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June 2013

JACK Quartet and Joshua Roman at (le) Poisson Rouge

by Robert Leeper

JACK Quartet
Ancient and innovative can easily coexist. In music especially, composers and performers throughout history have looked back for guidence and inspiration as they move forward. Steve Reich has openly written about the debt his music owes to the 13th-century French composer Pérotin, and one of Felix Mendelssohn’s greatest achievements was his rediscovery of J.S Bach’s music with his mounting of the St. Matthew Passion

On Sunday night, the JACK Quartet and guest cellist Joshua Roman continued this tradition of finding inspiration in history and programmed their findings alongside the rule-breakers of today, presenting three madrigals by the intensely expressive renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo (arranged for sting quintet by JACK violinist Ari Streisfeld), as well as works by Joshua Roman, Brian Ferneyhough, and a new piece—premiered by the quintet just three weeks ago in Seattle—by Jefferson Friedman

Gesualdo, perhaps as well known for the murder of his wife and her lover in 1590 as for his music, continues to bewitch, mystify, and captivate modern audiences. Streisfeld’s arrangements captured the chromatic wandering of the sophisticated vocal polyphony while adding a new twist by including effects available to the modern string player. The group truly excelled during slower portions of the madrigals, with each strange and beautiful part clearly heard as the group breathed exciting new life into these short pieces. 

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MATTE Presents Full Moon at Governors Beach Club

by Laura Wasson


As I boarded the crowded ferry heading to Governors Island late Saturday afternoon for MATTE's second-annual Full Moon party, I began to wonder what was I getting into. Could I feasibly cover 15 acts between two stages? The answer to that query quickly turned out to be a resounding "no," but the day was a success nonetheless, and an interesting observational study of the current state of EDM.

I arrived just in time to catch The Deep's set on the smaller Neon Gold stage. The Brooklyn-based DJ collective comprises a rotating cast of friends that took turns spinning their own house-inflected beats for an hour. Even at five in the afternoon, people were dancing—if somewhat trepidatiously.

I then wandered over to the main stage for France’s Yuksek (née Pierre-Alexandre Busson). Busson, a classically trained pianist who also possesses a distinct pop sensibility, has an aesthetic that sounds like a mish-mash of two other noted Gallic bands: Justice and Phoenix (he’s worked with the latter). Eschewing the accessible and light dance-pop of his 2011 EP, the DJ stuck to more minimalist, throbbing beats with scant, repetitive lyrics thrown in for good measure. It nodded to disco, even if somewhat obliquely.

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Vision Festival Experiments with Jazz

by Zoë Gorman

Vision Festival, Feast of Music

Photo credit: Zoë Gorman

Experiments are, by nature, hit or miss, and last week's Vision Festival at Roulette was no exception. A lineup of experimental and avant-garde jazz artists paid tribute to the great jazz pioneers through music, dance, and film, in performances that ranged from superb improvisational collaborations to disorganized noise.

Experimental jazz sits in a precarious position. Modern classical music—or New Music—deviates from traditional theory in premeditated ways that rely on pitch-set classes or motivic structure to evoke very intentional effects. Free jazz, however, erodes both the theoretical backbone of its predecessors and the structural planning of other innovators in the musical sphere. Thus, the art form has the potential to spiral out of control. To create something worthwhile and enjoyable to listen to, free jazz artists rely on interaction with the other performers, and successful interactions include harmonic patterns and rhythms that other players in the group can pick up on, duplicate, and shift.

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