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natewooley on 06/19/2011 at 01:51PM

The Halcyon Days of Being Poor: How Lack of Money led me to the music of Lee Hyla and the flute playing of Claire Chase

Lee Hyla, whose "We Speak Etruscan" will be featured in a guest performance by Josh Sinton and Ken Thomas on Wednesday, June 22nd at Issue Project Room on a concert by Claire Chase and Rebekah Heller

When I first moved to New York in 2001, I was bussing tables for a living and absolutely on the edge of not making it financially.  The main obstacle produced by my poverty at the time was not a product of the mundane (i.e. food, rent, transportation), but the, for all intents and purposes, two year hiatus of buying records.  Anyone that is a record collector or hardcore music fan knows where I'm coming from.

Because necessity is the mother of invention, or in my case desperation the great aunt of getting my butt on a train, I became a fixture at the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library.  I was overwhelmed, initially, by their recording collection, so being the pragmatist that I am, not to mention slightly obsessive, I started at the upper left of their holdings, checking out 5 cds at a time, and worked my way through until I hit the letter "I". 

What does this have to do with anything, let alone DRAM or New World Records, the people who, ostensibly, let me present music for download on FMA? It's a tenuous connection, but one I'm going to run with anyway, as the ends will justify the means. 

The last recording I really dug into from my time with the NYPL was New World Records recording of Lee Hyla's "We Speak Etruscan", performed by Tim Berne on baritone saxophone and Tim Smith on bass clarinet.   I listened to this recording over and over, even making a trip back up to Lincoln Center from Jersey City to renew the disc and listen some more.  I loved "Pre-Pulse Suspended" and the great Aleck Karis playing Hyla's Piano Concerto, but the piece that resonated the most with me was the title piece.  There was something very specific about the aesthetic knife edge that Hyla inhabited between jazz and contemporary composed music that has been stuck in my mind ever since.  Needless to say, when I joined the rank and file here at DRAM/New World, this was the first cd I pulled off of the shelves to revisit.

A dear friend and collaborator of mine, Josh Sinton told me a year ago that he was working on the bari sax part of We Speak Etruscan.  This is not unusual for Josh, he pushes himself.  It's one of my favorite things about him.  I was not expecting him, however, to tell me that he would be performing the piece on the Darmstadt month at Issue Project Room.  When I found out that the performance would be shared by one of my favorite flutists of a generation, Claire Chase, (whose work I also discovered in my obsessive visits to the stacks at Lincoln Center) would feature compositions by Darmstadt and IPR's own Zach Layton, and the words "virtuoso whistler" were set in print in relation to the event, I had a moment of artistic righteous indignation. 

I MUST LET THE WORLD KNOW!

IT IS MY MORAL IMPERATIVE!

WHAT GOOD IS SITTING IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER ALL DAY EVERY DAY IF YOU CAN'T ENFORCE YOUR OPINIONS ON THE PUBLIC!

And, so here we are. Me, feeling a certain satisfaction at being able to tell you what I think is right and good in the world of music.  You, being the lucky recipient of two great tracks of contemporary woodwind playing.

This post features the original Lee Hyla recording from the New World Records Release of the same name, and I was also lucky enough to get a recording from Claire of her performing Marcelo Toledo's "Aliento/arrguas", which will also be featured. 

Issue Project Room is located at 232 3rd Street in Brooklyn.  Claire Chase/Rebekah Heller plus We Speak Etruscan will be featured on Wednesday, June 22nd at 8 pm.  Get your tickets here, and while you're at it, why not check out the remainder of the Darmstadt Institute's month at IPR or make a donation to either organization.  Consider it your summer time good deed.

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User Comments

01
cyruspireh on 06/17/11 at 10:33PM
Right on! Except for me it was listening to wkcr for countless hours each day while i worked cutting mosaic glass leading me to hear all of the Derek Bailey memorial broadcasts back in late 2005. Though I was late to the Derek Bailey game both literally and figuratively, the "great aunt of get my butt on a train" did still get me there. Thanks for posting these tracks I enjoy them immensely.
02
woody on 07/08/11 at 03:24PM
Hey Nate, I loved the bit on the Lincoln Center library...

I did something similar in college at WXYC working through the small classical section. I discover Xenakis the same way I found out about punk bands - via a 7"!
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