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Interview: Andrew Drury

Andrew Drury's Content Provider by Reuben Radding

Composer, improviser, percussionist, and educator Andrew Drury celebrates the release of two long-awaited records, Content Provider, the eponymous debut of Drury’s quartet featuring Briggan Krauss, Ingrid Laubrock, and Brandon Seabrook, and The Drum, a collection of solo floor tom and percussion improvisations, at Roulette on Tuesday, February 17th. 

The program you are presenting at Roulette features two projects and celebrates their respective releases. Is there a complementary relationship between these two records?

“Complimentary” does seem like the right word. They express two apparently very different directions in my musical output. Content Provider comes right out of my jazz origins, playing drum set in all kinds of bands, composing for a band, and being part of the social organism known as a band. The Drum is a solo project coming from my involvement in sound oriented approaches to free improvisation that don’t have much surface resemblance to jazz or the kind of drumming I have done most of my life—it can sound more like classical, electronic, noise, or a movie soundtrack than what gets called jazz. On The Drum I use a single floor tom and a small number of other objects that employ extended wind and friction techniques I’ve developed over the last decade or so. But both express my fundamental love and fascination with drumming, improvisation, composition, and some kind of visceral or primal approach to performance.

Often the people who hear my jazz work don’t know about my extended technique work—or even about how lyrical or compelling other uses of improvisation might be to them. And the more “experimental,” “free improvisation” oriented folks think the more conventional approaches are passé or not as sophisticated. I want to both to be confronted with both. Music, creativity, and expertise are timeless (ancient and “as new as tomorrow”) and take many forms, so that’s what I’m striving for. These two projects are two sides of one coin and I think hearing one will make people hear the other in a different way.

Your program consists of four parts (ContenTrio, Content Provider, solo, and Content Provider + Special Guests). Are there specific musical ideas each group seeks to explore?

The core concept of the group, the quartet, is asking what can this group do given the abilities, resources, and imaginations of these three particular individuals: Brandon Seabrook, Briggan Krauss, and Ingrid Laubrock. They all have a lot of facility and their own voice on their particular instrument, they make magic happen when they play, and I dig ‘em as people too.

For the solo project it’s about zeroing in on certain sounds and techniques I’ve found through my free improvisation/extended techniques area of work and giving full attention and space to those, allowing them to form the basis for entire pieces or passages. There are a fair number of sounds I’ve gotten into that I think people should hear but it’s not always possible in group situations.

As a composer, improviser, and percussionist, can you tell us about your musical background and process?

I’m a drummer. I never received training on other instruments. I taught myself how to get around on the piano when I was a teenager. This background gives me certain abilities and limitations that I try to use to my advantage. Drumming has been central to my musical development and this affects how I conceive melody, phrasing, intervals, harmony, pattern, rhythm (of course), and the shaping of energy.  I’m grateful actually that I wasn’t burdened with compositional training because my independence from that allowed me to make music in a way that was very direct and personal to me.

Another part of my process, or background, is my non-musical or extra-musical aesthetic experiences. My experience of the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Ocean. Poetry. Certain encounters with theater, dance, and performance art.  Lots of visual art. Travel. I feel like all these things give one a taste of something powerful—beauty maybe—that one wants to re-experience or replicate or communicate to others. And the medium I’ve been blessed or cursed with during my time on the planet is music so for me to convey or commune with this aesthetic stuff on the deepest level I have to engage in acts of musical creation. That’s the medium I’m best at. In another life it might have been mountain climbing, carpentry, who knows…

Anyway this background material is like magma under the crust of the earth and given some pressure and some fissures, it kind of erupts when I start playing around on the piano, singing into a recorder, or writing in a journal. And what comes out becomes the composition.

Part four of your set concludes with your piece, “The Band Is a Drum Set”. Does this title perhaps suggest something about your approach?

This particular piece I wrote in 1989 as an experiment for myself to see what would happen if a band with some horns played the kind of melodic figures that a drummer plays. (One of the musicians who played it on its premiere was Wadada Leo Smith!). The melody uses three pitches (analogous to snare drum, small tom, and floor tom) and phrases them in a way that I thought was characteristic of a Max Roach or Ed Blackwell solo. The piece was a success and I subsequently expanded and explored this idea in other pieces, i.e. imposing drum-like material on non-drum instruments more and realized there was something to it. It provides a slightly different algorithm for how a band can function, and a slightly different sound result. Plus the drums are an ancient instrument, a primal instrument that has been used for ritual and altering consciousness and perception, altering one’s sense of existence in space and time. I found that what I was also doing was trying to use a band to do that. Ingrid protested though—she wants me to write “The Drum Set Is a Saxophone”.

Tri-Centric Music Festival

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Last night, April 11th, 2014 was the first night of the Tri-Centric Music Festival at Roulette.   Members had the opportunity to come early for a pre-concert reception where we unveiled the 5 Anthony Braxton Scores that are currently on display at Roulette.

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Falling River Music

Excerpts from the liner notes to Anthony Braxton/Matt Bauder – 2+2 Compositions (2005, 482 Music) by Charlie Wilmoth:

Braxton has done so many things over the course of his amazing career that it’s difficult to ever say that he’s doing something he has never done. It seems safe to say, however, that in the last few years, Braxton has been paying more attention to timbre and texture than ever before. This interpretation of recent trends in Braxton’s work seems even more plausible when we consider his new Falling River Musics.

Braxton writes, “Falling River Musics is the name of a new structural prototype class of compositions in my music system that will seek to explore image logic construct ‘paintings’ as the score’s extract music notation.” Falling River scores consist of large, colorful drawings (reminiscent of the titles of Braxton’s earlier compositions) alongside much smaller writings.

These smaller writings are accompanied by an intentionally vague legend that begins near the top of the page with a quarter note. Subsequent drawings in the legend look less and less like musical notation, and they quickly become unrecognizable as such. Braxton refuses to assign any specific meanings to the notations of his Falling River scores, since part of their purpose is to allow each performer to find her own way through them. He explains, “I am particularly interested in this direction as a means to balance the demands of traditional notation interpretation and esoteric inter-targeting.”

Anthony Braxton is recognized as one of the most important musicians, educators ad creative thinkers of the past 50 years, highly esteemed in the creative music community for the revolutionary quality of his work and for the mentorship and inspiration he has provided to generations of younger musicians. Drawing upon a disparate mix of influences from John Coltrane to Karlheinz Stockhausen to Native American music, Braxton has created a unique musical system that celebrates the concept of global creativity and our shared humanity. His work examines core principles of improvisation, structural navigation and ritual engagement; innovation, spirituality and intellectual investigation. His many accolades include a 1981 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1994 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2014 NEA Jazz Master Award.


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The Tri-Centric Music Festival continues through this weekend and next week!  Full schedule below:

Friday, April 11, 8PM at Roulette

Nate Wooley: Battle Pieces
Featuring Nate Wooley: trumpet; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophones; Sylvie Courvoisier: piano; Matt Moran: vibraphone

Anthony Braxton: Composition 146, “Moogie and Stetson” for 12 flutes, 2 tubas, and percussion
Featuring Taylor Ho Bynum: conductor; Jamie Baum, Domenica Fossati, Michel Gentile, Adrianne Greenbaum, Margaret Lancaster, Erin Lesser, Aleksandra Miglowiec, Leah Paul, Helene Rosenblatt, Peter Standaart, Heather Stegmaier, Sarah Bouchard Stockton: flute; Joseph Daley, Jay Rozen: tuba; Chris Dingman: percussion

Saturday, April 12, 1PM Roulette

Roulette Kids! presents: Taylor Ho Bynum

Taylor Ho Bynum leads a workshop using Anthony Braxton’s principles of Language Music to introduce young people to ideas of group improvisation and composition—using sound as a “lego set” to create structures for play. All ages welcome, with special guests from the upcoming production of Braxton’s opera Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables).

Saturday, April 12, 8PM at Roulette

Fay Victor: Neighborhood Dynamics
Featuring Fay Victor: vocals; Nicole Mitchell: flute; Vincent Chancey: french horn; Anders Nilsson: guitar; Ken Filiano: double bass

Anthony Braxton: Falling River Music Nonet
Featuring Anthony Braxton: saxophones; James Fei: saxophones; Ingrid Laubrock: saxophones; Jasmine Lovell-Smith: saxophones: Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook: guitar; Tomeka Reid: cello; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet

Sunday, April 13, 8-11PM at EYEBEAM

André Vida Moving Scores Final Day
Featuring André Vida: saxophones; Christa Robinson: english horn; Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon; Jay Rozen: tuba; Brett Sroka: trombone; Loren Dempster: cello

Thursday, April 17, 8PM at ROULETTE

Anthony Braxton: Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables) (Acts I & II) 8 P.M. at Roulette

Vocalists: Roland Burks, bass (Zakko), Kelvin Chan, baritone (Ashmenton), Tomas Cruz, tenor (Joreo), Lucy Dhegrae, soprano (Helena), Chris DiMeglio, baritone (Bubba John Jack), Kristin Fung, mezza (Alva), Nick Hallett, tenor (David), Kyoko Kitamura, soprano (Ntzockie), Kamala Sankaram, soprano (Sundance), Elizabeth Saunders, mezzo (Kim), Jen Shyu, soprano (Shala), Vince Vincent, tenor (Ojuwain)

Instrumental Soloists: Vincent Chancey (French horn), Jacob Garchik (baritone horn), Jim Hobbs (alto saxophone), Ingrid Laubrock (soprano saxophone), Domenica Fossati (flute),Oscar Noriega (clarinet), Dan Peck (tuba), Reut Regev (trombone), Stephanie Richards (trumpet), Katie Scheele (English horn), Josh Sinton (bass clarinet), Libby Van Cleve (oboe)

Dancers: Rachel Bernsen, Melanie Maar

Violin: Erica Dicker (concertmaster), Ginger Dolden, Sam Bardfeld, Sarah Bernstein, Julianne Carney, Jason Hwang, Mazz Swift, Scott Tixier
Viola: Amy Cimini, Jessica Pavone, Erin Wight
Cello: Marika Hughes, Tomeka Reid, Tomas Ulrich
Bass: Ken Filiano, Mark Helias
Flute: Leah Paul, Domenica Fossati
Oboe/English horn: Kathy Halvorson, Katie Scheele, Libby Van Cleve
Clarinet/saxophone: Mike McGinnis, Jim Hobbs, Ingrid Laubrock, Oscar Noriega, Josh Sinton
Bassoon: Sara Schoenbeck, Katherine Young
French horn: Nathan Koci, Vincent Chancey
Trumpet: Gareth Flowers, Stephanie Richards
Trombone: Jacob Garchik, Reut Regev
Tuba: Dan Peck
Percussion: David Shively
Harp: Jacqui Kerrod

Conductor/Composer/Librettist: Anthony Braxton
Producer: Taylor Ho Bynum
Director: Acushla Bastible
Associate Director: Louisa Proske
Video Director: Chris Jonas
Associate Video Director: Dylan McLaughlin
Choreographer: Rachel Bernsen
Sound Design: Amy Crawford
Assistant Producer: Kyoko Kitamura
Production Assistant: Tyler Rai
Lighting designer: Yi Zhao
Costume designer: Nikki Delhomme
Stage Manager: Desiree Alejandro

Friday, April 18, 8PM at Roulette
Anthony Braxton: Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables) (Acts III & IV)
(See Thursday, April 17 for full cast & crew)

Saturday, April 19, 3PM at Roulette
Anthony Braxton: Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables) (Acts I & II)
(See Thursday, April 17 for full cast & crew)

Saturday, April 19, 8PM at Roulette
Anthony Braxton: Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables) (Acts III & IV)
(See Thursday, April 17 for full cast & crew)


For Roulette, general admission is $20 – $35 depending on the performance. Members/Students/Seniors $15, FREE for All Access Members. More info here:

Interview: Theresa Wong’s The Unlearning


A daring new work from a rising star, Theresa Wong’s The Unlearning unflinchingly examines the modern horrors of war, raising and expressing in avant-garde and world folk music forms the central question: What does it mean to be an artist in a time of war? In this interview, Wong discusses the influence of Goya’s The Disasters of War on her new project, her collaboration with Carla Kihlstedt that was central to The Unlearning, and of the deep philosphical and existential lessons she learned in tackling the big subject of our age.

Interview: Miya Masaoka & Michelle Handelman


Composer Miya Masaoka and video artist Michelle Handelman discuss the origins of their new project: the personal stories and the ideas that their work address, the artistic impulse to create a socially and politically engaged form of art, and offer their thoughts on why it is important for us to resist.

Interview: Morton Subotnick


Composer and electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick discusses the latest project, From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur IV: LUCY, a collaboration with visual artist Lillevan, and talks about his influences, and the prescient early insights that propelled his extraordinary career and art.

Interview: Maura Donohue, Ross Feller, Koosil-Ja, Kora Radella & Jim Staley


Maura Donohue, Koosil-Ja, and Kora Radella, along with composer/musician Ross Feller, gathered to discuss the dynamic intellectual, social & artistic landscape of their current practices in experimental dance, and to reveal, through reflection, the provident lessons from the past. What resulted was a passionate and insightful roundtable discussion from which emerged the meaning of dance as a vital artistic practice that exists in an active engagement with the world.

Interview: Mario Diaz de Leon


The music of Mario Diaz de Leon covers a range of ideas, imagery, and emotions that not only cross genres but also the transition from youth to adult and back through reflection. A composer who writes elaborate and stunning works for classical ensembles in a number of configurations and instrumentation, Diaz de Leon retains the passion, ideals, and conviction of his youth through the metal and punk genres that first inspired and defined him. In this interview, Diaz de Leon discusses his influences, which range from Sepultura, Slint, Ligeti, and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and offers an insight into the thoughts and motivations behind his music, from works for the classical stage to the throbbing intensity of underground clubs

Interview: Jaap Blonk


A self-taught composer, performer and poet, Jaap Blonk has collaborated with the finest musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary improvised music, such as Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex, and the Ebony Band. In this incisive interview, Blonk previews the two works that he will be performing at Roulette, and discusses his formative years as a young musician, the Dutch arts scene, and recounts his infamous, raucous & funny stint as the opening act for the UK punk band, the Stranglers. Also: Blonk’s detailed introductory liner notes Kurt Schwitter’s Ursonate.

FEATURE: The Ängsudden Song Cycle, Part Two: The Players


In Part Two of our Feature on The Ängsudden Song Cycle, composer and clarinetist Mike McGinnis shares his thoughts and reminiscences on the excellent players who came together to help make his imagination come true as a real thing in the world – music – with a animated gif of artwork by the artist MuKha.

Interview: Mary Halvorson & Brandon Seabrook


In a crowded field of guitarists here, there, and everywhere, Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook stand out for the unique ways that they each explore and re-engage with the possibilities of the “new” through the guitar as an instrument of performance and as the nexus of cutting-edge compositions. The two Boston natives and current Brooklyn-ites discuss their upcoming performance, influences, and give a shout out to the – er – Boston Celtics.

FEATURE: The Ängsudden Song Cycle, Part One: Interview with Mike McGinnis


In this interview, part one of a two part feature on the composer and the Song Cycle, Mike McGinnis talks about the interpretive processes behind his magnum opus, previews the upcoming multi-media spectacle, and his vision of the deep forest as an ongoing cycle of reflection, improvisation, and creation.

Interview: Oliver Lake


Oliver Lake discusses the collection of string-based compositions that he will be presenting at Roulette on Tuesday, October 1, and reflects on an extraordinary career.

Interview: Sally Silvers


Sally Silvers, the curator of “Surprise Every Time,” a mini dance festival scheduled for Sept. 28 & 29 at Roulette, discusses the genesis of the idea of “live choreography,” the challenges of curating a dance series, and her active interest in physical movement and performances of all types, as well as the admission to being a big fan of roller derby.

Interview: Ear Heart Music’s Amelia Lukas


Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Ear Heart Music, Amelia Lukas reflects on the growth of her rapidly-ascending new music & mixed media performance series, its core mission and the outstanding performances scheduled for 2013, and shares some of her favorite cafés and bars destinations around Roulette’s Downtown/Boerum Hill neighborhood.

Interview: Bill Horvitz’s Long Walk


On June 30th, guitarist and composer Bill Horvitz will return to Roulette for a dual celebration: in a celebration of the release of his new CD, The Long Walk, and the celebration of the life of his brother Phillip, whose loving memory serves as the heart and inspiration of the new album.