Articles by Devin Hurd
Devin Hurd is a composer of microtonal music, an active practitioner of free improvisation, and an avid baseball fan. Over the past two decades he has also been professionally involved with producing and implementing music and sound design for more than 30 shipped video game titles. He can be found sampling Chicago’s live music and baseball offerings on just about any given night. For more information, please visit HurdAudio.blogspot.com.
To hear Nick Mazzarella play the alto saxophone is to hear a well-honed connection between his creative impulse and the horn that becomes an extension of his musical identity. It is a creative instinct steeped in jazz history and brimming over with a passion for free improvisation.
As Sofia Gubaidulina joins the ranks of octogenarian composers, ensembles find themselves with a wealth of compositions to choose from when celebrating her irresistibly transcendent body of music. Chicago’s contribution toward applauding this Russian composer came in the form of an honorary degree from the University of Chicago and an evening of her music performed by the Contempo Ensemble at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.
Dance is a medium that inherently deals with space—the spatial relationships between dancers and the physical movement of bodies on stage. The Chicago-based contemporary dance company known as the Seldoms took the parameter of space to a higher level in their first performance at the Harris Theater in Chicago.
As an accomplished performer, composer, improviser, and educator, James Falzone pursues a musical vision rooted in the middle ground between the fully notated world of conservatory-trained musicians and the improvisation-based energy of jazz and creative music. It is a territory he explores with an omnivorous appetite for musical influences and aesthetic directions, whether leading his quartet KLANG through a set of contemporary jazz compositions at a late night haunt, directing liturgical music with the Grace Chicago Consort, or composing for orchestra.
Fifth House Ensemble deserves credit for the careful preparation and forethought that went into the multimedia “#thisrocks” installment of their In Transit series. So much of the experience was tailored to mirror our contemporary reality—lives overflowing with Facebook updates, Tweets, and an intense quantity of media that competes for our attention at any given time.
Tatsuya Nakatani is the very picture of dedication to his music and the carefully constructed sound world that he fully inhabits. His stage incorporates an expansive collection of gongs, mallets, bows, and drums that he loads and unloads from the van he drives, touring for months at a time in order to bring his immersive percussive sound to an assortment of ears in towns and cities across the country.
The headliners of the Umbrella Music Festival come out to play on the nights the music returns to its standard haunts. The performances on those three days focus on established local groups mixed in with visiting players who have had a profound influence on the Chicago improvised music scene.
The first day of the Umbrella Music Festival got under way with co-curator Dave Rempis describing Chicago as a “nexus of creative improvised music.” He went on to describe the city as “a resonant, nodal point that makes connections with players and listeners worldwide.” The music that followed reflected upon the vibrancy of the Chicago music scene, as well as the sonic communications that cross both genre boundaries and international borders.
The dedication of Ensemble Dal Niente was remarkable. Their tight, well-rehearsed performances allow one to hear the details lurking within these new works. There was more than enough in these two concerts to draw these ears toward further performances.
Today, the Milwaukee noise scene is a tight-knit community of creative individuals exploring an expansive range of sonic methodologies. Many performers use a table filled with gear or a suitcase packed with electronics as the physical canvas for realizing their music. The diversity of sound sources is impressive.