His last name means "deaf" in German, yet Paul Taub has the most receptive ears of any flutist in Seattle. Has any other flutist championed so much new music for so long?
As anchor of the Seattle Chamber Players, Taub presents music by an exhaustive list of composers, ranging from relatively new voices in the avant such as Toshio Hosokawa and DJ Spooky to established stars like Astor Piazzolla, John Zorn, and Alfred Schnittke. The flutist maintains a surprisingly omnivorous interest in Seattle composers, too, having performed Wayne Horvitz's Inside Morning just last week at the Earshot Jazz Festival.
Released back in 2001 to commemorate his 20 years in Seattle, Taub's solo disc, Oo-ee (Periplum), boasts pieces by a slew of locals, including Robin Holcomb, Janice Giteck, Jarrad Powell, and ex-Seattle composer David Mahler. Around that time, I saw Taub informally debut Alternate Realities, a piece for solo flute by Stuart Dempster. Most flutists would have balked at Dempster's unusual notation and reliance on improvisation. Yet Taub's familiarity with multiple styles enabled him to deftly parse the score; he asked Dempster a few questions and plunged in. The slowly swirling atmospheres of the piece came to life.
To celebrate his 30th anniversary in Seattle, Taub offers a bouquet of new and newish music (Sat Nov 14, Poncho Concert Hall at Cornish College, 8 pm, $10–$20). Along with a reprise of Inside Morning, Taub tackles Reza Vali's Kismet (Calligraphy No. 7) for multiple recorded flutes, the mournful Lied by Hosokawa, and shorter works by Jovino Santos Neto, Bun-Ching Lam, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, and Julie Mandel. I'm also eager to hear Henry Brant's Ghosts and Gargoyles for a flute octet; a pioneer of spatial music, Brant's music encourages (and usually requires) performers to play the entire space, not just the stage, so expect Taub and his fellow flutists to scatter throughout the hall.
By contrast, Harshfest (Fri and Sat Nov 13 and 14, Josephine, 7 pm) will live up to its name. Friday features two projects from Denver: the grizzled, synthified electronics of Page 27 and Blackcell, which harks back to '80s industrial when "import" meant the CD cost over 20 bucks and hunting down discs by Clock DVA was a part-time job. Also on the bill: Amphetamine Virus, bllix, XISIX, Brocken Spectre, and the distorted drum-machine beats of In the Age of Terminal Static. I'm intrigued by Saturday's mix of black metal and industrial outfits—Forest of Grey, Goly Grim, Galdr, and Hellgrammite—with artists who focus on distorting electronics directly: Penetration Camp, Overdose the Katatonic, and Slicing Grandpa. Since the 1980s, rock and noise have met at the nexus of distortion, striving to transform sonic scars into music.