TT 66: Gig at Smalls/Quarantine Projects from others

My next gig with Ben Street and Nasheet Waits is Monday, streaming free of charge at the SmallsLive site and associated FB page.


There are quite a few streamed performances happening — I’m planning to check out the Immanuel Wilkins Trio with Joel Ross and Lesley Mok tonight from the Jazz Gallery — but I’m also impressed with private quarantine projects from artists I admire. People who are just setting up their video cam or iPhone and documenting a kind of creativity that probably wouldn’t be happening except for quarantine conditions.

Miranda Cuckson offers the Six Caprices for solo violin by Salvatore Sciarrino. This astonishing music truly lives at the outer edges of expression, yet it also retains some kind of sublime grace and humor. The Caprices are very difficult, and the effort required by the performer is an important part of the message. As it turns out, lo-fi home videos of these short pieces are a perfect medium. Miranda discusses the Caprices further at her blog post.

Timo Andres is composer/pianist I’ve been keeping my eye on. His Moving Études are in the surreal rhythmic process tradition of Ligeti and Adès, but Andres has his own concept of “tonal” harmony and the middle etude “swings.” American music, no doubt about it. It’s exceedingly impressive that he can knock ’em out on a home piano in a single take.

I wonder if Andres would be recording standard repertoire if there weren’t a pandemic? On his YouTube channel are quarantine performances of Debussy, Schubert, and an unexpected pairing of Copland with peer Scott Wollschleger. For Schumann’s relatively obscure Six Canonic Etudes, Op. 56, Andres made his own transcription. (The original was for a forgotten instrument, the pedal piano; Debussy’s transcription for two pianos hangs on the fringes of the repertoire.)

A few years ago I wrote up Vicky Chow’s record of Micheal Gordon’s Sonatra for the New Yorker Culture Desk. Chow and Gordon are collaborating again in quarantine. Each day in July, Chow plays a new short Gordon piece for Instagram. What an astonishing project! And what a good use of everyone’s time! I’ve been enjoying the varied works immensely, Gordon and Chow are giving us a unique snapshot of contemporary composition.


In the jazz world, Ron Carter is blowing everyone’s mind with frequent lecture/demonstrations on Facebook, while Billy Hart is preparing to give a talk on The Evolution of Contemporary Jazz Drumming for the Healdsburg jazz series. Marcus Gilmore and Eric Harland are two of Jabali’s favorites; it’s safe to say that the stream this coming Sunday is a must watch. Registration is free.


For myself, I keep shedding famous solos. Two more McCoy Tyner classics went up on my socials this past week. Social media rewards scolding more than positivity, and it remains up to the artist to keep bringing the light.