Summer Birthdays

They’re a little odd. My daughter has one, and since she’s growing up in Brooklyn, is white and nominally middle-class (if only she knew!), a lot of her friends from the neighborhood and pre-k just aren’t around to come to her parties.

Irritable Hedgehog record label has a summer birthday too, turning five in coincidence with my little girl. In those few years they have produced a concentrated and important discography of musical thinking at the edge of the post-minimalist scene. A subjective and probably wildly inaccurate way to describe their aesthetic is that they favor concentration and space, which means they record music that can have a lot of repetition, a lot of quiet, or both. And more.

They are celebrating generously, reducing the price of their CDs from $12 to $10 and offering a 25% discount for the month of July. Go to their bandcamp page and use the code “happyfifth” to get the deal. Highly recommended are their four Wandelweiser discs, the revelatory reconstruction of Dennis Johnson’s November, Dave Seidel’s marvelous ~60 Hz, and a new recording from pianist R. Andrew Lee (read my review of his recent recital at Spectrum) playing as if to each other, composed by Jay Batzner. This is music that walks a fine line between contemplation and tense insistence, stimulating to the mind and attractive to the ear. And with the sale, you can have it for $3. Excuse me while I pick up that Eva-Maria Houben recording that’s been in my wish list …

Another excellent record label is also having a sale, David Starobin’s [Bridge]( records. Bridge has a good selection of music from the Western classical tradition, but where it is outstanding is in the ongoing world of post-WWII modernism, with multi-volume series of music from [Elliott Carter](, [George Crumb](, [Poul Ruders](, George Perle, [Paul Lansky]( (electronic and acoustic), and many more. They also feature musicians who are the finest in their fields, like [Gil Kalish](, [Aleck Karis](, the late, great [Jan DeGaetani](, and others. I want to particularly [highlight]( [recordings]( of the [music]( of [Stefan Wolpe]( Wolpe is a composer more often heard of than heard, but I’ve been fortunate to hear some of his [finest]( [works]( over the past six months, and his music is brilliant and profound. Get 15% off of these CDs, and the entire Bridge catalog, with the code: SUMMEROFBRIDGE.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.