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andrewcsmith on 09/20/2011 at 10:00AM

Okkyung Lee, with Tom Rainey, Liberty Ellman, and Skuli Sverrisson

Photo by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Okkyung Lee, one of Issue's 2011 Artists-in-Residence, performed back in April as part of a quartet that also included jazz guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and drummer Tom Rainey. She's collaborating with the dancer Michelle Boulé this Friday in a free performance at Issue Project Room's 110 Livingston space in Downtown Brooklyn, in a piece called long white shadows (FREE | RSVP), where the two performers will constantly change their relationships within and toward the space.

A classically trained cellist born in Korea, it's not like Lee doesn't regularly work with jazz musicians. She's a staple of the New York free improvisation scene, counting as past collaborators Nate Wooley, Peter Evans, John Butcher (at Issue Project Room on 09/20, Buy Tickets), Tyshawn Sorey, and many more. But there's a certain vibe to this performance that distinguishes it from others, perhaps because the other musicians are laying down such a steady downtown-jazz-club riff that Lee's aggressive playing, focused more on sound than on groove or pitch, is almost out of place. There's a moment, about four minutes into the second track, where Ellman repeats a little lick and Sverrisson and Rainey join in, but then—what's that in the background?—a crazy, almost banshee-like scream that threatens to send this clean jazz groove off the tracks and into the woods. In most other free-noise improv settings, there would be a collective recognition and acknowledgement that things are now getting noisy and everyone would, somewhat safely, get noisy together. But something different happens here, which is that these two things—a steady post-bop jazz-rock groove and what could be Xenakis run through a half stack—coexist for a moment.

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beausievers on 04/25/2011 at 01:00AM

Okkyung Lee & John Butcher

Photo by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

This Wednesday (4.28 FREE | RSVP) cellist Okkyung Lee will kick off her Artist-in-Residency at ISSUE Project Room with a free performance featuring collaborators Tom Rainey, Liberty Ellman & Skuli Sverrisson. In honor of the occasion, we’ve unearthed her duo performance with John Butcher from November 11, 2009.

Okkyung Lee and John Butcher’s improvisation can be read as an extended investigation of two strategies central to improvised music which are always in tension: frenetic processes, which create structure by harnessing and directing the physical energy of the performer across the instrument, and differential structures, which crystalize musical materials in memory. Lee’s playing is always set in motion, a flurry of physical activity which collides and interacts with the material form of her instrument, while Butcher’s playing is mercurial, sympathetic with Lee’s approach but never adopting precisely the same course. His choices are sensitive and antagonistic by turns, sometimes interfacing with Lee’s twittering machines and sometimes punctuating or disrupting their flow with interjections of pitched material rich with reference. Lee responds to these impositions physically, never letting her processes turn into a simple slipstream, but by pushing ground outward into figure, disrupting its borders. This performance makes audible the strain and stress of a physicality made subject to the grasping demands of memory.

John Butcher’s first set from this concert was shared on the Free Music Archive in 2009. John Butcher & Okkyung Lee's first set from the evening is below.

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Northern-Spy_Records on 01/04/2011 at 09:31AM

Adam's Top Ten Performances of 2010

1) William Basinski's performance of 'Vivian and Ondine' at 110 Livingston (Brooklyn, NY)

The significance of this gig was already apparent before the lights dimmed and William Basinski stepped behind his table for a performance of  the 2008 composition 'Vivian and Ondine'.  The first sound he made was accidental - the apple computer start-up sound.  Drawing chuckles from the crowd, it was a harsh, sharp attack opposite his cathartic, glacially unraveling tape loops.  Behind Basinski, the Joshua Light Show 'liquid lights' highlighted the beautiful interior of the 110 Livingston building, Issue's future home.


2) Sir Richard Bishop at Zebulon (Brooklyn, NY)

During his 4 week residency at Zebulon, Rick performed a mixed bag of exotic, instrumental guitar songs and classic, surreal story-songs from the SCG catalog.  I attended 3 out of 4 of the shows including one in which he was accompanied by the incredible Bill Orcutt.  To be frank, it was too hot and sweaty to enjoy that one.  I believe it was his opening night that Bishop played 'Eyeball in a Quart Jar of Snot'.  INCREDIBLE!  He asked if there were any requests to which I quickly shouted "play Nancy" drawing a smirk and a "NO".

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andrewcsmith on 08/30/2010 at 02:23PM

Paul Flaherty, Chris Corsano, Okkyung Lee

Paul Flaherty ended a year-long sabbatical to play at ISSUE last May, and the free jazz saxophonist brought with him two long-time partners in the free-improv scene: Chris Corsano & Okkyung Lee.

The improvisation is guided by Flaherty’s energy and spirit, which is not to say that others do not have a voice. If anything, Flaherty is here in his element, and the challenge for the other two is bringing their dispirate ideas and experiences accumulated over their diverse careers into a performance style that Flaherty has been working in for some time. Corsano’s playing is forceful in both its noise and its silence, while Lee seems to be channeling the composers Xenakis or (more appropriately) Lachenmann, absorbing their instrumental techniques into her participation in collective improvisation.

The three musicians never seem to find—or even seek—a stable moment throughout their performance. Flaherty moves in turns fluttering and squeaking, letting off ecstatic steam, while Corsano explores repeated twitching drum hits in counterpoint to Flaherty, alternately supporting and exposing his playing. I’ve attached an excerpt of the performance here, but the entire thing is available on their album page.

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zlayton on 06/05/2009 at 08:44AM

Okkyung Lee and Carlos Giffoni mp3 / and sound walk-a-thon on sunday!

okkyung lee (photo by peter gannuskin)

Here's a recording from an absolutely incredible recent show by Okkyung Lee and Carlos Giffoni at issue project room.  MINDBLOWING!

and.....don't miss it:

This sunday, ISSUE Project room will be hosting its first annual:


"Sometimes, the city sounds like one giant jackhammer to us, but ISSUE Project Room is doing something extraordinary to get everyone to hear the streets in a new way. The Soundwalk-a-Thon brings artists and art lovers together to experience the city through artist-guided interactive "sonic excursions." There are 20 walks to choose from, each requiring a different form of group participation, ranging from meditative deep listening to noise-making walks, using instruments such as tin cans, gongs, boom boxes, iPods, and cell phones to interact with the environment. Then take your ears to the after-party at ISSUE Project Room, sponsored by Sixpoint Craft Ales, to hear what a good time sounds like."  - ARACELI CRUZ, VILLAGE VOICE

(details after the jump)

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