Electric Brew

by Bob Gluck

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about

Electric Brew: Music for piano, computer-assisted piano, shofar, and electronics

In his premiere recording as a pianist, Bob Gluck creates a rich musical "brew" of works that integrate pianism and electronics in new and innovative ways. Inspired by the late 1960s work of jazz pioneer Miles Davis, Gluck's improvisations are imaginative and original. These works are joined by recent compositions by two notable Israeli composers, an emotionally engaging work for solo piano by Ofer Ben-Amots and a dramatic composition for piano and electronics by Shlomo Dubnov. All told, get ready for a musical feast.

1. Electric Brew Prelude (2006)
2. Electric Brew (2005)
[Two works based upon themes from Miles Davis' 'Bitches Brew']

3. Akeda (2000) Composer: Ofer Ben-Amots

4. 127 Digits (1996) Composer: Shlomo Dubnov

5. Pharoah's Interlude (2006)

6. Pharoah's Spring (2005)
[Two works based upon themes from Josef Zawinul's 'Pharoah's Dance']

7. In the Bushes (2003)
[A political commentary about the war in Iraq; performance video below]
1. Prelude
2. Pastorale
3. Prisoners
4. At the U.N.
5. The game

8. Questions, questions (2005)
[A structured improvisation based upon themes from Dave Holland's 'Q&A']

9. Is there still time? (2006)
[An improvisation inspired by Miles Davis' 'It’s About That Time']

Compositions by Bob Gluck, except where noted.

Technical notes:

Bob performs on pianos with computer-assisted technologies that track the piano performance (key and pedal movement), using either a Yamaha Disklavier or an ordinary acoustic piano fitted with a Moog / Buchla PianoBar). New musical material is algorithmically generated based upon the performance information using software interfaces designed in Max/MSP. Most electronic sounds included are real-time digitally processed shofar.

The ‘PianoBar’is a device, invented by Donald Buchla and built by Robert Moog, that fits on the rear of the piano keys and under the pedals and tracks the piano performance details. It records not the sounds but information such as which keys have been played and how loud. This work and others on this program can also be performed on a Yamaha Disklavier, which in addition to these capabilities, can also play back performance data, like a player piano.

Program notes:

Bob Gluck's Electric Brew (2005), a series of structured improvisations organized around two themes from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (as played on his 1969 recording), is a solo performance, while Electric Brew Prelude (2005) is a collage drawn from several other live performances. Electric Brew, conceived for computer assisted piano, shofar (ram’s horn) and electronics, includes three kinds of musical material: short pre-recorded sound clips of double bass sounds performed by David Katz, sometimes mixed with digitally processed low piano tones; realtime algorithmically-generated piano motifs; and realtime digitally processed shofar (ram’s horn) sounds performed with Gluck’s eShofar II (developed in 2005). The eShofar II is a chaotic system that includes digital filters, harmonizers, time-stretching and multi-tap delays generated through unfolding random processes only indirectly influenced by the performer. A brief segment of Electric Brew Prelude is a duet between Gluck and David Katz on bass.

127 Digits, composed by Shlomo Dubnov in 1996, is a duet for computer-assisted piano composed. While playing the score, the pianist steps through a sequence of algorithms that ornament the notes played on the piano in a variety of ways, including trills, mirroring melodic gestures, expanding notes into chordal clusters. Shlomo Dubnov is a composer of interactive works, computer music researcher, and Associate Professor at the University of California at San Diego Department of Music.

Akeda for solo piano by Ofer Ben-Amots: Akeda is the Hebrew word for both binding and sacrificial offering. The term has traditionally been used to describe the biblical story of Abraham and the Binding of his beloved son, Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). This short fantasy is written in a free form and often a rhapsodic, improvisatory-like style. The main melody, which ties together the musical material is the liturgical lamentation "El Maleh Rahamim" (G-d full of mercy), a traditional recitation in memory of the deceased. This particular version of the prayer is used to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Born in Haifa, Israel, Ofer Ben-Amots gave his first piano concert at age nine and at age sixteen was awarded First Prize in the Chet Piano Competition and has been a student of Joseph Dorfman, George Crumb, and Richard Wernick. He received his Ph.D. at at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ben-Amots is an Associate Professor of music composition and theory at Colorado College. His music has been performed internationally in concert halls and at festivals, and is published by Baerenreiter, Kallisti Music Press, Muramatsu Inc., Dorn, and Tara Publications. It can be heard on Naxos, Vantage, Plæne, Stylton, and other recording labels.

Pharoah’s Interlude (2006) and Pharoah’s Spring (2005) are works for computer-assisted piano and electronics that draw upon elements of Josef Zawinul’s Pharoah’s Dance (also from Miles Davis' 1969 album) and Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. All of the instrumental sounds, except for the piano, are samples from Native Instruments Kontakt that are combined in a dense, polyrhythmic texture constructed of motifs that mimic the collective improvisations on Miles’ recording. While Pharoah's Spring is a single live performance, Pharoah's Interlude is a collage crafted from a series of additional performances.

In the Bushes (2003) is a political commentary on the war in Iraq. The computer generates melodic, textural and timbral variations of the piano performance, especially during the fifth movement, "The game." Phrases from speeches by George W. Bush, triggered by the playing of particular notes on the piano, emerge during the third and fourth movements.

Questions, Questions (2005) is a structured improvisation for computer-assisted piano, drawing upon five alternating fast and slow motifs from Dave Holland’s composition Q&A. In this interactive duet, the computer replays fragments of the pianist's performance in real time, adding algorithmically generated material, to which the pianist creatively responds.

Is there still time? (2006), an improvisation by Bob Gluck, inspired by Miles Davis' "It's About That Time."

credits

released January 1, 2003

Recorded live in multiple locations across the United States and the United Kingdom.

Cover art by Bob Gluck, based upon a painting by Rita Lerman.

Many thanks to David Katz, percussionist Benjamin Chadabe, and clarinetist Don Byron, who performed earlier versions of works on this recording; and to the faculty and production staff at Middlebury College and the University of California centers at San Diego and at Irvine.

This recording is dedicated to the memory of Rita Lerman.

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about

Bob Gluck New York, New York

Bob Gluck is a pianist, composer, writer, rabbi, educator. Chronogram: “an accomplished and passionate pianist in the most elusive tradition of avant-garde masters Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, and Don Pullen." Author of two Univ. Chicago Press jazz books. Collaborators: Michael Bisio, Jane Ira Bloom, Joe Giardullo, Aruan Ortiz, Neil Rolnick, Dean Sharp, Andrew Sterman, Tani Tabbal... ... more

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