Tag: Roulette Archive

Roulette Archive Awarded $20K grant from the GRAMMY Museum®

The Roulette Archive recently received a $20K grant from the GRAMMY Museum® to professionally preserve and digitize concert recordings made here between 1985 and 2004.


GRAMMY Museum® Grant Program

LOS ANGELES (JULY 10, 2019)—The GRAMMY Museum® Grant Program announced today that $200,000 in grants will be awarded to 15 recipients in the United States to help facilitate a range of research on a variety of subjects, as well as support a number of archiving and preservation programs. Research projects include work on musical anhedonia, musical training’s relationship to complex memories, and the relationship between cognitive function and singing accuracy. Preservation projects include the archiving of uncirculated John Hartford jam tapes, 960 audio reels of Cajun and zydeco artists, and 221 rare interview recordings with African-American actors, performers, composers, musicians, and scholars, among many other preservation projects.

“The GRAMMY Museum Grant Program to date has awarded more than $7.5 million to more than 400 grantees,” said Michael Sticka, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum. “The work we help fund includes an impressive array of projects that are at the forefront of exploring music’s beneficial intersection with science, and that maintain our musical legacy for future generations. The initiatives announced today exemplify the Museum’s mission to uphold music’s value in our lives and shared culture.”

Generously funded by the Recording Academy, the GRAMMY Museum Grant Program provides funding annually to organizations and individuals to support efforts that advance the archiving and preservation of the recorded sound heritage of the Americas for future generations, in addition to research projects related to the impact of music on the human condition. In 2008, the Grant Program expanded its categories to include assistance grants for individuals and small to mid-sized organizations to aid collections held by individuals and organizations that may not have access to the expertise needed to create a preservation plan. The assistance planning process, which may include inventorying and stabilizing a collection, articulates the steps to be taken to ultimately archive recorded sound materials for future generations.


Scientific Research Grantees

Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning—McGill University—Montreal

Awarded: $20,000

Caroline Palmer, Signy Sheldon, and Rebecca Scheurich of McGill University will test people’s memories for rich auditory detail in real-world events. Brain activity of musically trained and untrained individuals will be measured as they recall complex events. Findings will address the link between musical training, imagery, and autobiographical memory.

Northeastern University—Boston

Awarded: $20,000

Music is a rewarding social activity across human cultures, but recent studies have identified a special population of people with musical anhedonia, who feel no reward in response to music. This project will identify the incidence and neural substrates of musical anhedonia, and test the relationship between musical reward sensitivity and difficulties with social bonding, which is characteristic in people with autism spectrum disorders.

University at Buffalo—Buffalo, New York

Awarded: $20,000

Recent studies have found correlations between singing accuracy and measures of general cognitive functioning: individuals’ ability to form auditory images and auditory short‐term memory capacity. This project consists of two training studies designed to test whether there is an actual causal relationship: Can improved imagery and/or memory lead to more accurate singing, and can improved singing accuracy enhance imagery and/or memory capacity?

Preservation Assistance Grantees

The Kitchen Sisters Productions—San Francisco

Awarded: $5,000

The goal of this project is to create a plan to inventory, archive, preserve, and make publicly available the Kitchen Sisters Collection, which includes some 7,000 hours of recordings of nearly 40 years of interviews, oral histories, music and sound for the NPR series, podcasts, projects, and stories. Funds will be used to hire a professional to develop a catalog, plan for digitization, long-term storage, back-up, and accessibility.

Percussive Arts Society—Indianapolis

Awarded: $5,000

The Percussive Arts Society (PAS) plans to inventory and assess approximately 150 hours of music on 78s from the Edwin Gerhardt Marimba Xylophone Collection in preparation for its subsequent preservation, digitization and dissemination. Support will allow PAS to engage an expert to help inventory this extensive collection of recordings and prioritize items for preservation.

The House Foundation for the Arts, Inc—New York

Awarded: $5,000

As a steward of Meredith Monk’s legacy, the House will embark on the Lineage Project to preserve, enhance, and maintain the integrity of Monk’s artistic works and make such works available for the benefit of the public. The House will publish an online database cataloging 50-plus years of previously unavailable photographs, video, audio, and objects. This resource will act as a centralized location for her archive and support ongoing digitization and preservation efforts, providing students, artists, curators, and the general public access to this rich history.

Armenian Studies Program, California State University, Fresno—Fresno, California

Awarded: $5,000

This project will focus on the inventory and cataloging of nearly 1,500 recordings on 78-rpm discs from the Armenian-American diaspora. The locally produced records document the early history of Armenians in the United States. The collection represents the voices of musicians whose social, economic, and political status forced them out of their homeland. It was thus only in the emerging cosmopolitan American music scene that most of these artists were first able to be heard.

Bluegrass Country Foundation—Washington, D.C.

Awarded: $5,000

The Bluegrass Country Foundation will identify, index and preserve recordings of bluegrass music shows broadcast over the last 50 years at WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C.  These include programs featuring rare and out-of-print recordings as well as interviews, concerts, and live studio performances.

Preservation Implementation

San Francisco Symphony—San Francisco

Awarded: $12,000

The San Francisco Symphony will transfer to a digital format 118 live recordings conducted by music director Michael Tilson Thomas, who will be stepping down from his post in 2020. This comprehensive digital collection will preserve the historic contributions Thomas made to the modern orchestral repertoire during his exceptional 25-year tenure with the San Francisco Symphony.

Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University—Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Awarded: $19,963

This project will digitize and catalog 573 cassettes of jam performances from the John Hartford audio collection. A hit songwriter and “newgrass” pioneer, Hartford obsessively documented his activities at the epicenter of Nashville’s music scene. These unique and uncirculated recordings capture some of the most important bluegrass, country, and folk musicians of the late-20th century in rare and informal settings.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings—Washington, D.C,

Awarded: $20,000

This project will digitize roughly 960 audio reels and corresponding materials—related to recordings of Cajun and zydeco artists—for preservation, rights research, and online access.

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc.—Boston

Awarded: $11,518.50

The Boston Symphony Orchestra intends to transfer and preserve endangered audio from 282 DATs that correspond to 273 Boston Pops concerts held at Symphony Hall from 1992–2002. Project deliverables include preservation master files, access copies on CD for public use in the Archives Reading Room, MP3 files of the full concerts for internal and individually approved remote reference, and an Encoded Archival Description finding aid.

The City College of New York Libraries—New York

Awarded: $20,000

The City College of New York Libraries (CCNY Libraries) will digitize and preserve more than 221 rare interview recordings—conducted mainly between 1970 and 1974—with African-American actors, performers, composers, musicians and scholars. Digital copies will be preserved in CCNY’s trusted digital repository and access copies will be made available onsite at the CCNY Archives & Special Collections as well as remotely accessible at CCNY and four partner institutions.

Roulette Intermedium, Inc.—Brooklyn, New York

Awarded: $20,000

The Roulette Archive is an initiative to preserve, restore, digitize, and distribute 1,100 audio recordings on threatened PCM-F1 and DAT tapes recorded between 1986-2002. These quality recordings are part of a 4,000-plus historic collection capturing significant achievements in contemporary music dating back to 1980 and continuing to this day. The concerts took place in Roulette’s loft venue in New York City during a fertile period of experimentation and discovery.

Tulane University—New Orleans

Awarded: $11,518.50

The Hogan Jazz Archive, part of Tulane University Special Collections, will digitize and preserve 25 unique recordings from Vernon Winslow, the first black disc jockey in New Orleans. The recordings offer a rare chance to hear 1940s and 1950s radio continuity, including local advertisements and conversations with local and itinerant musicians, and provide insight into the dawn of segregated radio in the city. Once digitized, they will be accessible to the public online.

about the grammy museum

Established in 2008, the GRAMMY Museum is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating a greater understanding of the history and significance of music. Paying tribute to our collective musical heritage, the Museum explores and celebrates all aspects of the art form—from the technology of the recording process to the legends who’ve made lasting marks on our cultural identity. In 2017, the Museum integrated with its sister organization, the GRAMMY Foundation®, to broaden the reach of its music education and preservation initiatives. As a unified organization, today, the GRAMMY Museum fulfills its mission of making music a valued and indelible part of our society through exhibits, education, grants, and public programming.

Relive a Lost, Rarely Documented Era in New York Music History…and Discover a New One at the Roulette Archive

by Alan Young originally published on New York Music Daily


If you ran a club, would you record everything ever played there? Among venues around the world, never mind New York, Roulette probably holds the record for owning the most exhaustive archive of concert performances. Smallshas been documenting their own scene since the zeros, but Roulette goes back over two decades before then. What’s most astonishing is the wealth of material in the Roulette archive. Sure – virtually everyone who ever played a gig anywhere in the world where there’s an internet connection has been documented on youtube. But Roulette’s archive goes back to 1980, long before most people even had video cameras. It got a gala, mid-February relaunch, with a characteristically celestial, rippling performance by inventor, composer and one-man electric gamelan Pat Spadine a.k.a. Ashcan Orchestra.

Although Roulette has deep roots as a spot for free jazz, practically since the beginning they’ve been programming music and multidisciplinary work that few other venues would touch. The archive validates founder and trombonistJim Staley’s vision of how crucial that stubborn commitment to music at the furthest, most adventurous fringes would become. Staley originated the Roulette brand in the late 70s. As a New York venue, it opened as a jazz loft on West Broadway in 1980, eventually migrated to Wooster Street and now sits across from the site of another storied New York music hotspot that was forced to move, Hank’s, on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Looking back, it’s astonishing to see how many artists who would become iconic, not only in the free jazz or avant garde demimondes, were part of the 80s Roulette scene. Shows from early in the decade featured a characteristically diverse cast: John Zorn, big band revivalist Jim McNeely and doomed polymath/indie classical pioneer Julius Eastman each played solo piano here. A young Ned Rothenberg led several ensembles, as did Butch Morris, refining his signature conduction in front of a relatively small (for him) improvisational ensemble.

Pauline Oliveros made her Roulette debut in 1984, Elliott Sharp and Bill Frisellthe following year. The earliest performance currently available online dates from 1985: the late Jerry Hunt building a swirl of insistent, astringent analog loops behind what must have been a spectacularly physical, outlandish performance. As the archive describes it, he was “Wearing his ubiquitous jacket and tie, with his equipment suitcase that doubled as a performance seat and percussion instrument, button controllers made from Bakelite dishes, optical sensors triggering video disks, fetish objects including shakers, sticks, and rattles made by David McManaway, and convincing all in attendance that they were watching a ceremonial magician.”

The next one is from October, 1986: Tenko and Kamura singing over skronky guitar and snapping, distorted bass, with Zeena Parkins on both her usual harp and also piano. Later that month the venue booked a night of all women improvisers: once again, Roulette was way ahead of its time.

From later in the decade, you can hear Tom Johnson’s 1978 composition Chord Catalogue, comprising the 8,178 chords that can be made using the notes in a single octave. ”The audio recording is interrupted briefly at the 74 minute point as the original recording media capacity was reached and the tape was changed.” Another rare treat is Frisell playing solo on March 13, 1989: “Solo guitar: electric, acoustic and banjo covering Thelonious Monk, Nino Rota, Disney soundtrack tunes, plus originals.”

The past twenty years are also represented: here’s a random, envelopingly ambient clip of sound sculptor and singer Lesley Flanigan from 2015. The venue also has the Roulette TV series up online, including both live performances and studio footage of artists they’ve championed recently.

These days Roulette keeps programming weird and often rapturously good stuff. Multimedia is big, but they still have regular free jazz, ambient and new orchestral and chamber music. In the past few years, they’ve also become a Brooklyn home for Robert Browning Associates’ annual slate of amazing performers playing traditional music from around the world. One such is this Friday, March 12 at 8 PM, a rare NYC concert of Indian veena music by virtuoso Jayanthi Kumaresh. You can get in for thirty bucks in advance.

The New York Times: A Critic’s Favorite Space for Music in New York Turns 40

by Seth Colter Walls | This article originally published in The New York Times

Jim Staley at Roulette, the music space in Brooklyn. Mr. Staley, who helped found Roulette 40 years ago, remains its director. | Photo: Joe Carrotta for The New York Times

If you’re the kind of New Yorker prone to wondering what it would have been like to go to a CBGB that wasn’t located inside the Newark airport, you might also wonder if you arrived in the city too late.

Fair enough. But the old bohemian, culturally rich downtown Manhattan spirit still has a few embers burning through the city. And at least one of these, Roulette, is actually more powerful now than at the time of its birth in 1978.

Forty years after opening, Roulette is now nestled inside a YWCA complex at the corner of Third and Atlantic avenues in another downtown: Brooklyn’s. Instead of the 74 seats its co-founder — and current director — Jim Staley provided when he first organized concerts in his Tribeca loft, Roulette now has a theater that can accommodate 400. It’s not only the widest ranging music presenter in the city, but also the most comfortable and welcoming.

“As long as it’s something that’s of a creative and experimental nature, they’re interested in it,” Henry Threadgill, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and saxophonist, said in an interview. “They’ve always been interested in it.”

A potent trombonist as well as an administrator, Mr. Staley is modest in describing the roots of one of New York’s most important avant-garde music spaces. “It started out as a collective,” he said in an interview at Roulette. “And then I sort of initiated a series.”

That first regular series in Manhattan, which began in 1980, took place in Mr. Staley’s place on West Broadway. “We were just trying this out,” he recalled. “All these people came, and watched John Cage and Merce Cunningham come through the door, pay their five bucks.” It didn’t take long for noted composers, like the Fluxus artist Philip Corner, to start pitching concerts to him. When the neighborhood changed, Mr. Staley started looking for another home in Lower Manhattan. Late in the 2000s, Roulette leased a spot on Greene Street, until the financial crash sent the building owner’s assets into chaos.

In 2011, it came to Brooklyn, where it is host to a jovial mixture of styles. In recent seasons, Roulette has presented work by a trio including YoshimiO, the sometime drummer of the avant-rock group Boredoms; a sterling evening of two-piano works by Philip Glass; and a semi-staged presentation of a four-act opera by the composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton. It is also the rental hall of choice for some of the city’s most vital music programmers, like the avant-jazz Vision Festival and Thomas Buckner’s Interpretations series.

Anthony Davis, the composer and pianist, at Roulette. | Photo: Joe Carrotta for The New York Times

At a recent Interpretations concert, the composer and pianist Anthony Davis, author of grand operas like “X — The Life and Times of Malcolm X” and “Amistad,” announced he would perform some material from his next opera, “The Central Park Five,” set to premiere at Long Beach Opera in June. Mr. Davis’s operatic writing was once performed at Lincoln Center by New York City Opera; now, if you want to hear this work in the city, you’ll likely end up at Roulette.

Even if you can’t make it in person, you can tune in online; clips of select recent shows run on Roulette TV, while vintage audio recordings have been popping up on the venue’s SoundCloud page. Excerpts from performances by María Grand, Jennifer Choi and Amirtha Kidambi are particularly good on Roulette TV, and the SoundCloud page offers work by the likes of Leroy Jenkins and Pauline Oliveros. A launch party for an even more in-depth archive is scheduled for Feb. 12.

The organization also supports up-and-coming artists with residencies and commissions. In the months before the pianist and composer Kelly Moran made her debut on the Warp label, with the album “Ultraviolet,” you could hear her working out the balance of live pianism and electronics at Roulette, thanks to one of its emerging artist grants.

Describing the award as “way more monetary support than I’m used to,” Ms. Moran said in an interview that she was “shellshocked” to receive it: “It was kind of a surreal moment, because I had all these ideas for projects I wanted to do related to my record, and now I had the means to do them.”

Roulette is generous to audiences, too. To my mind, its balcony remains far and away the city’s loveliest, most relaxing location from which to take in music. I knew Mr. Threadgill liked it, too, based simply on the number of times I have spotted him there. “It’s just so comfortable,” he said during our interview. “I got addicted to sitting upstairs.”

Strangers tend to talk to each other during intermission, more than at other spaces devoted to experimental music. Artists often circulate before and after performances. And that beer you bought in the lobby? You can bring it into the hall.

“It’s always been the nature of these kind of places that allowed for that,” Mr. Staley said, when I asked how Roulette fostered that welcoming spirit. But once again, he sounded a little too modest. Certainly plenty of spaces pay lip service to the idea of openness, but wind up feeling cliquish.

To a critic’s mind, Roulette’s balcony remains far and away the city’s loveliest, most relaxing location from which to take in music. | Photo: Joe Carrotta for The New York Times

A version of this article appears in print on , Section C, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: A Space Devoted to Experimental Music Turns 40. Order Reprints