Hedgehog, Not Fox

 

My internet friends (though I have shaken Andy Lee’s hand) at the Irritable Hedgehog label are discounting most of the catalogue for the next month. If you’re not familiar with this (essentially two-man) operation, they specialize—but are not exclusive to—in lesser-known musical minimal and post-minimal composers, and have issued a number of top-notch recordings.

The markdowns are on CDs, which are now the same cost as digital downloads (and the advantage of buying through Bandcamp is that you get an immediate digital download while you wait for your CDs to come). The only thing not on sale is the majestic boxed set recording of Dennis Johnson’s November, but that leaves plenty of terrific music. My personal recommendations are:

Adrian Knight: Obsessions

 

Jürg Frey: Piano Music

 

Dave Seidel: ~60 Hz

 

William Duckworth: The Time Curve Preludes

 

While you’re checking out their list, grab a free download of recording of a recent concert by the Ensemble of Irreproducible Outcomes. Just go to this link:

http://recordings.irritablehedgehog.com/yum

and use the code: a3n7–5usz

Just order by January 1. Enjoy.

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A Month of Listening: March 2016

First, the stats:

  • 32 new releases in 31 days
  • 147 new releases for the year

UPDATED: With embedded document to see if it solve downloading problems.

Current pace is for me to get through 588 recordings this year, which is holding pretty steady from the 2015 mark.

The Recording of the Week series continues to look at what I feel are the best new releases, but that still leaves only 52 for the year, when it is always easy to recommend more. So here are the other recordings from the past month that are my favorites, and are recommended:

    • R. Andrew Lee, Adrian Knight: Obsessions. The best review I can give is the one from Lee’s concert that opened the month. TL;DR, a beguiling and extremely well-made, one-hour piano piece, ambient-level dynamics but compelling all the way through. One of the best of the year.
    • Craig Taborn/Christian McBride/Tyshawn Sorey, Flaga: Book of Angels 27. This feels like the debut of the next great jazz piano trio, playing some of Zorn’s best recent material. The balance between the group’s fly-away energy and Zorn’s control is visceral.
    • Henry Threadgill Double Up, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs. The debut of this ensemble and Threadgill’s composition at the NYC Winter JazzFest in 2014 was notable enough. Now both the group and the music have become both more refined and deeper. Immersive and accomplished.
    • Chihei Hatakeyama, You’re Still In It. I listened to so much ambient music in 2015 that the style has lost a lot of its attraction for me, but this is a captivating release.
    • Les Arts Florissants and William Christie, Bien que l’amour…airs sérieux et à boire. Available as of today, this is the first of what will be a series of new recordings from this great group on Harmonia Mundi. This is an anthology of songs and instrumental music heard, in the past, in both intimate and public settings. The dramatic and musical freedom and expression heard here is remarkable. (Note that the Harmonia Mundi back catalogue of recordings from Les Arts is being reissued at attractive prices.)
    • Brian Groder Trio, R Train on the D Line. Tough, smart, tight music making on the border of jazz and free. An excellent trio, and Groder plays the trumpet with particular verve and a big sound. Terrific in every way.
    • Hanami, The Only Way to Float Free. Jazz groups that play like rock groups, or play instrumental rock, are not a new thing anymore. But this new group has a refreshing take on the style, with compositions and arrangements that are marked by refreshing idiosyncrasies, and impressive ensemble playing from reedist Mai Sugimoto. (Release date April 22.)

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](http://bridgerecords.com) 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](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/elliott-carter), [George Crumb](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/george-crumb), [Poul Ruders](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/poul-ruders), George Perle, [Paul Lansky](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/paul-lansky) (electronic and acoustic), and many more. They also feature musicians who are the finest in their fields, like [Gil Kalish](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/gilbert-kalish), [Aleck Karis](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/aleck-karis), the late, great [Jan DeGaetani](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/jan-degaetani), and others. I want to particularly [highlight](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/products/9215) [recordings](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/products/9344) of the [music](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/products/9116) of [Stefan Wolpe](http://bridgerecords.com/collections/catalog-all/stefan-wolpe). Wolpe is a composer more often heard of than heard, but I’ve been fortunate to hear some of his [finest](http://newyorkclassicalreview.com/2014/12/wolpe-and-feldman-together-again-in-rewarding-nynme-program/) [works](http://newyorkclassicalreview.com/2015/06/pianist-holzman-brings-skill-and-personal-insight-to-music-of-our-time/) 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.