Thursday, January 19, 2006

DCIC at Warehouse Next Door

Last night, DC Improvisers Collective played on a bill with Hugh McElroy (former member of the legendary Black Eyes, and currently working with Hand-Fed Babies) and the guitar duo of Don Fleming and Chris Grier.

We played as a trio again, since Dan (our bass player) couldn't make it. Happily, the trio format is really working nicely. With the bass missing, there's lots of sonic space open, so I brought my laptop processing rig and allowed myself the luxury of gadgets. When we're a quartet, I've found it works much better to leave the gadgets at home since there's no need (or space) for looping and processing.

We played this show with very little planning, we really left things open to make up everything on the fly. After hearing the two guitar assault of Don and Chris, I wanted to open with some noisy guitar playing, so we agreed to start with a short noisy guitar solo (which I did with a slide in my right hand - attacking the strings above the pickups and occasionally over the neck), then Ben and Mike entered with some droning textures and I switched gears to more ambient textured sounds. Then things just progressed organically from there.

Mike started on bass clarinet, which is a fairly quiet instrument and I had a hard time playing softly enough to match (the joys of borrowing the Azarra's delicious sounding tube amp), but when Mike switched to his tenor sax that wasn't an issue.

We were all quite satisfied with the performance. I felt like there was really good ensemble listening and interaction. We all had ample opportunities to initiate new ideas, and I think we all did a nice job of responding to one another. It may be a week or two before I get the recording posted online, but I'll podcast something when it's available...

Sound Exchange Orientation

Last Monday was our "orientation" for Sound Exchange in Philadelphia. The session was basically our first day of workshops with Pauline Oliveros.

It's a very interesting group of musicians with very diverse backgrounds: jazz players, experimental musicians, people coming from different areas of rock, electronic music, and all kinds of improv traditions.

The day opened with a short performance by Pauline and David Gamper, utilizing their Extended Instrument System (laptops running a Max patch into a four channel surround sound system). It was simply breathtaking, gorgeous, and amazing.

Pauline and David explained some of the evolution of the Extended Instrument System and the development of her Deep Listening practice.

We continued with several pieces / exercises such as: a five minute group listening, two one-minute "pieces" where we each made one sound during that minute, a series of short solos (as a means of introducing ourselves to the group), a series of duos and trios, followed by some discussion.

After a meal break, we dove into a full group improvisation. That was followed by a discussion including some poignant criticism of the large group piece, and then some discussion about how the rest of the program will proceed. It seems that I'll have an opportunity to "compose" a piece for the full ensemble, to be included in a concert on Sunday, April 2. I have some ideas about that already... maybe when I write up a summary / proposal to float to the gruop, I'll post some info about it here.

All in all, a fascinating and inspiring day. I'm looking forward to playing with everyone again!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sound Exchange - Philadelphia

I just found out today that I've been selected as one of the four "composer participants" in a program called Sound Exchange - presented by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Composers Forum and Ars Nova Workshop.

The program is essentially a three day workshop with Pauline Oliveros (pictured), and mebers of her Deep Listening Band: David Gamper and Stuart Dempster - along with four composers and I think fifteen performers? I'm tickled to have been accepted and am seriously looking forward to it!

Oh, and I'll be needing a place to crash in Philadelphia, March 30 - April 2... please let me know if you or a friend or relative might like to host a visiting artist...

(at this time, I couldn't find much info about the program online, but if you click through to Ars Nova Workshop, go to "event calendar" and then scroll down to March you'll see the original call for participants)

holy crap! I just got the list of participants and Byard Lancaster is one of the "performer participants." Looks like a really interesting mix of people that I'll be working with... including some previous conspirators like Charles Cohen. Here's the list, if you're curious:

Bart Miltenberger
Byard Lancaster
Charles Cohen
Chris McGlumphy
Dave Smolen
Evan Lipson
Gerone Dale Jimenez
Helena Espvall-Santoleri
Jesse Kudler
Joe Whitt
Monica McIntyre

Ben Camp
Jonathan Matis
Valerie Opielski
John Phillips


I'm working on new music for Jane Franklin Dance - as part of a project called "Dancing the Page" which is a collaborative project with local poets, composers, and the dance company. The piece I'm working on now is called "Leroy" and it's built on a poem by Reuben Jackson.

We started on this a few months ago, and did an in-progress showing at the Improv Festival last October (which I wrote about at the time). Since then, I scrapped what I had done and tried something different - which didn't work out so well with Jane Franklin. So we went back to the original approach, and for the latest draft I made a cleaned up version of that first material. It's funny to call this a piece of "my" music since it's just a collage of samples from old soul records, but I'm not so interested in authorship - let's just say I'm playing D.J. on this one... I think I'm going to add some live guitar or prepared-guitar material on top, but this is probably going to be the foundation of the piece. So, anyway, here's the 3rd draft. Comments welcome.


Ginger Wagg has a new show coming up this Saturday called "Happeningistime" - it's at Spare Room in Baltimore from 7 - 9pm.

The show is an installation and performance. For the last few months, Ginger has been travelling around the country and sending packages to the Spare Room. She is making an installation of all the mailed materials, plus there's some sculpture by Agata Olek. Ginger will also be doing some movement performance (costume by Agata as well). For the show, she wanted to create some audio, so I helped her with the recording.

Wanted to clarify since there's some possibly misleading info on Damian's blog... I didn't do any composing - Ginger created the piece and performed the cello herself. We made two recordings - one on her rooftop of the cello and other ambient sounds, then took a walk down U Street and recorded that. We edited them together, and this will be the sound environment for the installation and performance.

The day-job balancing act

This week was my first Wednesday since leaving my bookkeeping job at Cultural Tourism DC. I had been working for them one day each week for the last few months - and found that I really didn't have time for it (but it paid well, and I do need the money). So, I made a leap of faith, of sorts, and gave them notice back in November... they convinced me to stay on through the end of the year, but now I'm free free free. And if this week was any indication, I think I made the right decision.

This week, instead of going to their office and spending the day doing bookkeeping, I went to work by spending the day in my home studio making recordings. Much more enjoyable work -- the hours flew by. Ginger Wagg came over in the morning to do an editing session for audio for her show coming up this Saturday, then I spent the afternoon working on music for a project with Jane Franklin Dance. (I'm going to write entries about those projects in a few minutes...)

Hopefully the money will work out... but in any event, I'm feeling great about setting aside some additional time for art-making. It certainly feels like the right thing to do now.