ETHEL ~ On Documerica and Related Things

ETHEL are L-R: Ralph Farris, viola; Tema Watstein, violin; Kip Jones, violin; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Photo courtesy of Stephanie Berger 9101612096_c9f4147912_k

The great NY ensemble ETHEL had a few minutes to sit down and chat about the current tour and their stage project Documerica, which will be presented this coming October 2nd through the 5th at BAM (Click here for info).

CM:  I’ve interviewed some of the former members of ETHEL separately, and also Kip and Tema separately last year when you guys just joined. What has it been like these days for the group? You’ve been together 16 years?

Dorothy: We’re getting into our 16th season, I think, yes!

Ralph: But it feels like 17! [laughs] Continue reading


A Powerful Weekend of Music ~ Double Review

From L-R: Todd Reynolds and Cornelius Dufallo (Photo courtesy of Glenn Cornett)neilandtodd

Cornelius Dufallo presents
Journaling, Part Five
Cornelius Dufallo, violin/electronics; also emcee
Also appearing: Todd Reynolds, violin/electronics
Guy Barash, electronics
Kinan Azmeh, clarinet
Spectrum, NYC
Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Even though Cornelius Dufallo’s show this past Saturday at Spectrum was a bit shorter than the previous Journaling gig I reviewed last year, its length didn’t keep the fifth live installment from being a memorable and intense set of new music for the violin. Continue reading

Billband ~ Live at LPR (A Review)


Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
Sunday, February 10th, 2013

This is the first time that I’m reviewing a show that I watched online as opposed to having experienced it in person, so, my apologies for not having a more in-your-face perspective, but I can say with great certainty that Billband (ensemble that was originally formed by Bill Ryan; I interviewed him recently) was in supreme form as they ran through a set of mostly selections from the CD Towards Daybreak, whose release was the focus of the event.

The group, which features several members of Bang On a Can that we are familiar with (Ashley Bathgate, Vicky Chow, David Cossin) as well as violinist-composer Todd Reynolds, clarinetist Michael Lowenstern, and 2nd cellist Pablo Mojave-Veglia among others, has a very fusion-esque sound, especially on pieces like “Friction”, which opened the show. Its prog-like timing proceeded to set a wonderful pace for the rest of the evening.

“Sparkle” is one of my favorites, and it was every bit the delicate frosty chime dialogue that it is on the album. Following this was “Solitude In Transit”. This featured a great Far Eastern-style violin lead from Todd Reynolds, with which he managed to outshine his own recorded version from the album.

“Simple Lines”, a piece that Ryan had written in various versions for various configurations of instruments, was performed solo by Ashley Bathgate. Doing what she has been doing so effectively for several years, Bathgate bathed the audience in rich textures of layered loops of cello, mastering a technological art form and reinvention of a classical sound.

The ensemble returned for “Rapid Assembly”, and then played “Blurred”, which here sounded a bit more like the version from the Billband Blurred EP from 2004, featuring more ensemble than the recently-recorded trio version. They wrapped up the set with that same EP’s “Original Blend”, which displayed great lead voices from the violin, piano and clarinet.

Billbandlive3aBoth Todd Reynolds and Bill Ryan made introductions to these pieces, and I have to say I am a huge fan of the musicians speaking to the audience. If we continue to have the kind of rapport that these performers have, this is certainly one of the keys to gaining the interest of new audiences as well as maintaining audiences that are invested in and engaged with new music concerts.

Billband is a great showcase for Bill Ryan and its members, and I hope that this ensemble continues to produce even more progressive post-minimalism pieces as well as concerts as lively as this one.

Billband (page on Bill

Bill Ryan ~ On Towards Daybreak, Billband and LPR


Composer Bill Ryan had some time to talk to me about his new CD Towards Daybreak, which is about to drop on January 29th, and also the upcoming CD release party at Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday, February 10th at 7:30 PM. Click here for info/tickets or on the link at the bottom.

CM: Can you please talk about the new album and its music? I understand the pieces are very personal for you. 

Bill: It’s definitely a personal album, with the music being a general reflection of my life for the past several years. The most impactful events to me were the loss of both parents. A few pieces address that specifically, but that loss reaches into all the music on the CD. There’s also music that comes out of the joy of continuing to raise my three children, living in the midwest, teaching, and other things. I suppose that’s natural–that as one gets older and accumulates life experiences–that these events inform who you are and the work you do. For a long time though, I rarely set out to write a piece about anything except the sound. Now, somehow, life has a way of getting into the music. Continue reading

A Couple of December Nights of Music in New York ~ Double Review

Pianist Jenny Q. Chai, image coutresy of Bob BrunoJennyQChai2012

Both written by Scottie Roche

Daniele and Sxip’s Hour of Charm
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
Friday, November 30, 2012 (Yes, I know technically this was still November; apologies–ed.)

On Friday, November 30th, Le Poisson Rouge bubbled with enchantment as a cadre of performers generous of their time, talent, and hearts “charm schooled” an abundantly appreciative audience at Daniele and Sxip’s Hour of Charm. The electrically charged evening benefited direct-action relief for Hurricane Sandy and featured a wide array of talents including the ever-impressive violinist Todd Reynolds, post-classical string quartet Ethel, beatboxing extraordinaire Adam Matta, Danielle Eva Scwhob, Sxip Shirey and more! Continue reading

Danielle Eva Schwob & Sxip Shirey ~ On The Hour of Charm at LPR

Composer-singers (gifted musicians, too) Danielle Eva Schwob and Gene “Sxip” Shirey had some time to chat with me about their concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on Friday, November 30th at 8 PM (Doors open at 7 PM). The event, titled Danielle & Sxip’s Hour of Charm, is scheduled to feature not only these folks but also the likes of Todd Reynolds, ETHEL, clarinetist Ned Rothenberg, harpist Bridget Kibbey, throat singer Liron Peled, beatboxer Adam Matta, and singer-songwriter Corn Mo among several others.

The two composers were originally scheduled to put on a chamber concert with SYZYGY, an ensemble that will still be playing at this show, and they were in the midst of raising money for it, but Hurricane Sandy, and the need for aid for the damages and losses forced the two to make the event a charity concert, from which the funds will be going to local relief efforts. Continue reading

Todd Reynolds and Friends at Rite of Summer 2012 (A Review)

Todd Reynolds and some friends performing at Governor’s Island at the Rite of Summer Festival (L to R: Michael O’Brien, bass; Todd Reynolds, violin; Jordan Tice, guitar; and Jonny Rodgers, glass harmonica)

Rite of Summer Festival
Todd Reynolds and Friends
Governors Island, NY
Monday, Sept. 3, 2012

Written by Scottie Roche

On an island in New York Harbor, two young children run hand in hand in wide playful circles as an electrically eclectic mix of sounds fills the air. Like myself and the rest of the people gathered, they’re enjoying the fun of summer to the strains of amplified violin (Todd Reynolds), bluegrass guitar (Jordan Tice), glass harmonica (Jonny Rodgers), a jazzy bass (Michael O’Brien), and a world beat percussion (Matthias Kunzli). The profusion of parents and children midday on this Monday signal Labor Day, and the Rite of Summer T-shirt one of the young kids sports means that the 2012 season of NYC’s exciting new music festival is at the thrilling close of its second season: Todd Reynolds and Friends. Continue reading