Monday, January 21, 2013

Cold Winter Update

Today is the two month anniversary of Austin's passing and so much has happened. I don't want to dwell on this subject, though I want to mention that I went to his memorial in LA and met his family and friends who surpassed all the expectations of kindness and love I had envisioned. I want to thank Gemma and her roommates (at the “Goddess Complex”) for hosting me. 

I also want to thank everyone who wrote me with their condolences, it truly does make a difference while grieving. I think about him a lot, every day. Austin's best friend Jake Bloch has asked me to compile and finish a piano quartet piece that Austin had sketched out, which will be a part of a larger project consisting of his unfinished material finished by his musical friends. It's such a beautiful notion, Austin really does have an amazing circle. I recently came across the short-doc that Jake made at USC, which is incredible. It was just accepted into the Global Visions Film Festival here in Canada. Check it out here.

BTW I've made the recording of “Hope” free, I want everyone to listen to Austin's playing eternally.

On another note, one of my greatest friends Levon Henry just released a recording I played on called “Music For Trains”. We got together last May at this little studio in the Lower East Side to record this suite that Levon wrote for his senior recital at the New School. The music is so “Levon”, I love it. Check it out here

Lee in studio
  The band is:

  • Levon on clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor sax.
  • Samuel Bronowski on tenor sax
  • Patrick Sargeant on alto sax
  • Sammy Miller on drums
  • Garret Lang on bass
  • Tom Csatari on acoustic guitar
  • JJ Wright on piano/organ (he takes a breathtaking solo on “Mountains”)
  • Me on electric guitar
  • Dominic Mekky on sound design

    JJ and Garret
    The narrator on the second track is the legendary Van Dyke Parks. Pretty sweet collabo.
Last November I got together with Felix Del Tredici at Concordia University to record “Episodes For Felix”, which I wrote over September and October of 2012. The ensemble was:

  • Felix Del Tredici on bass trombone
  • Dan Garmon on piano
  • Julian Gammon on piano
  • Lara Deutsch on flute
  • Krisjana Thornsteinson on oboe and english horn
  • Barbara Bentley on bassoon
  • Dominic Mekky on sound design

Felix at Oscar Peterson Hall

Barbara, Krisjana, and Lara

I'll be getting together with James Finnerty in February to mix and master the whole thing, which I'll post for free download thereafter.

I'm just about to begin the contemporary dance piece with the newly formed “Collective Collision” ensemble which consists of:

  • Vanessa Beaupré (dance)
  • Laurie-Anne Langis (dance)
  • Marilyn Daoust (dance)
  • Carou Johnson (composition)
  • Me (composition)
  • Pier-Louis Dagenais-Savard (cinematic artist/documentarian)

We'll be putting together a full concert-length piece to be performed mid-August.

Another new project is “Maerin”. My good friend Maerin Hunting (formerly of “Felix”) just had one of her songs featured in an upcoming feature film and has decided to use the royalty money to record her next album, which I'll be helping her out with. Look forward to some ingeniously honest and beautiful songs. Great stuff.

I keep getting asked if I'm writing at all. The answer is YES, though it's been the same piece for over a year now. The chamber/opera/musical/operetta is coming along. The first act is tentatively finished. We're hoping to be finished all of the writing by June...

Dom Mekky wrote that, not me, I just write quarter notes with the white keys


I have a new project that I started a little while ago: I'm listening to all of Stravinsky's music exclusively with whatever recordings I can find on Youtube, chronologically. I'm up to “Renard”, and so far have only not found the second part of “2 Poems by Paul Verlaine”. Otherwise, there's some amazing stuff; I've taken to looking for versions of Gergiev conducting for the larger orchestral works. The most thrilling discovery was the film version of “Le rossignol” by Christian Chaudet. Check this out, it's completely absurd, beautiful, and the piece is now amongst my favourites by old Igor. It's an attempt at getting through his entire oeuvre but I'm also a little perturbed at the fact that someone's entire life's work can be represented online both by the greatest symphony orchestras as well as modestly attended piano recitals, all for “free”.

Thomas Adès. I had only heard "Asyla" when I last wrote about him. I think he's a genius, and maybe the greatest living composer I've ever heard. I saw “The Tempest” at the Met in NY, and again when the live stream was shown at the movie theater. Does it get any better than this?!?!?!? “In Seven Days” is the deepest shit. Listen to it with the visuals if possible (done by his husband I believe).

Gabriel Kahane. His “pop” music is so smart it hurts. His “art” music is piquant defined. I have to hear more. His “Craigslistlieder” is dope.


All of P.T. Anderson's films. He's the baddest.

Exit Music: The Radiohead Story” by Mac Randall. I don't love his writing, or care much for his presumptions about meanings of lyrics or harmonic choices, but it's well sourced and put together nicely.

The Myth of the Muslim Tide” by Doug Saunders. Great read, he easily disproves all of the xenophobic and biased writing and attitudes that we're inundated with by “Muslim Tide” theorists.

Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. My friend Ali Levy told me that Ben Street (the bassist) believes it contains everything.

A People's History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. Another friend, Nikol Drewry, bought this as a holiday present for me. Amazing book.

The Joy of Music” by Leonard Bernstein. This was such a pleasure to read, it contains transcripts of some of his omnibus lectures, as well as several essays.

Just picked up “Mortality” by Christopher Hitchens. I have no doubt that it will be stunning.

Gigs with Bud Rice and Marc Beland coming up. The winter in Montreal is less pleasant than I remember it before having moved to NYC. I spoke to MTL bassist Dave Watts who confirmed that no one is really working in the winter here; people (with good reason) don't go out as much, so there's less music going on. All of the ambitious and exciting projects seem to be summer/late spring/early fall oriented. Everyone is hibernating, and I can't stand it... I'm biking around as much as possible (with a clunky winter bike), but I miss the NY winter biking, which is really just biking with a mild-weather coat on and less riders in the bike lanes.

That's Celsius
 Also, a giant thanks to everyone that came out and packed Cafe Resonance for the FRLB show featuring the Le Boeuf Brothers and Arthur Hnatek. I had a blast, band sounded good. Arthur is on tour in England right now, and the Le Boeuf's have a new record coming out that sounds like it's gonna be AMAZING. I have inspiring friends.

If anyone needs me, I'll be inside, thanks.