Dear readers, 

We had a light posting week due to the holidays but the news didn't slow down. Pauline Oliveros, one of music's great experimental composers and accordionists died Friday at the age of 84. As it happens, I attended a concert by Jason Moran and the Bandwagon at the Village Vanguard last night and had the privilege of hearing their tribute to her work. Moran, a virtuoso pianist and McArthur Genius Grant award winner, played a score he described as a result of the deep listening she had taught the band. You could see that influence in their piece, which began with silence interspersed with long drawn out notes from the piano that seemed to hang in the air. The pace combined with a kind of force of sound compelled listening. Gradually it built up to a melody where every chord played matched a bass and drum line created by the band members.

Overall, I felt like I was listening to a cubist painting. Lines and rhythms were layered on top of one another as if collaged. It was easily the most visual music I'd heard since Einstein on the Beach.

Oliveros has just as important a place in visual art history. Sadly, I have only seen Oliveros play once, and it was about 15 years ago at Art in General. She was incredible. A band of collaborators brought in soup cans, toys, and kitchen appliances, all of which they were expected to play. It could have been terrible, but as with Moran, every participant was so deeply attuned to what the others were doing, nothing sounded off or out of step. In fact, it was one of the most gripping musical experiences I've ever witnessed. The improvised score seemed to have three parts, each building into a crescendo of wave like sounds. When I left, I felt like I had been lifted out of my body and into some other stateless world. My hope is that this is where Oliveros now lives.    


PS We'll be in Miami next week. Come visit us at Satellite! Look for our fair coverage! 

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