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For the Record: April 2, 2021

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—including a bountiful "Blue" Gene Tyranny box and Bandcamp Friday picks.
For the Record: April 2, 2021

For the Record is a weekly round-up of new and pending recordings of interest to the new-music community: contemporary classical music and jazz, electronic and electroacoustic music, and idioms for which no clever genre name has been coined, on CD, vinyl LP,  cassette, digital-only formats… you name it.

This list of release dates is culled from press releases, Amazon, Bandcamp, and other  internet stores and sources, social-media posts,  and online resources such as Discogs.   Dates cited typically correspond to initial U.S. release, and are subject to change. (Links to Amazon, used when all else fails, do not imply endorsement.)

After publication, new listings are incorporated into On the Record: The Master List, a continuously compiled and updated resource exclusively accessible to paying Night After Night subscribers, found here.

These listings are not comprehensive—nor could they be! To submit a forthcoming recording for consideration, email information to nightafternight@icloud.com.

Please note that all opinions expressed herein are solely my own, and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

The Majority of the Tyranny

“Blue” Gene Tyranny (Photograph courtesy Unseen Worlds)

Back in December, I had the privilege and responsibility of writing the New York Times obituary for Robert Sheff, the abundantly talented keyboardist and composer better known as “Blue” Gene Tyranny. (If you want to learn more about this singular artist, I warmly commend Just For the Record: Conversations with and about “Blue” Gene Tyranny, a 2020 documentary by David Bernabo.) At the time, my writing was informed and enhanced by a sneak preview of a then-forthcoming six-CD box set brimming with unreleased recordings of Tyranny’s compositional oeuvre.

Now, at last, that box has been announced: Degrees of Freedom Found is due for release June 11 on Unseen Worlds, the label that did more than any other in recent years to shine a light on Tyranny and his music. Beyond simply increasing the amount of Tyranny’s music available, the set also emphasizes themes of significance to the composer—something Unseen Worlds curator Tommy McCutchon pointed out in an emailed announcement:

The first track sample from Degrees of Freedom Found (DOFF), “Harvey Milk (Portrait),” is one of the finales of the set. Gay rights was a very important issue for Blue. Throughout his music you can find traces of it – Trust in Rock’s “Without Warning” speaks to the coming of age experience of a young person encouraged to “hide their sex,” Out of the Blue’s “For David K.” is dedicated to footballer David Kopay, who is one of the first professional athletes to have come out publicly as gay, and then there is “Harvey Milk (Portrait).” Using Frankie Mann’s recording of Harvey Milk speaking at a November 4, 1978 rally, less than a month before he was assassinated for being the first openly gay publicly elected official in California. A two-part work, “Harvey Milk (Portrait)” delves into both the feeling of the action of Milk’s speech and “the feeling of the meaning.”

The set is abundant and affordable, annotated by Tyranny himself, and available to preorder today on the label’s Bandcamp page.

Which, as it happens, is serendipitous timing…

Album(s) of the Week: Bandcamp Friday Edition

As you surely know if you’re reading this newsletter, today is the third Bandcamp Friday of 2021. As far as anyone knows, this is the penultimate installment of Bandcamp’s generous pandemic-prompted initiative, for which the popular platform has waived its cut of sales on the first Friday of each month since early last year, in order to put more cash into the pockets of artists and independent labels—or, in many cases, some social or humanitarian cause selected by those artists and labels.

In lieu of a sole Album of the Week pick, here are a few options for consideration today: some new releases, others available to preorder.

Jason Moran/Milford Graves
Graves/Moran – Live at Big Ears
(YES Records; DL)

Responding to the recent death of artist, scientist, and shaman Milford Graves, pianist Jason Moran showcases two very different modes of collaboration: selections from a joint performance at the 2018 Big Ears festival, which show off Moran’s capacity for free play alongside one of the style’s signature creators, are bookended by pieces Moran created for and within a Philadelphia exhibition of Graves’s visual works.

Dennis González Ataraxia Trio+2
Nights Enter
(Ayler; CD, DL)

A Texas trumpeter, bandleader, and composer whose globe-spanning interests mark him as an heir to Don Cherry (and an artist whose influence on my own life’s path has been incalculable), Dennis González expands the splendid trio he introduced in 2017 on Ts’íibil Cháaltun with two key additions: Derek Rogers on electronics and Jess Garland on harp. With the agile bass of Drew Phelps and the simmering tabla and djembe of Jagath Lakpriya, what results shares atmosphere with electric-era Miles and Jon Hassell’s Fourth World navigations, while mapping its own terrain; as ever, González makes every burnished note count.

Susan Alcorn, Leila Bordreuil, Ingrid Laubrock
Bird Meets Wire
(Relative Pitch; CD, DL)

Three dynamic, disparate artists – each an extraordinary instrumentalist, composer, and leader – come together in an egoless summit of spontaneous creativity. The label refers to this music as “freely improvised Americana,” the last presumably a nod to the indelible associations embedded in the pedal steel guitar of Susan Alcorn, whose plangent lines and fluttering figurations resonate alongside Ingrid Laubrock on saxophones and Leila Bordreuil on cello. Don’t come to the session anticipating rusticity, though: just nimble reflexes, unpredictable responses, and musicianship rooted more in listening than in projecting. Everyone sings, everyone scrabbles, everyone wins—the listener, especially.

Unscientific Italians
Play the Music of Bill Frisell, Vol. 1
(Hora; LP, DL)

There’s an element of mystery in recommending this Italian ensemble, which makes an ambitious first splash on a new label with a collection of little-big band arrangements of compositions by Bill Frisell… after all, the only preview track to judge by, “Before We Were Born,” isn’t an especially generous sample at just over a minute. Still, the group is focusing on Frisell’s especially rich early-’90s canon, and the project bears his blessing. Perhaps, to quote a phrase the composer himself borrowed via a John Hiatt cover, one might well have a little faith here.

Patrick Shiroishi
i shouldn’t have to worry when my parents go outside
(self-released; DL)

Hardly a week seems to go by without some new documentation of a project involving the protean Patrick Shiroishi, a protean Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist whose work ranges from intense solo saxophone sets to ecstatic Zeuhl rave-ups, and well beyond. (In fact, there are three more Shiroishi projects scattered among the listings that appear in this newsletter.) Still, this session stands apart. First, as the title indicates, this music resulted from Shiroishi’s feelings about family and shared history, set against a sharp uptick in discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. And second, while the project incorporates plainspoken testimony from Shiroishi’s sisters, the predominant mode is peaceful and prayerful: a mix of sustained tones and urban sounds combining to provide a unique space for reflection. Shiroishi is directing all proceeds from i shouldn’t have to worry… to Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Atlanta, and today those funds will amount to just a little bit more. Everything counts.

Anna Webber
(Pi Recordings; CD, DL)

One of the most consistently impressive composers to make her presence known in recent years, Anna Webber demonstrates her range and versatility in two opposed yet conjoined forms on her newest project. The album’s title is derived from a series of six compositions Webber has created, each based on some particular extended technique. One of these pieces, Idiom II, appeared on her extraordinary 2019 LP, Clockwise. Four more appear on the first disc of this set, played by Webber with pianist Matt Mitchell and percussionist John Hollenbeck; one more, the hour-long Idiom VI, features a large ensemble comprising new-music interpreters alongside improvisers.

For another formidable list of Bandcamp Friday recommendations, please see George Grella’s offering, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” published earlier today on his Substack newsletter, Kill Yr Idols.

New This Week

Jenny Lin (L) and Guy Klucevsek (Photographs: highresaudio,com)

Caterina Barbieri/various artists - Fantas Variations (Editions Mego)

Andy Cartwright - Unstill (Facture)

Jeremiah Cymerman - Systema Munditotius, Vol. 2 (5049 Records)

Peter Gilbert - Burned Into the Orange - performances by Arditti Quartet, Iridium Quartet, Channeling the Waters, Jeremias Schwarzer, Richard White, Michael Veit, and Emanuele Arciuli (New Focus)

Will Guthrie & James Rushford - Real Real World (Black Truffle)

Hardcell (Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Tom Rainey) - Sensitive (9donkeys)

Thomas Heberer/Joe Fonda/Joe Hertenstein - Remedy (Fundacja Słuchaj)

Giya Kancheli - Simple Music - Jenny Lin, Guy Klucevsek (Steinway & Sons)

Roland Kayn - Electronic Symphony VI & VII (Reiger-records-reeks)

Roland Kayn - Spectral (Reiger-records-reeks)

Zach Layton - LFSR (self-released)

Tony Malaby - Turnpike Diaries, Vol. 2 (self-released)

Christian Marclay - Graffiti Composition - Apartment House (Superpang)

Jason Moran/Milford Graves - Graves/Moran – Live at Big Ears (YES Records)

MOVE - MOVE in Moers (Fundacja Słuchaj)

Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble - Warszawa 2019 (Fundacja Słuchaj)

Wolfgang von Schweinitz - Juz (a Yodel Cry) - Mattie Barbier (self-released)

Luke Stewart/Patrick Shiroishi - Luke Stewart/Patrick Shiroishi (Profane Illuminations)

Various artists - Stay in Shape, Vol. 3 (self-released)

Thomas Wincek - The desert of the real itself (A Wave Press)

𝔜𝔒𝔈 (Tashi Dorji, Thom Nguyen, Patrick Shiroishi) - To Exist Among Wolves (self-released)

Just Announced

Jen Shyu (Photograph: Steven Schreiber)

April 16

Alan Licht - A Symphony Strikes the Moment You Arrive (Room40)

Nate Wooley - Mutual Aid Music (Pleasure of the Text)

April 23

Tim Brady - Actions Speak Louder – Act 1: Solos and a Quartet (Redshift Music)

Rob Frye - Exoplanet (Astral Spirits)

Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue - Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses (Pi Recordings)

April 30

Rob Frye - Chihuahuan Desert/Birdscapes (Astral Spirits)

May 1

Joe Morris/Damon Smith - Gusts Against Particles (Open Systems)

May 7

Michael Foster/Ben Bennett - Contractions (Astral Spirits)

Gosheven - Antipodal Polyphony (self-released)

Stefano Leonardi/Antonio Bertoni - Viandes (Astral Spirits)

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet - Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms)

Gryphon Rue/Merche Blasco - North of the Future (Astral Editions)

Vernacular - The Little Bird (Astral Spirits)

Chris Williams/Patrick Shiroishi - Sans Soleil (Astral Spirits)

May 10

Roscoe Mitchell/Sandy Ewen/Damon Smith/Weasel Walter - A Railroad Spike Forms the Voice (ugEXPLODE/Balance Point Acoustics)

May 14

Susan Alcorn, Leila Bordreuil, Ingrid Laubrock - Bird Meets Wire (Relative Pitch)

Cranes - Formation < Deviation (Relative Pitch)

Mats Gustafsson/Joachim Nordwall - Shadows of Tomorrow b/w The Brain Produces Electrical Waves (Astral Spirits)

Magda Mayas’ Filamental - Confluence (Relative Pitch)

Lucie Vítková/James Ilgenfritz - Aging (Infrequent Seams)

May 20

Bryan Eubanks & Xavier Lopez - Natural Realms (Sacred Realism)

The Mighty Cloud - Especially Songs (Sacred Realism)

May 21

Unscientific Italians - Play the Music of Bill Frisell, Vol. 1 (Hora)

May 28

Anna Webber - Idiom (Pi Recordings)

Wavefield Ensemble - Concrete & Void - compositions by Jen Baker, Jessie Cox, Victoria Cheah, Greg Chudzik, and Nicholas DeMaison (New Focus)

June 11

“Blue” Gene Tyranny - Degrees of Freedom Found (Unseen Worlds)