New American Wing
New American Wing
I went through a spate in my formative years as a 20th Century American Composer Chamber Music Snob, which is about as attenuated and alienating as you can be without becoming a Zappa completist or someone who trades New Order concert recordings. While my contemporaries at the college radio station would relish in Janes Addiction and Bad Brains, I would secretly skulk off to the listening room at the library to revel in the wavery small ensemble recordings of Gordon Mumma and Morton Feldman. My friend's favorite song was a live bootleg "Ed's Dead" by the Pixies, mine was a hopelessly obscure Smithsonian recording of Earl Kim's "Earthlight," a truly sublime thing dubbed a "romanza for violin con sordino, high soprano, piano, and lights" in the liner notes. But I took a don't ask, don't tell tack with this philia, since it got a blank stare from even music majors (who I have found to have oddly horrible taste in music. Like lots of Randy Newman and stuff)
Fast forward a couple years, and legendary NYC jazz-racket notable John Zorn creates his Masada songbook, a mystical and rich refactoring of traditional Jewish melodies that he cast in a variety of formats, from traditional jazz quartet, solo guitar and most notably as a string trio and avant rock ensemble on his landmark album The Circle Maker, one of the finest albums ever. I haven't listened to or thought about this record for a while until the debut, self-released album by guitar/cello/trumpet trio New American Wing washed up on my sonic shores. The way Daniel Raimi's reverbed guitar and Jacob Varmus' muted trumpet intermingle over cellist Erica Sattin's bedrock is a refreshing delight to these ears.
They move seamlessly from mellow jazzy numbers like "Upside-Down Turtle" and "X" to more academic numbers like "The Hare" to longing elegant pieces like "Over and Over" with remarkable ease. Some notable tracks are the folk-like plaintive melody of "All is Vanity" that sounds like it could be an arrangement of a Lefty Frizell tear-jerker, and the classy Duke Ellington atmosphere of "You Must Eat" all of which speak to the amazing versatility of Raimi's writing and the cohesiveness of the group as a whole. Despite all the stylistic ventures present, there is a decidedly calming thread running throughout, that will provide 50 minutes of some of the most interesting, thought-provoking music when you give this unique and stunning debut album a spin.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
about Alex V. Cook »»
The Pixievic Pixiekisses book launch at the ORT Cafe
Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]
If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]