The Vortex Series For New and Improvised Music world premier video event scheduled for July 25th, 2020 Featuring clarinetist Todd Brunel and pianist Jennifer Elowsky-Fox.

In this short program, we present the Francis Poulenc Sonata for clarinet and piano, an improvised solo clarinet piece, a duo version of We Shall 2 honoring Juneteenth 2020 and 2 movements of Larry Bell's poignant and beautiful solo piano work, the 24 Preludes and Fugues.

This video is made possible by a generous grant from the Arlington Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was filmed live at St John Episcopal Church on June 24th. We are so grateful to St John's for welcoming our performance during the COVID 19 pandemic.

This video was produced and filmed by the very talented Daniel Gorbunov and ACMI.


Please consider hitting the Donate button below and make a contribution to the Vortex Series For New and Improvised Music today. 

As we all do our best to create meaningful musical opportunities for our communities and for ourselves, Boston Public Schools music educators teamed up for this virtual performance of Todd Brunel's arrangement of "Simple Gifts." As we unite through the power of music, we want to celebrate that the arts are alive at BPS! BOSTON LATIN ACADEMY Sonya White-Hope, violin 1 and 2 BOSTON LATIN SCHOOL Maggie McKenna, French horn THE ENGLISH HIGH SCHOOL John Ferraro, clarinet 1 SARAH GREENWOOD K-8 SCHOOL Todd Brunel, bass clarinet/percussion/arranger THOMAS A. EDISON K-8 SCHOOL María Doreste Velázquez, piano BPS ARTS OFFICE Emmanuel Toledo, clarinet 2

COVID has caused us all to stop especially us performer/ educator types. In my daily I'm hunkered down with my family and we are doing our best to have lives, work, play, eat, sleep and entertain ourselves. I've owned the domain name and had the website since 2003 and of course I am--- we are all- in a state of reflection with a seething invisible monster at our backs, in our faces.

So what's a guy like me to do? Well in between my new online responsibilities as an educator, I'm taking a look at some of those pieces I never really had the time to work on... and finally saying: "Let's do something about that piece!"

Here's what I just posted as a description on my FB page: 

ClariNation Vitale:

It's a crazy movie montage that makes no sense, just like the times we live in. But...I was finally able to get a version of it that is more cohesive. It's a multitrack swarming, mixed meter sharknado without the sharks, only my family. The video features clips from quarantine and times of Freedom, I hope you enjoy!

Contact me for a copy of the score and parts if this music interests you.

Prehistoric Jazz Volume 4 (Reminiscing in Tempo)

Eric Hofbauer Quintet

FROM THE LINER NOTES - It’s gratifying to see current bandleaders address the hybridity inherent in jazz by dealing with the music of Shostakovich, Webern, Ligeti and Machaut, among others. For Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer, who in recent years has confronted monumental works by Stravinsky, Messiaen and Charles Ives on Prehistoric Jazz, Vols. 1-3, the goal was not a melding of genres or a salute to “serious” music in general, but rather a puzzling over matters of timbre and instrumentation, improvisational pathways and harmonic implications specific to these composers. The orchestrations were rigorous yet everywhere was the spark of the unexpected. Hofbauer’s take on the encounter of European modernism with the America of blues and jazz follows in the best tradition of Joplin, Ellington and all that came after.

“Prehistoric jazz” is a term Leonard Bernstein once used in reference to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps. Hofbauer took the concept and ran with it in his account of that piece as well as Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and Ives’ Three Places in New England. Ives’ Americanness was salient: his appropriation of plantation songs, military marches and other vernacular sources was itself jazz-like. And Three Places, inspired as it was by Revolutionary and Civil War monuments as well as natural scenes in and around Ives’ native Connecticut, amounted to a meditation on America’s past and future — something about which jazz has quite a lot to say.

These themes emerge again on Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 4, devoted to Duke Ellington’s 1935 masterpiece Reminiscing in Tempo. Duke wrote this piece soon after the death of his mother, with whom he was very close — a detail that led Hofbauer to hear this music as a reflection on “memory as a catalyst for change.”

The moving extended work had to fill two 78-rpm records, front and back, so it’s generally spoken of as a four-part extended composition. In Hofbauer’s reading, it unfolds as a continuous piece without timestamps for the different sections, prompting us to hear the music differently. According to Hofbauer, Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 4 “is the closest I’ve come to employing the technical demands of my solo-guitar conception as heard on the American trilogy or Ghost Frets, but in the quintet setting.”

Duke’s original was just under 13 minutes; this version is just under 25. The piece was originally conceived with no improvisation. But Hofbauer’s reading does entail some “blowing”: “I’m using the improvisations as a compositional tool. It happens in sections where I’m choosing to stay in a harmonic and/or rhythmic space that is important to explore further.” Spread out through the entire piece we first hear a cello solo, then trumpet, then an extended solo-guitar passage, then drums, then clarinet and finally collective improvisation. “Each solo is a departure,” Hofbauer adds, “but still serves the overall flow, and narrative of the original, just expanding it to make room for personal statements by each quintet member and to focus on our group interplay.”
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