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Tri-Centric Orchestra Commissioning Series at Roulette

Kurt Gottschalk By

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Night two brought two smaller but no less ambitious projects to the stage. Chris Jonas's GARDEN II: House put four horns (Jonas on soprano sax, Chris DiMeglio on trumpet and Dan Blacksburg and Chris McIntyre on trombone) inside three scrim walls, leaving them partially obscured from the audience and allowing video to be projected in front of them, behind them and onto them all at once. The video was generally abstract, often out of focus human figures, the music reminiscent of his old New York band The Sun Spits Cherries or a sort of cold-brewed New Orleans brass band. As the music became more animated, so did the projections, jumping between screens and flowing across the width of the theater in a fascinating abstract synchronization. Saxophonist Steve Lehman played from his Mise en Abîme set of compositions with Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet and James Hurt on piano, all three also employing electronics and indeed there was a certain dissonance in seeing all three working their laptops with acoustic instruments in their hands. But there were sections of acoustic playing always well, including a fired up duo by Finlayson and Hurt and an angular solo by Lehman that closed the set.

There have been many pleasant surprises with the resurrection of Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundationd over the last three years—the renewed interest in his music, the wealth of recordings made available and the fact that what money they have raised has been put where the institutional mouth is. The promise to support the work of younger composers, too, has been happily upheld with the ongoing commissioning series, showing again that art prospers when it's supported moreso than when its left on the vine of the free market economy.

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