New Yorks new and contemporary-classical music scenes are abuzz in anticipation of a bevy of May events, culminating at months end with the annual Bang on a Can marathon at the World Financial Center. One way of looking ahead is to glance back at early spring festivals and concerts, to appreciate the local variety and vivacity and to stoke anticipation of more to come.
For thirteen years the Vision Festival, which I am proud to be a participant in, has led a nomadic existence. Wandering from one venue to another, this brave band of Visionarieswith the stalwart Patricia Nicholson (dancer/choreographer and wife of the great bassist/composer William Parker) at the helm and a shifting cast of characters amongst the faithfulhas plodded through the institutionalized, gentrified, money-hungry waters of the Lower East Side, bringing with it always a sense of unity, community, creativity, and artistic integrity.
Ryan Lott is a classically trained composer and pianist who has brought the orchestration of minimalism and chant to a new stage: a dingy TriBeCa rock venues basement room, where the symphony is formed electronically, and melds seamlessly to hip-hop breakdowns with the backing of a live rock band. This project is Son Lux, and the record recently released under that moniker, titled At War with Walls and Mazes, explores the possibilities of chant and meditation.
To call NYC-based Ambulance LTD unstable would be an understatement. Guitarist/lead singer Marcus Congleton has watched a procession of bandmates come and go, with everyone but Congleton himself eventually packing it in. Somehow, in the midst of all this, the band and its first album (2004s LP) have remained popular, but after four years, people have started wondering when (or if) they could expect more.
Swiss pianist Nik Bartsch and his neojazz-funk ensemble Ronin play music unlike anyone in recent memory.
To my critical mind, appreciative of both classical music and its modernist derivations, rock at its best is limited music but great theater.
Andy Friedman and his band the Other Failures have become a fixture in the Brooklyn country scene, bringing Friedmans offbeat poetry and dirty shuffle to bars all over the city, in particular Petes Candy Store, where they recently finished up a seven-month run. They are about to embark on a two-week tour through the Midwest with Blue Mountain, a Mississippi-based country rock trio, which will end at the Luna Lounge in Williamsburg on May 10th.