The City the Wind Swept Away   CB0015

The music

The quiet rumbling of trombones and the soft keening of strings haunt the piano’s slow stream of notes. A mosaic, a tapestry. Rich harmonies and simple triads come and go, like the ever-changing, yet ever-similar, landscapes one passes while driving through a remote area, perhaps a Southern California desert, perhaps a deep woods. Although not in any sense a programmatic music, the events in The City the Wind Swept Away coast in and out of earshot in much this way, or like drifting clouds, slowly changing shapes, shifting angles, picking up different light.

The City the Wind Swept Away, commissioned by the late trombonist Will Sudmeirer’s Le Quatuor Tromboni de Marin (which annually gathered in the San Francisco Bay Area for a concert augmented by strings), was written at the Dorland Mountain Colony in 1982 (and slightly revised at the time of this recording, 2003/04). On this recording, it is performed by a group of noted Los Angeles new-music and studio players.

The composer

Jim Fox’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles and soloists throughout the US and presented at the Monday Evening Concerts, New Music America, the Ventura Chamber Music Festival, Real Art Ways, Wires, the SCREAM Festival, the CalArts Contemporary Music Festival, Podewil (Berlin), the Ear Inn, L.A.C.E., and many similar venues. He has also scored feature films.

His music, which has been described by critics as both “austere” and “sensuous,” has been recorded on the Cold Blue, CRI, Advance, Grenadilla, Raptoria Caam, and Citadel labels and published in such new music anthologies as Soundings and Scores

Composer-performer Wadada Leo Smith has noted, “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.” The Italian music magazine Blow Up chose Fox’s CD Last Things as a Record of the Year (2000). Fanfare magazine described this disc as “suffused with a beautiful sadness” and The Wire called it an “ethereal experience.” John Schaefer, producer of WNYC’s New Sounds, described Fox’s recent recording, The City the Wind Swept Away, as a “beautiful and evocative work.” And the Int’l Record Review wrote of The City…: “As we know from the music of Feldman, this kind of attentiveness to the integrity of slowly passing sound events can be a strangely moving experience. It is so here.”

The performers

Alex Iles (trombone) has toured as lead and solo trombonist with the Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson big bands. He performs and records as a regular member of many of the top big bands and jazz ensembles in the LA area, including Bob Florence’s Limited Edition, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, and The Bill Cunliffe Sextet. Since 2002, he has been the principal trombonist of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Pasadena Symphony, and the CalArts New Century Players. Among the varied artists with whom he has performed and/or recorded are John Williams, Joe Cocker, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr., and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. He has also performed on hundreds of television and motion picture soundtracks, including The Last Samurai, Pirates of the Carribean, Blackhawk Down, Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain. He was a featured soloist on the soundtracks to the films The Majestic and Rounders. Iles is a trombone and jazz instructor at the California Institute of the Arts. Iles

Jeannie Little (trombone) has served as principal trombonist of the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois Chamber Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she has performed with the Detroit, Honolulu, Alabama, Chautauqua, and New Mexico symphony orchestras, and has toured and recorded with the Chicago Symphony under Leonard Bernstein. Little was a founding member of the highly acclaimed, award-winning trombone quartet PRISMA, which toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. As a clinician, Little presents recitals and master classes throughout the country, with recent performances at the International Trombone Festival, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Arizona Low Brass Symposium. She has also repeatedly appeared, as guest conductor and performer at the International Trombone Workshop and has taught trombone at James Madison University, the Interlochen Arts Academy, and the University of Hawaii. Little is a free-lance trombonist active in the Los Angeles studios. Little

Bob Sanders (bass trombone) is bass trombonist for The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and the Opera Pacific Orchestra; and he spent 15 years playing with the Long Beach Symphony. He is very active in the Los Angeles studios, having performed on more than 300 film and television scores. In addition to his orchestra and studio work, he has toured with Bill Watrous, the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band and the Jack Sheldon Big Band. Sanders is the trombone instructor at CalState University Fullerton.

David Stetson (bass trombone) is an active freelance studio trombonist who regularly performs on film and television scores and other popular recording projects. He has performed with many noted Los Angeles-area ensembles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pacific Symphony, Opera Pacific, and the Long Beach Municipal Band. Immediately upon graduating from USC, he spent 10 years with the Oklahoma Symphony before returning to Southern California in the ‘’90s.

Bryan Pezzone (piano) is a pianist who specializes in contemporary music and film soundtracks. He has worked with many noted conductors—Pierre Boulez, Oliver Knussen, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Kent Nagano—and performed as a soloist with major orchestras. From 1991 through 1999, he was principal pianist with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He performs regularly at the Monday Evening Concerts, the Green Umbrella Series, the Southwest Chamber Music Series, and the Ojai Festival and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, the Joffrey Ballet (soloist in Stravinsky’s Les Noces), and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He is also responsible for recording much of Yamaha’s Disklavier Piano Series. He was the founder of the multi-focused keyboard program at the California Institute of the Arts, where he taught from 1987 through 2000, and is a consulting editor for the publication Piano and Keyboard. His recent recordings include works by Michael Jon Fink, John Harbison, Mel Powell, John Luther Adams, John Briggs, and John Cage. He may be heard on a half dozen Cold Blue releases.

Peter Kent (violin) is concertmaster of several orchestras and chamber groups in the Los Angeles area, including the LA Mozart Orchestra and innumerable session orchestras. He has performed at the Carmel Bach, Ojai, San Luis Obispo Mozart, and Abbey Bach festivals, and at other noted chamber series and festivals throughout the U. and Canada. He toured for several seasons on Columbia Artists CAMI Recital Series with harpist Amy Shulman in the violin and harp ensemble 51 Strings. He is very active as both a concert performer and a studio musician for film and television scores (having performed on hundreds of scores) and with popular artists, having recorded with Shirley Horn, Gerald Albright, Mariah Carey, Fiona Apple, Michael Feinstein, and many others. Kent is featured on several albums of the music of composer Sasha Matson on the Audioquest and New Albion labels.

Robin Lorentz (violin) has been a featured violinist on tour with composers Terry Riley and John Luther Adams and a member of the noted new music ensemble California E.A.R. Unit since 1984. She is a featured performer in the Santa Fe Pro Musica and has served as concertmaster on the LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series and at the Ojai Festival. She gave the world premiere of John Adams’s Road Movies at the Kennedy Center and the premiere of Virko Baley’s Kolimayaka, A Dance for solo violin at Carnegie Hall. An accomplished arranger and composer as well as a versatile instrumentalist, Robin’s solo violin playing has been featured in such motion pictures as Other People’s Money and Back To The Future III and the television series Northern Exposure. She has recorded for New Albion, Cold Blue, New World, O.O.Discs, Sony, MCA, Columbia, Echograph, and Glenfinnian Records. Ms. Lorentz co-wrote with composer Eve Beglarian and performed a series of Stephen King audio books for Penguin Publishing. She has served on the faculty at the California Institute of the Arts. 

Maria Newman (viola), a violinist/violist/composer, is the youngest daughter of famed film composer Alfred Newman. She received her formal training at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. A champion of the music of Miklos Rozsa, she made the world premiere recording of his Viola Concerto with the Nuremberg Symphony and gave the American premiere of his 1928 Violin Concerto. Newman is a founding member of the award-winning Viklarbo Chamber Ensemble, and she has recorded for the Varese Sarabande, Audioquest, Bay Cities, Colosseum, Celestial Harmonies, and Raptoria Caam labels. She is a much-in-demand violinist/violist in Los Angeles studios, where she has performed on innumerable film and TV scores. As a prolific concert composer, she has received many commissions and awards, including five consecutive annual ASCAP Awards and two Composers Guild Awards.

Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick (cello) is an active soloist, chamber musician, and specialist in contemporary music. She has performed world and local premieres of solo and chamber works throughout the United States and Europe, including the LA Olympic Festival, the Computer Music Festival in Zurich, the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the San Francisco Symphony’s New and Unusual Music series. She recently recorded Elliott Carter’s Enchanted Preludes, a work written for her and flutist Dorothy Stone. She has toured with Joan LaBarbara and Morton Subotnick since 1981, and Jacob’s Room (on Wergo Records) marks her fourth appearance in recordings of Subotnick’s music. Among the many other composers who’ve written works for her are Mel Powell, Alvin Lucier, and Michael Jon Fink. She is a founding member of the California E.A.R. Unit, a Los Angeles-based new music ensemble, with which she tours throughout the United States and Europe. She has also given master classes and recitals under the auspices of the U.S.I.A. “Arts America” Program in Central and South America. Ms. Kirkpatrick has recorded for the Nonesuch, Wergo, New Albion, Voyager, and Cold Blue labels.


“Beautiful and evocative work…very atmospheric music.” —John Schaefer, WNYC, New Sounds

“Though just under 23 minutes, Jim Fox’s The City and Wind Swept Away (CB0015), performed by a small ensemble of trombones, piano, violins, viola and cello, seems to linger in the air (and the ear) much longer. Delicate and open throughout, it seems to encourage a state of nostalgia in the listener.” —Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBoxan Music Center)

“Devastatingly beautiful.” —Christopher Cerrone (Twitter)

“Music that…feels as if it could go on endlessly…music that comes from the classical tradition, but that feels like it belongs somewhere other than the concert hall….[T]exturally rich, meticulously crafted and delicately beautiful.” —Dusted

“The writing for trombones and strings connotes the misshapen fragments of some organ chorale, immensely slowed down, blown on the wind from afar; meanwhile the piano steadily picks out repeated notes, as if the simulation of some slow pealing of bells. Part of the pleasure of the piece is in noting how these sounds mutate, gradually, unpredictably, and in tracking the subtlest shifts in register, color, weight and momentum. So quiet and eventless is the terrain that any change can startle: as happens when the ‘bells’ momentarily fall silent, then resume in a glorious coda-like transfiguration in which everything, and nothing, has changed. As we know from the music of Feldman, this kind of attentiveness to the integrity of slowly passing sound events can be a strangely moving experience. It is so here.” —Christopher Ballantine, Int’l Record Review (UK)

“Bleak, austere, even sad, but compellingly beautiful. It could go on forever.” —Richard Friedman, Shuffle Boil

“The 23-minute piece is a drifting and immensely beautiful journey at the heart of night. Be it driven by the minimal, yet solemn piano lines, or shivering with the string sounds, the track has both a strong, hypnotizing coherence and a spacious texture, leaving room for your mind to wander and fill it every time with new feelings. I’ve listened to it often while reading McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, and it was perfect to evoke those sad and majestic landscapes.” —Eugenio Maggi, Chain D.L.K. (Italy)

“Jim Fox…reaches great heights. Four trombones and a string quartet, alternating and superimposed, ride on the line entrusted to the piano. The impression is of a certain motionlessness, as in the way in which the composer never fully unfolds his excellent basic idea. At any rate, at any particular moment, the result is very interesting, and the track is very pleasing to listen to. I am sure that The City the Wind Swept Away will not disappoint those who liked the excellent Last Things from 2000, whose intimate blue-night tonality is taken up again here.” —Sands-Zine (Italy)

“It is a beautiful suite of a soft, romantic, magic and deliberate style…. The music presents a melancholy hue.”Amazing Sounds (Spain)

“Beautifully recorded music with suitably artistic packaging…. The City the Wind Swept Away is a beautiful, light instrumental presentation…. [T]his is definitely music worth spending time with.” —Randy Raine-Reusch, MusicWorks magazine (Canada)

“This is an uninterruptedly slow and quiet work, dominated by shifting and repeated patterns of a few notes from the piano—imagine a music box on its last legs…. Long held notes in the strings and brass support the piano part, creating an atmosphere that is both ethereal and oppressive.” —RaymondTuttle, ClassicalNet

“The sound of the trombone and bass trombone add a haunting, dark effect to the music…. The main instrument is the piano, however, and everything swirls around it—desolate music, or rather the music of desolate places—maybe the sound happening when a city is indeed swept away by the wind.” —Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly (Netherlands)

“Jim Fox’s gorgeous meditation for trombones, strings, and piano.” —Andrew Ford, Australian Financial Review

“Keening string harmonies and soft trombone rumbles drift through the piece’s desolate expanses with Bryan Pezzone’s sparse piano playing the delicate thread, his triads forming a pensive pendulum. There’s a static quality to Fox’s piece while, at the same time, an inexorable if glacial impetus nudges it forward. The sparseness of the instrumentation helps create the impression of emptiness, an impression reinforced by the work’s title.” —Ron Schepper, Textura and Stylus

“Is music, at its most ghostly, ours? Enter the snowy quietness of fate: Jim Fox’s gorgeously titled The City the Wind Swept Away prepares for a Fest der Darstellung, a commemoration of places we seem to keep in a corner, where the precious remain, only to be recalled when necessary.… Captivating and truly refreshing.… The music infers a fragile ecosystem that embraces a metaphoric complexity; while observing the landscape, we won’t remain the same.” —Marcelo Aguirre, ei magazine

“Jim Fox’s new EP is a compelling instrumental track…. As with his last CD, the tone is meditative, quiet, and highly reflective…not unlike the groundbreaking work Brian Eno did with Harold Budd…. It’s another favorable notch in Fox’s growing catalog of valid sonic experiments.” —Exposé

“Characterized by quietude…the melodic theme gently lifts off with a piano, to be later backed by deeper and lower reverberating trombone tones. The composition floats on the selective, gentle, and calm moods it evokes. Meditative and restful, it makes a great listening and a potential immersion into innumerable things. More a ‘classical’ than an ambient piece, it deserves full merit for its virtues, leaving you absorbed yet emotionally alert after each listen.” — Erkki Luuk, SONOMU (SoundNoiseMusic)

“Tranquil piano drifts amidst a misty manifestation of smoothly sighing classical strings. As the piece progresses, the piano settles into a dominant position, pensively dripping off notes with a somber laziness while allowing the strings to circle at the composition’s periphery like birds keeping tabs on an abandoned harvest crop. Hiding in the mix, the trombones whisper like spectral sentries. Sparsely structured, this elegant music suitably evokes the notion of urban aspects wafted away from a city, stretching like a stately breeze over outlying agricultural regions.” —Sonic Curiosity

“Jim Fox…one of the most fertile, intriguing composers in ‘radical tonality’ today, turns in a fine work…The City the Wind Swept Away. It is a slow-moving, somewhat mysterious, supremely atmospheric work for two trombones, two bass trombones, piano, two violins, viola and cello. The ensemble creates a kind of blue-green haze to depict a city that has vanished, the emptiness palpable and audible in no uncertain terms. And the performance is all you could wish for. At the center are slowly moving piano patterns—broken, arpeggiated chords swinging like a slow pendulum—sometimes breaking free, only to return to another ostinato pattern. The strings and trombones come upon us as variable translucent blocks, like mists rising over a flat, empty expanse, then dissipating, to be replaced gradually by other chordal blocks of heightened tonal colors. It’s music of beauty and wonder, something that goes well with a sunset or sunup in an otherwise silent room. This is strongly engaging associative music that unfolds in a sonic panorama with great calmness and grace. It will give you pause, make you drift someplace good. Excellent.”—Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review