly’s Keep In Touch which is a duet with the Maestro and WQXR’s own Nadia Sirota on viola. In The GreenSpace. Page 8 is also where you will find Polygraph Lounge. For those interested, you will also find a video of John Zorn. In The GreeneSpace.

    So, folks, it is getting better. Maybe one of these days all of the GreeneSpace stuff will be put together in a logical archive.

  • richardmitnick 3:58 PM on September 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Jazz Listeners: On “Soundcheck” Today, a Miles Davis “Smackdown” 

    I have been eagerly awaiting this program at John Schaefer’s Soundcheck on WNYC

    John Schaefer

    The debate is Kind of Blue vs Bitches Brew
    Kind of Blue Columbia (1959)

    Bitches Brew Columbia (1970)

    John welcomes Ashley Kahn, a music historian and author (Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece), and Will Layman, a Jazz critic, writer, and teacher.

    You can listen to the approximately 25 minute segment; you can download the piece; you can look at the always interesting Comments page right on the main page, just scroll down.
    One thing you cannot be is bored by this discussion.

    Miles will always be important. These two albums will always be important. Check it out.

    For more on Miles Dewey Davis, visit Steve Rowland’s Artistowned web site and download the Miles Davis Radio Project .

  • richardmitnick 4:07 PM on August 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Congrats, Kudos, Props to the Jazz Loft Project 

    The Jazz Loft Project “has been awarded the annual award for Innovative Use of Archives, by the Archivist Roundtable of Metropolitan New York, Inc.

    If you do not know about the JLP, and it appears many do not, then do yourself a favor, visit the web site and then buy the book.

    And, visit WNYC’s Jazz Loft Project Radio Series.

    There is so much you simply do not know.

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