Entries tagged with “Jeffrey Allport”.

Nate Wooley's Large Group Composition
Nate Wooley’s Composition for Large Improvising Ensemble.

This week NYC based trumpeter Nate Wooley played a series of shows in the Pacific NW, including two nights at Gallery1412.  I missed the all brass show on Thursday but managed to get to the Saturday show which featured a trumpet/percussion/”piano” trio and a large group performing one of Nate’s compositions.

I’d slept poorly the night before and upon finding my automobile reluctant to turn over I near abandoned the enterprise.  But I walked around a little bit and gave it another go and the car decided to play along.  It’d been a warm, sunny May day which is not necessarily the best circumstance for Gallery shows, especially if they are crowded.  I arrived a few minutes before showtime to find the muscians arriving and just setting up. I walked around Capitol Hill a bit contemplating coffee but deciding that it was perhaps not for the best I returned to the gallery to grab a seat. I read the titular chapter of Morton Feldman’s Give My Regards to Eighth Street before the show began.

Nate Wooley / Gust Burns / Jeffrey Allport trio
I’d seen all three of these musicians before, Nate at the 2007 SIMF and Gust and Jeffery numerous times in various combinations. I really have enjoyed these musicians work and I felt that this trio would be a really good combination.  Nate of course plays trumpet in various styles, but most interestingly in a rather post Axel Dörner/Greg Kelley sound oriented style.  Jeffery Allport is a Vancouver based percussionist who also works in a pared down sound focused style working primarily with a snare and a floor tom used mainly to resonate other objects. Gust Burns plays piano in various styles but again in the contexts I’ve mainly seen him in it is nearly exclusive by rubbing dowels placed betwixt the strings.  For this show though he had constructed a rough wooden box with a certain amount of the guts of a piano recreated within. Like an ultra Lo-Fi DIY version of Andrea Neumann’s instrument sans electronics.

Things settled down and the lights dimmed and the three of them sat there in silence for a moment. Shortly Nate removed the mouthpiece from his trumpet and began softly blowing into it as Jeffery began bowing the metal stays on his floor tom.  Gust had grab a long thin dowel but as the high pitched sounds from Jefferey’s bowing began he switched to a shorter dowel and sticking it into the strings of his contraption he began to generate a low rustling sound. The piece developed forthwith and for a good space of time lost all acoustic elements and sound like this cobbled together sheet metal walking machine shambling down a rock strewn landscape slowing shaking itself apart. Fantastic sounds totally disconnected to their source.  I spent much of this piece not looking at the musicians just letting the sounds come in as a single entity. Things settled down to a near stillness until Nate burbling through his trumpet brought it up to the loudest section of this piece.  Jefferey was bowing metal bowls on his drums with what looked like aluminum pie plates in them for a loud-ish buzzing rattle as Gust thumped his frame and stroked his dowels. Slowly things wound down from this point and as it hit zero activity they concluded.

A quick conferral and they began a second piece.  This one was a bit shorter and had several much less abstract sections which were an interesting contrast. Jeffery began the piece with widely separated single strikes on his floor tom with a mallet.  Nate after a couple of seconds brought up a small sheet of brass in front of his muted trumpet and created some muffled rattles and squeaks. Gust grabbed a long thin dowel and using a downward stroking motion on it generated high pitched purer tones.  This was a nice combination, spaced out by breaths, dowel length and Jefferey’s slow, slow time.  As he beat out this syrupy tattoo he grabbed a cymbal and placed it upon the snare. Soon he added edgy bowed metal to the proceedings and at some point Gust switched back to the dryer more textural sounds.  Nate did a section that was nearly free improv-ish, firer, though not too loud, free sounds on the trumpet, in a tonal range if not strictly melodic.  Jeffery moved to using a rubber ball mallet rubbed across the floor tom with the low moaning sounds that generated.  In the midst of a fairly active section they looked at each and then just stopped. A great sudden ending and a nice contrast to the slow fade out of the first piece.

Nate Wooley compositions for large improvising ensemble
with Jesse Canterbury (clarinets), Greg Sinibaldi (tenor sax), Jeffrey Allport (percussion), Nate Wooley (trumpet), Robert Blatt (acoustic guitar), Gust Burns (piano guts), Chris Stover (trombone), Mara Sedlins (Viola), Marc Collins (double bass), Wilson Shook (sax), Richard Johnson (trombone)

The audience had seemed pretty large for the trio set but at the break the bulk of them got up and got on “stage” as the Large Improvising Ensemble.  They were performing a piece of Nate Wooley’s which seemed to be structured along the following lines:  You have a certain amount to play but you can play it when you want. Sounds are played at a maximal natural length namely breath length.  There seemed to be something on the graphic looking score that could be interpreted as dynamics as several members of the Ensemble chose to play much louder at various times.  Overall the piece had this shifting droney quality as there was almost always these long sounds going on, but typically each player would play for a while and then pause for a while.  This lead to a steady decrease in density as various players concluded their sections.  There was some nice spikier sounds added in by Jefferey in particular but also Gust and Robert playing a lightly prepared guitar and Marc who played his bass with a variety of objects.  There were I thought a few “bad actors” who overly dramatically played their louder bits. One of the trombonists in particular really blasted the room with his tones.

Overall I’d say I found the piece a bit too dense and a bit to monotonous.  It really could have used a wider variety of instruments, more percussion, some electronics say to break up the layers of horns. Some method to insert a bit of space into the proceedings would have been nice, but would have radically changed the nature of the piece. Perhaps if played over the course of an hour instead of the half hour it last it would have naturally spread out.  While there often would be up to a half dozen players laying out that still meant there was another half dozen playing.  With an extended time frame you’d have to have sections of only a few or no players active. Alternatively you could of course have few musicians involved.  For what it was it certainly could have been a lot less interesting and in this fashion I’m glad it wasn’t overly long. It wasn’t the totally mess that most large group things are  and there certainly are possibilities here. It will be interesting to see how Nate further develops these compositions.

I just got back from the second night of Keith Rowe in Seattle. Once again, I got there about a half an hour early to find Chris and a friend of his outside. Again we get seats in the front row and talk to Keith for a good bit before the show. Another really great conversation with Keith, this time talking quite a bit about treatise. He had brought with him a notated version of page 54 that he had mentioned the day before. This was generated from a performance that he had done in Houston a few years previous. In this he has thoroughly notated what he is going to play and how for each segment of the score. He even has it pretty well laid out the time scale upon which he is going to play it. I asked him how rigorously he sticks to that time scale and he said pretty well, sometimes faster and rarely any longer the the time which was about 12 minutes. This conversation was immensely valuable to me as Cardew always seemed to hedge on using the score for directed improv and playing it as a score. He seemed to talk it up as an structured improv, but always came back to playing it as a score which means that your reactions are your own but they should be consistent. I brought up this issue of consistency and Keith pointed out how if you take the score as a whole that consistency becomes very hard. At about this point the organizers suggested the show should start so we ended the discussion here.

Keith Rowe/Gregory Reynolds/Leif Sundstrom
The night was two trios with Keith as the common element. He was setup with table of gear on the platform and in front and to the right of the stage was the piano (though not to be played in this set). In front of the stage on the floor was Sundstrom’s Gear: a floor tom and some electronics including one of those cheap record players with integrated radio. On stage to the left of Keith’s table was Reynolds sax and a small collection of objects including a number of beer cans.

In this set Keith more or less was pretty far in the background with low washes and rumbles of sound. Leif had a contact mic on his floor tom and he tended to worked in the amplified texture territory. He scraped things across the head of the drum, pressed on it, rubbed things against its surface and side. He also used the record player in various ways (though never with records) including rubbing it, putting a bowl under the needle and in one nice point he used the build in radio. Gregory began with breathy fluttering sounds on the sax and he often worked with longer tones in the “saxophone feedback” realm. Butcher like but generally more sedate. There were a number of segments where longer sustained tones from him gelled really well with tones from Keith or Leif. However he made the common young improviser error of not laying out enough and of not sticking with a technique long enough. A like a lot of his playing and at times it worked well but overall was a bit unsatisfying. Leif’s playing was generally great and I thought worked well with Keith. I had grabbed the GOD cd before the show and I am definitely looking forward to spinning it.

Keith Rowe/Gust Burns/Jeffrey Allport
Leif’s floor tom and electronics was replaced with Allport’s floor tom and assorted percussion gear. Gust Burns placed a large number of small stick like objects in his piano and this trio was pretty much ready to go. A fairly long silence at the beginning and then Keith put in a bit of static. Jeffrey began with scrapping the surface of his tom as Gust began to stick his small dowels in between strings of the piano. After he had put in a couple he began to rub them basically in the same technique as Sean Meehan’s dowel on cymbal technique. Even with the piano amplifying this, this was very subtle and short lived sounds. Keith never built up his “typical” droning sound, always working the volume pedal and working with shorter tones in a wider variety of sounds. Jeffery worked through a wide array of techniques, but they all were so quiet and so subtle that it didn’t feel at all like a run through of techniques. They worked as a continuation of the same space of sounds. This set was very sparse, delicate and sensitive. Gust played entirely inside the piano mostly with the dowel technique, but at one point rubbing the strings and at another plucking the strings with the dowels. This later technique had a nice prepared piano sound. Jeffrey worked the “Meehan” technique with the the dowels directly on the floor tom head which created a groaning rustling sound. He also did a number of actions with small cymbals on the drum surface from blowing into one, to gentle striking another one whilst rubbing the surface. Throughout this Keith mixed in washes, buzzes, file strings, spronging sounds and short radio clips. Twice during the set the brought it down to near silence – just amplifier hum, but each time Keith brought it back and Gust and Jeffery would both delicately return to dropping sounds into the space. Both of these musicians was comfortable and willing with laying out, not playing a sound unless they were sure that it was the right thing to do. Eventually Gust and Jeffrey stopped, Gust’s head still in the piano. Keith took a good bit of time slowly shutting things down. There was a long, long pause before the audience decided it was over. I really liked this set, it was very different from all of the Keith sets I’ve seen lately and it was fully engaging and musically rich.

Afterward we talked to Keith just a bit more, mainly thanking him and eventually taking our leave. In the last 10 days we have seen 7 Keith sets and a varied bunch of sets they have been. All entertaining and all with interesting and engaging musical elements. Additionally the long talks with Keith have been great from the very informative Treatise information to geeking over stereo equipment. Its been a hell of a September, one I’ll remember for a long time.