Two upcoming festivals filled with mostly unknown composers and improvisers epitomize risky, adventurous programming and music making.
The Seattle Improvised Music Festival, now in its 21st year, remains the longest-running festival devoted to freely improvised music in North America. Violinists, bassists, cellists, guitarists, and other instrumentalists convene to create every aspect of music—melody, harmony, tempo, timbre, dynamics, and rhythm—in the moment. True to the tradition of freely improvised music, many of the musicians will converge in ad-hoc groups; each afternoon and evening performance features three mix 'n' match sets.
I'm particularly interested to hear the solo set of Vancouver trumpeter JP Carter (Thurs Feb 9, 8 pm), who uses electronics to expand the palette of his instrument. Rapid-fire pianist Gust Burns serves up a solo set (Fri Feb 10, 8 pm) that precedes the Tights Band, a laptop, cello, and analog synth trio from Los Angeles. Also, Doublends Vert reunites (Sat Feb 11, 8 pm) for a very welcome show; this trio of violin, accordion, and clarinet coagulate into a vastly decelerated, minimal music that evokes High Lonesome humming across the empty Siberian tundra.
Organized by the musically omnivorous Seattle Chamber Players, Icebreaker III: The Caucasus imports composers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Turkey. A few names are familiar—Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Giya Kancheli, and Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian—however, most of them are not, making this a unique opportunity to discover music that would otherwise go unheard. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
The Seattle Improvised Music Festival continues through Sun Feb 12 (Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533), see www.seattleimprovisedmusic.com for a full schedule, $10–$25 sliding scale donation.
Icebreaker III runs Fri Feb 17 through Sun Feb 19 (Recital Hall at Benaroya, 200 University St, 286-5052), see www.seattlechamberplayers.org for a full schedule, $12–$20.