John Adams’s "City Noir" & Saxophone Concerto Due May 6 with St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson, Saxophonist Timothy McAllister
Nonesuch Records releases City Noir—comprising the title piece by composer John Adams and the debut recording of his Saxophone Concerto—on May 6, 2014. Both pieces are performed by the St. Louis Symphony led by Music Director David Robertson. Saxophonist Timothy McAllister is featured on both pieces. The City Noir album is available to pre-order in the Nonesuch Store.
Nonesuch Records releases City Noir—comprising the title piece by composer John Adams and the debut recording of his Saxophone Concerto—on May 6, 2014 (international release to follow May 19). Both pieces are performed by the St. Louis Symphony led by Music Director David Robertson. Saxophonist Timothy McAllister is featured on both pieces. The City Noir album is available to pre-order in the Nonesuch Store.
City Noir “is a symphony inspired by the peculiar ambience and mood of Los Angeles ‘noir’ films, especially those produced in the late ’40s and early ’50,” says Adams in his notes on the piece. “My music is an homage not necessarily to the film music of that period but rather to the overall aesthetic of the era.” Following The Dharma at Big Sur and El Dorado, City Noir “becomes the third in a triptych of orchestral works that have as their theme the California experience, its landscape and its culture,” explains the composer. In its review of the piece, the New York Times said that Adams “has become a master at piling up materials in thick yet lucid layers. Moment to moment the music is riveting.”
Adams’ Saxophone Concerto was composed for McAllister, whom the composer described as “a fearless musician and risk taker” after the musician’s performance of what Adams calls a “fiendishly difficult” alto sax solo part in City Noir. The composer explains, also in his notes, that he grew up “hearing the sound of the saxophone virtually every day—my father had played alto in swing bands during the 1930s and our family record collection was well stocked with albums by the great jazz masters—I never considered the saxophone an alien instrument.”
Adams continues, “While the concerto is not meant to sound jazzy per se, its jazz influences lie only slightly below the surface.” The Australian noted of its world premiere performance that “in the relentless, bebop-like figurations—stunningly executed—it recalled the frenetic solos of Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane.” This is the first recording of the work.
California–born conductor David Robertson has worked with major orchestras around the world. In 2014–2015 Robertson celebrates his 10th season as Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony. Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony is the second-oldest orchestra in the United States. Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony’s last release with Nonesuch was Adams’ composition, Doctor Atomic Symphony, which was named Classical Album of the Decade by the Times of London.
The New York Times has called Timothy McAllister “one of the foremost saxophonists of his generation.” He is a member of the PRISM Quartet and also tours and records as a soloist and orchestral musician. Besides these two pieces by John Adams, McAllister has premiered more than 150 other new works by composers including William Bolcom, Donnacha Dennehy, John Harbison, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, Steven Mackey, and Gunther Schuller, among many others. McAllister serves as associate professor of saxophone and co-director of the Institute for New Music at Northwestern University, and he joins the faculty of the University of Michigan in September 2014.
Friday, February 10, 2017Friday, February 10, 2017
Rhiannon Giddens's five-song EP Factory Girl, first released on vinyl and digitally in late 2015, is now available on CD for the first time. The EP, which is up for Grammy Awards for Best American Roots Performance and Best Folk Album, is culled from the T Bone Burnett–produced sessions that yielded Giddens's acclaimed solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn. "It's a clutch of tunes that work together like the cards in a winning poker hand," the New York Times says of Factory Girl. "Her accompaniment … points to an ageless gold standard for American roots music." "Deftly curated, gorgeously sung," says NPR, "this EP is America." Her new album, Freedom Highway, is due February 24.
Friday, February 10, 2017Friday, February 10, 2017
The Staves, who kick off a four-week tour of North America next week, release the double A side "Tired As Fuck," a previously unreleased tune, and "Train Tracks," a re-mastered version of a bonus track from their 2015 album If I Was. The former was "written in the midst of a relationship breaking down," says the trio. "Lamenting the lack of some sort of guidance, but also accepting and resigning yourself to fact that you have to soldier on. Keep going. There is no helping hand. 'Train Tracks' is the beginning of something new and how confusing and difficult that can be when you're really just as clueless as anyone! The two tracks bookend each other in that respect." You can watch a video for "Tired As Fuck" here.