Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PASIC 2009 - Day 1

Greetings from Indiana !

(or as my colleague Patrick Boyle calls it: "The Home of David Letterman and David Baker" - hmmm...maybe those two should collaborate and come out with a list of the "Top Ten Ways to Learn How to Play Bebop" ? Just a random thought...)

I spent my first day at my first PASIC conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I've been looking forward to this for many years now.

Today was sort of a prelude to the conference, known as "Focus Day". This year's theme is that of the "Global Economy" (hosted by Greg Beyer) and featured music from around the world presented in a contemporary, symbiotic and collaborative format. Many outstanding performances from percussionists all over the globe spanning various styles and instruments in a very forward thinking and thought provoking manner. So many envelopes were pushed in so many different ways today.

There was an incredible volume of great music presented today (no masterclasses, just concerts) and these are the ones that stood out to me:

- Fernado Rocha's performance of "Duo for Pandeiro and Laptop" (by Fernando Rocha and Joseph Malloch). Some beautiful contemporary pandeiro playing here with an effective use of delays and computer effects.

- Jordan Munson's performance on frame drum on "Those That I Do Not Hate". Great use of getting different sounds and textures out of one drum accompanying a stirring video installation.

- Beverly Johnston (of University of Toronto fame !) was outstanding on her marimba work on "Fertility Rites" by Christos Hatzis (damn - I should have taken his percussion composition class last year....oh well)

- "Mad Cow" written and performed by U of T graduate David Carlisle. Wow - what a great demonstration of how to integrate a quasi-drum set within a contemporary percussion approach. Some ridiculous coordination there !

- Susie Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez performing music from "Song of The Bird King". A very musical combination of drum set, laptop computer, groovy cajon and some kind of beautiful Indonesian tuned gong bells. Music with a very poignant message.

- The University of Wisconsin/Madison Graduate Percussion Ensemble's performance of "Concerto for Darrabukka and Percussion Quartet". This was very well done and I particularly appreciated the lead soloist (a professor perhaps ?) who demonstrated his proficiency on the darrabukka with the utmost taste and musicality.

And now...


Wednesday, November 11th - 2009

Today's FOUR ON THE FLOOR PASIC MVP AWARD goes to Dan Weiss, a New York City contemporary jazz drummer who performed his innovative piece "Tintal Drumset Solo". Basically, Weiss is a studied tabla player as well as a monster jazz drummer and he took an entire traditional classical tabla solo and adapted it, literally, on the drum set (!)

Yikes - his control, phrasing, understanding and application of Indian tabla vocabulary was BRILLIANT !!! I can only imagine how long it must have taken him to get this together. I'm pretty sure that there is no one else doing what he does so well on this planet these days (I could be wrong - Trilok Gurtu perhaps?) Anyways, Dan is clearly a dedicated spirit when it comes to drumming and music. It really showed in his performance this afternoon. In the written concert notes, Weiss had the following to say:

"I strongly believe that I have a duty to be the best musician I can be in order to be the best person I can be. I practice very intensely to transform my being and in turn transform others. That is the best I can hope to be in this lifetime."

Some deep and inspiring thoughts from drummer Dan Weiss that clearly translates into deep music....it was very moving.

Here is some video footage of Dan performing his piece "Tintal Drumset Solo":

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