(Not an Olympic) Miscellany

-I just came across a nice write-up about the Mendelssohn Club’s disc that includes my Fire-Memory/River-Memory. A relevant portion:

James Primosch’s “Fire Memory/River Memory” has a more choral/symphonic through-composed quality. The music has a harmonically more adventurous palette and well crafted choral-symphonic sonances. Of the three works, this one has the most sweeping flow to it. It revels in suspension and release, choral part writing that is set off very effectively by poetic orchestration, a solo violin part that weaves in and out of the neo-impressionist orchestral light and shadow. The final of the two movements has some fireworks of an orchestral sort and more of the beautiful choral writing that permeates the work as a whole.

– Very fine composer and good friend Hayes Biggs is part of a Kickstarter campaign in support of a recording project by C4, the Choral Composer Conductor Collective. I wrote about Hayes’s music here and here, and there is a sample of his work at C4’s Kickstarter site.

– Newport Jazz Festival streams here.

– My colleague Steve Mackey blogs about The Rite of Spring.

– Read this in connection with Hiroshima and Nagasaki days.

Upcoming in Philly

Plenty of new music in the next few days in Philadelphia:

-the Prism Sax Quartet celebrates its 25th anniversary with a concert at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Friday, January 29. Note the early start time of 5:45. Billed as a CD release party, the program includes music by Steve Mackey, Jacob TV, Roshanne Etezady, Bill Albright, and Lei Liang. New Yorkers have to wait till Sunday night to hear this show at (le) Poisson Rouge. Go here to read a fine piece by David Patrick Stearns about Prism, and here for a clip of Prism playing my Short Stories.

Update: Very nice to see Prism written up in the NY Times Arts & Leisure section.

-the American Composers Orchestra does a run-out of their Friday night Zankel Hall program to the Annenberg Center in Philly on Saturday, January 30. Anne Manson conducts music by Sebastian Currier, Roger Zare, and Paquito D’Rivera.

-the Daedalus Quartet (with guest colleagues) plays Beethoven, Schoenberg (your chance to hear Verklärte Nacht live) and a new piece by Lawrence Dillon on Sunday, January 31, in Amado Recital Hall on the U Penn campus.

There may be other events I am missing, but these three concerts alone add up to something of a new music festival.


Historicity, a disc issued earlier this year by the Vijay Iyer Trio, has been appearing on various best-of-the-year lists, and deservedly so. Those of us who write fully notated music could learn a lot from this group’s fluidly shifting treatment of pulse, as in Iyer’s own Helix on this album.

I remember being impressed years ago when I first heard Wynton’s Autumn Leaves on the early Marsalis Standard Time, Vol. 1, where the bass and drums gradually accelerate against a steadily pulsed statement of the head in the trumpet. But the Marsalis strategy, though smoothly executed, is clearly pre-plotted and relatively schematic compared to the richness of what Iyer and his colleagues improvise in Helix.

Yes, Elliott Carter has been flexibly shifting pulse rates in his music for decades, but those changes are often not as lucid as what you can hear in the work of Iyer and other current jazz musicians. (Has enough been said about the relationship between Carter and jazz?)

I briefly thought that perhaps a particular notation-oriented composer was more in touch with Iyer’s work than most of us, since the name of my colleague Steve Mackey is listed as one of the composers of a track called Galang on Historicity. However, the Galang Steve Mackey is actually a different fellow, who, among other musical activities, played bass with a band called Pulp. Neither of these Steves is to be confused with the phony Steve Mackey who tried to scam the Ojai festival in spring of this year – details on that story here.