John Luther Adams
Lines Made by Walking
Release date: September 22, 2020
The composer writes about Lines Made by Walking: “I’ve always been a walker. For much of my life I walked the mountains and tundra of Alaska. More recently it’s been the Mexican desert, the altiplano, quebradas, and mountain ridges of Chile, and the hills and canyons of Montana. Making my way across these landscapes at three miles an hour, I began to imagine music coming directly out of the contours of the land.
“I began work on my fifth string quartet, Lines Made by Walking (2019), by composing three expansive harmonic fields made up of tempo canons with five, six, and seven independent layers. Once I’d composed these fields, I traced pathways across them. As I did this, each instrument of the quartet acquired a unique profile, transforming the strict imitative counterpoint of the tempo canons into intricately varied textures.”
The composer writes about untouched: “I stood on the tundra, holding a small Aeolian harp on top of my head, dancing with the wind, turning like a weathervane. Music seemed to flow out of the sky—across the strings, down through my body, and into the earth. From that beginning, I’ve discovered a broad harmonic and melodic palette derived from superimposing the harmonic series on itself at different intervals.
“I composed my first piece for string quartet, The Wind in High Places (2011), when I was fifty-eight. As I wrote it, I imagined the quartet as a single sixteen-string Aeolian harp, with the music’s rising and falling lines and gusting arpeggios coming entirely from natural harmonics and open strings. My second string quartet, untouched (2016), was a further exploration of this sound world, with the fingers of the musicians still not touching their fingerboards.”
Performed by the incredible, illustrious JACK Quartet.
Adams is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on six of the label’s previous CDs.
“Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music.” —Alex Ross, The New Yorker
“Adams’s music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to.” —All-Music Guide
“Adams’s music is as hypnotic as it is different.” —MusicWeb Int’l
“Adams’s powerful music finds inspiration, depth of field, and sonic substance in the shapes and textures of the natural world and, most of all, in the composer’s own deep and passionate commitment to the act of listening itself.” —Dusted magazine
“One of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker
“Adams’ manner is that of Thoreau—to be in a place, incorporate it into his memory and values, and recreate that through music. It misses the point to say he is inspired by nature—Adams is changed by nature and his music is a catalogue of the places that changed him. . . . Lines Made by Walking is his most intimate music-making to date. . . . [P]oignant and powerful music that shouts into the canyon and wonders if an echo, or something, will return. Beyond its sheer beauty, doing just that makes Adams an important and necessary musician for our time.” —New York Classical Review
“JACK . . . the nation’s most important quartet.” —David Allen, The New York Times
Three Dawns & Bush Radio Calling
Release date: Spring 2021
Two exuberant, beautiful solo piano pieces—the three-movement Three Dawns (1981–82), based on poems by Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo, and the 10-movement Bush Radio Calling (1992), written for the music-theater work Just Them Walking, by New Zealand’s avant-garde theater company Red Mole. Performed by Ronald Squibbs, a pianist who has also recorded music by Dane Rudhyar and Joji Yuasa.
Peter Garland is a composer, world traveler, musicologist, writer, and former publisher whose music is always informed by his well-traveled ear and strong sense of personal vision. He is a long-time associate of Cold Blue—his music has appeared on seven of the label’s previous CDs.
“Garland’s music seems to be about the sheer expressive power of sound itself…. I feel he is one of our true originals.” —Robert Carl, Fanfare magazine
“Radical consonance’ has been used to describe Garland’s music…an apt choice of words.” —Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare magazine
“[Garland] is an avatar of an experimental American tradition … a composer of mesmerizing music; and in many ways, the musical conscience of my generation.” —Kyle Gann, Chamber Music magazine
On this CD both works are beautifully performed by pianist Ron Squibbs. (Previously Squibbs has recorded music by Dane Rudhyar and Joji Yuasi.)
The Basketweave Elegies
Release date: Summer 2021
The Basketweave Elegies is an elegant, well-wrought vibraphone solo in nine sections. Commissioned and recorded by percussionist Joseph Van Hassel.
Garland writes, “I want to write music that is well-made, sturdy, useful, and beautiful—like a basket; its beauty being the sum result of those first three qualities. . . . I worked on this piece with the same determined focus as if I were weaving a basket. . . . I think one can hear a definite woven quality in the melodic and contrapuntal relationships. . . . Formally, I got an idea from the medieval poetic-musical form the rondeau. . . . There are four ‘core’ movements . . . which are preceded and followed by ‘refrains.’ Of course this being the 21st century and not the 12th, I do not follow this rondeau form in any literal fashion.”
Composer Peter Garland is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on seven of the label’s previous CDs.
Release date: 2019
Blue photographs collects a few dozen of the many aphoristic piano pieces Fox has written during the past 30 years. Performed by the composer.
“One of the striking qualities of Jim Fox’s compositions is that you can still hear them inside you long after the music is over.” —Wadada Leo Smith
“This is music that sounds like it was made in that California of cool northern beaches or the Mojave Desert as seen in the stark intimacy of Joshua Tree or even the remembered despair of the landscape around Donner Pass. This is a music of honesty, seductive and delicate yet strong and dark.” —Daniel Lentz