Change appears to be coming, in some form or another, to Spectrum, the intimate Ludlow Street performance space that over the last five or so seasons has provided a home base for fascinating musical voyages spanning an unusually broad range of styles.… Perhaps because of that hovering uncertainty, a pair of recent recitals by the pianists R. Andrew Lee and Sophia Subbayya Vastek seemed brushed with a sense of anticipatory valediction.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Dave’s Coffee Shop on Broadway in Oakland was always the destination for me to meet a deadline. I started going there soon after becoming the classical music critic for the East Bay Express, an alternative weekly, in 1985. After a concert, I would take the bus to Dave’s, open all night, and sit at the counter and order fried eggs and corned beef hash – the kind that comes in a perfect oval patty, and looks and tastes like dog food – and endless refills of coffee. I would sit there and write out the whole review by hand, and then take it home and type it up on my ancient Royal typewriter. It could be five pages or eight pages – however long was necessary to go into great detail and depth.
Springtime is here, and with it comes the implementation of the first major changes in this journal since we launched last October. We’ve worked hard during the first six months of producing The Log to establish a place and a precedent for vivid conversations with and among artists, strong and pertinent essays on topics of broad interest, timely news, and constructive criticism.
Pere Ubu, Latitude 49, Julia Holter, Dag Rosenqvist & Matthew Collings, Jason Moran, Tom Carter, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
Ask any musician who makes a habit of playing so-called minimalist music, in any of the various shades and permutations of that term, about the secrets to success; the answer likely would involve qualities like patience, stamina, perseverance, and faith in the value of the undertaking. Look at the burgeoning career of R. Andrew Lee, a pianist and pedagogue whose sterling reputation largely resides in his exemplary performances and recordings of minimal music, and you see precisely the same qualities in play.
Lea Bertucci, Alex Mincek, Miles Mosley, Katharina Rosenberger, Jute Gyte, Alan Gilbert, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
On March 26 at National Sawdust, the composer Harold Meltzer will celebrate his 50th birthday with a program of two substantial recent works. Meltzer sat down recently for an interview conducted by the acclaimed tenor Paul Appleby, a longtime colleague, who questioned him thoroughly regarding his musical development, textual inclinations, compositional influences, and creative process.
Luke Martin, John Adams, Áine O’Dwyer, Steve Flato, and other striking sounds heard lately at Night After Night HQ.
“When you look at the Muslim populations in different Western countries, every Muslim community in every Western country has a different experience, based on the way that religion is situated within that country’s frame,” Dr. Kathryn Spellman Poots observed during a recent interview. Rather than examining those differences closely, she says, Islam too often is characterized as a singular source of fundamentalist oppression and sectarian violence, a view that results in prejudice and irrational fear, as well as heavy-handed attempts at erecting barriers to no one’s benefit.
An hourlong cycle of 13 songs for three vocalists, chamber orchestra, and electronics, ‘Unremembered’ is the most extensive project to date from the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, who collaborated with an old friend and renewed acquaintance, Nathaniel Bellows, a noted poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, and illustrator. Now touring the piece, Snider and Bellows sat down recently to trawl through memories of ‘Unremembered.’