Sunday, May 29, 2005

Books on the sidewalk

Lately Divine Wisdom has been sending books to me by leaving them on the sidewalk in areas where I go for my walks.

Back in March, it was Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I read that book in my junior year in high school, I think, and it prepared me for all the mystical journeying I would take in adult life.

Today City of Quartz by Mike Davis was there for me to find, right in my path as I walked home. I haven't read it yet. But I'm given to understand it's a very important book which most people haven't read. I guess I'm supposed to read it now.

Be sure and check the events page for my upcoming gigs. I just got word that I'll be part of the Ambient Sounds/Ambient Spaces concert series. Organizer Mike Perlmutter has found a tunnel that he wants me to play flute and bass flute in, making use of all the echoes in it. I haven't been to check out the tunnel yet but the whole thing sounds really exciting. The concert will be on Sunday, July 31st in the afternoon. If you're on my mailing list, you will get a reminder about it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Magic Chicken

Theresa Wong and Philip Greenlief have made an album together called Magic Chicken. It features their woodwind and cello artistry, plus spoken words, which always gets my attention. Gender balance in a new music endeavor also always gets my attention. You can find out more about it at

The recording is stripped down and very much like a live performance, but I was struck while listening to it by how much I wished it actually were a live performance. All their usual expressiveness and dynamic range were there but there's so much to improvised music (and high-complexity new music that isn't improvised) that isn't audible. I wished I could be there to see them making eye contact and see their gestures and their feeling.

And that brings me to the fact that we've got many live performances every week here in the Bay Area, presenting our music, and more often than not only a handful of people will show up. Bottom line, performers need audiences. I'm not the first to say that and I won't be the last. I'm also not just talking about me and my concerts. If there's music you like, and it's not on the radio, griping about it not being on the radio is a waste of time. Guaranteed, somebody is out there, probably in your own home town, making the music you like, and it's hypocritical of you not to support it by being there.

Speaking of improvised/not improvised, I stand corrected by Ferrara, who says the piece I liked so much in his Forms Of Things Unknown show wasn't improvised after all. He says it was all laid out and the bass clarinet solo was written down. :)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Aviation music

I've been awarded a commission by the Hiller Aviation Museum, to write a flute quartet (2 C flutes, alto flute, and bass flute) to be premiered at their upcoming fundraising gala on October 8. The three other flutists (I'll be playing one of the parts) have been signed up and I'm working on the piece, which will be called Remove Before Flight. There will be a slow movement called "The Breeze" and a fast movement called "Takeoff". The American Composers Forum has awarded me a Community Partners grant for this piece.

In other news I heard a set at the Luggage Store Gallery last night by Forms of Things Unknown, the chief architect of which is my friend Ferrara Brain Pan. I like his ambient improvs. The first one was my favorite, with its drones, feedback, bells, percussion, and brooding bass clarinet melodies. It was fun how the traffic sounds and even a siren on Market Street blended beautifully with the music.

Tonight I'm going to the International Festival of Digital Arts in Berkeley where Ronnie Cramer has two short films on the program. Ronnie was in the Droneshift with me back in March. I like his live album, Juno. It's very meditative, asteroidy and atmospheric. I like how it says what it has to say, and then moves on; that doesn't always happen in ambient music.