Study No. 51 (3750)

There are all sorts of “hey, listen to this!” moments on the new Other Minds release of work by that master maverick of the piano roll, Conlon Nancarrow—early works, late works, never released material, interview excerpts. Study No. 51 dates from 1992. (The 3750 is a joke title Nancarrow offered—surely coming from the man punching the holes it must have felt like it.) Things start off simply enough, at least as compared to the composer’s more manic output for the instrument. But the material doesn’t stay so introspective for long. For the complex tempo fans in the crowd, liner-note writer Kyle Gann has done the math for ya: “the plot thickens with three more lines that bring the entire tempo matrix to 24:32:42:56:77:96.” If you can’t hear it with such precision, it’s still a hell of a ride.


—MS