"Whenever we listen carefully," writes composer John Luther Adams in The Place Where You Go to Listen (Wesleyan), "we come to hear that music is around us all the time. Noise is no longer unwanted sound. It is the breath of the world."
Many composers write books—these days, it seems to be a job prerequisite—but few write well. Richly mixing technical speculation and spiritual inquiry, The Place offers insight into the upcoming concert (Sat Nov 21, Chapel Performance Space, 8 pm, $5–$15 sliding-scale donation) of Adams's masterly cycle for solo percussion and electronics, The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies.
While composing Mathematics, Adams writes, "I had to resist the temptation to employ [software-based] pitch shifting... I was determined to find the essential resonance of each instrument and let nature take her course." Instead of unleashing an ultraprocessed fanfaronade, Adams uses electronics for sonic condensation: Like when your breath fogs a window and reveals a new and evanescent view of light, a humble noise in Mathematics—a stridulating buzz, a stray rattle, or an echoed murk—not only indicates a tiny detail but refocuses the ears to hear a poetic, harmonious whole.
Also, the uproarious Reptet celebrates (Thurs Nov 19, Tractor Tavern, 9 pm, $8, 21+) the release of Agendacide (Monktail). Pressed on red vinyl, the 7-inch single has two fine compositions by trumpeter Samantha Boshnack; I slightly prefer the title track, which unexpectedly veers into a section with a slithery bass clarinet and closes with a hand-clapping chant that would be at home on a late-era Sun Ra record. KEXP DJ Darek Mazzone and Balkan-influenced brass-and-drum banshees Orkestar Zirkonium round out the evening.
My favorite coda to the marathon Earshot Jazz Festival is the Ballard Jazz Walk (Fri Nov 20, various venues, 6 pm, $20 adv/$25 DOS, see www.ballardjazz festival.com for details). Among 18 groups ensconced in a dozen clubs, perennial favorites such as Greta Matassa (Leif Erikson Hall, 7:30 pm) and saxophonist Hadley Caliman (New York Fashion Academy, 7:30 pm) remain sure bets. But don't miss drummer Todd Bishop's Pop Art 4 (Resolution Audio, 7 pm); their new disc, 69 Année Érotique (Origin), serves up a boozily louche take on the music of Serge Gainsbourg. And make sure to catch vocalist Jeff Baker, who shares the bill with Matassa. Much like Kurt Elling, Baker radiates a melancholy grit, though with a bit more vulnerable tenderness.
The following night, Hardcoretet gigs in Wallingford (Sat Nov 21, Seamonster Lounge, 2202 N 45th St, 10 pm, free). After spending a day with their self-released disc Experiments in Vibe, I look forward to hearing them live: Count on funk-filled improvisation framed by tight arrangements.