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'The Thompson Fields' - An Interview with Maria Schneider

Miller Wrenn
Contributing Writer
millerwrenn@gmail.com / @MillerWrenn

On Wednesday, June 24th, I spoke with Maria Schneider at length about her new album The Thompson Fields, her musical upbringing, the future of big band, the ArtistShare platform, and her take on the advent of music streaming services.

The Thompson Fields is available on iTunes and Schneider'sArtistShare page.

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Henry Threadgill - 'In for a Penny, In for a Pound'

Miller Wrenn
Contributing Writer
millerwrenn@gmail.com / @MillerWrenn

On Henry Threadgill’s latest record In For A Penny, In For A Pound, the saxophonist/flautist/composer and his longstanding band, Zooid, merge the ethos and improvisation of jazz with the compositional techniques of aleatoric contemporary-classical music, all through the lens of an ensemble that fits neither paradigm. Zooid — which consists of Threadgill on alto saxophone, flute, and bass flute, Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Liberty Ellman on guitar, Christopher Hoffman on cello, and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums and percussion — is a truly unique musical animal. Not only is it a very unexpected instrumentation, but the group is the sole vessel for Threadgill’s compositional techniques for group improvisation. Each member is given a set of three-note intervals on which to start and base their improvisations. This method allows for a focused, four-part improvised counterpoint to be woven by the ensemble in a way that is rarely — if ever — heard elsewhere.

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Chris Dingman - 'The Subliminal and the Sublime'

Miller Wrenn
Contributing Writer
millerwrenn@gmail.com / @MillerWrenn

"The Subliminal and the Sublime is based on the concept that, under the surface of our apparent reality, there are subliminal layers of patterns, detail and depth. When we look at these layers more closely, we have the opportunity to discover sublime truths about our world and ourselves."
-Chris Dingman

This is the stated concept of Chris Dingman's new record, The Subliminal and the Sublime. I'm not entirely convinced that the album is successful in conveying that without the explicit written context, but maybe it doesn't need to. Music doesn't exist in a vacuum. When presented with further explanation of a piece from a composer, the listener can choose to view that as a shortcoming of the music itself or simply as an avenue for a deeper appreciation of the piece. The latter is often the more enjoyable option. All that being said, this album does feel very natural.

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Juan Dhas - 'Embracing Clarity'

Miller Wrenn
Contributing Writer
millerwrenn@gmail.com / @MillerWrenn

On his debut solo album Embracing Clarity, 21-year-old Dubai-born guitarist Juan Dhas displays a musical sensibility well beyond his years. The album consists of seven original compositions that flow, flutter, and swell with the utmost restraint.