55: MUSIC AND DANCE IN CONCRETE
ABOUT 55: MUSIC AND DANCE IN CONCRETE
This modular, site-specific work was designed around and recorded at historic Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington. The piece is grounded by an electronic score and comprised of 110 fragments: 55 composed short motifs for chamber music and 55 pieces from various invited improvisers. As a whole, they highlight the unique visual and acoustic elements of the Fort’s architecture, from its concrete bunkers to the massive cistern. The space itself shaped the piece from foundation to performance. 55 is a collaboration of composer Wayne Horvitz, Yukio Suzuki (choreography and dance), Yohei Saito (video artist) and Tucker Martine (producer/ engineer).
55: Music and Dance in Concrete's website. Purchase.
WISH THE CHILDREN WOULD COME ON HOME
As of May 13th The Westerlies officially released their debut album Wish The Children Would Come On Home and is now available for purchase. The album highlights 11 of Wayne Horvitz’s compositions, beautifully re-imagined by the Westerlies featuring Willem de Koch (trombone), Andy Clausen (trombone), Zubin Hensler (trumpet) and Riley Mulherkar (trumpet).
In early 2013 The Westerlies were approached by their Seattle-based teacher, friend, and mentor, Wayne Horvitz, to create a record of his music. They wholeheartedly agreed; all four of them were already very familiar with his body of work and had played in a number of his ensembles. After exploring his prolific output of the past thirty years, they selected a range of jazz tunes, film music, and classical chamber pieces, and chose to record them on location during their annual summer residency in the San Juan Islands of Washington.
The album is available for download on iTunes.
“One of the more remarkable albums to cross my path this spring....an impressive feat from almost any angle...Take note of these players. You’ll be hearing more from them soon.” - Nate Chinen, JazzTimes
“Wish The Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz means that the Westerlies have arrived and are facing a bright future.” John Garratt, PopMatters
“Wish The Children Would Come On Home is a lot of things, but first and foremost it should be noted that it is just a lovely listen. It is that rare combination of approachable and unusual that can challenge listeners who want to be challenged and entertain those who don’t.” - Kurt Gottschalk, NYC Jazz Record
“The Westerlies capture the alien warmth and touching soulfulness inherent in so much of Horvitz’s music, of a soundtrack orphaned from the movie conceived in dream and never put to film…An added bonus are the four improvisatory tracks, for which Wayne Horvitz himself performs on. Just a beautiful album. Highly Recommended.” Dave Sumner, Wondering Sound
ABOUT THE WESTERLIES
The Westerlies are a New York based brass quartet comprised of four friends from Seattle, Washington. Avid explorers of cross-genre territory, The Westerlies are a collectively run ensemble dedicated to the cultivation of a new brass quartet repertoire that exists in the ever-narrowing gap between American folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock. The Westerlies have premiered over 40 original works for brass quartet since their inception in 2011, and crafted an approach that Dave Douglas had described as “Swinging, grooving, clean and tricky playing. This is the group that, once you’ve heard them, you’ll realize they always needed to exist. Unique, original, exciting. And simply killing in the best sense.”
SOME PLACES ARE FOREVER AFTERNOON (11 PLACES FOR RICHARD HUGO)
Some Places Are Forever Afternoon, a set of 11 compositions by Wayne Horvitz based on the poems of Richard Hugo will have its live premiere in the fall of 2015. The work, written for sextet, will be recorded early in 2015 and released on the Songlines label in May of 2015.
Horvitz will compose, record and perform a suite of eleven pieces, with each composition based on a different poem. Using a combination of two long standing quartets, The Gravitas Quartet and Sweeter Than The Day, the suite will be performed and recorded by Ron Miles (trumpet), Peggy Lee (cello), Sara Schoenbeck (bassoon), Wayne Horvitz (piano, electronics), Timothy Young (guitar), Keith Lowe (bass) and Eric Eagle (drums).
Beginning in the summer of 2014 Horvitz will travel throughout the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Western Montana and visit some of the people and places that inspired Hugo. In August he will compose the suite while in residency at the Montalvo Center For the Arts. The work will be primarily acoustic, with some electronics, and will include both notation and improvisation.
Follow the project's development's at its blog.
Richard Hugo, born in White Center, Seattle, lived throughout the NW and finally settled In Missoula, MT where he taught poetry at the University of Montana. He died in 1982. He is the inspiration for a plethora of important writers of the West, including James and Lois Welch, William Kittredge, France McCue and countless others. In 1997 the Richard Hugo House in Seattle was founded in his memory.
Hugo, simply known as “Dick” by his students and friends, loved to visit small towns and odd places throughout the NW, from West Marginal Way to La Push and the Union Bar Grill in rural Montana. Some of his favorite past times included exploring old abandoned houses and buildings with his companions, drinking beer, hiking around the NW and fishing. He would sit in a café or bar, and then return home to write. His brilliant set of essays, about writing, The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing (1979) reflected his approach. He was a great lover of music, and jazz in particular.
THE ROYAL ROOM
Wayne's club project, The Royal
Room is open, and the opening weekend was quite a blowout. Read about it in the
With four new releases in 2008, Wayne's CDs have been getting a lot of critical
attention. Here are a few examples of recent CD reviews:
Jan P. Dennis,
Joe Hill, 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voices and Soloist was released on
New World Records on
April 1, 2008. From the liner notes by Paul de Barros:
Perhaps the best way to characterize Wayne Horvitz's Joe Hill: 16 Actions for
Orchestra, Voice, and Soloist, based on the life and times of the legendary labor
activist and organizer is as a radio play that tells the story of a man's life in
words, instrumental music and songs. Like a song cycle, Joe Hill incorporates
much previously-written material (nearly all of it re-harmonized). There are
songs by Hill himself, such as The Rebel Girl and There is Power in the Union,
but also by others, including the folk poem The Lumberjack's Prayer, Mississippi
John Hurt's Spike Driver's Blues, and an old English street
cry, Chairs to Mend. It also employs spoken word, including Joe Hill's
famous Last Will and Testament, plus words used as narration and dramatic
dialogue. But song cycles don't usually include ravishingly beautiful
stretches of chamber music, much less a completely open line in the score for an
improvising guitarist in this case, the most influential one of our time, Bill
Frisell. This Rubik's cube of jazz, folk, classical and popular music is
strikingly elegiac and autumnal in tone, more requiem and lament than celebration
or call to action. This is appropriate to its theme of martyrdom, though
there are also many exhilarating, jaunty, and humorous sections. Apart from
classical music and the blues, its' other major influences are what has come to
be called Americana, or to be more specific, Appalachian music's nasal
vocals, affection for open fifths, ambiguity between major and minor thirds, and
the jazzy Broadway writing of Leonard Bernstein, particularly his penchant for
rapid time-signature changes. Horvitz has chosen to tell Hill's story in
music that is both complex and direct, ironic and sentimental, dissonant and
gorgeous, popular and artful, and that relishes a well-wrought song as much as
A Walk In the Dark is the first studio release from
Sweeter Than the Day since its'
eponymous CD from 2002. Wayne Horvitz notes, I've been wrapped up in
a lot of other works, including some large ensemble projects, an opera of sorts,
and CDs including Solos and two CDs from my other ensemble,
The Gravitas Quartet. That being
said, Sweeter Than the Day has been consistently touring and performing, and remains
one of my favorite projects of all time.
The CD features 11 new originals, showcasing Sweeter Than the Day's signature
blend of Horvitz' unique and understated harmonic language, Tim Young's brilliant
and beautiful solos, and the group interplay that the band is so well known
for. "This is more of a playing record", says Horvitz. "It
isn't live, but it's a lot closer to that feeling than Forever or Sweeter
Than the Day - a little looser and a little edgier: it's got more up-tempo tunes
and we stretch more. Tim does some things that just knock my socks off. We
actually recorded this the same week I recorded the new Gravitas CD, and we do three
or four of the same tunes. The contrast is fantastic between the two bands, and
I am blessed to have not one, but two ensembles bringing so much life to my
Some of that edge can be heard on The 29th Day of May, despite its gentle
theme, as well as on A Moment for Andrew (for pianist Andrew Hill),
and Between The Floors, both featuring a mutated swing feel driven by newest
member Eric Eagle (drums). Other highlights include Tim Young's
blues groove on A Walk in the Rain, two gorgeous ballads, Good Shepherd
and Undecided, and the lovely Waltz from Woman of Tokyo, excerpted from
a score for the silent film of the same name by the iconic Japanese director Yasujiro
VARMINT came into being on New Years Eve 2005 as a one time only covers project. It
featured Robin Holcomb and Danny Barnes as the principal singers,
along with Tucker Martine - drums, Tim Young - guitar, Steve Moore
- wurlitzer piano, Wayne Horvitz - Hammond B-3, and Keith Lowe - bass.
Shortly thereafter, Tia Freeborn (ex-O.K. Hotel) opened a small bar
called Lottie's Lounge in
Columbia City. Lottie's was just a few minutes from the home of Horvitz and Holcomb,
who approached Tia with the idea of leaving the Hammond B-3 there and doing a weekly
gig each Tuesday.
Shows began with the members of Zony Mash/Sweeter Than the Day, in addition to
Holcomb on vocals and Jon Hyde on pedal steel, and lasted for
almost two years. Each week featured special guest vocalists and the band maintained
a strict rule of "no original material, and no rehearsals." Guests over the
years included Reggie Garrett, Karen Pernick, The Tallboys,
Dave Keenan, Nova Devonie, Arni Adler, Grant Dermody,
Orville Johnson, Laura Veirs, Joe Miller, Casey MacGill,
Del Ray, Garfield High Horns, Jed Jedrzejewski, Jim
Burns, Paul Hiraga, Terri Moeller, and many more, including two
Christmas shows where the entire bar sang along.
A typical night with VARMINT might include renditions by Holcomb of Black
Jack Davey and Cluck Old Hen (traditional), Mister Man
in the Moon (Michael Hurley), Enlightenment (Sun Ra),
Dues (Ronee Blakley from the movie Nashville), the Al Green version of
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams) and Close To You
(Burt Bacharach), with Tim Young singing Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) and
It Won't Be Long (Johnny Paycheck), as well as Jon Hyde singing
Last Date (Floyd Cramer) and rippin' through the instrumental Bar
Hoppin'. Dave Keenan would sit in on Reuben's Train (trad),
Laura Veirs would sing Frieght Train (Elizabeth Cotton), and Arni Adler
would guest on If He Swings on a String (made famous by Marlene
In the summer of 2006, the core band went to Montana to record at Snowghost
Studios with engineer Brett Allen. In just 2 1/2 days, the band burned
through 20 tunes with a "catch it live while it's hot" attitude. With very
few fixes or overdubs, these tracks, mixed over a year later, were released in
February, 2008 with a guest-filled CD release extravaganza at the