I was featured on a new release, Steve Layton – PPP track 4. Here are the new release liner notes.
Between April 26th-28th 2012, twenty-five musicians from around the U.S. and the world gathered at the music-sharing website known as ImprovFriday.com. The suggested theme for our sharing was simply “ppp;” i.e., the music term for “very soft and quiet.” How each person interpreted this in their own performance was left to them. This CD documents mash-ups I made during the course of the weekend event, of all the different tracks coming in to the site from these musicians. Some tracks were heavily edited, but most were left close to their original state, and simply allowed to interact with the other tracks in an unforced way.
Musicians: Günter Gläser, Kawol Samarkand, Roger Sundström, Peter Thörn, Glenn Smith, J.C. Combs, Lee Noyes, Kavin Allenson, Steve Moyes, Richard Sanderson, Paul Muller, Lydia Busler-Blais, Benjamin Smith, Jérôme Poirier, Fabio Keiner, Norbert Oldani, Chris Vaisvil, Steve Layton, Paulo Chagas, Steve Moshier, Bruce Hamilton, Shane Cadman, Jim Goodin.
Back in the early days, ImprovFriday was twittering around in 2009. I kept inviting Steve to IF, but he was was wary as most artists should be regarding random invites. Not sure exactly when he 1st participated (right around when we moved to our own site in 2009) but something clicked and Steve has been a major factor in IF’s growth since then. Obviously as an adviser, working with IF, but mostly with the works, the mashes, mixes, and his cordial attitude which has been a huge factor – How IF has developed. A post in this fashion can’t express the gratitude IF shares for Steve.
You can never predict when the ImprovFriday event week is going to be quiet, fair or large. Last week, December 1-3, was pretty large, with a couple new contributors and some old faces showing up for a total of 67 unique works. Ambient, drone, noise, acousmatic, electronic…., IF has it covered. There’s also a fair amount of mixes and mashes since we operate under a 3.0 creative commons.
Paul Muller – 2009 to present. Back in the day when ImprovFriday was 1st circulating around Twitter, Facebook and NNM, I used to post a playlist to this here blog. One day in 2009 Paul Muller posted a comment here and asked a simple question with a statement to the point of: I want to submit notated works and if accomplished within the time period of the event, why not include it? Should IF be limited purely to the idea of absolute improvisation? Well, we weren’t exactly following a pure improvisational structure to begin with, so I was open to more ideas.
I checked out Paul’s status. A minimalist composer whose influence is Bach, composes for his church, performs in the local symphony. I concluded this is definitely an artist worthy of joining the IF team, if not only to counter my temperament but to widen the scope of what ImprovFriday represents.
Paul Muller has worked with IF since late 2009 to really invoke what we are now as an event. He consistently comes up with new ideas and lends his input on every tiny or significant issue. Paul also played a large part in organizing the renewal of IF in the second year of our pay to host status and was an instrumental part of the projects, ImprovFriday Vo. 1& 2, and For Japan. He has written several mini-reviews at IF as well – example and started up IF Radio which has turned into a joint project with Jim Goodin. He also is involved in the project “What’s New at ImprovFriday” with Jim Goodin.
Paul released an ambient work definitely worth checking out titlted “dark sunset.” Here is a great review.
Paul is also an author at the Contemporary Composer blog at Sequenza21.
Its been a long, long time since I used what used to be “amaranth arthouse” as a vehicle to share outstanding works of my fellow musicians. I have since re-arranged the site, but decided keeping the “shout-out” section made perfect sense. In that regard, let me lead you to a work which I believe is worth your time to allow stereo infiltration to your brain through your ears.
This week at the event, ImprovFriday, we decided to add links to artist websites via contributors to our playlist and surfing through the links I came upon http://stevemoshier.com//. And all this time I thought I was the only one to create a set of Bagatelles for piano in my circle of new music friends. Steve Moshier’s “Unchained Melody – 8 Bagatelles for Piano” are not only outstanding, they represent minimalist compositional prowess. What I hear on a personal level is something akin to Julius Eastman with a touch of more complexity.
Have a listen for yourself:
Unchained Melody – 8 Bagatelles for Piano (1999) [1st Four] by Steve Moshier
Jeffrey Harrington – 2009. Regarding the history of ImprovFriday, the second person worthy of mention is Jeff Harrington. Jeff was also included in the think tank, but quit in late 2009. Jeff had some great ideas, but all in all, we didn’t agree in the overall direction. Jeff deserves thanks for allowing me to use his work, Viento Del Monstruo to open up the event for a good two to three months. A lovely, festive piece. Very glad he allowed me to use it.
What Jeff Harrington really deserves is credit for rooting for the idea of IF while we were hobbling along Twitter and for using his own site, NNM, to lend a proving ground for how it could work at a central location. I did offer IF to Jeff Harrington when realizing how NNM blossomed with IF, but as the gentleman he is, he declined.
IF is also proud of Harrington in that he won the Calefax Prize in 2010.
I’m going to post a quick blog series on ImprovFriday for my own record before a Wiki one day displays their own version. Not many people know about my efforts in running an online event for the last 2+ years. Just so you know, its called “ImprovFriday,” an online event held every week. Pretty simple, we look for new music musicians around the world who are willing to share their music freely in a sort of virtual playground of music.
David Toub was not only the first member of ImprovFriday; through numerous think tank sessions dating 2009-2010 he was vital to make IF an actual event. Toub took over the helm of the group New Ensembles and Composers in 2010.
Toub is a gifted composer really worth checking out. Post-minimalism is his preferred genre descriptor, creating great works in the early 80s and continuing to this day.
One of the finest new music releases this year came via the NIWO label, a set of 12 improvisations from pianist Benjamin Smith. I think of Benjamin as a modern day Chopin, the way he masters both the melody and harmony of an improvisation. The music is straight up jazz at the intersection of classical music (new music).
Benjamin had this to say about the release:
“I’m a music feeler and improviser interested in spreading the learning and practice of music improvisation (not only jazz) in the world. In 2006 I decided to awaken my musicianship and find an organization that shares and promotes improvisation in music for anyone interested, so I joined David Darling’s Music for People — a nontechnical, non-genre community — and am a Mentor in the leadership program.”
“I am interested in expanding and facilitating improvisation, collaborating with others who passionately share what they do in art, health, or any field that promotes healthy collaboration in a community.”
Click here for a sample: October 20th, 2009
Gust plays piano, inside piano, tape recorders, and electronics.
He is an improviser and he composes and performs new music. And it looks like Gust now has a blog that’s a keeper titled, “Piano Reconstructed.” So far, Gust is providing some tasty audio treats of live performance and, personally, I think that’s a great concept.
The Fletcher Session – 1943 by Steve Layton
A unique meeting of the minds occurred in 1943. Charles Ives had just made some private recordings of himself playing a few of his pieces and songs. Fellow composer Henry Cowell had heard and played some of these for Dr. Harry Fletcher of Bell Laboratories, who was working experimentally at the time on the creation of stereophonic recordings. A dinner and meeting between the three was arranged at Dr. Fletcher’s apartment, and Fletcher had the idea to invite his recent acquaintance, famed refugee composer Béla Bartók, to the dinner as well. Bartók was feeling quite cut off in New York City, and was already suffering from the leukemia that would end his life in less than two years.
After the meal and chat, the three composers were shown Fletcher’s small home studio, which contained among other things a baby grand piano, a smaller box piano, a kind of celesta, and some of the new stereo recording equipment that cut masters directly to a large 16″ disk (there was no magnetic tape in the U.S. then). It’s not known who first suggested it, but all three of these leading modern composers agreed to sit down and play together for an impromptu test of the stereo recorder. They simply improvised freely, listening to and playing off each others’ ideas. As part of the ‘game’, each agreed to mostly use only one of their hands while playing!
Bartók, Cowell, Ives — The Fletcher Session, 1943 …(Steve Layton, feat. Adam Kondor & Benjamin Smith)
Cowell remembered that while listening to the disk afterward, he was immediately struck by the strange and yet cohesive nature of what had been played. He asked the others if they might agree to let him take this recording and issue a small run of copies for distribution. Ives couldn’t care less, but Bartók — whose perfectionism was legendary — was very adamant that this was only a small game among friends and should be kept private. So the disk remained among Dr. Fletcher’s possessions until and even after his death, to be only recently rediscovered in the Fletcher Archives of Brigham Young University.
Given the offhand nature of the session and the subsequent disposition of the disk, it’s not surprising the recording quality is only fair. But it is truly a unique document of a historic moment, a meeting that had never happened before, and would never happen again.
(the names in this article are true, everything else is fiction).
Article was submitted at ImprovFriday.