Brooklyn Rail Highly Selective Music Events
By the Editors
- September 7 - 11: The Loser at BAM. Opening this season’s BAM Next Wave Festival is the world premiere of this monodrama from composer David Lang. The story comes from Thomas Berhnard’s novel Der Untergeher, about an aspiring concert pianist who’s self-image is shattered when he meets Glenn Gould. The unusual staging, which sets baritone Rod Gilfry and pianist Conrad Tao on platforms, in space, at mezzanine level, promises an intense, fraught drama melded to Lang’s cool textures.
- September 8: Peter Gordon at the Old Stone House. The season opener for Dan Joseph’s Musical Ecologies series is a welcome performance from Downtown stalwart Gordon. He’ll be playing The Ten of Wands—more than a Tarot card, it is a solo tone poem for saxophone, keyboards, laptop, and spoken word. That promises some sort of alchemy.
- September 9: World Music Institute presents Mulatu Astatke at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fans of Jim Jarmusch will know Astatke’s theme to the director’s 2005 film Broken Flowers, while others might know him thanks to Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques compilations series. These are just a few highlights from a career spanning four decades. Astatke’s music is beautiful and hypnotically strange. The man they call the father of Ethio-jazz performs in the Met’s Temple of Dendur.
- September 13: Maya Beiser at (le) poisson rouge. Each new project from Beiser seems more accomplished and impressive than the last. Her new album, Tranceclassical (Innova) is a stunning and enveloping electro-acoustic reimagining of everything from Bach to Lou Reed on the cello. There’s no crossover pandering to what Beiser does, it’s new, exploratory, and gorgeous. This show is an album release event.
- September 13: The New York Philharmonic. While the semi-official Philharmonic opening night is not until the 175th anniversary gala concert on the 21st, their fourth annual Art of the Score series is an excellent place to start. Alan Gilbert’s final season has an underlying theme of the new world/New York, and the films with live scores are two of the greatest about New York City, West Side Story and Manhattan. Beyond Bernstein and Gershwin, take an evening or several this season to say goodbye to Gilbert, his departure will leave a gaping hole in the musical life of this city.
- September 13: Erased Architectures at ISSUE Project Room. Presented as part of the 2016 Brooklyn Book Festival, Erased Architectures turns William Burroughs’s writing into a live performance that celebrates his 100th anniversary. Cecilia Corrigan and James Ilgenfritz’s Anagram Ensemble will transform The Travel Agency is on Fire and Corrigan’s own Titanic and Cream, and Elliott Sharp and Steve Buscemi will present pieces from their new collaborative release, Rub Out the World, which combines Buscemi’s spoken word with Sharp’s guitar. Inimitable in every way.
- September 14: Charenee Wade: The Gil Scott-Heron Project at Jazz Standard. If you didn’t catch her at the 2016 Winter JazzFest, make a date to see this show. Wade’s 2015 album, Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson, is deep and beautiful, and live the music is funky, enthralling, and socially powerful.
- September 14: Thalia Zedek Band at Union Pool. Veteran guitarist Thalia Zedek releases a new record this month, Eve. Zedek’s music, rich with an enveloping texture of guitar, piano, viola, and drums, has a brash confidence that calls to mind PJ Harvey. But there’s a weary tension there, a dogged, insistent quality that is all Zedek’s own.
- September 15: Steve Reich: Variations at Miller Theatre. Was it really only ten years ago that the New York classical music world was turning out for Steve Reich’s 70th birthday celebration? Still vital, productive, and pushing his ideas forward, Reich’s music will be heard throughout the season. The year starts with Ensemble Signal, an increasingly important Reich interpreter, playing two 21st century works: Daniel Variations and You Are (Variations).
- September 15: Parlor Walls, Natural Velvet, Weeping Icon, Plaque at Aviv. Gimme Tinnitus presents a four-band bill at the Bushwick venue. Parlor Walls play a propulsive brand of post-punk. The band has a record out on Famous Swords that was recorded by Julian Fader and Ava Luna’s Carlos Hernandez. The touring act is Natural Velvet, from Maryland, whose frenzied appeal is in evidence on their tautological single “Love Is Love.”
- September 15 - 16, 18: ICE. International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a superstar new music group, is playing three free concerts of music from two of the most important and cutting-edge contemporary composers, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Michael Pisaro. At the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, they will premiere Thorvaldsdottir’s Sequences, and for the final two events at the Abrons Arts Center, they will play more new music from Thorvaldsdottir and Pisaro’s Ricefall(2), which is made by dropping grains of rice on objects. The new music events of the fall.
- September 16: Performance, Panel and Screening: Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient Works at the Museum of Arts and Design. MAD’s ongoing exhibit, Atmospheres for Enjoyment: Harry Bertoia’s Environment for Sound, culminates with a celebration of Bertoia’s sound sculptures through performances, films, and a panel discussion that with Val Bertoia, John Brien of Important Records, and performers Lizzi Bougatsos and Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, moderated by Rail music editor George Grella (read his look at the exhibit in the July-August Rail).
- September 16: Yarn/Wire at Pioneer Works. Yarn/Wire continues to quietly—or loudly, depending—go about expanding the repertoire of music available to the 21st-century percussion ensemble. The show on the 16th, presented by Blank Forms, will be the latest installment in the group’s ongoing Currents series, for which the four-piece ensemble performs works composed specifically for their unique instrumentation—two pianos and two percussionists.
- September 18: Angel Olsen at Warsaw. Angel Olsen releases her third record this month, My Woman. The quiet folk of her immediately compelling debut Half Way Home and the subtle intensity of its follow-up, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, are indicative of what My Woman contains only in terms of quality, as Olsen continues to show herself to be a versatile artist across a range of genres.
- September 19 - 25: Festival of New Trumpet Music FONT MUSIC 2016: Nexus (various venues). Jazz, improvised music, and beyond, channeled through some of the finest trumpet players on the scene. As usual, there’s a tremendous variety of styles to hear, from John McNeil’s introspective chamber voice to Wadada Leo Smith’s combination of abstraction and charisma. Don’t miss the chance to hear the unsung and absolutely brilliant Jason Palmer, playing at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on the 21st.
- September 23: Myriam Gendron at The Sump. Myriam Gendron’s Not So Deep as a Well was one of the best albums of 2014. The Montreal singer set poems by Dorothy Parker to plaintive melodies and deceptively simple guitar accompaniment. Gendron doesn’t get down to New York often. If you miss this show, book a train to Quebec.
- September 23 - 25: 2nd Annual Brooklyn Americana Music Festival. Get your twang on with the almost unbelievable number of sixty(!) different bands playing throughout DUMBO and at Jalopy in Red Hook. A sample of some of the acts shows Queen Esther, the Chapin Sisters, Hubby Jenkins, Bobtown, and Casey Neill.
- September 23: Brooklyn Raga Massive’s John Coltrane Birthday Celebration at Littlefield. The date marks what would have been Coltrane’s 90th birthday, and Brooklyn Raga Massive makes a case for what might have been. The combination of his improvising style and spiritual search was already pointing Coltrane toward drone-based music, so speculative explorations like this are both appropriate and exciting. What better way to celebrate the man than to keep searching—with special guests harpist Brandee Young and the great pianist Marc Carey.
- September 27: ENTRANCE at Union Pool. ENTRANCE’s Guy Blakeslee writes in sweeping, cinematic strokes—you can call it the Arcade Fire school of songwriting; here, the grand gesture receives its due. ENTRANCE has a new EP, Promises, out on Thrill Jockey.
- September 28 - October 2: Momenta Festival. This is the second year for the Momenta Quartet’s tightly programmed and aesthetically expansive festival. Like last year, the concerts mix recent and world premiere pieces with classics from Janacek, Beethoven, Grieg, and Ysaÿe. Soprano Tony Arnold, not just a great singer but a great performer, will be one of the illustrious guests, which highlights the one difficulty the festival poses: how to decide between a world premiere, Somei Satoh and Toru Takemitsu, Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts, or Dutilleux’s Ainsi la Nuit? Eh, go see everything.