Tag Archives: Yuka Honda

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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Great news: As predicted, Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival returns to MASS MoCA in 2011

When Wilco arrived at MASS MoCA last summer, the band even took over the museum's sign. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Fantastic festival can only get better

We don’t like to brag (well, okay, sometimes we do), but Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? predicted that Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival would become an annual event — even before this year’s inaugural gathering wrapped up.

Wilco HQ announced the news with an email this morning:

Greetings and Happy Holidays. We’ve got a last bit of news before heading home for the break. The big story here is that Solid Sound 2011 is officially ON and happening the weekend of June 24-26, once again at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. if you were there last year, we know you’ll be back. If not, well, this year you should know better. Ticket information and more will be announced on January 18. So keep an eye and ear out.

Safe travels and sweet holidays to you all. Thanks again for another great year in Wilcoworld. We’ll see you in 2011 with what will undoubtedly be a whole bunch of news regarding Wilco tours, records, the festival and so on. Cheers.

the HQ Staff

This years three-day event was held  in mid-August. It gave thousands of fans of all ages the run of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in the Berkshires town of North Adams, Mass. Participants got to hear lots of music from Wilco, the side projects of band members like Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, their friends, and got to sample comedians and films along with the spectacular art on the gritty former factory campus. It was well run, well curated and surprisingly chill.

The music was great, the scheduling tight without being overwhelming, the facilities were superb and the food and drink never seemed to run out. Everything worked together to make it one of the best and most memorable festivals around.

Wilco perfoms on the main stage in Joe's Field at MASS MoCA.

Museum management was thrilled to have as many as 5,000 well-behaved patrons on site at once, and obviously saw the festival as something worth bringing back. Museum Director Joe Thompson was singing the praises of the event all weekend, and made no secret of the fact that he supported the idea of doing it again in 2011.

And Cline brimmed with excitement about the festival when we spoke with him at Joe’s Pub in New York City, where he and fiancee Yuka Honda were checking out Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl‘s new project, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Next year’s festival is earlier in the summer — June instead of August. So save the date and stay tuned for an update in a month.

Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl get a Joe’s Pub homecoming

The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl) at Joe's Pub on Thursday, Aug. 19. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Enthusiastic reception for sean and charlotte’s band and preview of charlotte’s other project: the duo Kemp and Eden

It was a lovely, silly, weird scene at Joe’s Pub early Friday morning when The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, the band comprising  Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, performed what Sean described as the last stop on their “international tour.” (Though it sounds like his idea of international mostly involves going out of state!)

Sean Lennon mugs during his Joe's Pub set.

Lovely because their low-key chamber pop was full of beautiful melodies, deceptively good playing and smart lyrics.

Charlotte Kemp Muhl of The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

Silly because of the duo’s deftly goofy banter and off-kilter titles.

And weird, or maybe just surreal, for a lot of reasons. For instance, Sean’s ex-girlfriend (and current business partner), Yuka Honda, formerly of Cibo Matto, was front and center in the audience. At her side was Nels Cline, the awesome Wilco guitarist and The Nels Cline Singers frontman, who also happens to be Yuka’s fiance. Sean invited Nels onstage to sit in on one Saber Tooth Tiger song, and nearly sat in Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?’s lap while briefing Nels.

Click through to the jump for news of Yoko Ono and a look at Charlotte’s other band! Continue reading

Artist as audience: Yuka Honda

After wrapping up a guest stint with The Nels Cline Singers at the Solid Sound Festival on Sunday afternoon, electronica/keyboard whiz Yuka Honda headed to Joe’s Field at MASS Moca to check her smartphone and then listen to Jeff Tweedy‘s wonderfully mellow solo set.

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