May, 2010

Second hour:

Recent Findings

Just as our friends and colleagues cannot be expected to keep up with all that fills our lives, so it is with art that gets buried by all that follows it. Things are set aside and, ultimately, forgotten. Later, some of these things appear to re-appear, and we get to celebrate and to rewrite history.

If you’ve been following the history of photography (or this blawwg), you already know that this is the point of this post:

W. o’ W.: Brian Eno

“The trouble begins with a design philosophy that equates ‘more options’ with ‘greater freedom.’ Designers struggle endlessly with a problem that is almost nonexistent for users: ‘How do we pack the maximum number of options into the minimum space and price?’ In my experience, the instruments and tools that endure (because they are loved by their users) have limited options.

“When you use familiar tools, you draw upon a long cultural conversation – a whole shared history of usage – as your backdrop, as the canvas to juxtapose your work. The deeper and more widely shared the conversation, the more subtle its inflections can be. This is the revenge of traditional media. Even the ‘weaknesses’ or the limits of these tools become part of the vocabulary of culture. I’m thinking of such stuff as Marshall guitar amps and black-and-white film – what was once thought most undesirable about these tools became their cherished trademark.

“Although designers continue to dream of ‘transparency’ – technologies that just do their job without making their presence felt – both creators and audiences actually like technologies with ‘personality.’ A personality is something with which you can have a relationship. Which is why people return to pencils, violins, and the same three guitar chords.”

Read the entire piece here:

Artists continue to be workers

Luke DuBois: “While working on the project, I discovered a few things. One is that I have five or six techniques that, when left to my own devices, I fall back on as compositional habits. I like to stretch and compress pre-existing recordings to see what a radical shift in time-scale does to a familiar piece of music. I find myself drawn to physics equations, mapping their results into musical parameters of pitch and rhythm. I also like to compose with random sets of musical probabilities, drawn either from my imagination or from the analysis of existing music. Failing that, I enjoy making a huge racket with field recordings run through different computer algorithms that splice, dice, distort, and otherwise mangle the original. So part of the challenge was avoiding my comfort zone of repetitive practice; with 365 pieces to make and no real expected listenership outside of my friends in my various creative communities, I felt, for the first time in years, that I could experiment and fail. So mixed in with the sonic time lapses of American folk songs, granulated recordings of home appliances, and musical deconstructions of film scores, I found myself making well-intentioned stabs at electronica, incidental music for contemporary dance, and long-form synthesizer pieces based on tracings of Kandinsky drawings. I even cover an Alex Chilton song. I can’t guarantee that all (or any) of this is good music, but I invite you to judge for yourself. Over the course of the year I wrote 72 hours of it, so there’s plenty for everyone’s taste. If you listen to every piece and still hate all of it, I’ll gladly give you a refund.

“The second (and more important) thing I learned was that, within a few months, making music every day became not only second nature, but a necessary part of my routine, like a morning coffee or remembering to feed my cat. By six months in, it had become my favorite thing to do; the only hour or two of guaranteed privacy I would allow myself, to focus on something that I really enjoyed. What at first was mainly anxiety and stress, as I feared I had walked straight into an impossible, pointless, and irritatingly Hemingway-esque routine which threatened to derail all the other things I had going on, fell away and was replaced with a different anxiety and stress: now that I’m turning [older], what will I do each day, instead?”

Links, Refreshed

Our links, over there on the right, hold treasures beyond one’s wildest speculations. The following contain recent updates:

Teen– um, “Young Adult” Art @ BAL

The work of twenty-one Photo Devotos comprise 60% of the library’s Young Adult Art Show! Featured artists include Chanelle Biangardi, Nina Blinick, Christina Buerosse, Mike Cygan, Nicole Galanti, Emma Haney, Molly Hendrickson, Michelle Henneberry, Maggie Kramer, and Olivia Kottke.

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Hailey Anderson, Kristin Kuhn, Corey Nguyen, Annabel Perry, and Danielius Ulitinas. Jack Foersterling and Caitie Dawson both received Bronze recognition, and Vanessa Ysais got a “Silver Certificate.”

Hailey Featherstone got Gold (and Bronze); Rachel Parker arrived right after winning Gold and Silver. Susan Listhartke was awarded a Platinum prize and was named Best In Show.

(Celebrity impersonator.)

(Actual Best In Show winner, left; Kelly Stachura, right; people, in background.)

Everyone thanks judges Kelly Stachura and Lisa Swarbrick, very much. The show remains on display during library hours until September 19th. Go, and have an unexpected conversation with a fellow citizen.

W. o’ W.: Henry Threadgill

“I had a guy in my house the other day who was helping me work on my papers and stuff, organizing a whole bunch of stuff—I got so much stuff—and I had… a record of Miles in Chicago at the Plugged Nickel. He said, ‘Were you there?’ I said, ‘Of course, I was there. Where else would I have been?’ Younger players now, they don’t be at anything. They don’t be at anything! They say, ‘I can’t afford this; I can’t afford that.’ These people have 500 times more money than we ever had [Laughs]. It’s amazing. ‘Oh, I can’t afford this CD—I’ll just take it and replicate it, download it, take it and copy somebody’s copy of it. I can’t afford that. I can’t spend $55 to go see so and so.’ Why not? Who would you spend $55 to go see? You mean to say, if the Balinese company orchestra was here in front of you, or the kabuki theater was here in front of you, or Charlie Parker and strings were here in front of you, you wouldn’t spend $55? If Horowitz got up to play, if Monk got up, you wouldn’t spend $100? You’re a damn fool—that’s what you are. That’s like, here’s a guy wants to be a scientist, and it’s a $50 lecture to get in and it’s Einstein, and you’re not gonna pay $50? What are you, stupid? What’s wrong with you? What is it that you don’t understand here? Did you miss something about one and one is two? [Laughs] Shit, you better get yourself out there and sell some hot dogs or something to get the money, or you better climb through the window. You gotta be an idiot.

“This guy asked me, he said, ‘You made a night?’ ‘A night? What you talking about, a night?’ He asked me about Sonny Rollins, when Sonny Rollins was coming out of the street, and coming up and down into the club playing, and this kid said, ‘Did you hear about it?’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t hear about it—I was there! What you mean ‘hear about it’?’ Coltrane concerts, he said, ‘You probably too young. ‘Too young?’ I said. ‘What, 16? I was there! What are you talking about? Till 4 o’clock in the morning.’ I went to see Rubenstein; I used to sit up under all the great conductors in Chicago. You can’t learn things about music looking at hillbilly music or somebody playing just jazz. You got to look at music… the world is too big.

W. o’ W.: Mr. Petronio

“My friend William says:

‘Don’t work for money. Don’t shoot commercially. Shoot posthumously. That is what I think when I make pictures now. I think one day when I’m dead someone will see them and say, “Look at this crazy shit.” That’s all.’

If only I could be that hardcore.”

The 32nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival Awaits You

It may no longer be the world’s largest free jazz festival (at least not currently), but it’s worth attending, both your nourishment and for your exposure to a panoply of styles that all fit into the one tent called jazz. The weather is perfect. The weekend rail pass is a good deal. You have no good enough excuse not to go.

Saturday, September 4

Jazz on Jackson Stage: 
12:00 – 12:55 Douglas Ewart Nyahbingi Drum Choir

1:10 – 2:05 Paul Giallorenzo’s GitGo
2:20 – 3:15 Maggie Brown: “A Tribute to Abbey Lincoln”
3:30 – 4:30 Dana Hall Quintet, with special guest Nicholas Payton
6:00 – 7:30 Corey Wilkes

8:00 – 9:00 Steve Cole

Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage:
12:00 – 12:30 Chi-Arts Jazz Combo
12:45 – 1:15 Jazz Ambassadors Combo
1:30 – 2:10 Kenwood Academy Jazz Ensemble
2:25 – 3:05 Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School Jazz Ensemble
3:20 – 3:50 Lincoln Park High School Jazz Ensemble
4:05 – 4:50 Roosevelt University Jazz Ensemble

Jazz and Heritage Stage:
12:30 – 1:30 West End Jazz Band
2:00 – 3:00 Cameron Pfiffner’s Marco Polo
3:30 – 4:30 Nicole Mitchell’s Sonic Projections

Petrillo Music Shell:
5:00 – 5:50 Chuchito Valdez Afro-Cuban Ensemble
6:00 – 6:55 Rene Marie “High Maintenance” Quartet
7:10 – 8:10 Charisma: “A Lee Morgan Tribute”
8:30 – 9:30 The Either/Orchestra, with special guests Mahmoud Ahmed and Teshome Mitiku

Sunday, September 5

Jazz on Jackson Stage:
12:00 – 12:55 Paulinho Garcia Quintet
1:10 – 2:05 Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble

2:20 – 3:15 Brad Goode Quartet
3:30 – 4:30 Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band
6:00 – 7:30 Harlan Jefferson
8:00 – 9:00 Norman Brown

Chicago Community Trust Young Jazz Lions Stage:
12:00 – 12:30 Northside College Prep Jazz Combo
12:45 – 1:15 Whitney Young Magnet High School Jazz Combo
1:30 – 2:10 Lakeview High School Jazz Ensemble
2:25 – 3:05 John Hersey High School Jazz Ensemble
3:30 – 4:05 University of Chicago Jazz X-Tet
Jazz and Heritage Stage:
12:30 – 1:30 Bethany Pickens Trio
2:00 – 3:00 NOMO
3:30 – 4:30 Saalik Ziyad’s 5 After 7 Project

Petrillo Music Shell:
5:00 – 6:00 Brad Mehldau Trio

6:15 – 7:05 Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls
7:20 – 8:15 Henry Threadgill’s Zooid

8:30 – 9:30 Kurt Elling Quintet with special guest Ernie Watts

W. o’ W.: Elliott Gould

“One of the things that is at the root of our problems as a species is the ego.

“With the ego, then there’s fear.”