Tag Archives: percussion

Glenn Kotche revisited: Spectaculs in concert with So Percussion

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Glenn Kotche

I have to confess that Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche‘s forays into New Music were beginning to rub me the wrong way.

Maybe it was the Delta faucet commercial that set me on edge. I can’t say for sure.

But it had begun to feel to me that he was trying far too hard to prove that he’s not just the drummer in one of the world’s best rock bands. He seemed to be crying out to be taken seriously as a percussionist with depth and breadth as well as great rock chops.

His most recent serious album, “Adventureland” (Cantaloupe Music, 2014), is well done and pleasant, but for some reason it never really grabbed me. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to appreciate it.

When I got the opportunity to attend a concert on Saturday in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall the featured some of his work,  I decided to open my ears again.

I’m glad I did. Kotche’s work was a big part of what made the evening a spectacular musical event.

The evening opened with some older work — four selections from his 2011 Drumkit Quartets — performed by So Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting) alone.

So  Percussion clearly had an enormous amount of fun with the compositions. All of them featured a wide array of drums and myriad other percussion. The first, “Drumkit Quartet #50 (Leffinge, Chicago), kicked off with each member of the ensemble playing a hand-cranked siren, while the third, “Drumkit Quartet #51 (Tokyo, Brisbane, Berlin),” featured Japanese rock band Cibo Matto‘s Yuka Honda (who is married to Wilco guitarist Nels Cline) reciting haiku.

It’s no surprise that So  Percussion knew the pieces well, as the ensemble has recorded a “Drumkit Quartets” album due out Feb. 26 on Cantaloupe.

Kotche joined the ensemble for the world premiere of “Migrations,” a Carnegie Hall commission, that testified dramatically to Kotche’s admiration for minimalist composer Steve Reich with rhythms playfully produced on marimbas struck with fingertips and combs.

A hard-driving “Drumkit Quartet #1,” featuring a strobe-like animated film by Patrick Burns, closed the Kotche section of the show in memorable fashion.

The evening also featured a short piece by composer Steven Mackey, “Before It Is Time,” sung by Shara Worden, a performer and composer who works in rock and New Music like Kotche. (She performs in the rock world as My Brightest Diamond), in its New York premiere.

A 45-minute Worden song cycle, “Timeline” — commissioned jointly by Carnegie Hall and the University of Texas at Austin — closed out the evening. Worden sang and, at times played the guitar, a distracting move that took the focus off of the rhythms and interesting tonal qualities of the percussion, which included a mean steel drum number played by Quillen.

 

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Bangin’ it up at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival

To call Mark Stewart a guitarist would be a disservice. The multi-talented redhead leads participants at MASS MoCA in making some noise with some of his homemade tubes during the 2010 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

It’s a disservice to call Mark Stewart a guitarist. He leads a group at MASS MoCA in making some noise with some of his homemade tubes during the 2010 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

18 days of fantastic summer music in the Berkshires

Today’s subject: MASS MoCA.

I’ve written a lot lately about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, especially in the last month or two because of Wilco’s splendid Solid Sound Festival, held on the museum campus in North Adams, Mass., in late June.

When Wilco announced the inaugural Solid Sound back in 2010, I pretty much knew it would be great because I had already seen MASS MoCA host many, many editions of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival — colloquially known at Banglewood.

If you’ve been a regular reader of Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?, you already know something about the Bang on a Can program. This summer’s program is the 12th annual festival on the beautiful industrial MASS MoCA grounds.

But maybe you’re not a musician, or at least not one who wants to participate in the festival. How does this matter to you?

Rain on the MASS MoCA campus. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Rain on the MASS MoCA campus. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

That’s easy. Festival participants do their learning in public, putting on recitals six days a week and participating in a public Marathon concert on the final day. There’s also a performance of Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe‘s Steel Hammer, a full-length piece that weaves together the many variations of the John Henry folk legend.

So there’s plenty of professional-quality entertainment  for people who are just interested in listening and looking at some modern art. (Click through to the jump for schedule and ticketing information.)

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Go see Buke and Gase perform upstate

Buke and Gase opening for Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Gowanus, Brooklyn, on Jan 29, 2011. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Buke and Gase opening for Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Gowanus, Brooklyn, on Jan 29, 2011. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

See that rhyme in the headline? When was the last time you saw that on Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?

Unless memory fails, that would be never.

But that’s no excuse for not checking out Buke and Gase when they perform Thursday, July 11, in The Spiegeltent on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.

It’s a lovely shlep from New York City, straight up the Hudson River. You can even get there by train aboard Amtrak to the Rhinecliff station, but check the schedules closely. You won’t be able to get a train home to NYC until the next morning, as the last southbound trip departs at 5:06 p.m.

Buke and Gase are coming to The Spiegeltent at Bard College.

Buke and Gase are coming to The Spiegeltent at Bard College.

Buke and Gase (formerly Buke and Gass, but changed because Gass was too easily misinterpreted), is a duo originally from NYC who started playing their jury-rigged instruments (the Buke is an electrified six-string baritone ukulele and the gass/gase is a guitar/bass hybrid) and writing raucous songs that sound like nothing any other indie-rock band is doing — and in a good, infectious way.

If you’re a regular reader, you already know about B&G’s Arone Dyer (onetime bicycle mechanic who plays the Buke and foot percussion) and Aron Sanchez (who handles the Gase and more foot percussion). We’ve written about them a number of  times before. Read the previous posts here, here, here and here.

They’re still doing it, but they got a place upstate in Hudson awhile back, likely making this Bard gig a really easy commute for them.

Arcade Fire’s violinist Sarah Neufeld is joining them for this show.

The Bard Spiegeltent is a pretty cool space. If you don’t know what a one is, think of an old-fashioned carousel building with no carousel inside. Very festive, chill and laid-back.

INFO: 8:30 p.m., Thursday, July 11, 2013. The Spiegeltent, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. $20 online. Click here for more info and tickets.