The train to New York on Monday was packed. This was the first time in three weeks that the threat of a sold-out train was actually true. In fact, someone was even in the seat next to me. Luckily, it was Peter Nevins, graphic artist for Gillian Welch, among others, and a quirky singer-songwriter (utilizing bouzouki in lieu of a guitar). We swapped music and stories the entire ride down, which made the ride - at certain points - seem faster. At others, like the common waiting-for-every-other-train-to-pass-us-on-the-single-track, it was as interminably slow as ever. I was so fatigued from the gig at Upstairs, or rather the lack of sleep between the end of the gig and my hour of arrival at the train station, that I managed to doze off at certain points during the trip, which only made me feel worse as we pulled into Penn, twelve hours later. I checked into the hostel with absolutely no inclination of going out, even though one of my roommates tipped me off that KRS-One was playing at SOB's. I had to skip out on it and get some sleep.
Tuesday, pre-meeting, was the usual breakfast at Lenny's, although accompanied by being accosted to buy some woman a bagel. This was the first meeting that Jim McNeely has run this year. I really appreciate the open workshop aspect of it, and Jim facilitates discussion quite well. Watching him read the hell out of transposed scores and grab some massive trombone voicings with his left hand alone was pretty impressive, too. I'm really excited for next week's reading session - not only to hear my music played but to hear what everyone else is doing, too.
I headed down to Tonic (after waiting forever for an F train - Steve Wilson was right when he said at IAJE in January, "Man, we've had a transit strike and we still can't get these F trains to run on time!") to see Floriculture play. It was great to see Aryeh, Jacob, Melissa and Natasha again. The set started late as Joan As Police Woman went overtime. The show began with a duo between alto saxophonist Chris Mannigan and violist Stephanie Griffin, which then led to a chamber work for two sopranos and string quartet, all by the same composer, Tony Prabowo. The text was in Indonesian, but its setting was for the most part in line with many Western composers and would have fit well in the Sirius program from a couple of weeks ago. Pitch ululations hinting at exoticism only appear in the second soprano's part, and were beautifully executed. One of the recurring motives of the piece is the use of artificial harmonics, which at points reminded me of the "difference-tone" movement of Ligeti's Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet.
There was then a collaboration between Momenta String Quartet and Floriculture, written by pianist Carl Maguire, who prepared the Baldwin baby grand to alternately create noise effects
or emulate kalimba and balafon textures. I unfortunately didn't catch much of Floriculture's proper set because I was fading fast; though in the time I spent waiting for yet another F train, I could have stayed and heard more music. What I did hear of Floriculture was fascinating - Chris Mannigan was able to make his saxophone sound as if it were being played backwards; Aryeh and Dan Weiss hook up fantastically - no surprise given Aryeh excelled with Vijay Iyer's music out at Banff, and Dan's facility with Indian music and odd meter is astounding; and Carl's got a really intriguing compositional voice, which I look forward to hearing more of.
Wednesday's train was rather empty, and as such, ran on time - it only took ten hours from Penn to Gare Centrale, and border officials were only on the train for about half an hour.
Next week, there's quite a promising show I'm hoping to make: US FREE - Andrew Cyrille, Henry Grimes and Bill McHenry - at the Jazz Standard.