Interpretations: Erik Friedlander’s Black Phebe // David First & The Same Animal Band

Thursday, November 17, 2016 @ 8:00 pm

Erik Friedlander’s Black Phebe
David First

Cellist Erik Friedlander presents music from his recent CD “Rings”, featuring his new trio Black Phebe, with Shoko Nagai (piano, accordion, electronics) and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion). This eclectic music is one of the rare occasions where one can hear Friedlander incorporating electronics and looping – a central theme in the title work ‘Circles’.  Various pieces on this program find the group operating as more of a chamber ensemble, a accordion-heavy world music band, or a jazz piano trio – but whatever the context the trio finds itself, the results will always include the unexpected.

David First (Vietnamese vong co guitar, overtone sitar, harmonica), Jeanann Dara (viola), Sam Kulik (trombone), Danny Tunick (percussion) will present new works exploring First’s concepts of gestural improvisation—a set of hyper-minimalist procedures that release various species of psychoacoustic phenomena through subversive micro-tuning, overtone isolation, fricative noise production, slippery poly-rhythms, and the elevation of the imperceptible to the highest level of foregrounded significance. Dara, Kulik and Tunick have been working extensively as a unit with First for the past four years in the development of these ideas.

Cellist Erik Friedlander is a composer, an improviser, and a veteran of NYC’s Downtown scene. Friedlander started studying music at an early age, beginning at 5 with guitar, and then at 8, cello lessons. He grew up in a house filled with music, as his father is an avid music lover, and made countless mixtapes which played daily in their home. Erik spent his twenties honing his skills as a player and an improviser and quickly became a sought after studio musician, performing with artists as diverse as The Mountain Goats, John Zorn, Dave Douglas and Courtney Love. Erik’s desire to actively participate in the swirl of music styles he was surrounded by led him to find new ways to play the cello and drives his solo work which is varied and unusual.  Friedlander’s recent projects includes Oscalypso, a grooving tribute to bassist and sometimes cellist Oscar Pettiford; Illuminations, a magical solo cd that weaves inspirations from ancient book making with ritual dance movements and Renaissance vocal forms. Nighthawks is a project that was conceived during the blackout in lower Manhattan caused by Hurricane Sandy. The cd features his Bonebridge Band, a slide-guitar, cello, bass and drums quartet; Claws & Wings, the elegiac work dedicated to Erik’s late wife, featuring laptop percussionist Ikue Mori and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier; and a limited edition LP with photographer Mitch Epstein entitled American Power. Erik’s newest CD Rings is a project with his Black Phebe trio. Friedlander has composed music for ads, dance works, documentaries including the score for Nothing on Earth, a documentary about the work of landscape photographer Murray Fredericks’s dangerous visits to the Greenland icecap. Erik scored the feature film Future Weather, released in 2013.

David First has always been fascinated by opposites and extremes. At 20 he played guitar with renowned avant-jazz pianist Cecil Taylor in a legendary Carnegie Hall concert. Two years later he was creating electronic music as an artist-in-residence at Princeton (released in 2013 on Dais records) and leading a Mummerʼs String Band in Philadelphia parades. He has played in raucous drunken bar bands, semi-legal DIY basements and in pin-drop quiet concert halls with classical ensembles. As a composer First has created everything from finely crafted pop songs to long, severely minimalist droneworks. His opera, The Manhattan Book of the Dead, was staged at LaMama’s Annex Theater (NYC) in 1995 and in Potsdam, Germany in 1996. His 2011 song, We Are (featuring TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone), was released to much acclaim in the Occupy Movement and was officially released on the compilation Occupy This Albumwhich also featured tracks by Patti Smith, Willie Nelson, Yoko Ono, and others. First’s performances often find him sitting trance-like without seeming to move a muscle, unless he is playing with his psychedelic punk band, Notekillers, at which time he is a whirling blur of hyperactive energy. He has been called “a fascinating artist with a singular technique.” in the NY Times, and “a bizarre cross between Hendrix and La Monte Young.” in the Village Voice. First’s other current projects include free-rock noise duo, bl0odoolo0ps, with Notekillers drummer Barry Halkin and SWATi—a collaboration with acupuncturist Isobeau Trybula. Recent releases include a series of solo LPs on various instruments entitled Same Animal, Different Cages (Fabrica records), and an archival CD of his legendary late-80s ensemble, The World Casio Quartet (Pogus).