Music Notes: Gene Coleman's melting pot | Calendar | Chicago Reader

Music Notes: Gene Coleman's melting pot 

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"I want to make it easier for people to discover that there are things happening in music and the arts outside of what's covered by radio and the other media," says composer and musician Gene Coleman. He's developed a reputation in recent years for arranging performances of new and avant-garde music in such unconventional venues as lofts and nightclubs. His monthly "Face the Music" concerts celebrate their third anniversary April 9 at HotHouse. "Since there aren't many forums where that kind of music can be heard regularly, I was looking to create a situation where people could just walk in and discover it . . . almost by accident."

Now Coleman wants to combine music, film, dance, and visual art in a performance series called "Recipe." He says his goal is to mix new music with other art forms in a way that will draw parallels between what might seem like unrelated creative activities.

"Recipe" also will offer a more varied musical palette than "Face the Music," including rock, jazz, and improvised music in addition to contemporary classical pieces. "I'm hoping that by performing parallel genres of music we will draw parallel audiences who will discover something they otherwise might not have known about," Coleman says. "For example, fans of the rock band Gastr del Sol might enjoy the music of Giacinto Scelsi, and vice versa. But outside of this context those fans might never get a chance to hear Scelsi's music."

The first "Recipe" performance is scheduled for 8 PM Wednesday, April 5, and will feature California cellist Hugh Livingston, who will perform works by contemporary Japanese composers. One of the composers, Atsushi Yoshinaka, regularly writes new pieces for Livingston that are sent by fax to each concert site on the day of the performance, requiring Livingston to play the piece extempore. Livingston will also perform a work by Morton Subotnick in which the cello is played in conjunction with a computer-operated sound source. The group Ensemble Noamnesia will then serve up two versions of Coleman's Rorschach; during the second round guest musicians will improvise as Noamnesia repeats the work. The evening will finish with an acoustic guitar improvisation by Jim O'Rourke and David Grubbs of Gastr del Sol.

The second installment of "Recipe," slated for May 3, will include collaborations between Coleman, choreographer Winifred Haun and her dance troupe, and New York jazz vocalist Theo Bleckmann, who has worked with Meredith Monk, Anthony Braxton, and John Zorn. A third performance on June 21 will be dedicated to "music and visual spectacle." Jim O'Rourke will play music to films by violinist Tony Conrad, and there'll also be a performance by the group Liof Munimula, whose homemade musical instruments are themselves a striking visual spectacle.

"Recipe" promises to further Coleman's goal of providing an outlet for new music and art that don't fit neatly into established categories. "Division lines have never been useful to me," he says, "and I'm sure I'm not the only person around who's bored by them."

All performances take place at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division; tickets cost $6. For more information, call 384-5533.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Bruce Powell.

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