Trio Commando DEBUT

October 1st, 2011

Trio Commando made their public debut last noght at the chapel Performance Space opening up for Eric Barber, performing improvisations, excavations and conversations through a high powered trio configuration featuring Wayne Horvitz (piano), Samantha Boshnack(trumpets), and Beth Fleenor (clarinets/voice). Unexpected and brilliant set of music with exciting electronic and vocal intermixing.

Since arriving in Seattle in 1998, clarinetist/vocal percussionist/ composer Beth Fleenor has carved a place for herself as an energetic multi-instrumentalist and dynamic generative artist. Her robust sound, organic approach, and openness to experimentation in all forms, actively fuels a long and varied list of collaborations. Ranging from shows in nightclubs, festivals, schools and galleries, to prisons, parties and concert halls, Fleenor’s work has been featured in live music, theater, performance art, recordings, modern dance, film, sound art and art installations.

Samantha Boshnack has composed and performed with a plethora of Seattle-based musicians and groups since arriving from New York in 2003. The Bard College graduate uses a broad palette in her compositions, including jazz, rock, hip-hop, Balkan, and contemporary classical music influences. Her work has received acclaim from music critics around the world, and has received support from 4Culture, Jack Straw Productions, ASCAPlus, and the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs.

Wayne Horvitz is a composer, pianist, electronic musician, and producer. He has toured widely, and has collaborated with musicians such as Bill Frisell, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Fred Frith, Julian Priester, Michael Shrieve, Bobby Previte, Marty Ehrlich, William Parker, Ron Miles, Sara Schoenbeck, Peggy Lee, Briggan Krauss, and many others. A recipient of numerous commissions and awards, his various ensembles include The President, Pigpen, Zony Mash, The HMP Trio, The New York Composers Orchestra, The 4 Plus 1 Ensemble, Sweeter Than the Day and The Gravitas Quartet.

Presented by NONSEQUITUR, which supports a wide range of adventurous music and sound art through recordings, performances, and exhibitions since 1989. They currently sponsor the Wayward Music Series in the Chapel Performance Space at the historic Good Shepherd Center in the Wallingford neighborhood.

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Tom Varner – Heaven And Hell

January 22nd, 2010

Tom Varner  playing and conducting at the Earshot Jazz Festival 2009

Downbeat Magazine just reviewed Tom Varner’s new CD on Omnitone, “Heaven and Hell” Here is an excerpt.

from the February 2010 issue of Downbeat Magazine

It’s usually a good idea to avoid programmatic interpretations of music. The ear of the beholder can be made of tin in detecting intended mean ings, assuming there are any. But when a work is as powerfully rooted in a cultural and political moment as Heaven And Hell, French hornist Tom Varner’s extended piece for tentet, it’s difficult not to assume the images you see in your mind’s eye and the emotions you feel are ones the artist is seeing and feeling as well.

Heaven And Hell was largely inspired by 9/11. Varner witnessed the attacks and their aftermath as a New Yorker. Now based in Seattle, where he and a predominately local cast recorded the album (his first in eight years), he is still coming to terms with the tragedy. A mournful uncertainty defines the opening “Overview,” with its constrained melody and irregular ensemble patterns. As the music builds to the operatic, Greek chorus-like effects and eerie descending tones of “Structure Down,” it draws hope from happier events in Varner’s life, notably the adoption of his Vietnamese son and starting a new life in Seattle. But making stirring use of grouped and clustered horns and sparing use of drums, Varner is nagged by unre solved questions.

For all its darkness, Heaven And Hell unfolds with the easygoing, open clarity that is a hallmark of his music, striking a reward ing balance between bold modern jazz harmonies and austere modern classical voicings. Connected by brief pensive interludes, the longer individual composi tions unfold deliberately. But there’s no lack of peak moments, as witness the lively solos over Phil Sparks’ limber walking bass on “Queen Tai” by the brilliant East Coast trumpeter Russ Johnson, the Konitzian altoist Mark Taylor and the virtuosic Varner.

More than ever, Varner’s warmly expansive but tough-edged playing rescues the French horn from the “miscellaneous” instrument cate gory. The voice of conscience on Heaven And Hell, he also bestows its greatest pleasures.
—Lloyd Sachs