“My approach was that, instead of genre, we should talk about community,” Vijay Iyer told a near-capacity crowd that filled a local community center in Ojai, California, on a hazy but pleasant Thursday afternoon in early June. The audience had gathered to get to know Iyer: a celebrated composer, improviser, pianist, and bandleader, and the music director of the 2017 Ojai Music Festival. What distinguished a community, he explained, is that it is intergenerational, and continually renewing. The resulting aesthetic, he said, might be one of “openness, welcome, and tolerance.”
About Steve Smith
I've been involved professionally in music and media for close to 30 years, and personally for perhaps a decade longer. Apart from a two-year sojourn in Boston, I've been based in or around New York City since June 1993. After a long string of roles and positions in mass media, I've recently taken up the role of director of publications at National Sawdust, a revolutionary young performing-arts venue and incubator in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn. You can learn more about that venture at nationalsawdust.org.
My work email address, for press releases, pitches, potential contributions, and whatnot, is email@example.com.
Prior to joining National Sawdust, I spent just over two years as an assistant arts editor at the Boston Globe, where I had the privilege of overseeing that esteemed newspaper's coverage of music and the visual arts. Before that, I served for 13 years as a music editor (first classical music, and then everything) for Time Out New York, and for seven years concurrently as a freelance classical-music reporter and reviewer for The New York Times.
While nearly all of my work is now focused on National Sawdust, I continue to contribute interviews and concert and CD reviews for RollingStone.com. My writing has appeared previously in the Washington Post, Village Voice, Billboard, Musical America, The Wire, Signal to Noise [RIP], Decibel, Jazziz, Jazz Times, Down Beat, Chamber Music, and Symphony magazines.
Before turning to journalism full time, I was a classical radio DJ in Houston, and then worked as a publicist at BMG Classics, the Knitting Factory, Third Floor Media (representing the Columbia Records jazz roster, the Village Vanguard, select projects on Blue Note Records, and more), and other NYC organizations. Artists with whom I worked directly include Tim Berne, Bobby Previte, Dave Douglas, and Ellery Eskelin.
I trained formally as a classical percussionist, and then put those skills to use with jazz and rock bands in Houston and New York. I graduated from Clear Creek High School in League City, TX, in 1984, and from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, in 1988. I'm married to Dr. Lara Pellegrinelli, an accomplished journalist, critic, and academic. Our daughter, Annina, is a budding singer, dancer, painter, and social-media superstar.
If you want to send something to me via snail mail, please drop me a line via email first to determine the best destination.
Entries by Steve Smith
Michael Pisaro, Laurence Crane, Tyshawn Sorey, Dennis González, Mulatu Astatke, Anthony Pateras, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
The idea of a communal gathering has been branded and monetized, while the term “experiential” more often than not refers to a successful interaction an attendee might have with a branding or sponsorship presence at any given festival. MASS MoCA has proven an ideal environment for Wilco to curb this trend and create a small utopia every other year because they share the same belief that thinking as a fan first reaps a holistic engagement and interaction all its own.
Donnacha Dennehy, Julia Holter, Trio S, Gabriel Kahane, Jen Shyu, Dead & Company, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
Omar Souleyman, King Crimson, Miles Davis, Marc Barreca, Pep Llopis, Michele Mercure, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
“Our mission, our goal as an ensemble, is to play percussion music that we feel is as good as any other chamber music for any other instruments that is being written now, and get it in front of people who have never heard it before,” Ian Rosenbaum declares of Sandbox Percussion, the esteemed quartet of which he’s a member. The group appears at National Sawdust on June 7, playing works by Christopher Cerrone and Timo Andres.
Exaudi Vocal Ensemble, Jason Moran, Kate Carr, Roger Waters, Providence Research Ensemble, Bobby Previte, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
Percussionist Matt Cook and composer Ellen Reid have known each other since their days as graduate students at CalArts, and have been regular, close collaborators ever since. Reid is in residence at National Sawdust this season, and this week brings an east coast rendezvous when Los Angeles Percussion Quartet performs Reid’s Fear | Release during the group’s New York debut concert, at National Sawdust on June 1.
The less I say this time, the better – partly because I have so very, very little information available from which to cobble up some authoritative statement on the whys and wherefores of the three recent compositions from 2015 and 2016 by Jürg Frey included on this new CD, and partly because the music doesn’t really lend itself to analysis so much as inhabitation.
Jakub Hrůša, Keiji Haino, Anthony Braxton, Chaya Czernowin, Annika Socolofsky, Stefan Fraunberger, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.