This CD presents four noted West Coast composersthree from Southern California and one from Fairbanks, Alaskawriting haunting, generally quiet, sometimes lyric, occasionally pensive music for clarinet and bass clarinet accompanied by either string quartet or percussion and piano.
Adams' Dark Wind was written for Marty Walker and this CD in 2001. Although it is a process-driven piece involving polyrhythms and ever-widening intervals, its rolled percussion and piano parts and quietly expressive clarinet lines lend it the feeling of a freely composed, almost impressionistic work.
The Fink, Cox, and Fox quintets were written for Marty Walker in 1990, and given their premieres by him that same year at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E.) gallery. These pieces were released in 1992 in a limited pressing on the short-lived Raptoria Caam label, a company run by composer/performer Maria Newman.
Fink's Thread of Summer is a continuous melody filtered through the various timbres of the quintet's instrumental combinations. Cox's When April May floats a lyric line over a repeating harmonic structure. Fox's Between the Wheels is a series of quiet bass clarinet statements, accompanied by violin harmonics, heard against a cycling tapestry of string tremolos.
Among the four ensemble pieces, clarinetist Walker has nested two Interludesvery short improvisations that delicately hover at the threshold of audibility.
John Luther Adams has made his home for the past 25 years in the boreal forest near Fairbanks, Alaska, where he has created music grounded in the landscapes and indigenous cultures of the North. He has written for orchestra, chamber ensembles, radio, film, television, and theater. Recent performances of his music have included productions at the Almeida Opera Festival (London) and Arena Stage (Washington, DC) and by The Paul Dresher Ensemble (San Francisco), the Third Angle New Music Ensemble (Portland, OR), and The Monophony Consort (Yokohama, Japan). He has received awards and fellowships from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lila Wallace Arts Partners Program, the Rockefeller Foundation, Opera America, and the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. Currently, Adams serves as president of the American Music Center. He has music recorded on the New Albion, New World, Cold Blue, Opus One, Owl, and Centaur labels and forthcoming on Mode. Cold Blue has devoted a CD devoted to Adams' music: The Light That Fills the World (CB0010). Adams
Rick Cox is a Los Angeles-based composer and multi-instrumentalist. As a featured performer (woodwinds, guitar, and sampler), he can be heard on such popular film scores as The Shawshank Redemption, The Horse Whisperer, and American Beauty (scores by Thomas Newman) and on recent recordings by jazz/new-music trumpeter Jon Hassell. He has also collaborated with guitarist/composer Ry Cooder, arranging, composing and performing on the film scores Last Man Standing and Wim Wenders End of Violence. Coxs own scores include Inside Monkey Zetterland and Corrina, Corrina. He regularly performs in the Los Angeles area with new music, avant-rock, and jazz-oriented ensembles. His concert pieces have been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles and soloists throughout the U.S. and recorded on the Grenadilla, Advance, Raptoria Caam, and Cold Blue labels. Last year, Cold Blue released his solo CD Maria Falling Away (CB0006).
Michael Jon Finks music has been presented at the Green Umbrella Series of the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, New Music L.A., the Monday Evening Concerts, the SCREAM Festival, the L.A. Fringe Festival, New Music America, the CalArts Contemporary Music Festival, Festival Commune di Chiesa, and the Martes Musicales. His orchestra works have been commissioned and performed by the Antelope Valley Symphony, the Classical Philharmonic, Symphony of the Canyons, and the Santa Monica Symphony. His incidental music for the W. B. Yeats play Deirdre was performed at the1996 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He has works released on the Cold Blue, Raptoria Caam, Bare Bones, and CRI labels. The Los Angeles Times has described Finks music as "lustrous" and "metaphysically tinged" and likened it to the work of the late composer Morton Feldman. Last year, Cold Blue released a CD devoted to his music, I Hear It in the Rain (CB0004). Fink
Jim Foxs music has been commissioned and performed by groups and soloists throughout the U.S. and presented at the Monday Evening Concerts, New Music America, Real Art Ways, Wires, the SCREAM Festival, the CalArts Contemporary Music Festival, Podewil, the Ventura Chamber Music Festival, L.A.C.E., and many similar venues. He has also scored feature films. His music, which has been described by critics as both "austere" and "sensuous," has been recorded on the CRI, Advance, Cold Blue, Grenadilla, Raptoria Caam, and Citadel labels and published in such new music anthologies as Soundings and Scores. His recent Cold Blue recording Last Things (CB0001) was chosen as a record of the year (2000) by the Italian music magazine Blow Up and The Wire magazine (UK) described it as "an austere, ethereal experience." International Record Review wrote of it: "Foxs music invites one to believe that if the stars, constellations and galaxies emitted sounds, these unearthly harmonics are what one might hear." Fox
Marty Walker is a clarinetist who specializes in the performance new music. (He has premiered more than 80 works written especially for him.) Among the labels for which he has recorded are CRI, O.O.Discs, Tzadik, Cold Blue, Grenadilla, Echograph, New World, and Rastacan. Walker has tourded and recorded with various new-music ensembles, including the the Robin Cox Ensemble, the California E.A.R. Unit (the in-residence ensemble at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Some Over History, eXindigo, Viklarbo, and Ghost Duo. As a soloist, he has presented live radio concerts on NPR, Pacifica, and other radio venues and has performed at numerous new music festivals, including New Music America (Miami and Houston), the International Festival of New Music (Los Angeles), and New Music International (Mexico City), and noted new music venues, including Real Art Ways, FaultLines, the Monday Evening Concerts, and Wires. The Los Angeles Times called Walkers playing "masterfully expressive;" El Nacional (Mexico City) wrote that his playing "took the audience to another musical dimension;" and Option magazine called him "one of the finest new-music clarinetists in the country." Last year, Cold Blue released Walker's CD Dancing on Water (CB0005). 21st Century Music magazine wrote of that release: "If people are best known by the company they keep, then clarinetist Marty Walker is blessed indeed. He keeps wonderful company with an excellent series of composers. . . . both the playing and the recording quality are sparkling."
Amy Knoles is a percussionist and composer who has performed with the California E.A.R. Unit, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Basso Bongo, John Cage, Frank Zappa, Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, Tod Machover, Flea, The Paul Dresher Ensemble, Quincy Jones, Ensemble Modern, The Bang On A Can All Stars, and many others ensembles. She has performed at concerts and festivals throughout the world, including the Helsinki Festival, the Spoleto Festival, the Sommer Theater Festival (Hamburg), the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Cyber Arts Festival, the Aspen Dance Festival, and the Ojai Festival. She has recorded for Sony Classics, Barking Pumpkin, Voyager CD-ROM, New Albion, Nonesuch, New World, O.O. Discs, CBS, RCA, Relativity, Echograph, and Crystal Records. She may also be heard on Marty Walker's Cold Blue CD Dancing on Water, released in 2001. Knoles
"In turns beautiful, expressive, contemplative and haunting, this is music that slows the listener's world to a crawl; he is thus free to explore all its wonders, both its lights, shimmering and bright, and its shadows, creeping intently over the surfaces of things. Recommended." Incursion Music Review
"This is a beautiful collection of six compositions for small ensembles [clarinet, vibraphone & marimba, piano, violin, viola and cello] which repay careful and close listening. They are quietly experimental and new, yet tuneful enough for even the most conservative of classical music listeners." Rupert Loydell, Tangents (UK)
"Finks 'Thread of Summer' is an articulate, contemplative work that puts forth a rich autumnal half-light. Foxs gentle 'Between the Wheels' shows that strings can create a hovering, birdlike atmosphere. a success." Richard Grooms, The Improvisor
"Quiet and unashamedly tonal writing . . . out of time, in a way." Signal to Noise