• Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer @ Occidental College

    [amazing picture (and introduction) by Ganavya Doraiswamy] 

    I was so happy to meet the brilliant Wadada Leo Smith this last Friday evening! In Los Angeles to support his recent ECM release with Vijay Iyer, A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), the duo played to a nearly capacity crowd at Occidental College’s Thorne Hall.

    Smith and Iyer (trumpet and piano/Fender Rhodes respectively) played a full set without stops, accompanied by an atmospheric third voice (a recorded track) that filled out a greater sonic landscape while informing the structure of the performance. The set was a varied, moving, sensitively textured work (Wadada’s sweat reminding us that it is indeed work) that, though exploring many seeming atonal sonic worlds, brought listeners to a tonal, reassuring finale. It was a beautiful performance and a receptive audience who responded with a standing ovation. 

    Wadada even signed my copy of Divine Love (ECM 1978). Such an inspiring night!

  • The "Tear It Down" aggregate calendar is in beta!

    I'm partnering with the good people at Tear It Down LA|OC to work on an aggregate creative music calendar for Los Angeles. We'd noted that there's no one place to go for creative music shows in LA like Chicago's Now Is: A Chicago Music Calendar, or Berlin's echtzeitmusik. The Tear It Down calendar is our effort in filling the void. Now you can find in one place a list events at many (more than 30 and growing) under-represented creative music scene venues in one place rather than checking 30 different web pages. It's far from perfect and it's undoubtedly missing lots of relevant listings - but it's a start! Check it out and be sure to email the moderators if you've got a venue, space, listing, etc., you'd like to see added. Woot!

  • Dr. Travis A. Jackson @ UCLA

    It was a pleasure to catch Travis A. Jackson’s presentation at UCLA's ethnomusicology department today, entitled “Jazz, Jazz Studies, Ethnomusicology: Moribundity and Other Changing Sames.” Jackson interrogated suggestions of jazz’s mortality that have been announced in the last fifty years from fusion, free jazz, economic turns, etc., and showed that the practice we call jazz is very much alive in spite of rumors otherwise. He noted an important move in “The New Jazz Studies” away from the “Great Man” histories of jazz so common in earlier jazz writing, and a move toward a nuanced scholarly discourse focusing on issues of cultural construction, gender, race, social theory, etc., reminiscent of the birth of the "New Musicology" in the 1980s. He cautioned, though, that this change of methodological approach can lead toward obfuscation of the music itself by a profusion of literary jargon. Rather than get caught up in this, he reminded scholars to be humble and keep what musicians sometimes call “big ears” regarding the music, the people and communities that produce it, in unraveling, situating, and telling their concomitant stories. Jackson is doing smart, nuanced, and inspiring work.

    If you haven’t already checked it out, take a look at his recent book, Blowin’ the Blues Away: Performance and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene (2012). It’s a great consideration of the complicated social, economic, and physical structures that support any creative scene. To that end, it’s been helping me consider how I might construct the big research project I’m working on.

    photo credit: Petra Richterova

  • Renditions @ Montserrat DTLA

    Had a great time playing a solo flute with electronics piece at Monsterrat DTLA last night as part of Renditions - Julius Caesar. After stage and video pieces generally exploring issues of power and violence, I was pleased to complete the narrative arc of Caesar's rise and fall with an ambient, textural flute improvisation suggesting his passing over the river Styx and into the Elysian Fields. Montserrat is a great space at S Central and 15th. From the "about" page:

    "Committed to maintaining sustainable space for the development of performance, visual art, film and immersive experience, MONTSERRAT hopes to blur the lines between creative fields by creating a destination for transformation of space and the communion of bodies and minds."

    Seems pretty in the pocket as a description of many of LA's contemporary DIY experimental spaces - I continue to be very glad to be a small part of it.