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Apr 262013


This Sunday, Zeitgeist Gallery will premiere the first Indeterminacies in their new NoHo (NOrth of HOuston St.) building at 516 Hagan Street. (Technically Zeitgeist is just south of Houston, a stone’s throw from Noa Noa/Theatre Intangible Studios.)

The Sunday program features Robert Bond & Denny Jiosa performing with Chinese middle school students via a Skype call. Very cool stuff.

Here are the details from the Facebook event page:

As part of the evening’s program, Robert will be joined by the Fran Zinder’s Ma’anshan No.2 Middle School class via internet video feed for a cross cultural, improvisational set featuring music by Robert mixed into the poetry, prose and songs presented by young Chinese students half a world away. Officials from the Natl. Committee on US-Chinese Relations and the US Consulate in Beijing will be joining us, again via internet link, for this performance.

Here’s a link to the school in Google Maps.

Robert Bond is a recording artist, producer and composer whose career has spanned continents and musical genres. He is a graduate of Indiana University School of Music where he studied both jazz and classical music. While at IU, he also studied table drumming, including a master class with Ustad Alla Rakha, the legendary accompanist of Ravi Shankar.

Working to empower the next generation of musicians, Robert has taught at Lavelle School for the Blink in New York, for M.Y. Young Audiences, as artist in residence for Fundacio “la Caixa” in Spain, for the Osher Lifelong learning Institute at Vanderbilt University, and as Adjunct Professor at Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt, teaching recording skills and studio performance.

Robert founded a learning platform in technical, performance and business skills for young musicians called The Total Artist Concept. Creative producing concepts, audio engineering and technology, studio performance and critical listening, along with business and relationships are explored in an intensive workshop setting.

Decidedly not geared toward purists, guitarist/composer Denny Jiosa’s music blends cool Wes Montgomery-esque jazz with elements of rock & roll, gospel, R&B, and blues, growing out of his extensive experience as a wide-ranging Nashville session musician and producer.

His first solo recording, Moving Pictures, appeared in 1995; it was followed by 1996’sInner Voices (which contained the radio hit “Lights of the City”), 1998’sJazzberry Pie, and 1999’s Among Friends. Jiosa’s music has proven especially popular with new adult contemporary and smooth jazz radio formats.

In June of last year, Fran Zinder was recruited by the National Committee on United States – China Relations. She accepted placement at #2 Middle School in Ma’anshan, Anhaui, China. She teaches English and American Culture to Senior 1, 2, and 3, which correspond to U.S. 10th, 11th and 12th grades. In addition to her teaching duties at #2 Middle School, Ms. Zinder participates at the school with Chinese teachers in a dance classes, regularly assists Chinese English teachers and is a debate coach, working with students several hours every school night to prepare for the national debate competition at the end of April. Ms. Zinder takes Chinese painting classes twice a week at a local university, and is a volunteer at the Ma’anshan Senior Center. Welcomed into the city with banquet invitations from the mayor of Ma’anshn, high-ranking government officials and city business leaders, she felt she had truly “arrived” when she saw herself on the advertising video that plays on the city buses.

Robert Bond & Denny Jiosa Indeterminacies
Zeitgeist Gallery [NEW LOCATION]
516 Hagan Street, Nashville, TN 37203
Sunday, April 28th, 2013, 7:30pm, free show

Nov 012012

Tonight is the last Zeitgeist Indeterminacies event of 2012! Composer Stan Link is performing and percussionist Robert Bond is moderating. Both teach at Blair School of Music. The series title Indeterminacies is taken from a John Cage idea of processes whose outcome is not predetermined.

On the Facebook event page, Zeitgeist provocatively hinted at something special by writing that the event, “will only ever occur here [tonight.]” I’m guessing they’re referring to this: Stan wrote three special pieces just for tonight’s show. Once they are performed, the master copy (and only copy) of the score will be destroyed. I’ll accept wagers on methods of destruction with odds to office shredder and engulfed in flames.

Here’s the press release from Zeitgeist Gallery with the full details:

Thursday, November 1, 6-8pm, public invited

In the gallery: New work from: Richard Feaster

Zeitgeist is pleased to announce the last installment of the Fall 2012 Indeterminacies program featuring Nashville-based composer and musician Stan LinkRobert Bond, musician, educator, and critical thinker will moderate a conversation.

Stan will present three pieces he has composed especially for this performance:

  • “Flametree”– soprano, guitar and live computer processing
  • “Passing Through” marimba and computer
  • “Event” for viola and guitar.

These pieces will be performed once from an original score and then the score will be destroyed.

The program will feature:

  • Stan Link, composer and computer processing
  • Michael Slayton, composer
  • Zach Bowers, marimba
  • Shelby Flowers, marimba
  • Kevin Rilling, marimba
  • Ali Cole, soprano
  • Emma Dansak, viola
  • Josh McGuire, guitar
  • Jonathan Rattner, video artist

Stan Link is Associate Professor of Composition at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and an internationally recognized composer and performer. He attended the Oberlin Conservatory and studied composition with Ed Miller and Richard Hoffmann. He later became a student of Roman Haubenstock-Ramati at the Vienna Hochschule fur Musik and went on to study composition at Princeton with Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey, Peter Westergaard and Claudio Spies. He taught composition at La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia and at the University of Illinois. As a creator of a wide range of acoustic and computer music ranging from solo chamber pieces to a ballet for orchestra, electric guitar and African drums, his pieces have been heard on concerts, broadcasts, webcasts and new music festivals across the United States, in Europe, and Australia.

Robert Bond is a drummer, performer, producer, remixer, educator and consultant. He is currently adjunct teaching at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute also at Vanderbilt. He has recorded for the Rough Trade and d-Pulse labels, and served as creative for the London Symphony Orchestra. He is also currently a facilitator for the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy.

This event is free and open to the public.

Stan Link Indeterminacies
6:00pm until 8:00pm, free show
Zeitgeist Gallery
1819 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN

Oct 102012

I’m short on time at the moment, but I wanted to post something quick about Thursday’s Zeitgeist Indeterminacies with LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams. It’s a can’t miss!

Here’s what moderator Brady Sharp had to say about the show over at Voight-Kampff Music:

Davey Williams started playing guitar at age 12.  Throughout college, he played in a number of jazz and soul bands.  Davey went on to join Curlew in the late 80s, led by saxohonist George Cartwright, and whose revolving membership included Fred FrithBill Laswell, and Tom Cora among many others.  Curlew, along with Last Exit, Naked City, and others were one of the seminal bands to form the “Knitting Factory Sound” in New York.

Since Curlew, Davey has been in many punk rock and improvisational groups, and worked extensively with drummer Ikue Mori and the legendary Col. Bruce Hampton, ret., among many other.  He’s also a freelance writer and music critic.

LaDonna Smith is a classically-trained violinist, violist, pianist, and music educator.  She’s performed since 1974 with such notables as Davey Williams, Derek BaileyEugene Chadbourne, John Zorn, Jack Wright, Toshi Makihara, and countless others throughout the years.  She’s toured extensively around North America, Europe, Russia and Siberia, China, and Japan.

LaDonna is the Director of the Birmingham Suzuki Violin Association, on Faculty at the Central Pennsylvania Suzuki Institute, is a current adviser for the International Society of Improvised Music, and publisher/editor-at-large for The Improvisor: the Journal for Improvised Music, started with Davey in the mid 70s, and continuing to this day on the web.  She is an active organizer of concerts and festivals in the Birmingham area.

LaDonna and Davey met at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and they fell into a crowd which included Craig Nutt(now in Nashville).  They proceeded to create their own form of music based on Dada, Surrealism, and experimental ideas in general.  What came out of that was a live album called “Raudelunas Pataphysical Revue” by Ron ‘Pate and the Debonairs, featuring the Reverend Fred Lane, a strong concoction of meandering big band music, free improvisation, and industrial noise, combined with surreal Vaudevillian wisecracks and soliloquies.  They soon discovered Derek Bailey’s “Topography of the Lungs”, FMP Records, and the whole European Free Improvisation movement that was developing simultaneously in Europe as they were.  They formed their own record label TransMuseq, and they put on many surrealist theater and other events in the Birmingham area, forming long term relationships with similar artists around the world, and they toured the world together for many years as the Trans Duo.

It’s always a special treat to see these two improvising jewels of the south play together.  Expect lots of humor, storytelling, and amazing extended instrument technique, followed by the usual insightful discussions that “Indeterminacies” offers.

More info on the Facebook event page.

Indeterminacies with LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams and  moderator by Brady Sharp
Thursday, October 11th, 6pm sharp, free show

Zeitgeist Gallery
1819 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN


Sep 062012


Rodger Coleman. Photo by Kim Sherman.

Tonight at 6pm, Zeitgeist Gallery‘s fantastic Indeterminacies series is kicking off the fall season with a free improvisation duet between Nashville pianist Rodger Coleman and Richmond, VA drummer Sam Byrd. Rodger writes the excellent music blog Nu-Void, and I believe I’ve seen him in attendance at every Indeterminacies show.

The discussion will be led by composer, former Indeterminacies guest, and Vanderbilt professor Stan Link. Up until this year, I released the Indeterminacies shows as podcasts, and you can hear Stan’s among the rest. (I had to stop because of time constraints.)

Rodger wrote a commentary on his upcoming performance at Nu-Void. It’s a really thoughtful read, and I recommend you check it out. Like any self-reflective artist, he begins with trepidations:

On Thursday, September 6, I will be playing improvised piano/drums duets with my friend and former bandmate, Sam Byrd, at the opening Indeterminacies event at Zeitgeist Gallery. This will be first time I have performed in public since the dissolution of UYA in 1995 and the first time on piano since…when?…1984? I can’t remember. I’m a little bit nervous—not so much about the music (Sam always inspires me to play beyond my abilities—which is why I insisted he travel from Richmond to join me)—but more concerned about the discussion segments, which will be led by Vanderbilt professor, Stan Link. Stan is a good friend and I’m sure he’ll go easy on me, but he is a brilliant and articulate composer with deep suspicions about the whole notion of improvisation as a legitimate artistic practice. Of course, this is what makes Indeterminacies unique: these are not concerts per se; they are investigations into the phenomena of performance and reception, critical thinking and audience participation. The result is unscripted, deliberately indeterminate and always challenging. We will be required to explain and, perhaps, justify and defend whatever it is we’re doing from rhetorical attacks from Stan and a potentially hostile, disapproving audience. Maybe not, but I’d be disappointed if we weren’t.

Stan goes on to quote Christopher Small in his book Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately on the nature of art, aesthetics, and the limits of our judgement calls, and Small’s quote really struck a chord with me:

Music is not a thing at all but an activity, something that people do. The apparent thing “music” is a figment, an abstraction of the action, whose reality vanishes as soon as we examine it at all closely. This habit of thinking in abstractions, of taking from an action what appears to be its essence and giving that essence a name, is probably as old as language; it is useful in the conceptualizing of our world but it has its dangers. It is very easy to come to think of the abstraction as more real than the reality it represents, to think, for example, of those abstractions we call love, hate, good and evil as having an existence apart of the acts of loving, hating, or performing good and evil deeds and even to think of them as being in some way more real than the acts themselves, a kind of universal or ideal lying behind and suffusing the actions. This is the trap of reifications, and it has been a besetting fault of Western thinking ever since Plato, who was one of its earliest perpetrators.

When we say a piece of music is “good” or “bad,” some of us mean more than an aesthetic choice. Some of us really believe that the work is intrinsically, inherently imbued with this quality. “Mozart’s music is beautiful, and if you don’t agree, you are wrong.” (Substitute Mozart with Brittany Spears, Kandinsky, or any other artist.) But an aesthetic judgement means nothing without an observer. And observers see reality through their own customized filter of life experience and perceptive and cognitive uniqueness (for example, the degree one is able to perceive pitch or taste bitter). I get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach when art professors authoritatively stamp good and bad, right and wrong. But this doesn’t mean the role of critic or theory professor is useless. Because of the professor’s point of view, not in spite of it, she can steer students towards different approaches in understanding. The professor can make comparisons and present an aesthetically constructed narrative. But we have to be careful to not see it as gospel. It’s a point of view. The aesthetic judgement is just a link between the observer and the observed. It’s not an inherent quality of either.

In other words, if a person’s opinion contributes to your understanding and appreciation of a piece of work (whether that person is a professor or a blue-haired teenager), take it. If it doesn’t, leave it.

And if they say you are wrong, tell them to go fuck themselves.

Do read Stan’s commentary. The aesthetic link between me and it is this: “It’s great.”  I really look forward to tonight’s Indeterminacies.

More info on the event’s Facebook page.

September 6th, 6pm
Indeterminacies with Rodger Coleman, Sam Byrd, and Stan Link

Zeitgeist Gallery
1819 21st Avenue South
Nashville, Tennessee