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Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society at Union Pool

In early October, the Chicago-based multi-genre instrumental group Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society appeared on back-to-back nights at Union Pool in Williamsburg. Formed in 2010 and led by bassist and composer Abrams, a longtime veteran of Chicago’s creative and experimental scene, the group is continually shapeshifting, with ever changing lineups. The second night of the two, the group took the form of a quartet that included Abrams on guimbri (a Moroccan bass lute), Lisa Alvarado on processed harmonium, Jason Stein on bass clarinet, and Jim White of the Australian instrumental band Dirty Three on drums.

Music: A Subversive History

Songs about fucking and killing—that would have also been an appropriate subtitle for this scintillating new book from Ted Gioia. He’s already written three valuable books about the place of music in society and human experience, Healing Songs (2006), Works Songs (2006), and Love Songs: The Hidden history (2015). Music: A Subversive History builds on those by digging down into the fundamental nature of music, how it is made and how it affects us.

Music of Harry Partch, Vol. 3: Sonata Dementia, Bridge Records (2019)

Beyond the accuracy of the playing, the fidelity of the recording, and the delight of hearing Partch himself interpret a rare work, the album demonstrates how Partch’s music and legacy have persisted and changed in the 45 years since his death.

Artonov, Brussels, Belgium, 7th-13th October 2019

Artonov is a young festival, only in its fifth edition. Its central concept involves risk, with a strategy of marrying art forms that would most often be separated. Even if a pair of disciplines might have an established relationship, it’s unusual for three or four vocabularies to be actively intertwined in one ‘happening’—music, dance, painting, storytelling, photography, costume design, even culinary adventure.

In Conversation

BRYAN A. CRUMPLER with Jean Huets

Wind instruments tend to be slighted as solo instruments in classical repertoire; violin, piano, and cello more often take center stage. Bryan A. Crumpler’s clarinet playing would make you wish things were otherwise. His technical command of the instrument allows both intellect and emotion to sing; his sensitive and informed performances deliver composers' ideas and yearnings, sorrow, rage, and joy right into the spirit of the listener.

Goldberg Variations

Choreographer Trisha Brown once said of the artist Robert Rauschenberg, “[He] arrives fresh at the scene of the accident he’s about to create.” I ran that line by composer and clarinetist Ben Goldberg recently, because it reminded me of his approach.

Highly Selective Listings

Highly Selective Listings

Live performances around the city this month


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2019

All Issues