Last weekend, I was involved as an accompanist with the American College Dance Festival Association’s regional conference, held right here in Milwaukee. There was a lot of preparation and buzz within the UW-Milwaukee Dance Department as the conference drew near, and the conference as a whole, seemed to be a great success. I had a fantastic time meeting some new people, both musicians and choreographers, and shared some great moments of collaboration.
One of my highlights of the whole event was accompanying alongside Terrance Karn (percussion) for Ananya Chatterjea‘s Contemporary Indian Dance workshop. As I would expect of a regional conference, participation of staff and faculty from several different colleges and universities, automatically involves collaboration with individuals you’ve never met; creating exciting new opportunities to learn and interact spontaneously. In my experience, this opportunity has sometimes been successful, and sometimes not. This particular case was one of immediate connection, relaxed, but enthusiastic interest, and a great desire to fill the room with joyful, positive energy. I must say, I don’t recall a time I experienced impromptu music making in a dance environment that was quite like this; I was literally “buzzing” when it was over.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any documentation of the class (audio or video), so this will simply have to live on in my mind as one of the most amazing experiences in recent years. I give great thanks and appreciation to Terrance Karn, Ananya Chatterjea, and the entire class of dancers for the incredible memories.
Another highlight was accompanying one of the Adjudicator classes; this one by Bill Wade of the Inlet Dance Theatre in Cleveland, OH. I enjoyed Bill’s words of wisdom on the relationship between performers and audience members, and Dominique and Joshua’s demonstrations seemed to stun us all. I felt the particular Live patch I was using for the class was just the right thing to keep the students engaged in the “assignment” for the moment. I plan on putting together an audio sample of that patch in the near future.
Until next time… cheers to more collaborative opportunities in the future!
Both groups I’m involved with for this concert have been discussing group dynamics, texture and language (such as Hal’s hand gestures for conducting GLIO) for our improvisations during recent rehearsal, so I’m quite excited about what will all happen in the moment.
Paul Kosidowski wrote a brief pre-performance article for Milwaukee Magazine, which can be found on their website here. You can see me in the center of the photo, playing my alto saxophone.
I’ll try to get some good audio of the performance to post later.
Another short post just to share some of the audio that has been recently uploaded to SoundCloud. The recordings are from the Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra performance at Woodland Pattern, that I wrote about in my last post. The recordings turned out well and it’s fair to say that everyone really enjoyed performing together. One of the really enjoyable aspects of this performance, is that not all individuals had previously performed together, therefor providing an opportunity of finding new ways to integrate one’s voice within the orchestra.
Five pieces were played in total. All were conducted by Hal Rammel. Below, I have put links for two of the selections; the remaining can be found here.
I have a couple performances coming up that I wanted to let everyone know about.
The first will be Sunday, December 16th with the Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra at Woodland Patterns, in my very own Riverwest neighborhood (Milwaukee). It’s an afternoon show, starting at 2pm, for a mere $4. The ensemble consists of 14 of Milwaukee’s finest composers-who-improvise and improvisers-who-compose, with a very diverse list of instrumentation: voice, winds, strings, guitars, electronics and percussion.
The second performance will be MiLO: A Very Special Holiday Extravaganza! The gang has decided to throw our hats into the “holiday ring”, complete with bad Christmas sweaters. I hope… well, maybe not. Some Christmas sweaters are pretty scary. [shudder] The event will take place on Thursday, December 20th at the Sugar Maple in Bayview (Milwaukee). This one starts at 8pm and goes on till we’ve had enough holiday cheer, beer, and have generally forgotten the rest of the lyrics to “O Tannenbaum”; if we all ever even knew them.
So once again, I’ve gone a couple months without a post. Summer has a tendency to be full of so many going-ons that this site takes a back seat. Oh well…
The performance at Sugar Maple was a great success and a good time was had by all. Something a little newer for the group was to break up all the performers into a variety of trio subsets. This is an evolution of some exercises we would play during rehearsals, where the entrance of a individual’s sound had to be accompanied by at least one other player, as he/she introduced something new to the overall sound. Sometimes this would occur during the same subset’s exit from the group sound. It became a way of organizing spontaneous coordination and adding a level of control to the overall density of our performances. As everyone really enjoyed how it was influencing our rehearsals, we thought we’d take it a step further for the Sugar Maple performance.
Below is a video I captured before my iPhone ran out of storage space, and the remaining trios that we got audio for. Unfortunately, we were unable to get anything else in it’s entirety.
Last item of note for that night, is a series of photographs taken by Paul M. Mitchell. The photos can be seen here.
In the last couple months, I’ve been getting some new material together for the purpose of solo laptop performances. I’ve used my laptop many times in a group setting, but never in a stand-alone performance. It’s quite a different approach; switching from a single voice in an ensemble to constructing all voices for a live performance. Setting up instrument layers in the traditional multi-track environment, simply doesn’t accomplish what I’m trying to do. The challenge has been to make my hardware-software set up as flexible as possible, while maintaining a sense of simplicity in the controls. I’m of the opinion that trying to manage an unwieldy amount of parameters during a live performance can take away from what one might be able to create musically with less. That being said, I love complexity of layers, moving in and out of the listening field, enticing our ears with different shapes and colors. This is one of the reasons I enjoy playing with MiLO (Milwaukee Laptop Orchestra) so much.
So begins the balancing act. The stochastic-styled (randomization built around user controlled parameters) Max patches I use, are certainly helpful in this regard. They allow certain layers to essentially run themselves while user input shapes it’s outcome. Most of the time I’ve spent with Max patches, has been for the purpose of constructing meaningful randomization. The sample I have below is based around my use of the C8 Sequencer (Max For Live patch I posted earlier) for creating rhythmic material. A little bit of self-made loops (bass ostinato, pad and aux percussion that uses C8) round out of the sample.
The other little gem here, is the new addition to my sonic arsenal; the illustrious Electro-Harmonix Bi-Filter. The unit was designed by Mike Beigel of Beigel Sound Lab; the designer of the Mu-tron III (Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” anyone?). This little rack mount unit is already proven to be tons-o-fun. I played around with the routing options inside of Ableton Live, and I think I’m getting closer to what I would use live. Options for setting up the audio output of a single track for either: Sends Only, External channel, or to the Master track, allowed me to use the Bi-Filter in different ways for different voices. Though I would have loved to see separate inputs for each filter section an option, the routing inside Live allowed for variety of usage within an FX unit with only one audio input.
The sample below is a real-time performance. No over dubs, or track editing. Only light compression, normalization and fades were applied post performance.
Here’s a couple of audio samples from Monday nights performance at Bremen Café. The line up for the night was Seth Warren-Crow (drums), Jason Spottek (bass), Sean Behling (tenor sax), Wes Tank (words), and myself (alto sax with a little … Continue reading →