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Outsound Presents will again celebrate Chinese New Year in its own way

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Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Outsound Presents would celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Snake in the Asian Lunar calendar with one of its SIMM (Static Illusion Methodical Madness) Music series concerts. This Sunday there will be a similar two-set concert to celebrate the Year of the Horse. As with other SIMM concerts, the emphasis will be on highly adventurous improvisation with acoustic instruments.

The first set will consist entirely of a repeat performance of Joe Lasqo’s “Renga-kai” (renga party), first presented at the Center for New Music last October. As I have previously observed, renga is a form of improvised Japanese poetry based on call-and-response collaboration. One poet gives the “call” of a three-line haiku with the lines consisting of five, seven, and five syllables; and the “response” consists of two additional seven-syllable lines. This method had inspired John Cage’s “Two2,” composed for two pianos; and Lasqo has taken a similar approach to musical improvisation in “Renga-kai.”

Lasqo’s piece is scored for nine musicians and dancer and is structured as 36 short call-and-response duets. This will cover all possible ways in which pairs may be formed from the nine performers. The result will be an exploration of diversity in combinations of sonorities based on the differences in the instruments involved. The musicians and their instruments will be as follows:

  1. Nancy Beckman: shakuhachi, small percussion
  2. Tom Bickley: Paetzold contrabass recorder, electronics, radios, small percussion
  3. Rachel Condry: clarinets
  4. Patty Deuter: piano, toy piano, radio
  5. Ben Kreith: violin
  6. Joe Lasqo: laptop, piano, mridangam
  7. Sangita Moskow: sarod
  8. Dean Santomieri: guitars
  9. Jennifer Wilsey: percussion

These will be the same performers who participated in last October’s world premiere with the exception of Jennifer Wilsey, who will replace percussionist Suki O’Kane. Dance interpretation of the resulting duets will again be provided by Nan Busse.

The second set will be taken by the Eli Wallace Trio. Wallace is the pianist of the group, joined by guitarist Karl Evangelista, and drummer Jon Arkin. If “Renga-kai” has its roots in the meditative quietude of the Japanese haiku, Wallace’s trio will stir things up with a visceral and unfettered approach to jazz improvisation, most of which is based on tunes of Wallace’s own creation.

This concert will take place on Sunday, February 9. The first set will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by the second set at 8:30 p.m. The venue for SIMM Series concerts is the Musicians Union Hall at 116 Ninth Street, near the corner of Mission Street. General admission is $10 with an $8 rate for students and seniors.

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