World Feed

Winter Jazzfest 2019: The "Half-Marathon"

By Dan Lehner 

Theo-westerlies
Theo Bleckmann and The Westerlies at SubCulture

Winter Jazzfest’s famous marathon, a two-night musical expedition that lasts eight hours and stretches almost the entire width of Manhattan, had apparently become so popular that a third needed to be added to sate the voracious appetite of New York creative music fans. No less crowded than the full marathon has been - and likely will be when it returns next weekend - fans packed into clubs and performances spaces along Bleecker St hoping to grab a seat, or at least a window between heads, to see new acts and old favorites.

Ghost Train Orchestra’s reputation as a historicist band with modernist proclivities was in full effect during their tribute to one of New York’s most iconic and idiosyncratic composers: Louis Hardin (better known as Moondog). GTO’s episodic tribute to the Viking of Sixth Avenue brought to light the warm, approachable dualities of his Hardin's music: attractive melodies that seemed to belong to no one genre in particular, with themes that were approachable but buoyed by snaky polyrhythms and counterpoints. Horns, strings, vocalists and blocky percussion broke down barriers between indie rock, Native American music and bucolic American classical, with particular stylistic provinces supplied by the exuberant avant-rockisms of guitarist Brandon Seabrook and the probing, history-laden soloing of clarinetist Dennis Lichtman.

Pianist Marta Sanchez’s music was a similar dance between the complex and the simple. Sanchez was both sensitive and spry in her solo development, setting themes into forward motion but darting in delightfully unexpected ways. Her compositions, particularly the way her band performed them, also had the same sort of layered development, with tunes like “Cascadas” wringing all the tricky underlying rhythmic subdivisions of 3/4 time and soloists like Jerome Sabbagh soloing around the melody to let the band envelop him. Much of the material was brought to life in particular by drummer Daniel Dor, milking different rhythmic and stylistic possibilities and squaring the often spiky and complex counterpoint of Sanchez’s music with it’s gentleness.

Continue reading "Winter Jazzfest 2019: The "Half-Marathon"" »


Songs About "The Song of Songs" at YIVO

by Steven Pisano

20181206-DSC05028(All photos by Steven Pisano)

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was established in 1925 in Poland, with support from leading intellectuals of the time such as Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. It moved to New York in 1940 during the outbreak of World War II. YIVO houses the largest collection of materials on Eastern European Jews in the world. But, more than just an exemplary research institution, YIVO also runs many entertaining programs that feature classes, seminars and performances of music, theater, and art.

Last Thursday night, YIVO presented a musical program entitled Sweet Is Thy Voice: "The Song of Songs" in Concert as part of its Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert Series. Singers Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Marie Marquis, Kristin Gornstein, and Jonathan Woody were accompanied by Miki Sawada (piano), Matheus Souza (violin), Colin Brookes (viola), Clare Monfredo (cello), and Ian Rosenbaum (percussion).

The program's name comes from "The Song of Songs," or "Shir hashirim": an unusual book in the Bible because it is not about God or laws, but about love - both romantic and erotic. Both Jews and Christians have long extolled its beauty.

Continue reading "Songs About "The Song of Songs" at YIVO" »


Summer 2018 Music Preview

Celebrate Brooklyn
Hard to believe it's already June, and while this year's Gov Ball has already come and gone, the music is just starting to move to the great outdoors. Below is a preview of some of our favorites - check out our Summertime list on the right for updates throughout the summer. 

Celebrate Brooklyn: (June 5-August 11) NYC's best outdoor music venue celebrates it's 40th year with another stellar lineup that kicks off with Chicago rapper (and Microsoft shill) Common on 6/5. Other free shows include Aimee Mann (6/21), Branford Marsalis (6/29), Kronos Quartet (7/14), and a stellar closing weekend with Godspeed YOU! Black Emperor (8/10) and The Breeders with Speedy Ortiz (8/11). Benefit shows this year include a killer double bill with Grizzly Bear and Spoon (6/20), The Decemberists with M. Ward (6/13), and Courtney Barnett with Julien Baker and Vagabon (7/25). 

Northside Festival (June 7-10): Northside is now a decade old, and the clubs will be jammed across Williamsburg and Bushwick with the latest in cutting edge music, alongside stalwarts such as Caspian, Deerhoof, and Liz Phair. Sunday afternoon brings a Block Party to Bedford Ave, with bands and vendors running all the way to Metropolitan Ave.

NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks (June 12-17): What were you doing when you were 11 years old? Well, if you're Jordan Millar and Camryn Cowan, you're having your music played by the New York Philharmonic at this year's parks concerts, courtesy of the Phil's Very Young Composers program. (They also play music by Bernstein, Saint-Saens, and Rimsky-Korsakov.) The Phil visits all five boroughs next week with conductor James Gaffigan; details here

SummerStage (June 2-September 27): This sprawling series returns with a wide spectrum of music performed in parks across all five boroughs, most of it free. Highlights include a Canada Day celebration headlined by Broken Social Scene (7/1), Afrobeat scion Femi Kuti and Positive Force (7/29), a New Orleans fest with Trombone Shorty, Galactic, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and (8/8), and Angelique Kidjo covering The Talking Heads (9/27).

Make Music New York (June 21): Celebrate the longest day of the year with this citywide musical happening, with performances on street corners, plazas and parks from sun-up to sundown.

Warm Up at MoMA PS1 (June 30-September 1): NYC's best tea dance enters its third decade at MoMA PS1, with an architectural installation featuring large-scale, interactive mirrors - and hopefully some misters. Tickets include museum admission. (LI City residents get in for free.)

Continue reading "Summer 2018 Music Preview" »


"Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls)" at BAM

by Steven Pisano

20180323-DSC06949(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

The epic story of Gulayim, a teenage female warrior from Uzbekistan who banded 40 female warriors together to fight off invaders, resonates with today's headlines of women fighting back against male power, even though it tells a partly historical, partly mythic story from Central Asia that is centuries old. "Qyrq Qyz" (pronounced close to "kirk kiz") has been passed down by way of oral tradition to the present day, and it is said that almost everyone who lives in one of the "-stans" knows some version of it.

At the Brooklyn Academy of Music this weekend, sold-out audiences were treated to a contemporary telling of the story directed by Saodat Ismailovaa theater artist and filmmaker who has shuttled her work between Tashkent and Paris. With music composed by Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky that combines traditional folk motifs from the region  with more modern ambient music, the production featured musicians on stage, playing traditional instruments and singing.

Continue reading ""Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls)" at BAM" »