Collaboration with Sussan Deyhim and Richard HorowitzHeavy Leatherfeatures Sussan Deyhim on voice with Alan Kushan also singing, in a Tuvan style. I'm playing the "spaceship", which is a grand electro-acoustic hand percussion set, as well as contrabass clarinet. There are no overdubs aside from the clarinet! This is how the spaceship sounds. Richard Horowitz is on the nay flute. This is also the very first recording ever of Lee Smolin, who was staying at my house and took a break from trying to calculate a wave equation for the whole universe in order to play the fuzz guitar with us.
Depth Charge is a trio for piano (played by Richard Horowitz), santur (Alan Kushan), and gu zheng (me), which is a Chinese Harp.
Hand Made Techno: Collaboration with Will Calhoun
Techniscule has me playing piano (not so expertly tuned, alas) and Will playing electronic percussion. Will is probably best known as the drummer from Living Colour and as a Blue Note Jazz recording artist, but he's also one of the finest electronic percussionists around. This was recorded live off the board at the Knitting Factory in NYC. Sorry for the bad sound quality, but you know, that's the knit. If you downloaded Techniscule before 3/11/03, please give a listen to a newer mix.
Another Hand Made Techno clip- but I can't remember where this one is from- Montreux Jazz Festival, maybe? I'm playing a bass recorder and I think that's Richard Horowitz sitting in and playing mbira.
By the way, in theory Will and I are making a whole CD of this kind of stuff, but that involves being in the same place at the same time. It's a little like the problem of "Star Wars" missile defense; two fast moving objects in a big world don't run into each other all that often. DJ Spooky might be the producer, but once again, it's hard to say.
Commissioned Large-scale Concert Works:
The Navigator Tree was commissioned by the American Composers Forum and the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the Continental Harmony sequence of millennial celebration pieces for each of the fifty states. But they did more than commission; They also provided the mistake which lead to this unusual piece. Here's the story: Jim Meredith organized some grant writers to put together grant applications for various Bay Area music groups from different cultural backgrounds. Jim also happens to conduct the ultimate virtuoso bell choir, the Sonos Handbell Ensemble. The idea was that if a group got a grant, it would then call for proposals from composers and choose one. The interesting mistake was that the grant writers assumed that all the ensembles would be playing together at the same time.You think you've heard everything? A solo CD in the works.
The problem with that was that the varied musical groups they chose don't share any notes- they don't play at any of the same pitches, ever. Of course they got the grant- and it was for a combined ensemble including Sonos, the Pasuka Sunda gamelan, and San Jose Taiko (an athletic drumming tradition from Japan). I ended up as the composer because they couldn't find anyone else crazy enough to take it on. But I did find a way to get chords out of these divergent tuning systems.
For good measure, the grant writers also specified that the piece would have an ecological theme, so I made it into a memorial for the Navigator Tree. This was a tree that was cut down in Oakland in the mid-1900s. It was so large that it could be seen from outside of the Golden Gate, and as it happened, ships which sailed straight towards it avoided shoals in the Bay. When it was cut, the Army Corps of Engineers had to dynamite the shoals away. It is thought by many to have been the largest tree ever seen by people. An award winning PBS special "Continental Harmony" documented the creation, rehearsal, and premier of The Navigator Tree. The audio selection here is from a live recording. A studio recording also exists and might very well appear at some point.
Kheanoncerto: I was commissioned to write an evening-length cycle of orchestral music for the 1000th birthday of the city of Wroclaw, Poland. This segment is from a concerto for khean. There were virtual world components to all these pieces, and in this case there were sensors on the khean that sent soaring formations about the large screen.
Mirror/Storm is a symphony commissioned and premiered by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, originally conducted by Hugh Wolf. This is a little of it as played by a different orchestra, the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra.
Who Needs a Virgin is a multitrack piece I made in disgust after being turned away from a flight on Virgin Atlantic, who would not let me bring a musical instrument on board, even though it did not violate size restrictions. The slow singing sound is from a fretless infinite sustain guitar that was made from a guitar which lost its original neck in the attack on NYC. The fast flute sound is a seljeflote, an instrument made of wound birch bark played by the Lapp people of Northern Finland. I also play a sax, bass clarinet, and other familiar instruments.
Trunk Funk is me playing cornetto (zinc) with a rhythm section made entirely of elephants (six of them) in Thailand. The story behind that is that Richard Lair, the beloved "Dr. Elephant", principle scientist at the Thai royal elephant preserve, wondered if elephants could learn to play instruments. My buddy Dave Soldier spent a couple of years working with the animals, training them on various specially designed instruments. What's fun is that after about a year, the elephants started playing rhythmically without being prodded for each beat.
Richard and Dave started to put out elephant music records, to help raise money for the preserve. This track doesn't meet the requirements of those records, since it has overdubs. So I'll include it in my own release. I tried to play the cornetto to make it sound a little like an elephant. The cornetto was the hottest, sexiest instrument of the late middle ages- it's a cross between a trumpet and a saxophone. I overdubbed electric guitar, oud, and bass parts.
You Can Say Ney Again is just a silly piece with me playing ney (a Middle Eastern flute) and other things.
Early 1990s Knitting Factory show with me on piano, and Jon Gibson on alto sax. Jon is probably best known from his work in the Philip Glass Ensemble, but here you can hear a different side of him.
A duet: Marie Alfonso (of the original Zap Mama) singing, with me on the Korean harp, the kayagum. I can no longer remember where this was recorded- some little club in NYC in the early 1990s.
Rosh Hashanah Raga was part of an unusual Knitting Factory show I put on sometime in the mid- or early 1990s when I discovered too late that I had been booked to play a show on Rosh Hashanah. I decided to get a rabbi and make it into a service as well. My friend, the ultra nutty Israeli artist Udi Aloni, brought along his texts and images celebrating the more peculiar reaches of medieval Judaism (and it did get peculiar!) This piece has me on zcheng, a Chinese harp, Sussan Deyhim on vocals, Cyro Baptista on percussion, and Jon Gibson on contrabass clarinet. This lineup was also called "Chromatophoria".
Cactile was created for the MIT journal Terra Nova, edited by my friend David Rothenberg. It was included in a CD with a special issue on "Music and Nature". Peter Warshal showed me how to pluck a saguaro cactus to get natural tunings and melodies. It can only be done on certain cacti on certain slopes at certain times of the year. I overdubbed shakuhachi and ocarina.
Oud Concerto- This is faked up with a sampled orchestra. Maybe I'll pull together a real one for this sometime
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