In Other News

Ahead of more “rich” content here, check out some new writing elsewhere.

In the Brooklyn Rail, I’ve reviewed two new, worthwhile booksAll Gates Open: The Story of Can, by Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt (out June 12, order here).


And a collection of writing on Steely Dan, Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion, edited by Barney Hoskins (out now, order here).


I’ve also written an article for VAN Magazine, which I hope will lead to more, about my current situation, which is listening to music through depression.

“I ate your book.”

Bernhard Lang

“I dig the jacket!”

Kurt Elling

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Where It’s At

My transfer back to is fundamentally complete, though cleaning up graphics and taxonomy on the back end is an ongoing project. As great as my previous host, WPEngine, was, I just can’t afford it; freelance writing produces a below poverty level income, and this blog has never produced any income.

As for the lack of writing here—it was summer! My life is, after thirty years, once again organized around the school calendar, and I had a slow summer, concentrating on my little girl’s fun and on writing music—like Mahler except happier (I hope) and far less competent. I did cover a few concerts at the New York Classical Review, though.

Labor Day is past, and I’m back at it. This new article at New Music Box was written into the summer, and it was difficult to think about music after it was done. The subject is what sounds might be left behind after civilization falls apart, or is inundated, and how future peoples’ idea of what our music was will be nothing we expect:

“This haunting, wrenching, agonizingly complex concept of a post-apocalyptic cultural legacy has certainly existed in music for thousands of years. Fragments of Medieval music concerned with the End of Days have come down to us, and apocalyptic thought began neither in Europe nor with Christianity. But the context of that music is the Second Coming, a redemptive and transformative event. And with no means to preserve the sounds of what was the present in the 10th century, nor that advantage of a post-Cageian concept of what constitutes music, there was no thought toward what the past might sound like to those who might come after.”

Read the rest here

My book Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew is currently available, and you can order it directly from the publisher at a currently discounted price. The New York Review of Books reviewed it in the latest issue (article is behind a paywall), and critic Adam Schatz took it authoritative:

“… a perceptive new monograph by George Grella Jr. in the 33 1/3 series…”

Lastly, for this post, the September installment of the Rail Tracks podcast is up, check it out for some selected 2016 releases, and read out whole excellent issue here.

Summer Rails

Into this July murk comes the summer Brooklyn Rail and our music section.

The usual good stuff: a wide range of thoughtfully chosen listings, Steve Dalachinksy’s “Outtakes.” Some things I think are especially worth your time:

  • A must read interview with Dustin Hill, who performs under the name Black Pussy, conducted by Jordannah Elizabeth, who I’m excited to have writing for us.
  • A lovely and informative article about guitar-making and flamenco, by Geoffrey Clarfield.

There will be more to come on-line: we recorded our podcast on Monday and I will ideally have it edited and up by the end of this week. We also will have reviews that you won’t find anywhere else of two recent concerts, one with Yo La Tengo and the other one with Colleen. And if and when I can clear this murk from my head, I’ll have both this issue’s editorial Diary, and also the one for June! Someday …

Critic's Choice

Bora Yoon’s Sunken Cathedral is my Critic’s Choice this week at the New York Classical Review. The word on tickets is that there are very few left, so if you’re interested, order them now.


For background, listen to our talk with her on the Dec-Jan Rail Tracks Podcast. And pick up her CD, one of the best of 2014.

December Early Listings

The Brooklyn Rail has a double issue for December and January, and will be out later in the month (the staff, guest editor and I are scrambling to finish up a deep joint inteview with Henry Threadgill and Jason Moran), so our listings will be delayed until then. But for early December, highly selective and recommended events, look no further:


  • December 4 & 5: Henry Threadgill’s Zooid at Roulette. As Henry described to me, this is a series of related pieces heard over the course of two nights, what he calls, for lack of a better term, concertos. Thursday starts with guitar, which is then interwoven into the remaning pieces, followed by music that features trombone/tuba, and then drums and percussion and cello Friday night. I would call these Concerto Grossos, especially from such a contemporary master of counterpoint.

  • December 3 – 7: Meredith Monk’s On Behalf of Nature at BAM. We are just at the beginning of a year celebrating the unique work of Meredith Monk, and this is one of the big events, the local premiere of her new music theater piece. Recordings cannot convey the physical life that her music and stage works convey, she must be seen and heard in person. This is the ideal opportunity.

  • December 4 & 6: ((audience)) presents Paralektronica at the New School. A performing symposium, and a great value ($5 Thursday, free Saturday), with the subject “electricity and paranoia, radio and Theremin.” Who could resist? Not to mention you will hear ideas and music from Felix Kubin, conversation with the brilliant art historian Branden Joseph, a performance from Chris Mann (and if you’ve never seen what he does, you need to), and a blindfold sound walk around the Village.
  • December 6: David Fiuczynski’s Planet Microjam at Shapeshifter Lab. Marked as one of our Undiscovered Lands in the October Brooklyn Rail, the Fuze brings his microtonal jazz/funk/prog project to Brooklyn, with the very special company of Matt Garrison and Jack DeJohnette. Man. 

* December 7: NEC Presents the Music of John Zorn at The Stone. If you missed Cobra in November, and didn’t happen to be in Boston earlier in the fall, come to this extended concert surveying the enduring, vital accomplishments of Zorn. His name speaks for itself, but the chances to hear his music directly are not all that common in New York. Here’s one. 

The Latest

Paucity of posts does not mean lack of content. Solo parenting for a month meant I only got out to one concert, but it was notable, and I still produced a good amount of work, here’s where to find it:

  • At the New York Classical Review, read my preview of The Death of Klinghoffer and my review of opening night
  • I published the first of what I hope to be more articles at New Music Box: “The Know-Nothings of Jazz” is a look at just how it is that any reputable place would publish the kind of unbelievably ignorant drivel about jazz that we’ve been subjected to this past summer
  • The October issue of The Brooklyn Rail is out, and our podcast is up, and it may be our very best: great conversations and music with Michael Vincent Waller, Ken Thomson, Carlos Hernandez of Ava Luna, and Steve Dalachinksy