Anna Webber celebrates the release of her double album Idiom (released May 2021 on Pi Recordings) with a concert featuring both her long-standing Simple Trio and a new large ensemble. The album is the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed release Clockwise, which the Wall Street Journal called “visionary and captivating”, and which was voted #6 Best Album of 2019 in the NPR Jazz Critics Poll.
Idiom is a series of six rigorously composed pieces, each of which is based on a specific woodwind extended technique – a broad term meaning any non-traditional way of producing sound on an instrument, including the use of multiphonics, alternate fingerings, buzzes, air sounds, key clicks, overblown notes, and the like – that Webber has taken from her own improvisational language. The trio pieces use the piano and drums to highlight aspects of Webber’s flute and saxophone techniques while taking advantage of their complete physical and dynamic ranges. The hour-long Idiom VI” is performed—over six movements and four interludes—by a twelve-piece (plus conductor) ensemble that brings together a mix of musicians equally split between improvisors and new music specialists. The resulting masterwork abounds in other-worldly tone colors and timbres enveloped by rhythmic and harmonic tension.
Anna Webber: flute, tenor saxophone
Matt Mitchell: piano
John Hollenbeck: drums
Idiom VI Large Ensemble
Anna Webber: flute, bass flute, tenor saxophone
Nathaniel Morgan: alto saxophone
Yuma Uesaka: clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, tenor saxophone
Nolan Tsang: trumpet
David Byrd-Marrow: horn
Jacob Garchik: trombone
Erica Dicker: violin
Joanna Mattrey: viola
Mariel Roberts: cello
Matt Mitchell: synthesizer
Nick Dunston: bass
John Hollenbeck: drums
Eric Wubbels: conductor
Anna Webber (b. 1984) is a flutist, saxophonist, and composer whose interests and work live in the aesthetic overlap between avant-garde jazz and new classical music. Her 2020 release, Both Are True (Greenleaf Music), co-led with saxophonist/composer Angela Morris, was named a top ten best release of 2020 by The New York Times. She was recently named a 2021 Berlin Prize Fellow and was voted the top “Rising Star” flutist in the 2020 Downbeat Critic’s Poll. In addition to her work as a bandleader, she has performed and/or recorded with projects led by artists such as Dan Weiss, Jen Shyu, Dave Douglas, Matt Mitchell, Ches Smith, John Hollenbeck, and Trevor Dunn, among others. Webber is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and has additionally been awarded grants from the Copland Fund (2021 & 2019), the Shifting Foundation (2015), and the New York Foundation for the Arts (2017) and residencies from Exploring the Metropolis (2019), the MacDowell Colony (2017 & 2020), the Millay Colony for the Arts (2015), and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts (2014). Webber is originally from British Columbia.
Idiom VI was created with the support of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and the EtM Con Edison Composer Residencies, administered by Exploring the Metropolis; and was premiered at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY on January 29, 2020 as part of The Stone Commissioning Series curated by John Zorn.
Photos by TJ Huff, Liz Kosack, Peter Gannushkin