Entries by Steve Smith

Vijay Iyer: Taking Stock of the Ojai Music Festival Experience

“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.”

In Review: Mass MoCA’s Solid Sound Festival Keeps Fans Headed for the Hills With Music, Art and Community

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.

Ian Rosenbaum: Inviting Composers to Play in the Percussionists’ Sandbox

“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.

Playlist.

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.

Ellen Reid and Matt Cook: Conjuring the American Dream and Virtual Reality

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.

Album review: Jürg Frey, ephemeral constructions

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.