Rafi Zabor’s Updoc Fri 4/8 & Tues 4/12


For starters there’s a new opening theme this week, and you’ll have to tune in to believe it—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Statue of Liberty time. After that? Three tunes from Noah Preminger’s new CD of Delta Blues updates, and then I couldn’t, after all the recent Rites and Springing, get loose from Igor “Slam” Stravinsky, so here’s the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performing his 1947 ballet score . . . wait for it . . . Orpheus: a breath-of-fresh-air sort of thing, surprisingly pretty. What else is in store? Well, I remain unconvinced by Vijay Iyer as a jazz musician, but the further he gets from idiomatic jazz the brighter his pianistic gifts shine, so here are three tunes from his new album of duets with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith: a spacious free-music idiom in which swing is not a factor and the blues can be a passing fancy suits him well. The title, however, might be the most pretentious or do I mean presumptuous title ever: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke. A break please give me. For swing, though, we’re if anything overcompensated by Ralph Peterson’s new live piano-trio record with Zaccai and Luques Curtis, already getting picked as album of the month around the circuit and probably the swingingest new thing you will hear for a while (full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes). As for Stravinsky, the really interesting piece is saved for last: his 1957 ballet score Agon, the first work in which he joined the opposition and employed tone rows. The composer’s own recording was conducted by the man who insisted that music was incapable of expressing anything: the piece as he renders it is almost vehemently devoid of subjective expression. It’s an impersonal or suprapersonal gleaming, but I found a recording by the great Soviet conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky, who sails into it as if it’s by Shostakovich, full of dramatic and ironic oppositions and collisions. Mravinsky finds a dramatic and rhythmic through-line dynamic in this music that Stravinsky might have objected to but which might just bowl you over. Updoc finishes with a suitelet from Gato Barbier’s keening, romantic score for Last Tango in Paris, probably the best thing about the film aside from the . . . oh never mind. It’s hard to believe Barbieri was 83 years old: once heard, never forgotten: hail and farewell.

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