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For the Record: October 9, 2020

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—including a handful of impressive new releases from JACK Quartet.
For the Record: October 9, 2020

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.

Four of a Kind

JACK Quartet
Photograph: Beowulf Sheehan

I didn’t think I could be much more impressed with the JACK Quartet after they managed to rehearse and record an entire new album of extraordinary works with composer/performer Du Yun in June, despite pandemic and all the hardships it has imposed. A Cockroach’s Tarantella came out on August 13, at which time I wrote a brief review for The New Yorker. It’s a remarkable achievement on every conceivable level, and I commend it warmly. (You’ll find a source via which to acquire it here.)

Now, I’m more impressed. I used to work in the classical recording industry, so I do have a strong sense of the gestation period for a new album: not weeks but months, sometimes even years. Even so, it’s remarkable to see a fistful of excellent new JACK recordings all landing right around the same time, all of them showcasing different areas of the group’s vitality and versatility.

One of those albums, Earthing by Clara Iannotta, an Italian composer based in Berlin, has been available to stream for a little over a month now; a CD, on the German label Wergo, just arrived today. Iannotta’s musical language is elemental and chaotic, saturated with living energy, and endowed with countless instances of indescribable beauty, and the JACK players clearly have taken her works to heart. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the most vital releases of 2020.

Another recent beneficiary of the JACK touch is Roger Reynolds, a Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran composer long based in San Diego. I first became aware of Reynolds when the trailblazing Arditti Quartet included his supremely evocative Coconino…a shattered landscape on an eponymous album issued by Gramavision in 1989; now, Reynolds benefits from the similarly exacting advocacy of JACK, with whom he created the multimedia epic FLiGHT. An audio-only version of that piece, issued in the first volume of a Mode Records series celebrating Reynolds’s 85th birthday, conveys a strong sense of its expressive power; not forgotten, a concise yet similarly searching reminiscence of music and memory, makes an apt pairing.

It’s difficult to get much further away from the extreme technical challenges posed by Iannotta and Reynolds than the music of John Luther Adams, a visionary artist whose love affair with nature has taken him from Alaska via Manhattan to Mexico, and whose creations seem to tap straight into the planet’s soul. violent contortions are nowhere to be found in Adams’s oeuvre, with which this quartet has become intimate. But stillness, poise, and absolute focus are admirable skills, and they serve the JACK players well on this new album from the Cold Blue Music label, offering the rich, layered strata of Lines Made by Walking and the open-strings hymnody of Untouched.

If I’ve comparatively little to say about Through the Mangrove Tunnels, a CD featuring the music of Florida composer Scott Lee, it’s because so far I’ve heard only the two preview tracks presently streaming on the New Focus Records Bandcamp page. But those two tracks, with their slinky, seductive rhythms and floating lines, are enough to convince me that this collaboration of JACK, pianist Steven Beck, and drummer Russell Lacy, will merit close investigation when it lands on Nov. 13.

New This Week

Silkroad Ensemble
Photograph courtesy of the artists

Sam Decker - Shrove (Sunnyside)

Panos Ghikas - Unrealtime (Diatribe)

Maeve Gilchrist - The Harpweaver (3 Birds Music)

Osvaldo Golijov - Falling Out of Time - Silkroad Ensemble (In a Circle)

Rachel Grimes - The Way Forth—Instrumentals (Temporary Residence)

happy place - Tendrils - compositions by Will Mason (Exit Stencil)

Clara Iannotta - Earthing - JACK Quartet (Wergo; available for streaming now)

Travis LaPlante with Yarn/Wire - Inner Garden (New Amsterdam)

Mary Lattimore - Silver Ladders (Ghostly International)

Dustin Laurenzi’s Natural Language - A Time and a Place (Woolgathering)

Matthew Levy - Sum of Its Parts - compositions by Emma O’Halloran and Jacob Walls (XAS Records)

Simon Moullier - Spirit Song (Outside In Music)

William Parker Ensembles featuring Leena Conquest - “New World Order” b/w “Soledad” (AUM Fidelity)

J. Pavone String Ensemble - Lost and Found (Astral Spirits)

Paul Pinto - “Just Love” (Gold Bolus)

Maja S. K. Ratkje - Corona lockdown concert for TUSK Festival 2020 (self-released)

Georgina Isabel Rossi/Silvie Cheng - Mobili - compositions by Rafael Díaz, Carlos Botto, Federico Heinlein, David Cortés, Juan Orrego-Salas, and Carlos Guastavino (New Focus)

Just Announced

Thomas Kotcheff
Photograph courtesy DotDotDotMusic

October 14

Taylor Deupree - Canoe (Longform Editions)

Clarice Jensen - Platonic Solids 1 (Longform Editions)

claire rousay - it was always worth it (Longform Editions)

Strategy - The Babbling Brook (Longform Editions)

October 16

Chris P. Thompson - True Stories & Rational Numbers (self-released)

October 23

Mikel Rouse - ~/Library/Mouth/Congress/ (Exitmusic)

October 30

Rafael Toral - Aeriola Frequency (Black Truffle; first vinyl issue of 1998 recording)

November 6

Weston Olencki - untitled displacement [SOLO WORKS V2] (self-released)

November 13

Frederic Rzewski - Songs of Insurrection - Thomas Kotcheff (Coviello)

Mars Williams - Mars Williams Presents An Ayler Xmas, Vol. 4: Chicago vs. NYC (Astral Spirits)

November 20

Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz - FRKWYS Vol. 16: In a Word (RVNGIntl.)

Joseph C. Phillips Jr. - The Grey Land - Rebecca L. Hargrove, Kenneth Browning, Numinous (New Amsterdam)

December 4

Nick Cave/Nicolas Lens - L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. (Deutsche Grammophon)

March 12, 2021

Graham Lambkin - Solos (Blank Forms Editions)

Coming Soon

Nathalie Joachim
Photograph: Josue Azor

Flutist and composer Nathalie Joachim talks about creating a new piece with student musicians before and during quarantine, and returning to the stage with Spektral Quartet for a live performance intended for presentation online.