Ariadne’s Notes: On Jan, 17, at 1:30 PM PST, The World Poetry Café was delighted to have our second guest,the talented Quinsin Nachoff calling in from New York to talk about his new CD Path of Totality out February 8, 2019 via Whirlwind Recordings. The collaboration with six filmmakers is outstanding. I loved the connection with science and space as well as Quinson’s passion for his work and attention to detail. I also want to thank our tech Victor Shartzman and special volunteer Sharon Rowe for another wonderful show. Great thanks to Braitwaite and Katz for sending such great musicians and for providing source material.
About Quinsin Nachoff ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfVIHDsQYq8) NYC-based saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff has earned a reputation for making “pure, bracing, thought-provoking music” that is “cliché-and convention-free” (Ottawa Citizen). Since moving from his native Toronto to New York City, Nachoff has made a habit of freely crossing borders: his music moves fluidly between the jazz and classical worlds and manages to be soul-stirring at the same time that it is intricately cerebral. His passions reach into both the arts and the sciences, with concepts from physics or astronomy sparking inspiration for exhilarating compositions. As a saxophonist, Nachoff’s playing has been described as “a revelation… [p]arsing shimmers of Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter and Mark Turner” (DownBeat). He was a semifinalist in the renowned Thelonious Monk Jazz Saxophone Competition and has been nominated for numerous Canadian National Jazz Awards. His diverse ensembles include Flux, the Ethereal Trio, Horizons Ensemble and FoMo quartet as well as the Pyramid Project.
Quinsin Nachoff Internationally acclaimed composer and saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff has commissioned six cutting-edge filmmakers to create original work in response to his new recording Path of Totality out February 8, 2019 via Whirlwind Recordings. The recording features Nachoff’s remarkable ensemble Flux which thrives in the space between genres, styles and inspirations.
Nachoff asked each filmmaker to create an artistic response to miniature versions of individual tracks from the CD.
“I wanted to do something different than a music video and I’ve always loved animation and film,” says Nachoff. “The compositions on this recording are very expansive and cinematic in scope; they lend themselves well to a creative visual. I provided each filmmaker the background inspirations for their piece and gave them a lot of freedom in their approach. It’s been fascinating to see how each of them interprets the music – both the differences and similarities!”
Bounce by Lee Hutzulak was released on January 14. The next films will be:
• Monday, February 4 – Path of Totality by Anne Beal, is based on the disc’s title track inspired by the 2017 solar eclipse.
Anne Beal is an animation artist, filmmaker, and installation designer based in Brooklyn. Her fully hand-painted film Balance and Swing premiered at the renowned Annecy International Animation Festival (France) in 2013. Her work has been featured at dozens of international exhibitions including Brazil’s Festival of Electronic Language and London International Animation Festival. A musician herself, Beal loves to explore relationships among sound and animated imagery. She is developing a watercolor animation and jazz orchestra collaboration with composer Christopher Zuar called Tonal Conversations. The first iteration of the piece premiered in October 2018 at 150 Media Stream, a sculptural video art installation in Chicago. Beal has been awarded artist residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo in support of her current animated short film This Is Not For You which examines the default male voice in mid-century nonfiction. www.annebealanimation.com.
• Monday, March 4 – Splatter by Udo Prinsen.
Udo Prinsen started his career as an animation designer. Having learned many tricks of the trade at Rocketship Animation in Vancouver in the late 90s, he started working as a creator of identity for television and film. In 2000 Prinsen moved to England for the Bristol Animation Course, which was set up by Aardman Animations, the creators of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. He spent a year in England working for Phew TV/BBC Eduation and other production companies and always worked on independent projects on the side. His short film Audition was created with the musical help of Eric Vloeimans and Martin Fondse. Into Spring was made in collaboration with Han Bennink and the short film LOOK!, was inspired by Dutch Sign Language. More recently Udo has been exploring different forms of visual storytelling. Examples are the audio book Last Words in collaboration with Amsterdam Forest; Shapes of Time, an exhibit, art book and musical show based on long exposure photographs created during a Dutch scientific polar expedition to Svalbard; and Wood, a cultural exchange in wood design celebrating the friendship between the cities of Utrecht and Portland, Oregon. www.udoprinsen.com.
• Monday, April 1 – March Macabre by Željka Blakšić.
Željka Blakšić AKA Gita Blak is an interdisciplinary artist who currently lives and works in New York City. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and the Jan Mateiki Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 2010 she received her Master of Fine Arts with Distinction from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Recent exhibitions and performances include D’EST at Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf; a group exhibition Performing Words, Uttering Performance curated by TOK and Inga Lāce; Trauma & Revival project, group presentations at Bunkier Sztuki Gallery in Krakow; The Witnessing Event curated by Rashmi Viswanathan at Los Sures Museum in New York; and exhibitions and performances at Framer Framed in Amsterdam, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Recess in SoHo, Herzlyia Museum, Gallery Augusta in Helskini, among others. She was a recipient of the Residency Unlimited & National Endowment for the Arts Award 2017, Session Residency and Via Art Fund Grant 2016, 2014/15 AIR Gallery Fellowship in New York, the District Kunst und Kulturförderung Studio Award in Berlin, and the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award in New York City. www.gitablak.com.
• Monday, May 6 – JiYe Kim’s video for the John Cage-inspired Toy Piano Meditation.
JiYe Kim, born in South Korea in 1984, is a Brooklyn-based artist and film editor. She has worked on a number of films and art projects, ranging from narrative to documentary to experimental. Her most recent editorial credits include High Maintenance (HBO), Share (A24), Halston (Sundance Film Festival), Her Smell (Toronto Film Festival), AlphaGo (Tribeca Film Festival), and others. She has worked with artists Anita Thacher, Judith Barry, Karen Azoulay, and Barbara Hammer. In her artwork, she often works in a variety of mediums—video photo, prints, and installation, building a world using cinematic language. She holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and a BFA from the Korean National University of Arts. www.foundincafeteria.com.
• Monday, June 3 – Trent Freeman’s film for the recording’s closing track Orbital Resonances, which is based on the intersecting pathways of orbiting bodies in space.
Trent Freeman is a Juno Award-winning musician whose unique approach to film has led him to create music videos for Grammy nominees and Juno winners. His inventive eye for the abstract and his celebrated musical mind lead to a seamless connection between music and visuals as he turns kinetic sculptures into an immaculately captivating reflection of sound. www.trentfreeman.com.
Previously released: • Bounce by Lee Hutzulak. The video, which was released on January 14, reflects the piece’s percussive outbursts and thrilling call-and-response built on the mathematical model of a bouncing ball. The film can be viewed at https://youtu.be/EfBNkSxkZx4.
Lee Hutzulak’s interest in making video started in the early 90s at art college, shooting 8mm film and Video 8 for his recording project/band Dixie’s Death Pool. A couple of decades later, with the advent of affordable, powerful personal computers, tiny digital video cameras and YouTube as a platform, a return to the medium felt relevant. Since 2008 he has put up hundreds of videos on YouTube. While most are simple documents of live music performance, some incorporate additional footage shot by Hutzulak and special fx using both software and real world, performance. Some incorporate additional footage shot by Lee and special fx using both software and real world, physical techniques. Some pieces, like the video for “Bounce” are companion works of art using composition, movement, light, color and texture to echo elements in the music. www.leeutzulak.com.
About Flux and Path of Totality Neither Toronto nor New York, the two cities that Nachoff calls home, offered prime viewing conditions as the moon eclipsed the sun in August of 2017. But Nachoff, who has long drawn inspiration from the scientific wonders of the universe, couldn’t help but be moved by this rare astronomical phenomenon – and to find a degree of solace in it. In the Path of Totality could be found hope that this, too – whatever “this” might be in the moment, whether political, personal or environmental – will indeed pass. At its foundation Flux is a quartet, though at times on Path of Totality a quintet and sometimes more, employing a vast array of instruments and a vivid palette of musical colors to create something that is consistently surprising as its shape morphs from moment to moment over the course of these six epic-length pieces.
In saxophonist David Binney, Nachoff has a frontline partner with a keen-edged tone and a refined ear for texture, having integrated electronics into his own work as an artist and a producer that expand and mutate his sonic environments. Matt Mitchell is a rigorous boundary pusher, a pianist and composer who astutely avoids obvious choices in favor of pressing fervidly into the unexplored. Kenny Wollesen couples a similarly adventurous instinct with a passion for the playful, as reflected not only in the eccentric arsenal of invented instruments known as “Wollesonics” but in the buoyant swing he maintains even in his most complex and abstract rhythmic excursions. The new addition this time out is Nate Wood, who alternates and at times shares the drum chair with Wollesen, lending the band an urgency and avant-rock propulsion familiar from his work with Kneebody. While that combination of voices would offer a wealth of possibility for any composer, Nachoff was handed an even larger palette by Canada’s National Music Centre, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Canadian music through exhibitions, performances and educational programs. As one of the NMC’s first Artists-in-Residence, Nachoff was granted access to the Centre’s extensive keyboard collection, an enormous resource of both acoustic and electronic instruments. Raised in a household where electronic music was not only heard but composed, Nachoff has long been spurred to follow his own, more acoustic path, but the NMC’s collection proved too tempting to resist. Both Mitchell and producer David Travers-Smith have a field day with the array of instruments.
Ariadne’s Notes: On January 10, at 1:30 PM PST the World Poetry Café Radio Show CFRO 100.5 FM welcomed the talented drummer-Composer Devin Gray celebrating the second album, Dirigo Rataplan II, with performances in Belgium, the UK and Switzerland. Featuring his all-star quartet Dirigo Rataplan with Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek and Dave Ballou. for more info: http://devingraymusic.com/ Also, a gentleman frim Switzerland wrote in to tell us that he attended their European concert and he really enjoyed it and was excited about Devin coming on the show! This was really exciting!
It was a fascinating show, delving into the intricacies of composing and the personal attention to detail and the need to put mind, body and soul into each composition. Also discussed was the difficulty of making a career out of it at this time when it is so hard to make a living creating and playing Jazz. This show is a MUST Hear for composers , musicians and creators.
There are times when music lovers can just feel a talent coming into his or her own, when that artist is someone to catch onstage or on record at every opportunity. Drummer-composer Gray has arrived at such a moment. The Brooklyn-based artist made his leader debut in 2012 with the Skirl Records release Dirigo Rataplan, which featured him fronting the eponymous band with Eskelin, Formanek and Ballou, each a master improviser renowned far and wide among fans of creative music. Cadence magazine declared that initial disc to be “fantastic,” while JazzTimes said that Gray’s debut represented “the work of a young artist who knows who he is.”
Now, after six years of intensive experience as a leader and sideman on both sides of the Atlantic, Gray has reconvened this all-star group for Dirigo Rataplan II, released on CD, vinyl, digitally and for streaming via Rataplan Records on Sept. 21, 2018. Time Out New York has praised Gray’s compositions for balancing “formal elasticity with a meticulous sense of pacing.” The new album brims with more earworm melody, richly implied harmony and a loose-limbed sense of rhythm as something physical and flowing – as blood, as breath. Fans of jazz from Ornette Coleman and Henry Threadgill to Dave Holland and Craig Taborn will dig this organic mix of composition and improvisation, structure and freedom, atmosphere and dynamism.
About the evolution of Dirigo Rataplan and his writing for the band, Gray says: “I’ve become more at ease with following my natural artistic impulses. The experiences I’ve had over the past six years have been so inspiring – in the intense, ultra-energized New York jazz scene, of course, but also in Europe, where players in improvised music are so open to different genres and have this holistic approach to art and creativity. With Dirigo Rataplan II, there is more free improvisation in the music, but I also think the melodic fluidity between the composition and the improvisation is more seamless, with one flowing into the other in a way that I really like. This music is personal for me, but I want Mike, Ellery and Dave to do what it is they do, to maximize the pieces in the way that I know they can.”
About working with Gray, Formanek says: “Devin has grown as a composer since that first quartet recording session in 2011, but most important, he has a much more evolved sense of who he is as a musician, and also of who we are in the band as improvisers. These instincts take time to develop, and it has been great to see that process unfold in both his playing and his composing. This music is free and open with a lot of room for improvisation, but the tunes also have an intrinsic rhythmic and melodic character to them, a color and energy. With the quartet having played together more now, the sessions for the new album felt even better.”
For Gray, what is most vital about Formanek “is not just that his tone and sense of time are so incredible. It’s also that he cares so much about doing whatever he can to ensure the quality of the music in front of him. He’s a composer’s improviser, in that way. I feel this total, unspoken trust with him.” About Eskelin, Gray says: “Ellery sets the bar so high for improvisation. The fluidity of his solos, the intense forward motion – that’s what New York musicians have more than anyone else.” Regarding Ballou, the drummer adds: “I’ve known Dave’s playing intimately since I was a kid. I don’t think he has ever sounded better, with that beautiful tone and wide palette of expression. He brings a strong interpretive sense to my music in that he anticipates what I’m looking for, yet via his own sensibility. Working with cats like this, you don’t have to worry about individualism – it’s in everything they do. They bring what are just notes on a page to real life.”
Reflecting further on Dirigo Rataplan II, Gray concludes: “I don’t set out to make jazz records, per se. I set out to make music, period – to capture the moment, the contemporary feel of the music, hoping that it can reflect in some small way how we live now and what we all have to deal with as human beings in the world.”
In addition to Dirigo Rataplan, Devin Gray leads the quartet Relative Resonance, featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis and Chris Tordini. Reviewing that band’s eponymous Skirl Records album, All About Jazz said: “The vitality of Relative Resonance can’t be denied… the music here literally sparkles with wit and resourcefulness.” On record, Gray has also led his Cloudsounds trio (with Ingrid Laubrock and Corey Smythe) and his quartet Fashionable Pop Music (with Tordini, Jonathan Goldberger and Ryan Ferreira). He recently released a hard-grooving digital single fronting his quartet Meta Cache with Jeremy Viner, Elias Stemeseder and Kim Cass.
As a sideman, Gray has recorded recent albums as part of Nate Wooley’s Argonautica sextet, trumpeter Daniel Levine’s trio Knuckleball (with Marc Hannaford) and a trio led by pianist Santiago Leibson (with Drew Gress). Of late, the drummer has played with Dave Liebman and Tony Malaby, along with touring Europe at the head of a trio with Speed and Gress. Gray’s recent collaborators also include Gerald Cleaver, Uri Caine, Andrea Parkins, Satoko Fuji, Richard Bonnet, Daniel Guggenheim, Marc Ducret, Frank Gratkowski, Jacob Anderskov, Eve Risser and Susana Santos Silva.
All About Jazz gave the recording four stars and called it “a high-flying, breathtaking slice of up-to-the-minute jazz from four musicians at the top of their games.”
Ariadne’s Notes. On November 15, CFRO 100.5 FM, The World Poetry Café welcomed the amazing Peter Nelson who called in at 1:30 PM PST to talk about his own journey of healing from a debilitating illness and his new CD Ash, Dust and the Chalkboard Cinema which beautifully illustrates healing through his music and brings a message of balance , listening to the body and spirit. This interview meant a lot to me since I had gone through a difficult recovery from polio for many years which gave me ongoing challenges. Peter’s story has given me ongoing hope for recovery. Peter comes to us courtesy of Braitwaite and Katz. World Poetry Contributors: Alaha Ahar from Afghanistan and the US with tips and a poem by regular contributor Jeanne Probst. The team: Ariadne Sawyer, MA, Host and producer, Victor Schwartzman super tech and special volunteer Sharon Rowe completed the team.
Peter Nelson Born in Lansing, Michigan, Peter Nelson discovered the trombone at age 10. Earning a bachelors degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University allowed him to study and perform with some of today’s top jazz artists, including Rodney Whitaker, Etienne Charles, Diego Rivera, Michael Dease and Vincent Chandler. After spending a year after college producing and recording his second album as a leader, Nelson moved to Brooklyn, NY where he currently performs, composes, and teaches in a number of settings. Nelson has been a finalist in every major North American jazz trombone competition and in 2012 was awarded the prestigious Sudler prize in the Arts. He leads multiple groups and is also a sought after section player, having performed with jazz orchestras backing the likes of John Hendricks, McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Jamie Cullum and Terence Blanchard. As a composer, Nelson has amassed a body of work that includes everything from jazz ensemble to contemporary pop. His versatility as a performer has led to a wide variety of performances and recordings with artists such as Christian McBride, Verve Pipe, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Jamie Cullum, The Hudson Horns, Marianne Solivan, the Dan Pugach Nonet, Matt Wilson, Grupo Ayé, The George Gee Swing Orchestra, Fleur Seule, Valerie Ponomarev, Michael Dease Big Band, and a score of others. Peter Nelson
“This is an exciting and unusual contemporary jazz album, one with many layers of meaning, and definitely one you should discover.” –Marc Phillips, The Vinyl Anachronist.
Through vivid compositions and enthralling playing the album retraces Nelson’s five-year struggle with a debilitating condition that threatened to end his career as a musician just as it was entering its ascendancy.
Nelson enlisted three different ensembles to tell this story: an ethereal trio featuring vibraphonist Nikara Warren and the wordless vocals of Alexa Barchini; a hard-swinging quartet with pianist Willerm Delisfort, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and drummer Itay Morchi; and a brilliant septet supplementing the quartet with alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, trumpeter Josh Lawrence, and bass clarinetist Yuma Uesaka.
Trombonist/Composer Peter Nelson Triumphs Over His Five-Year Struggle with Mysterious Chronic Pain on Stunning New Album Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema, out August 31 on Outside In Music, features three ensembles taking listeners on a narrative journey through suffering, discovery and healing.
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Nelson earned his degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, where he studied with heavy hitters like bassist Rodney Whitaker. After recording two albums in his home state he decided to move to Brooklyn in 2013, and soon found himself performing with longtime heroes like pianist/bandleader Orrin Evans and drummer Matt Wilson. Almost simultaneously, however, he started to develop strange symptoms while playing. At first the issues were minor: small, localized pain and subtle feelings of anxiety. Before long, the symptoms escalated to include chronic hyperventilation, severe shortness of breath, and excruciating pain in the face down his back and arms. “Here I was playing with a lot of my heroes, in musical settings that I’d dreamed about and I spent a lot of time trying to cultivate,” Nelson recalls. “And it became very difficult to be on the bandstand while at the same time fighting my horn and fighting my body. It felt like a physically violent way of losing my medium for relating to the world, and was emotionally and spiritually crippling.” Nelson sought the help of innumerable doctors, physiologists and educators, failing to find satisfactory answers from any source. After more than a year and a half of intense pain and frustrating questions, Nelson found his way to physiologist and trombonist Jan Kagarice, one of the world’s leading authorities on musicians’ health. Kagarice diagnosed him with focal dystonia, chronic hyperventilation and Chvostek sign, and in a single lesson reversed 60% of his pain, immediately allowing him to play again. His symptoms, it turned out, were the result not of some curious illness but of bad pedagogy – bad habits inherited from teachers working from a misunderstanding of the human body and the physical process of making music. “The stereotype is that brass players have chops problems and difficulty with endurance,” he explains. “But the entirety of brass pedagogy is not only physiologically destructive but physics-wise has very little to do with how sound is actually made.” Five years after the onset of his symptoms, Nelson is fully recovered and playing as beautifully as ever, pain-free. Writing the ten compositions on this album meant excavating a number of difficult feelings, but the trombonist was intent on engaging fully and honestly with the full spectrum of his ordeal. He brings his experiences vividly to life with the help of his gifted collaborators, each of whom have played an important part in his life in one context or another, from the bandstand to the classroom. Nelson is hesitant to reveal the meaning behind his somewhat cryptic album title, but a few themes emerge: Ash and Dust make obvious references to things crumbling away and left behind, referring perhaps to the composer’s symptoms or incorrect approaches. The Chalkboard Cinema, meanwhile, suggests the somewhat illusory nature of education, jazz education in particular – lessons taught as gospel but more akin to the flickering images of the silver screen. Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema traces each step along Nelson’s road to recovery, from the creeping onset in “It Starts Slowly (First in Your Heart)” to the confounding spiral of “Cyclical Maze (Round and Round We Go)” through the zen-like mantra “Do Nothing (If Less Is More),” a tribute to Kagarice and her life-altering teachings. “Behind Kind Eyes (Thank You)” is a meditation on the loss of a loved one, a nod to the tragedies that can occur around us while we’re struggling through our own, while “Closure is a Wasted Prayer (Release, Relax)” ends with the ambiguous acknowledgment that expecting any chapter of life to neatly draw to a conclusion.
With the evocatively titled Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema, trombonist/composer Peter Nelson retraces his five-year struggle with a debilitating condition that threatened to end his career as a musician just as it was entering its ascendancy. The album’s vivid compositions and enthralling playing draw the listener in to experience the grueling emotional journey that Nelson undertook, from the onset of mysterious symptoms through the isolating battle with physical and mental pain through the rigor of healing and the joy and revelation of recovery.clusion is a fool’s errand.
“We always want closure,” Nelson says, “but it’s an almost laughable concept. I’m always going to be dealing with dystonia, but it’s not something that controls my life. The idea of putting a cap on this whole process does a disservice to the process of excavating these feelings and dealing with them. Everything that I learned about brass playing — and more importantly about myself and what music-making really means to me –those lessons are priceless and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“Peter Nelson is an exciting and creative trombonist making waves on the NYC jazz scene. If his name is on it, you know you are getting something good! With the music world brimming with talent more than ever, Peter’s one to keep an eye on.” – Michael Dease, award-winning trombonist and educator
“Nelson has a sweet, stutter shuttled virtuosity on his valveless instrument of mystical musical astronomers, floating on deep rhythmic currents.” – Kitty Montgomery, Chamber Music America
Due out August 31 via Outside In Music, Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema enlisted three different ensembles to tell its compelling story, all featuring Nelson on trombone: an ethereal trio featuring vibraphonist Nikara Warren and the wordless vocals of Alexa Barchini; a hard-swinging quartet with pianist Willerm Delisfort, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and drummer Itay Morchi; and a brilliant septet supplementing the quartet with alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, trumpeter Josh Lawrence, and bass clarinetist Yuma Uesaka.