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ACOUSTIC LEVITATION
BEST OF 2010

Dear Readers,

It's been a particularly good year for new music, even if my own list contains perhaps more reissues than new releases. The usual disclaimers stating the obvious but pertinent: We were not able to hear all the concerts and discs of 2010. We merely give credit to the ones we geographically, financially or by circumstance were able to lay our ears upon.

Happy hunting to all, and an artistically rich 2011.
Steve Koenig,
Editor



CHUCK BETTIS
New York City
Musician
chuckbettis.com

PERFORMANCES:
Ten transcendental live gatherings from 2010 in sequential order.

KRALLICE @ Knitting Factory Brooklyn, NY 1/10/10
myspace.com/krallice, knittingfactory.com

NAUTICAL ALMANAC @ Coco 66 Brooklyn, NY 3/18/10
heresee.com, coco66.com

10 @ the Bank Baltimore, MD 4/10/10
10rgb.com

MEPHISTA (Susie Ibarra, drums; Sylvie Courvoisier, piano; Ikue Mori, electronics) @ the Stone NY, NY 6/25/10
sylviecourvoisier.com, susieibarra.com, ikuemori.com, thestonenyc.com

DAVID CHAIM SMITH seminar on his artwork @ the Stone NY, NY 7/26/10
davidchaimsmith.com , thestonenyc.com

KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN @ Issue Project Room Brooklyn, NY 9/27/10
keithfullertonwhitman.com, issueprojectroom.org

LAURIE ANDERSON @ BAM Brooklyn, NY 10/2/10
laurieanderson.com, bam.org

SWANS @ Masonic Hall Brooklyn, NY 10/8/10
swans.pair.com, brooklynmasonictemple.com

AKI ONDA & CARBON @ Issue Project Room Brooklyn, NY 11/4/10
akionda.net, metalux.cc/pages/mvc.html, issueprojectroom.org

MEREDITH MONK @ Le Poisson Rouge NY, NY 12/12/10
www.meredithmonk.org, lepoissonrouge.com

SERGIO AZOÑOS
Cuidad México, D.F. / Mexico City
Artista Sonoro, guitarrista y ingeniero en audio
Sound artist, guitarist and sound engineer

Mejores discos del 2010

1. CHRISTIAN SCOTT. Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.
La reveladora y poderosa intimidad de un jazz moderno y digno de la nueva década. christianscott.tv

The revealing and powerful intimacy of a modern jazz worthy of the new decade.

2. MARC BURONFOSSE SOUNDS QUARTET. Face The Music.
La contemporaneidad de su música unida a la belleza de sus melodías, la convierte su música en una propuesta muy interesante y un jazz nuevo, fresco y cautivador. marcburonfosse.com

The contemporary nature of their music, together with the beauty of his melodies, becomes a very interesting proposal of a new jazz, cool and captivating.

3. PORTICO QUARTET. Isla.
Un grupo joven, muy propositivo y fresco; un conjunto de sonidos que resultan dulces al oído y entre todo esto la improvisación exuberante. porticoquartet.com, realworldrecords.com/catalogue/isla

A young group, very purposeful and fresh; a set of sounds that are sweet to the ear and also an exuberant improvisation.

4. BRANDT BRAUER FRICK. You Make Me Real.
La concepción basada en la composición electrónica pero acústica los convierte en una propuesta muy interesante y creativa que vale la pena escuchar. brandtbrauerfrick.de, k7.com

The concept based on electronic composition but acoustic, very interesting and creative.

5. TRILOK GURTU. Massical.
La magia rítmica de Trilok es siempre cautivadora. Este disco es la confirmación de la fusión de la música tradicional y las nuevas tendencias musicales en la mente de Trilok Gurtu. BHM 1037-2, bhm-music.de, trilokgurtu.net

Trilok's rhythmic magic is always captivating. This record is the confirmation of the fusion of traditional music and new musical trends from the mind of Trilok Gurtu

6. KENDRICK SCOTT. Reverence.
El baterista Kendrick Scott rescata de la tradición jazzistica los elementos esenciales y construye nuevas sonoridades que reafirman el jazz de los próximos años. CrissCross Jazz 1316, crisscrossjazz.com, kendrickscott.com

Drummer Kendrick Scott rescues the essential elements of jazz tradition and creates new sounds which reaffirm jazz for years to come.

7. JASON MORAN. 'Ten.
Una música sutil y fina con toques contemporáneos que lo posicionan dentro de los mejores discos de la lista. Blue Note 57186, bluenote.com, jasonmoran.com

A fine and subtle music with contemporary touches which place it on my best albums list.

8. BRAD MEHLDAU. Highway Rider.
La riqueza armónica de Brad y su piano deslumbran como siempre con un jazz íntimo pero muy expresivo. Nonesuch 518655, nonesuch.com/albums/highway-rider, bradmehldau.com

The harmonic richness of Brad and his dazzling piano jazz is, as always, intimate but very expressive.

9. TIEFSCHWARZ. Chocolate.
El minimalismo electrónico claramente expresado y revitalizador de su sonido, ejemplificado en su canción "Black Tick" y su concepto bien definido lo hace un disco ideal para escuchar este 2010. Souvenir 26, souvenir-music.com, tiefschwarz.net

The clearly expressed electronic minimalism, well-defined concept and revitalization of their sound, exemplified in their song "Black Tick," makes this a disc to hear in 2010.

10. DAFT PUNK. Tron Legacy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).
Una sorprendente orquestación creada por el grupo francés los pone en un nuevo nivel en el que exploran nuevos horizontes realmente interesantes. tronsoundtrack.com, daftpunk.com

A surprising orchestration created by the French group puts them on a new level which explores really interesting new horizons.

11. FOALS. Total Life Forever.
Un rock muy inspirado en los '80s, pero con el uso de patrones rítmicos diversos les da un sonido único y muy prometedor, creando atmósferas interesantes y frescas dentro del rock indie. foals.co.uk

Rock much-inspired by the '80s but the use of different rhythmic patterns gives them a unique, forward-looking sound, creating an interesting and fresh atmosphere in indie rock.


ROBERT REIGLE
Istanbul
Ethnomusicologist, composer, improviser

BEST DISCOVERIES OF 2010

Hello again. This year's list includes world, avant classical, bird song, and improvised music's - mixed together into a single alphabetical order. Rather than limit the pool to strict dates, I've included the highlights of my own path of discoveries during 2010. You'll notice that some of the music (and the interview) comes from cool websites that have remarkable resources. I hope you discover sounds that bring you great joy!

INDEX:
AMM. Sounding Music.
Pierluigi BILLONE. 1+1=1.
BIRDs. Bird Mimicry.
BRITISH EAST AFRICA-Columbia Library of Folk and Primitive Music.
Harley GABER. Indra's Net.
David GORTON. Trajectories.
Tim HODGKINSON. Klarnt.
INDONESIA. West Papua. Dema - Music from the Marind Anim.
Helmut LACHENMANN. In Conversation with Gene Coleman.
Rytis MAZULIS. Musica Falsa.
Stefan NICULESCU. Ison 1a; Ison 2; Echos.

AMM. Sounding Music. John Butcher, Ute Kanngiesser, Eddie Prevost, John Tilbury, and Christian Wolff. Matchless Records. MRCD-77. 2010. matchlessrecordings.com
A lovely set from Freedom of the City Festival, recorded in London's Conway Hall in 2009. Includes thought-provoking poetic liner notes by Harry Gilonis.

Pierluigi BILLONE. 1+1=1. Vienna: Kairos 1260-2. 2006. www.kairos-music.com, allegro-music.com Für zwei Bassklarinetten (2006) 70'02". I missed this when it first came out. Billone is one of the few composers who knows how to write meaningful extended techniques for bass clarinets. He dedicated a piece to Evan Parker, and really understands the achievements of the improvisers.

Label description:
"We have been planing this unique project for a long time: a composition for two bass clarinets as a full evening program. Through intense research Pierluigi Billone has acquired much experience in handling the bass clarinet and is the ideal composer for this task. Billone has an open mind and original thoughts about such a project. His formal conception can open new spaces for the listeners and take them on a exciting journey into the souls of the bass clarinets. The title of the work 1+1=1 is a quotation from an Andrey Tarkovskij film which points to the special relation between the two instruments."

BIRDS. Bird Mimicry. London: The British Library Board, NSA-CD-28. 2006. Available from the Online Bookshop at bl.uk This is a terrific collection of birds imitating other bird species, horse neighs, human speech, and a computer modem. Most striking of all is the imitation by a Bowerbird in Papua New Guinea, of ladders, hammering, sawing, ball bearings inside a spray paint can, and Pidgin English speech.

BRITISH EAST AFRICA. The Columbia Library of Folk and Primitive Music, Vol. 10.

Never reissued on CD, this remarkable anthology was edited by the great Hugh Tracey, and includes "Pfeni Ngoma" (on side B at 10:37-11:45), the melody that I believe Albert Ayler heard and adopted for "Bells." The song is from Zimbabwe, which at the time of the song's recording, was Southern Rhodesia. I hope Rounder Records will continue its project of reissuing the Columbia Library series on CD, including this important album.

 


Harley GABER. Indra's Net. Munich: Edition RZ, 1022. 2010. edition-rz.de This album represents the long-awaited return of a remarkable composer who was active in the 1960s and 70s, then switched to visual art until recently. Devotees of The Winds Rise in the North will be thrilled to have more music from that fertile period. Also hear his new work on Innova Records, as well as his excellent website. Welcome back Harley! From the liner notes:
"Both works on this CD form, in a manner of speaking, bookends for another piece of mine, The Winds Rise in the North. The first of the two, Sovereign of the Centre, was my initial attempt at putting a new musical way of thinking into an ensemble rather than solo form. The second, The Realm of Indra's Net, builds on musical "discoveries" I made in the course of revising The Winds Rise in the North. It is a hybrid work in as much as it is an "acoustic-tape piece" (not music concrete): There are four tracks of solo violin mixed down in different track combinations. (The one heard on this CD is a full-track mono version of the work.)" --Harley Gaber

David GORTON. Trajectories. Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom: Metier Records, MSVCD-92104. 2010. divine-art.co.uk David Gorton's first album demonstrates his unique voice, especially through the string quartet "Trajectories," wherein he extends the pioneering work of Giacinto Scelsi into new territory. This is a rich exploration of timbre and small changes in pitch. Check out his YouTube video, with score excerpt.

Tim HODGKINSON. Klarnt. Surrey, United Kingdom: ReR Megacorp, ZRTH-3. 2009. www.rermegacorp.com This is a whole album of solo Bb clarinet music. The 44-minute set puts extended techniques to the task of creating a coherent, flowing discourse. This is real music, not grandstanding or experimentation. Maintaining the order of the original performance (there are 11 tracks) has given the album a logic that results in a fun, challenging, and satisfying whole. A fine addition to the solo woodwind catalog.

INDONESIA. West Papua. Dema - Music from the Marind Anim. Leiden, The Netherlands: PAN Records, 4018. panrecords.nl/content/index.php
This important album is only the sixth album of music from Irian Jaya, the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea, to be distributed internationally. And fascinating music it is. PAN records continues its tremendous service of providing outstanding recordings with valuable liner notes. From the website:
"The Verschueren collection 1962. Anthology of music from West Papua #2. Father Jan Verschueren worked in West Papua as a catholic priest among the Marind Anim from 1931-1970. This CD gives an overview of the recordings he made of their traditional music in 1962. Together with the wax cylinder recordings he made in 1933 these are the only existing recordings of the music accompanying the grand Dema processions, rituals and cults which once formed the highlights of the traditional Marind Anim culture.
Digipak with 20 page booklet."

Helmut LACHENMANN. Musique Concrète Instrumentale: Helmut Lachenmann in Conversation with Gene Coleman. Philadelphia: Slought Foundation. MP3@64kbps. 75 minutes. 2008. slought.org A wonderful site that also has free jazz and cutting edge intellectual postings. Here, Lachenmann gives a great deal of insight into his music. From the website:
"Lachenmann has referred to his compositions as musique concrète instrumentale. Here, Lachenmann implies a musical language that embraces the entire sound-world made accessible through unconventional playing techniques. According to the composer, this is music "in which the sound events are chosen and organized so that the manner in which they are generated is at least as important as the resultant acoustic qualities themselves. Consequently those qualities, such as timbre, volume, etc., do not produce sounds for their own sake, but describe or denote the concrete situation: listening, you hear the conditions under which a sound- or noise-action is carried out, you hear what materials and energies are involved and what resistance is encountered." Lachenmann has consistently explored and elaborated new and innovative musical languages. Using instruments and voices unconventionally, Lachenmann has questioned past assumptions of the function and expectation of music."

Rytis MAZULIS. Musica Falsa. Molenbeek, Belgium: Megadisc, CD-7794. 2010. megadisc-classics.com
"In the medieval theory 'musica falsa' stood for deviation from conventional mode through introduction of chromatic sounds. In my work I often 'deviate' the twelve-tone system, using smaller divisions of a semitone or an octave. On the other hand, this term goes well with almost all pieces, recorded on this CD, which represent new versions for flute(s) of earlier pieces, performed by Manuel Zurria. The phenomenon of "false" music here reflects both my compositional ideas, such as microtone scales and artificial tuning systems, as well as the performance of Manuel, inventing new "weird" arrangements of my music." -Rytis Mazulis

Stefan NICULESCU. Ison 1a / Echos / Ison 2. Bucharest: Electrecord LP.
"Ison II" is a bit of a classic, and appeared on Attacca Records' three-disc Rumanian Anthology. The ison is the drone in Byzantine music. Niculescu scored "Ison 1a" for 14 instruments, and "Ison 2" for winds and percussion.


CARLOS GÓMEZ
México, D.F. / Mexico City.

New Age Electronics
Sculpting music into impossible shapes

  1. OHNEHTRIX POINT NEVER. Returnal. Editions Mego, editionsmego.com, pointnever.com

  2. AUTECHRE. Oversteps. Warp Records, warp.net/records/autechre

  3. EMERALDS. Does It Look Like I'm Here? Editions Mego, editionsmego.com

  4. ELEH. Location Momentum. Touch, touchmusic.org.uk,
    importantrecords.com/eleh/index.htm

  5. KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN. Disengenuity/Disengenuousness. Pan (3), pan-act.com, keithfullertonwhitman.com

  6. ACTRESS. Splazsh. Honest Jon's Records, honestjons.com

  7. TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA. Egrets. Samadhi Sound, samadhisound.com/toshimarunakamura

  8. PAN SONIC. Gravitoni. Blast First Petite, blastfirstpetite.com, phinnweb.org/panasonic

  9. FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER. EXP. Raster-Noton, raster-noton.net, franknretschneider.de

  10. FLYING LOTUS. Cosmograma. Warp Records, warp.net, flying-lotus.com


CRAIG NIXON
New York State
Managing Editor

2010 Top Releases

All in all, not a bad year. In no particular order, it's actually a top 11.5, since the Dave Douglas consists of two separate and distinct discs.

  1. JEFF PLATZ QUARTET & DANIEL CARTER - Panoramic (Skycap Records) skycap.de

  2. TOMAS FUJIWARA & THE HOOK UP - Actionspeak (482 Music) 482music.com

  3. MARILYN CRISPELL and DAVID ROTHENBERG - One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM) ecmrecords.com

  4. SCOTT COLLEY - Empire (CAM-Jazz)

  5. EVAN PARKER, BARRY GUY, PAUL LYTTON - Nightwork (Marge) futuramarge.free.fr

  6. RALPH TOWNER and PAOLO FRESU - Chiaroscuro (ECM) ecmrecords.com

  7. DAVE DOUGLAS' KEYSTONE - Spark of Being - Expand & Soundtrack (Greenleaf) greenleafmusic.com

  8. GERI ALLEN- Flying Toward The Sound (Motema Music) motema.com

  9. JOHN ESCREET - Don't Fight The Inevitable (Mythology) johnescreet.com

  10. HARRIS EISENSTADT - Woodblock Prints (NoBusiness Records, vinyl only) nobusinessrecords.com

  11. MICHAEL FORMANEK - The Rub And Spare Change (ECM) ecmrecords.com


STEVEN KOENIG
New York City
Editor

DISCS

Note: I'm usually bemoaning how erratic the quality of music on the Innova label. This year it seems as if I'm under their employ (I'm not).

Anthology: BABY HOW CAN IT BE? - SONGS OF LOVE, LUST AND CONTEMPT FROM THE 1920s AND 1930s. A wonderfully-sequenced compilation of blues, Cajun, hokum, old-timey and their subgenres, one theme per disc. Meager notes, but the price is very low. Another plea against digipaks, as all three plastic panels were smashed when this arrived in the mail. Dust-To-Digital DTD-16, 3 CDs, dust-digital.com

NEWMAN TAYLOR BAKER. Drum Suite Life. This joins the pantheon of solo percussion discs by Milford Graves, Andrew Cyrille Pheeroan ak Laff and a few select others, differing only in that these works were composed, touching on the traditions of the drum in African-American history. Subtly breath-taking. Innova 238, 51:10, innova.mu,

BEETHOVEN. Symphony 9. La Chambre Philharmonique, Emmanuel Krivine, conductor. Whereas last year's Beethoven 3 by Andrew Manze gave me new ears, Krivine's HIP [historically-informed performance] ensemble "merely" makes me hear the 9th with delight, the winds especially frisky, the singers ensemble with the band. Naïve V5202, 63:09, naiveclassique.com, naxos.com

Anthology: Music In Tribute, Volume 6: ALBAN BERG. Giacinto Scelsi: Poema No. 4 a la memoire d'Alban Berg. Berg: Sonata for Piano; Four Songs op2. Ross Lee Finney: 10 Variations on a theme by Alban Berg. Jacob Gilboa: Reflections on Three Chords of Alban Berg. Hans Erich Apostei: Variations from Lulu, for four hands. Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano. Marjorie Dix, mezzo; Vlaimir Valja revic, second piano. Labor LAB 7086, 60:55, laborrecords.com, ievajokubaviciute.com, naxos.com, classicsonline.com

BLOB. Earphonious Swamphony. The quartet of John Lindberg, Ted Orr, Harvey Sorgen and Ralph Carney conjure insidious swamp-themed improvisations. Innova 237, innova.mu, myspace.com/tedorraudio, johnlindberg.com, myspace.com/harveysorgen, akroncracker.com

GEORG BREINSCHMID. Brein's World. Austrian bassist's delicious followup to last year's marvelous Wien bleibt Krk. To get a sense of the joie de vivre of Breinschmid's various groupings, imagine the joys of the Dutch free jazzers Han Bennink and Willem Breuker, Viennese waltzes, Django, and cabaret. Excellent audio as well. Preiser PR 90787, 2 CDs, &5:12 + 78:23, preiserrecords.at, georgbreinschmid.com

DAVID CARLSON. Anna Karenina. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, SLSO. Stewart Robertson, conductor. Libretto by Colin Graham. A new opera which, despite erratic vocal writing, is dramatically compelling. Signum SIGCD154, 2 CDs, 72:12 + 67:35, full notes and libretto, qualiton.com, signumrecords.com.

COMMITMENT. The Complete Recordings: 1981/1983. Will Connell, Jr., Jason Kao-Hwang, William Parker, Takeshi Zen Matsuura. NoBusiness NBCD 14-15, 2 CDs, 75:35 + 48:40, nobusinessrecords.com

SUGA DAIRO TRIO. No English title given on this solid and wacky piano-bass-drums trio of standards and originals. Let's just call it Joyous. Okay, the title on the DMG website: Sakamoto Ryoma Handgun: S&W Model 2 of The Far East. CoolFool CLFL-0001, 51:22, sugadairo.com

DELANEY AND BONNIE. On Tour. Exciting classic roots rock album expanded to four discs in a cute but space-wasting "touring case" with a styofoam insert holding the four digipaks and folio. Well worth the trip. Rhino Handmade RHM 52479, 4 CDs, rhinohandmade.com

JACK ELLIOTT. At Lansdowne Studios, London [1959]. The a capella "Night Herding Song" is a spine-tingling great yodel-call. And yes, that's nearly 90 minutes on a single compact disc. Bear Family BCD 16330, 88:40, bear-family.de

MARK FELDMAN and SYLVIA COURVOISIER. Oblivia. This violin-piano duo is equally strong live and on disc. The improv is favored but the classical roots are totally integrated. For spirit and mind. Tzadik TZ 7633, 51:35, tzadik.com, markfeldmanviolin.com,
sylviecourvoisier.com

Anthology: THE HISTORY OF INDIAN FILM MUSIC: A SHOWCASE OF THE VERY BEST IN HINDI CINEMA. A 128-page hardback book all in English and two folios of CDs in a thick cardboard slipcase, this ambitious compilation covers the 1920s through today in all its complexity and, sometimes, perplexity. I confess I prefer listening to film music this way, without the visuals. Sare Sama TDICP 054S, 10 CDs and book, amazon.com/History-Indian-Film-Music/dp/B003O5MPB0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1294256344&sr=1-1-spell

CHARLES IVES. Sonatas 1 and 2. Jeremy Denk, piano; Tara Helen O"Connor, flute. Fluid and frisky, forceful without being crass, Denk proves an Ivesian of the first rank. The melodies are integrated but clear. 24 pages of notes and photos. Think Denk Media TDM2567, 77:35, jeremydenk.net/blog/

DARIUS JONES. Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing). Deeply-rooted sax trio with Cooper-Moore and and Rakalai Bob Moses. AUM Fidelity AUM057, 52:49, aumfidelity.com

JP, CHRYSSIE & THE FAIRGROUND BOYS. Fidelity: Deluxe CD+DVD Edition. I love the first two Pretenders albums, none after those. The lyrics sometimes a wee earnest, but the group rocks. Chryssie sounds at her peak, which to say as she did in the '70s. JP Jones is previously unknown to me, but his generic rocker's voice meshes well with Hynde. The DVD contains one music video. I usually complain about digipaks, but this all-cardboard package is mashed and torn down the spines. La Mina/Rocket Science RSVFB026, rocketscienceventures.com, thepretenders.com

JAMES LEVINE. Celebrating 40 Years at The Met. Corigliano's marvelous Ghosts of Versailles, Lulu, Wozzeck, Figaro, Trittico, Bartered Bride, Ariade, Elektra, Rosenkavalier, Don Carlo, Mahagonny, and In Concert At The Met. Met Opera (no catalog nr.), 21 DVDs, slipcase, metopera.org

SMILEY LEWIS. Rocks. Thirty-five Imperial and one bonus Epic recording from the New Orleans standard-bearer. Bear Family BCD 16676 AR, 85:43, bear-family.de

GYöRGY LIGETI. String Quartets 1 & 2, Andante and Allegretto. Parker Quartet. The competition (Artemis on EMI, Hagen & LaSalle in a DG box) handles different aspects slightly differently, but none is better and neither offer the "Andante and Allegretto." Budget price. Naxos 8.570781, 55:46, naxos.com

HANNIBAL LOKUMBE. Dear Mrs. Parks. Detroit SO, Rackham Symphony Choir, Brazeal Dennard Chorale, soloists, Thomas Wilkins conductor. The trumpeter and composer (earlier known as Hannibal Marvin Peterson, then just Hannibal) skillfully weaves European, African and American idioms in this modern classical oratorio recorded before an appropriately enthusiastic live audience. Naxos 8.559668, 59:03, libretto, naxos.com, hanniballokumbe.com

DENMAN MARONEY. Music for Words, Perhaps: Poems by Yeats and Wallace Stevens. Theo Bleckmann, Shelley Hirsch. The pianist composer, known for his "hyperpiano," plays both inside and out, compositionally and pianistically, with most beautifully sung and presumably notated spoken lines in the 40-minute Yeats cycle, which finds Bleckmann in especially haunting voice. Innova 717, 65:05, texts, innova.mu, naxos.com

THE McPEAKE FAMILY. Wild Mountain Thyme. TopicTSCD583, 50:23. Belfast folkies, 1962, topicrecords.co.uk

JEMEEL MOONDOC. Muntu Recordings. Live and studio recordings from the '70s "loft jazz" era. NoBusiness NBCD 7-8-9, 3CDs, and 114-page book in English, slipcover, nobusinessrecords.com

PAT MUCHMORE. Fracture: Anti-Social Music. The cellist goes wild, slashing hardcore alternately with, against and in confluence with various "chamber" ensembles from flute and accordion to bass clarinet and viola. Equally appealing to fans of jazzpunk skronk and French chamber music. Innova 760, 67:00, innova.mu, patmuchmore.com, naxos.com

Anthology: THE NYFA COLLECTION: 25 Years of New York New Music. Five booklets with detailed notes for each work of over 50 composers, more downtown than uptown but some upstate, from Oliveros to E#, Halac, Chadabe and Mahanthappa to Vierk to Tower and Tsontakis. The proverbial treasure trove, sponsored by the New York Foundation For The Arts. Innova 233, 5 CDs, innova.mu

Anthology: …NEXT STOP IS VIETNAM: The War On Records: 1961-2008. Bear Family nails it yet another breath-taking, thought-provoking topical anthology of interviews, radio broadcasts, but in deed mostly pop songs related to the war pro, con and neither. 13 CDs, 312-page, all-English 12" x 12" hardcover book with images of each original vinyl disc or cover plus historical photos, and lots of fascinating text. Bear Family BCD 16070 MS, hardboard slipcase, bear-family.de

OTOMO YOSHIHIDE NEW JAZZ TRIO +. Lonely Woman. Ornette's classic tune interpreted six ways: quitar solo, trio and quintet with electronics from Sachiko M and Jim O'Rourke. Mindblowing. Doubt dmf-138, 48:11, doubtmusic.com, japanimprov.com/yotomo

EVAN PARKER, BARRY GUY, PAUL LYTTON. Nightwork: Live At The Sunset. Do you need another disc with these guys? Yes. The secure feeling of master musicians who listen to each other over two extended improvisations, far from high-energy squeal. Marge 46, 61:10, futuramarge.free.fr, barryguy.com, evanparker.com

Anthology: PALENQUE PALENQUE: Champeta Criolla & Afro Roots In Colombia 1975-1991. Soundway SNDWCD022, 72:10, soundwayrecords.com

RED BARAAT. Chaal Baby. An easy winner for anyone into the klez-Baltic-jazz scene, except this time the joy is sourced from India. Sin SR0100, 56:14, redbaraat.com

Putomayo Presents RHYTHM & BLUES. A deliciously programmed anthology of classic and "retro" R&B artists, ranging from Snooks Eaglin and Irma Thomas, to Keb' Mo' and Sharon King, but thank you for introducing me to Cracked Ice, one of my favorite finds this year. Get their CD Soul Noir. Putomayo PUT 297-2, putomayo.com

DINO SALUZZI. El Encuentro. Sax, cello and the Metropole Orchestra join the great bandoneon player in this live set of four beautiful (but not sappy) extended tracks. ECM 2155/ B0014477-02, 79:10, ecmrecords.com, saluzzimusic.com

CHRISTIAN SCOTT. Yesterday You Said Tomorrow. Finally! A jazz disc that uses trad Blue Note, Miles, and modernist settings but without pandering to soft, electronica, fusion or wimpjazz elements. Perfectly realized modern jazz. Excellent ensemble playing. Concord Jazz CJA-31412-02, concordmusicgroup.com, christianscott.net

PERCY SLEDGE. The Atlantic Recordings. Underappreciated southern soul great who is way more than "When A Man Loves A Woman." A perfect follow-up to last year's Wilson Pickett Complete Atlantic. Rhino Handmade RHM2 526138, 4 CDs in an 8x8" velvet-hardbound book, 76:29 + 79:47 + +. rhinohandmade.com

SUN RA. Live In London 1970. A particularly squeaky and raucously fun set of, dare I use the word tribal, sets at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Makes me recall Zappa/Mothers recordings from there too. [A feature on the Transparency label is upcoming in these pages.] Transparency 0317, 2 CDs, 70:00 + 46:00.

TAMMI TERRELL. Come on and See Me: The Complete Solo Collection. Early recordings from Checker, Scepter and Wand, all her Motown sides plus Live At The Roostertail reveal many facets of this alternately sultry and vivacious singer. Excellent fat booklet notes. Motown/Hip-O Select B0014792-02, 2 CDs, 72:49 + 64:57, hip-oselect.com

TONY JOE WHITE. That On The Road Look. Live from 1971 with Duck Dunn, the Swamp Fox is absolutely smoldering country funk soul. Warner/Rhinohandmade RHM2 524696, 66:46, rhinohandmade.com, tonyjoewhite.com


CONCERTS

HANDEL: PARTENOPE. New York City Opera. Cinducted by Chrstian Curnyn. The production was excellent overall, but the creamy voice and charming acting of Iestyn Davies as Prince Armindo of Cornith was an exemplor of what countertenors should be like.

SHOSTAKOVICH: THE NOSE. Production by William Kentridge. Conducted by Valery Gergiev. Metropolitan Opera. Beautifully sung by all, with amazing use of multimedia, the set all at the service of a story of the absurd.

NATE WOOLEY AND JACOB WICK, trumpet duo. Downtown Music Gallery, NYC. Free Sunday in-store performance series. natewooley.com, jacobwick.info, downtownmusicgallery.com


BOOKS

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, Volume 1. Very single pragraph makes me grin or laugh out loud. Too large to carry on the subway, it's the perfect bed or comfy-chair book. University of California Press, 760 pages, oversize hardbound, ucpress.edu

THERESA SAUER. NOTATIONS 21. Sauer compiles a striking art/music book of graphic scores, taking up where John Cage's original Notations book left off. Beautiful for musicians and nonmusicians alike. Look for concerts worldwide under the Notations21 aegis. Mark Batty Publishers, large format hardbound, 320 pages, notations21.net, markbattypublisher.com

BARRY WALLENSTEIN. Tony's World. Birch Brook Press ISBN 9780978997489, birchbrookpress.info Poet Wallenstein, a contributor to these pages, creates a universe of savory unsavory characters. Read my review in Big City Lit.


THEATER

ANGELS IN AMERICA: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner. Cast: Robin Bartlett (Hannah Pitt), Christian Borle (Prior Walter), Bill Heck (Joe Pitt), Zoe Kazan (Harper Pitt), Billy Porter (Belize), Zachary Quinto (Louis Ironson), Robin Weigert (the Angel) and Frank Wood (Roy Cohn). Directed by Michael Grief. Signature Theatre, NYC. The texture and tone remain fierce, and the slight revisions refocus on the contemporary and "national themes." signaturetheatre.org/angels

A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE by Martin McDonagh. Atlantic Theater Company. Schoenfeld Theatre, NYC. Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Anthony Mackie, Zoe Kazan. Directed by John Crowley. Wickedly funny script, each was at the top of his craft but Rockwell nearly stole the show. atlantictheater.org

LA BÊTE by David Hirson. Directed by Matthew Warchus. Music Box Theatre, NYC. Mark Rylance's role and performance were the epitome of a tour de force, but the largely non-speaking David Hyde Pierce was a brilliant straight man, his whole body responding in subtle horror to Rylance's antics.

COLLECTED STORIES by Donald Margulies. Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson. Directed by Lynne Meadow. Samuel J Friedman Theatre, NYC. We knew Lavin was going to be brilliant here, but the surprise was the shading of Paulson's characterization of the writer's mentee; the subtle evolution of her character's strength was mind-boggling.

THE COLLECTION and A KIND OF ALASKA by Harold Pinter. Classic Stage Company, Atlantic Theater Company, NYC. Karen Kohlhaas, director. Larry Brygman. Darren Pettie, Rebecca Henderson, Matt McGrath, Lisa Emory. Pitch-perfect performances of these Pinter gems. atlantictheater.org, classicstage.org

A FREE MAN OF COLOR by John Guare. George C. Wolfe, director. Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC. Deliciously sprawling entertainment of American history as a very American French farce. lct.org

THE GLASS MENAGERIE by Tennessee Williams. Roundabout Theatre Company, NYC. Directed by Gordon Eisenstein. Patch Darragh, Judith Ivey, Keira Kelley, Michael Mosley. A true ensemble cast with Judith Ivey 's unique tour de understated force as Amanda. roundabouttheatre.org

HAUNTED by Edna O'Brien. Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester (Brits Off Broadway series) 59E59 Theater, NYC. Directed by Braham Murray. Brenda Blethyn, Niall Buggy, Beth Cooke. Perhaps the saddest play I ever experienced, brilliantly acted and brilliantly written; Blethyn was shattering. britsoffbroadway.com, 59e59.org, royalexchangetheatre.org.uk

I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER by Robert Anderson. Directed by Jonathan Silverstein. Keen Company: Keir Dullea, Marsha Mason & Company. The film leaves me cold; I couldn't imagine a more moving performance than this one.

KING JOHN by William Shakespeare. The Guerilla Shakespeare Project. Medicine Show Theater, NYC. Directed by Jordan Reeves. Ginger Eckert as Constance left us breathless, less a performance than an appropriately terrifying embodiment. guerillashakespeare.com

TIME STANDS STILL by Donald Margulies. Cort Theatre, NYC. Laura Linney, Brian d'Arcy James, Eric Bogosian, Christina Ricci. Directed by Daniel Sullivan. Linney and Ricci embodied incredible solid, nuanced personas on which the plot was pinned.




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