5 min read

Can't hardly wait.

Remembering Anton Fier and Pharoah Sanders, plus picks for choice live events this week…
Can't hardly wait.

Prelude.

Together with family and friends, I caught a fabulous show last week by Colombian electro-tropical combo Bomba Estéreo, who turned out to be a fantastic live band—and who also hosted a marriage proposal live onstage, always among the most nerve-wracking things to witness, y'know, just in case. (He said "sí," phew.)

And now, finally, my new-music concert season commences at last during the week ahead. I'm eager to tell you all about it.


Here is the news.

Anton Fier (Photograph: Michael Hoefner)

During the past week we lost two iconic and utterly distinct musicians, drummer-bandleader Anton Fier (June 20, 1956 – Sept. 21, 2022) and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (Oct. 13, 1940 – Sept. 24, 2022).

Fier I had the opportunity to know just slightly around 2010, around the time he resuscitated his signature band, The Golden Palominos. That group had transformed from its origin as an akimbo downtown jazz act to a postmodern roadhouse rock combo given voice by the likes of Michael Stipe, Jack Bruce, John Lydon, and Peter Blegvad. With Syd Straw the group could sound twangy; with Lori Carson, dreamy.

Fier also managed to play with a constellation of strong leaders, from John Zorn and Bill Laswell to Herbie Hancock and Mick Jagger. He also drove a number of bands, including the Feelies, Pere Ubu, The Lounge Lizards, and Swans.

My sense of Anton personally was someone who was genuine and authentic; generous and gracious to many, many people; honest to a fault; and hard-driven by a commitment to excellence that he imposed equally on himself and others

I'm grateful to have seen the Golden Palominos once, in a memorable reunion gig at the Living Room in 2010 — perhaps the pro-shot video might surface now? Plenty of serviceable obituaries on the web, but nothing feels as true as this tally of reminiscences from Glenn Kenny.

Pharoah Sanders (Photograph courtesy Ninja Tune)

I never met Sanders, though his music was part of my life since the early 1980s, when I was just discovering the cosmos of John Coltrane and those in his orbit. My personal favorite Sanders album isn't one of the great fusions of ecstatic jazz, soul, and Black/Afrocentric spirit from his early Impulse! years, but rather Journey to the One, a 1980 release that marked a transition from that early period to the more conventional mainstream mantle he took on increasingly from the '80s onward… though not exclusively, as his later collaborations with Bill Laswell and Floating Points made clear. And in fact, Journey to the One included not only a nascent New Age intersection with a Windham Hill-bound Mark Isham, but also the recorded debut of a backing singer who would go on to some renown, Bobby McFerrin.

The New York Times published a comprehensive obituary by Jon Pareles. But I'm also very moved by an essay Chris Richards wrote for the Washington Post:

"…each show began with a titan of American jazz plodding his way through the crowd, navigating a miniature maze of cocktail tables, his gait unforgettably heavy, his posture hunched, as if his world-changing music was something he carried around on his back. Then he’d find his place under the lights and start blowing bravura phrases through his saxophone until Earth’s gravity started to loosen."

Thanks to Matty Karas for pointing out the Richards essay this morning. Rest well, gentlemen… Dreamspeed, and safe passage on your Journeys to the One.


Playlist.

The latest tally of memorable things I stuck in my ears includes releases featuring Bára Gísladóttir & Skúli Sverrisson, Wayne Shorter, Terri Lyne Carrington, Leo Genovese, and Esperanza Spalding, Myra Melford's Fire and Water Quintet, John Luther Adams, and more besides.

Hear, here.


Video of the week.

Ahead of a tour in support of its self-titled 2022 debut album, the English octet caroline plies its melancholy, ramshackle ways in a cover of "Peak Chroma" by claire rousay. (The original is on rousay's essential 2021 album, a softer focus.) The caroline cover is less dense and claustrophobic than rousay's creation, which evokes a sensation of feeling intensely alone in a crowd by means I can't quite manage to elaborate. But the caroline cover is effective in its own right, and a lovely gesture — especially given that rousay will be caroline's guest on the band's New York City bill, next Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Le Poisson Rouge. (More tour dates and details for caroline, here.)


Night After Night Watch.

Tyshawn Sorey (Photograph: John Rogers)

Concerts listed in Eastern Standard Time.

Tyshawn Sorey: Monochromatic Light (Afterlife)
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Ave., Midtown East
Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7:30pm; $40–$95
armoryonpark.org

What began as a new composition by Tyshawn Sorey commemorating the 50th anniversary of Houston's Rothko Chapel, inspired by and patterned after the Morton Feldman composition titled after the space, becomes something more in its Park Avenue Armory engagement, thanks to the addition of director Peter Sellars, artist Julie Mehretu, and choreographer Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray. (Learn more about the original version in this NPR feature by Anastasia Tsioulcas.) Nine performances, through Oct. 8.

Composer Portrait: Liza Lim
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
2960 Broadway, Upper West Side
Thursday, Sept. 29 at 8pm; $20
millertheatre.com

The invaluable JACK Quartet presents two works by the esteemed Australia-based composer Liza Lim, whose works explore a fertile intersection of human activity, ecological awareness, and climate crisis. One work, String Creatures, is a Miller co-commission in its U.S. premiere.

Interpretations: Petr Kotik 80th Birthday Celebration
Roulette
509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6pm; $20, seniors and students $15
roulette.org

Composer, flutist, and conductor Petr Kotik, longtime guardian of the avant-garde flame, leads members of his S.E.M. Ensemble in a staged performance of his magnum opus: Many Many Women, a six-hour vocal work based on text by Gertrude Stein.

Peter Evans Ensemble
The Jazz Gallery
1158 Broadway, 5th floor, Flatiron District
Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 & 9:30pm; $20–$30
Livestream tickets $20
jazzgallery.org

Trumpeter and composer Peter Evans offers an evening of heady, fiery new music with an ensemble comprising singer and flutist Alice Teyssier, saxophonist Caroline Davis, bassist Nick Jozwiak, percussionist Levy Lorenzo, and Sam Pluta on live electronics. If you can't attend in person, livestream tickets are available.

Steve Lehman: Ex Machina
Roulette
509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
Friday, Sept. 30 at 6pm; $30, advance $25, seniors and students $20
roulette.org

Saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman consistently and rewardingly explores unsuspected intersections: for instance, among electric jazz, hip hop, and West African music in Sélébéyone, whose recently released Xaybu: The Unseen is among this year's highlights. In Ex Machina, a collaboration involving France's Orchestre National de Jazz and IRCAM, Lehman illuminates another fertile intersection: the improvisational liberties of creative music, the exacting shades of spectralist composition, and the striking possibilities made possible with technology.

Find more listings in Night After Night Watch: The Master List, available exclusively to paid subscribers.


I want to believe.

(Photographs by the author, except where indicated otherwise.