The Listening Project- week ending 10 January

Bang on a Can and Eighth Blackbird

I came across Bang on a Can through a presentation at the Musicological Society of Australia’s annual conference last year, and the presenter mentioned Steve Reich’s Double Sextet 2×5 (it was on the use of electric guitar in contemporary chamber music). I didn’t look the album up then, but I did for this, and I noticed that it also contained another contemporary chamber group that I’d recently heard of Eighth Blackbird, so it made sense that I explore both of these groups in the same week.

Steve Reich Double Sextet 2×5 2010 Nonesuch Records

Unfortunately the full album isn’t on Spotify, but most of it is…

Both of the works on here are very interesting. Contemporary chamber music isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I do like most of Steve Reich’s works and I found this quite enjoyable.

Bang on a Can Renegade Heaven 2011 Canteloupe Music

This is more what I think of when I think of contemporary chamber music- some I like, some I don’t. Like Duke Ellington, I’m all about the pretty notes; but what I find pretty and other people find pretty are all different. Still as challenging as this was I did find it quite interesting, and I’ll definitely be checking out some more of their work.

Eighth Blackbird Lonely Motel: Music from Slide 2011 Cedille

Since this is meant to accompany a theatrical work this probably wasn’t the best album to choose, but the title made me curious and even not knowing the theatrical work it’s attached to, it’s quite an interesting listen. Some challenging, some quirky (especially the lyrics…), but a lot of it was really quite fun to listen to.

(NZ) Fat Freddy’s Drop Bays The Drop 2015

Always fun, always laid back, funky grooves and kicking bass lines. ‘Nuff said. Available from their website (along with gig information, etc)

(NZ) Jhan Lindsay and the Chattelaines 2015

This is musician/composer Jhan Lindsay’s debut album, but she’s been around on the Wellington scene for quite a while. It’s a warm laid back album perfect for when you want to feel cosy. Check out her bandcamp page for the album:

Paul Bley with Gary Peacock and Franz Kolgmann Annette 2010 Hat Hut Records

With the passing of Paul Bley earlier this week, I was in a nostalgic mood. I haven’t listened to Bley for years- not for any reason, just there’s so much to listen too, and I need to be in the right mood. The Spotify link is also a good lesson for students to not implicitly trust the metatdata on streaming sites. They’ve credited Franz Kolgmann as the composer, when in fact for all but one track it was Annette Peacock (Bley and Gary Peacock’s ex wife…it’s not as incestuous as it sounds, I promise), to whom them album is dedicated that composed the music.

Calexico Spoke 1997 Quarterstick Records

Before this I had heard of Calexico quite a bit, but for some reason I’d only ever listened to one track that was on a ‘Songlines’ magazine CD so I decided to start at the earliest album I could find. I found this a lot more country than I thought it would be (based on that one track)- it was quite surprising really, and now I’m interested in doing a full discography listen to see how they developed.

Terry Gibbs Terry Gibbs Plays the Duke 1957 remastered 2014 Avid

Last up this week is vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. He’s really new to my ears- I only heard him for the first time this week when I was pointed in the direction of a video his son had shared of Terry at 91 (!!) jamming with his friend and absolutely killing it! (sometimes the internet is a wonderful place…) I just had to listen to some more, and where better the start than Duke Ellington.



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