Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Nick Didkovsky's "Now I Do This" and "Screaming Into the Yawning Vacuum of Victory"

There are certain guitarists I always look to when it's original ideas and fresh approaches I'm craving. Nick Didkovsky is one such axe-slinger. Since I first encountered him via his $100 Guitar Project, I've been amazed and enthralled by the prog rock extremity of his work with Doctor Nerve, his evocations of the hard rock I grew up with via Pretties for You NYC (his homage to the first, undervalued Alice Cooper LP) and his Tony Iommi guitar lessons on YouTube, the father-son death metal of Vomit Fist, and the crushingly heavy textures of free metal duo CHORD. On his two latest releases, available on CD via his Punos Music label or digitally via Bandcamp, Didkovsky looks both backward (to his first solo record, originally released on vinyl in 1982) and forward (through duets with his former Fred Frith Guitar Quartet bandmate Mark Howell, recorded in a couple of quick sessions back in September).

Now I Do This had its genesis in Didkovsky's student days, when he found the compositional freedom he sought in electronic music. Here Didkovsky, noted for his six-string prowess, employs the full array of implements available to the late 20th century composer: prepared guitar, tape-manipulated voices and found sounds, synths, percussion, and homemade instruments like the awesomely abrasive nail violin. (Listening, I am reminded of the experimental musician who told me, "Anything is an instrument if you stick a contact mic on it.") With these tools, Didkovsky produced atmospheric soundscapes that engage the ear and evoke unlikely emotion. 

The epic, 15-minute "Silesian Winter" is the album's tour de force, wending its way through shifting moods and textures. The four bonus tracks, all unearthed on ancient cassettes and previously unheard, range from an early version of album opener "Flykiller" (sort of an atonal "Peter Gunn" variant) to "Mokele Mbembe," in which wind and strings as well as percussion perform rhythmic functions. In this context, the tonality of "Chanedra," the earliest piece here (1980), is almost shocking, starting out like a ruminative King Crimson outtake before venturing into turbulent territory Doctor Nerve would explore more fully a couple of years hence.

Around the time Didkovsky was creating Now I Do This, Mississippi-born Mark Howell was arriving in New York, where he formed avant-rock band Better Than Death with bass clarinetist Michael Lytle (also a Didkovsky collaborator in Doctor Nerve). Howell went on to co-lead the bands Zero Pop and Timber, and to play alongside Didkovsky in the original lineup of the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet (one section of whose "The As Usual Dance Towards the Other Flight to What is Not" is reprised here) before embarking on an academic career. The two men reconvened when Howell visited NYC this past September, bringing a sheaf of compositional ideas, a couple of Les Pauls, Marshalls, and 1x12 cabs (but no effects) into Didkovsky's studio for two whirlwind afternoon sessions.

The result, Screaming Into the Yawning Vacuum of Victory, is a collection of 21 miniatures (the two longest pieces are under two minutes, the shortest 21 seconds) that recall Trout Mask Replica in their knotty contrapuntal complexity. On "Twitch Code," f'rinstance, the twin guitars negotiate a steeplechase of choppy chords and staccato lines. On the two opening tracks, Didkovsky and Howell vocalize in unison; the lyrics to "Fat Dad, Fat Son" are particularly resonant as the record drops in a week when the trials of Rittenhouse, and Ahmaud Arbery's killers, are winding up. 

As one might expect from an electronic composer, Didkovsky views mixing and sequencing as crucial components in the record making process. His attention to the flow of events conjoins these units of experience in mini-suites; the one that includes "Automagically," "Luscious," and the aforementioned "The As Usual Dance..." is a particular favorite at mi casa. The closing "Heat," with its droning, pulsing streams of feedback, just skirts the domain that the ongoing CHORD project inhabits. I'll be using this CD to warm the house this winter.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Leo Smith's "A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday" and "The Chicago Symphonies"

Since retiring from academia in 2013 and returning to New Haven, trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith -- who turns 80 on December 18 -- has been in an upsurge of creativity, much of it documented on the Finnish Tum Records label. Smith's latest Tum releases include a trio with two distinguished alumni -- leaders in their own right -- of his Golden Quartet, and a four-disc set of symphonies celebrating the contributions of Chicagoans (and figures associated with the Windy City) to music, the other arts, and social progress.

Like Miles and Don Cherry, Smith says a lot very simply through his open or muted horn. On A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday and The Chicago Symphonies, his compositions unfold in accordance with their melodic contours, rather than any imperative to forward motion (which I remember someone in the '70s telling me was the very definition of jazz). This use of silence and space to evoke stillness harkens back to his 1969 compositions "The Bell" and "Silence," recorded with Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins. His present day collaborators are attuned to these requirements, and to each other.

I saw Jack DeJohnette, who drums on both new releases, with the Gateway Trio in '75, and he was one of my favorite bandleaders of the '70s and '80s with his Directions, New Directions, and Special Edition outfits. It's easy to forget that he hails from Chicago and was associated with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) before leaving town for historic stints with Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. As if to remind us, DeJohnette released Made In Chicago, a festival recording with AACM eminences Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, and Henry Threadgill (whose alto and flute grace three of the Chicago Symphonies) in 2015. On the trio album's title track, it's intriguing to hear this master of groove and swing inhabiting a space that's less concerned with pulse than with tone and texture. DeJohnette's "Song for World Forgiveness" adds some rustic lyricism to the proceedings, while the closing group improv "Rocket" finds him on more familiar rhythmic ground.

Pianist Vijay Iyer, the third member of the trio, first appeared on my radar a decade or so ago in the cooperative trio Fieldwork with Tyshawn Sorey. Besides acoustic piano, his instrumental array includes organ and electronics. (Like Craig Taborn and Jason Moran, he's of a generation that teethed on hip-hop as well as jazz and fusion.) Iyer was in the Golden Quartet lineup that included drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, featured in Jacques Goldstein's documentary Eclipse. In that setting, he played both Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett to the leader's Miles. Here, on his composition "Deep Time No. 1," Iyer creates an electronic bed, including a sampled Malcolm X speech, on which to overlay shimmering electric piano washes and drum clatter. On Smith's dedication to original Golden Quartet pianist Anthony Davis, Iyer bears the weight of the music's harmonic density.

Inspired by Don Cherry's Symphony for ImprovisersThe Chicago Symphonies is the second outing by Smith's Great Lakes Quartet: Smith, DeJohnette, Threadgill, and a frequent Smith collaborator, bassist John Lindberg. It's a pleasure to hear Pulitzer Prize-winner Threadgill, who's led some of the most important bands of the era (including Air, the Henry Threadgill Sextett, Very Very Circus, and Zooid) interpreting another composer's scores. The sound of the two men's horns blending their voices and trading solos is a delight, as is the elastic rhythmic flow Lindberg and DeJohnette produce together. The contrast between Smith's long-tone melodies and busy accompaniments harkens back to Ornette but goes much further in its development.

Like much of Smith's later output -- beginning with the 2012 masterwork Ten Freedom Summers -- the symphonies' programmatic content displays a concern with history that provides valuable context for the music. (For interested listeners who are unfamiliar with the AACM saga, a perusal of George Lewis' A Power Stronger Than Itself might be useful.) The movements of the four symphonies contain dedications, sometimes to multiple individuals, sometimes to participants in this recording. That's not to say that these pieces literally recapitulate their honorees' accomplishments; for instance, the fourth movement of the Gold Symphony, dedicated to Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Lil Hardin Armstrong, and Baby Dodds, is hardly an homage to the Hot Fives and Sevens. Rather, the various movements are Smith's responses to the achievements of his forebears and contemporaries, and their ongoing importance, now and in the future.

It's that focus on futurity that makes the dedication of the Sapphire Symphony -- with a relative newcomer, reedman Jonathan Haffner, performing ably in place of Threadgill -- to Presidents Lincoln and Obama seem so poignant. Reading the texts to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Obama's 2015 remarks at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, both of which are reproduced in the booklet that accompanies this set (Tum knows how to package this music in a form worthy of its quality and importance), one can't help but reflect on how hard-won are the freedom struggles in this country, and how tenuous are their gains without our continual vigilance.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Re-Velvetized


1) I still haven't seen the Todd Haynes Velvet Underground documentary. I'm not doing movie theaters because Covid, and we already have enough streaming services. A friend has offered to hook me up, and I'll probably avail myself of their offer. But I already know I'm a terrible fan. When the Stooges reunited, bigger Stooge fans than I informed me I wasn't a real fan because I opted to play Stoogeaphilia shows over taking advantage of offers to see the reunion band. But I'd rather play than see anybody.

2) That said, I enjoyed seeing all the Velvet love on social media in the run-up to the Haynes doco's release. While reading all the posts, I was reminded that I've never owned VU or Another View. The Velvets' original discography (including 1969 Live, which was my go-to for years when I wanted to hear them) seemed sufficient. But I started trawling online and realized that vinyl copies of those two '80s releases now go for more than my $20 ceiling. I wound up ponying up 30 bucks for a copy of the Australian What Goes On box set even though the more complete Peel Slowly and See was on offer for the same price...because the latter duplicates more stuff I already have, and includes more stuff that I know I'd only listen to once (e.g., Lou's Dylanesque songwriter demos). The fan-compiled What Goes On serves as a neat audio verite document of the Velvets, and includes everything I'd want from VU and Another View except "Temptation Inside Your Heart," a joke about doowop that is the source of the line "Electricity comes from other planets." I'll probably listen to this as much as I have the complete Matrix thing.

3) Re-skimming Clinton Heylin's From the Velvets to the Voidoids (the revised edition with the uber bitchy "Postlude"), I realized there's a song from the Nico era that I never heard -- actually two. Listening to the bootleg of the '66 Factory rehearsals, I discovered the song Heylin mentioned ("Miss Joanie Lee") is pretty lousy, as is the one he missed ("Get It On Time"). The jam room Velvets sound like any other shitty garage band screwing around with I-IV-V s and one chord drones, although it's interesting to hear them transposing keys while Lou tries to teach Nico how to sing "There She Goes Again." Unessential, but I'm glad to have it.

4) When Stoogeaphilia expanded our brief from the Stooges to the whole period covered in Velvets to Voidoids, I thought surely we might do a VU tune or two. But the bass player had a college roommate who insisted on not only listening to the Velvets all the time, but lecturing on why they were important. So no dice. A few weeks ago, I was dicking around with Blood Ulmer's guitar tunings (which use lots of unisons -- like Lou's "ostrich" tuning -- and 4ths) and stumbled on the melody of "All Tomorrow's Parties," one of my favorite songs of all ti-i-ime. I started posting vids of some Velvet Underground songs, which I mostly played off the top of my head after maybe a cursory review of form or lyrics (hence the mistakes). I usually don't watch these things once they're done, but the one for "The Gift" -- a song which figured in a bad acid trip I had when I was 16, rendering me unable to listen to White Light/White Heat for decades  -- is an exception. Contrary to Heylin, the instrumental part isn't "Booker T," a I-IV-V; it's "Gloria," with feedback. I'd still rather play than see anybody.

ADDENDUM: Finally saw the Haynes doco. Wow. He really did them justice. It helped that they were well documented on film, and he must have had a big budget for clearances. Still, he knew the people to talk to and the questions to ask. And his love for the band and the independent cinema of the time shines through. Neck-and-neck with Alex Winter's recent Zappa (sorry, Lou) as the best rockumentary ever.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson's "Searching for the Disappeared Hour"

Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time. 
- Jean-Michel Basquiat

When last heard from here, the guitarist-composer-bandleader Mary Halvorson capped an extraordinary series of albums for Firehouse 12 with an outing by her Code Girl group that featured the surprising and welcome return to recording of Robert Wyatt. That outfit, sans Wyatt, tours Europe next month. Meanwhile, she's back with a second release from her duo with Swiss-born/Brooklyn-based pianist-composer Sylvie Courvoisier, produced by the indefatigable David Breskin and due for release October 29 on Pyroclastic

On Crop Circles, their previous collaboration from 2017, Courvoisier and Halvorson adapted material from their past for the duo format. For their new, pandemic-inspired album, Searching for the Disappeared Hour, they created brand new material, both composed and improvised. It's a rewarding spin whether you're focused on the makers' craft, or prefer to spend an hour immersed in its sonic bath, enjoying the sensations they created.

The opening "Golden Proportion" gives you an idea of what they're up to: a collage of embryonic ideas that sounds for all the world like lovely Ludwig Van's "Moonlight Sonata" colliding headlong with the contents of Mary Halvorson's melodic unconscious, replete with her signature pitch-bending disorientation. "Lulu's Second Theorem," dedicated to Courvoisier's cat, demonstrates that the duo can weave complex melodic patterns without stepping on each other's toes. The ebb and flow of Halvorson's "Torrential" reflects the way social isolation during the pandemic has altered people's time perception. 

The guitarist dips into her bag of electronic tricks to offset the harmonic density of Courvoisier's "Mind Out of Time," while on the pianist's "The Disappearing Hour," they navigate a succession of dynamic shifts. On my favorite composition here, "Gates and Passes" -- the title perhaps anticipating the resumption of touring for musicians -- Courvoisier unfolds an elegant melody while Halvorson skirts the edges of tonality around it.

Of the improvised pieces, "Four-Point Play" is an angular, impressionistic study, with Courvoisier delving into her arsenal of extended techniques. "Moonbow," inspired by a mistake Halvorson made during the recording of the previous album that the musicians decided to develop, opens dissonantly before moving to more harmonious ground. The shimmering spaciousness of "Party Dress," captured while the musicians weren't aware they were recording, shows the level of melodic invention that occurs whenever they are in a room listening to each other.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Android Trio's "Other Worlds"

This great record arrived when I was in the midst of a King Crimson binge, contemplating the ways in which a band that quite frankly scared the bejeezus out of me when I was young could have evolved, in its founder's maturity, into a sterling repertory unit. Being of A Certain Age myself, I realize that there's no dishonor in that. In fact, the couple of shows I witnessed by the Grandmothers of Invention a few years ago were more enjoyable than most of the actual Zappa shows I attended back in the '70s because the Grandmothers were playing a hipper setlist, focusing on challenging material rather than crowd pleasing dreck. The second time I saw the Grandmothers, the guitar slot was occupied by a gangly, earnest redhead called Max Kutner, whose playing was noteworthy for its refusal to ape Zappa's tone and feel. "Hmm," I thought, "an individuated musical intelligence," and filed the information away.

Last year, when pandemic isolation gave me time to concentrate on guitar practice to an extent I hadn't in decades, I started investigating the music of Captain Beefheart as playing forms rather than sonic bath, and first encountered the YouTube presence of Eric Klerks, who'd played guitar in Beefheart's reformed Magic Band from 2009 to 2017. (He's heard here on bass, and holds the distinction of having served as the great Charlie Haden's personal assistant after taking his classes at Cal Arts.) While I never got to enjoy the 21st century Magic Band in person, I  discovered that there's extensive video documentation of that outfit from their European tours. Eric proved to be a worthy role model in approaching what he refers to as "the high desert avant-garde," an exuberant and skillful performer who finds the joy in whatever he's playing. By 2015, he'd been joined in the Magic Band by Kutner and Andrew Niven, a drummer whose jazz fluency sometimes seemed stifled by the constraints of faithfully rendering Beefheart's tunes. The three formed Android Trio after playing a one off gig together while the Magic Band was touring Australia in 2014. Their debut CD, Road Songs, was released in 2017.

Last year, the trio reconvened remotely from their respective Covid shelters to record 12 new songs with help from heavy friends, including co-producer Mike Keneally. Keneally's well-known to Zappaphiles as the essential utility muso in FZ's 1988 touring band, key members of which recently opened for King Crimson on tour under the rubric "The Zappa Band." He's also served as "stunt guitarist's stunt guitarist" in the bands of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, and was one of the musicians behind the curtain in the touring version of the band Dethklok from TV's Metalocalypse. With those credentials, it's easy to forget that Keneally was a keyboard player first, and that's mostly what he does here, with the exception of a whammy bar-warped solo on Niven's Zappa-esque "Fanfare." (Unlike Frank, Keneally solos over changes. If you haven't seen the insane video of him playing FZ's "Inca Roads" SOLO ACOUSTIC, you owe it to yourself. Speaking of which, Android Trio's own YouTube channel contains lockdown vids of tunes by Beefheart, Chick Corea, Stevie Wonder, and Genesis that will give the uninitiated an idea of what they're about in terms of influences and approach.)

In exploring Other Worlds -- for that's the name Android Trio's bestowed on their sophomore outing -- I'll take a page from Art Forum scribe Sasha Frere-Jones' recent King Crimson piece. I've long been an advocate for the musical stream that starts with Velvet Underground-MC5-Stooges-Dolls, but you can't eat the same food every day, and back in my formative years, before punk had reinvented everything else in its own image, I spent a lot of time listening to/enjoying/trying to comprehend progressive rock through my terrible autodidact's ears. I caught Yes on the Relayer tour; a guy tried to sell me heroin in the parking lot. I wore out a cassette of Genesis' Seconds Out in my first car. I saw Gentle Giant with a friend who was really a giant, and was mightily impressed by their counterpoint and mid-song instrument swapping. I didn't get to see King Crimson until 2017, but I did catch UK after seeing Holdsworth in the Tony Williams Lifetime.

With those experiences providing a backdrop, I found a lot to like on Other Worlds. Niven, Kutner, Klerks and friends make a music that's rhythmically complex, harmonically dense, and texturally varied. On "Extra Terrestrial Folk Dance," which features both Keneally and Jonathan Sindelman (another 2017 Magic Band alumnus, with connections to Yes drummer Alan White and the late Keith Emerson) on keys, one is tempted to emulate King Crimson producer Rhett Davies, who at one point during the recording of Discipline resorted to listening to every instrument solo to determine who was playing what. 

The guitarist's "Miscellany B" is a fully developed version of a piece he released digitally in a sparser, acoustic form. Niven's synths and sequencers give the music depth and dimension, particularly on Kutner's "Secular Athletes" (which veers into dance music) and Klerks' "Take Me" (his sole composition here). Working remotely gave the string players ample opportunity to tweak tones, and there are some gorgeous ones here -- dig Kutner on "Cryptosaur," for instance, and Klerks throughout. Kutner's solos always sound well thought out, even when he's playing with abandon. The closing section of "Water Song" sounds valedictory, but it gives way to the sprightly, Prince-like funk of "Quark," on which Klerks cuts loose with an elastic solo.

Finally, it is fitting and proper that Other Worlds was released on Cuneiform, the estimable Maryland-based indie that serves as home to the likes of Doctor Nerve, Fred Frith, Heldon/Richard Pinhas, Henry Kaiser, Thinking Plague, and Univers Zero. A more apropos imprint for Android Trio would be hard to imagine. And what a thrill it is to hear something new in 2021 that I like and doesn't just remind me of something I've heard before.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

In praise of the Flamin' Groovies

To steal a phrase from Kundera, I've always been a classical kind of listener, searching for an ideal (which is why "Do I really need this?" and "What parts of XYZ's discography can I do without?" are always part of my crate digging thought process), rather than an epic one, wanting to experience everything. This is especially true now that the vinyl resurgence has driven the price of many things above my $20 a record ceiling (which I've violated on occasion in the past). 

When I recently decided to replace the reissue LP of the Flamin' Groovies' Teenage Head that I foolishly let go a few years ago, I discovered that the least expensive vinyl copy on Discogs was $25. Which is why I opted for the '99 CD version (while "perfect sound forever" proved to be hype, CDs are once again the format I'm most likely to buy, because I'm a cheap bastard) -- which comes with the bonus of seven live-in-studio covers that are as hot as, I dunno, A Session with the Remains or something.

For my two cents, as a "classical" listener, Teenage Head is the one Flamin' Groovies rec you really need. The Sneakers EP and Supersnazz album both sound a little jokey, and reveal the underlying influence of the Lovin' Spoonful that affected a lot of Bay Area bands (the Dead among 'em). Flamingo, produced by Richard Robinson, as Teenage Head would be (he also did honors on the underappreciated first Lou Reed solo LP, as well as such critics' fave esoterica as Hackamore Brick), was harder edged -- they'd encountered the raging Detroit ramalama of the MC5, Stooges, and Alice Cooper out on the road -- but still thin-sounding and speedy in the manner of the Five's Back in the USA. And as much as people whose opinions I respect love the Groovies' later, Beatles/Byrds influenced, Chris Wilson-fronted incarnation, Shake Some Action is where I got off the bus.

As a teenage record store clerk, I took much shit from the older guys at the store where I worked for diggin' the Groovies, Stooges, Alice, MC5, and Nuggets. Fuck 'em. Historical validation wears the white Stetson. The aesthetic championed by Lester Bangs and Creem won out over the one advocated by Jon Landau and Rolling Stone. (Part of the problem, to my mind, with the first generation of rockcrits was that too many of them were English majors, more accustomed to explicating verse than describing sound.) But back in '71, some of us (including whoever it was that wrote the Rolling Stone review) compared Teenage Head favorably with the Stones' Sticky Fingers (which future Springsteen Svengali Landau lambasted for not sounding like they did in '64-'66). 

It wasn't a totally fair assessment, but at a time where it seemed like every band you heard was aping the '69 Stones, Teenage Head was as close of a Beggar's Banquet simulacrum as anybody had attempted. "City Lights" was a ringer for "No Expectations -- with pianist Jim Dickinson as the secret ingredient -- while "Yesterday's Numbers" was sort of a "Stray Cat Blues" with the psychedelic jam-out from the end of "Street Fighting Man" appended. There were other similarities, too. To these not-yet-feedback-scorched ears, the shattered longing of "Whiskey Woman" hit the same way as Velvet Underground "Oh Sweet Nuthin'," while the Groovies' blues and rockabilly homages were as silly-but-spot-on as the Move's country and rockabilly homages on Message from the Country. And I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention the title track's galloping menace, or opener "High Flyin' Baby"'s slide-driven raunch.

My favorite Teenage Head song, though, is their crunchy (in the non-granola sense) cover of Randy Newman's "Have You Seen My Baby," to which they apply the Stones' patented (although stolen from Chuck Berry) chug. I cherish the memory of playing this song with Nick Girgenti (RIP) in an aborted end-of-century band project from after we reached the level of desperation where we were going to attempt to sing. He had some originals he'd originally written to be sung by Frank Logan (also RIP) in another aborted band project, while I had this, the Velvets' "Head Held High," and I forget what. You didn't miss anything.

I got to interview original Groovies frontman Roy Loney for the I-94 Bar back in Y2K, and he sent me, among other valued artifacts, a promo shot of the band inscribed to me by himself, guitarist Cyril Jordan, and bassist George Alexander, the two guys with the most time in the lineup (George till 2018, Cyril to this very day). I never spoke to Cyril, but I got to see him during SXSW 2009, playing at Antone's Records with a band called Magic Christian that also included ex-Blondie drummer Clem Burke. I was there to see the Nervebreakers with my friend Tom Finn (RIP), who was shooting video, and must have walked in front of Cyril a dozen times without recognizing him. (Had I known he was there, I'd have been looking for a guy with a receding hairline, which he had in 1971, not someone with bangs like he has now.) It was only when I saw him strap on the Perspex Dan Armstrong from the Teenage Head cover that I realized my good fortune.

As Roy said at the end of "Yesterday's Numbers," "All's well that ends well."

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Craig Taborn's "60 x Sixty"

Never say never again, James Bond: I was telling myself I was putting aside writing and playing for a minute to focus on politics, trying to get a rhythm going with phone banking (because with Covid numbers in my neck of the woods at February levels, blockwalking is not happening for your humble chronicler o' events) like I had with guitar last year and cardiac rehab gym the year before that. Then Craig Taborn's 60 x Sixty showed up in my inbox (traffic to which has been substantially lighter since I unsubscribed from a shit ton of mailing lists) and garnered my rapt attention.

Taborn's a pianist from the same cohort as Vijay Iyer and Kris Davis (both of whom he's duetted with), a Minneapolis native who was mentored by Marcus Belgrave while attending the University of Michigan and went on to play with the likes of Roscoe Mitchell, James Carter, and Tim Berne. I first heard him on Davis' Duopoly and in Berne's Hardcell trio, but he also popped up in Dan Weiss's heavy metal-ish Starebaby, and one of his personal favorite projects is Junk Magic, in which he makes electronic music with Mat Maneri and Dave King. A musician with a wide range of influences and interests, is Mr. Taborn.

60 x Sixty synthesizes all of these strands seamlessly in a unique presentation. Streaming free worldwide, the work consists of 60 pieces, each approximately 60 seconds long, that stream in randomized order each time a listener initiates play. The numbers that appear on screen at the start of each piece refer to the order of the present playlist and are not tied to the individual pieces. Taborn says that in time, new pieces may be added and old ones replaced.

In spite of their short duration, each piece creates a sound world that feels complete, and their progression reminds one, as my wife says, of looking into the windows of different apartments in a cityscape (if you're a cinephile, think Tati's Playtime or Tom Noonan's What Happened Was...). Some of the piano miniatures recall Cecil Taylor encores (the dissonant chords, tone clusters, and wide intervallic leaps). Other pieces sound orchestrated and cinematic. Some delve into realms of pure sound and texture. It should surprise no one that this endlessly fascinating work is released on Kris Davis' Pyroclastic Records and produced by David Breskin, both of whom have impeccable track records when it comes to documenting creative music.