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About Barbez

The word "eclectic" doesn't quite begin to cover the diversity of styles and influences that come together in the Brooklyn-based ensemble Barbez. The band's lineup includes a virtuoso Theremin player, a percussionist manning a marimba, and someone who conjures noises from a PalmPilot. The group's repertoire includes Russian folk songs, the music of Kurt Weill, and covers of Black Sabbath and the Residents. And Barbez's performances can be jaunty, haunting, or thunderously chaotic -- sometimes all within the same song. Barbez is made up of Dan Kaufman (Rebecca Moore) on guitar, Pamelia Kurstin (David Byrne, Simone Dinnerstein) on Theremin, Peter Hess (Philip Glass Ensemble) on clarinet and bass clarinet, Danny Tunick (the Clean) on marimba and vibraphone, Catherine McRae (filmmaker Sam Green, the Quavers) on violin, Peter Lettre (Shearwater) on bass, and John Bollinger (Sway Machinery) on drums.

Barbez maintains a long-running collaboration with the experimental theater director, filmmaker, and playwright, John Jesurun, a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant winner, and has composed and performed scores for several of Jesurun's theatrical works, which have been staged at the Berliner Festspiele in Berlin, Germany and the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York. Jesurun has also directed three videos for the band. Barbez has contributed music for several dance works, including One and The Making of Americans, both choreographed by the Bessie-award winner Juliette Mapp and presented, respectively, by Danspace Project and Dance Theatre Workshop in New York.

The group released its debut album, a self-released and self-titled effort, in 2000; it was produced and recorded by Martin Bisi, who has continued to be the band's principal collaborator in the studio. Barbez signed with the prestigious independent label Important Records and released their second disc, also called Barbez, in 2002; it included guest appearances from Anthony Nozero of Drums & Tuba and toy instrument collector Ms. Moore. The group's third album, Insignificance, appeared in 2005. Though it was released under Kaufman's name, 2007's Force of Light featured all of the mainstays in Barbez and then some; it melded their genre-defying creation of compositions to accompany the poetry of Paul Celan. It was followed six years later by Bella Ciao, this time under the band's own name. The recording wedded their ever-evolving mix of tonal and genre colors to the musical and literary traditions of Rome via the poems of Paolo Pasolini and Alfonso Gatto, and was inspired by ancient Roman Jewish melodies and the Italian Resistance during the Second World War; vocalists Fiona Templeton and Dawn McCarthy guested on the date. 2017's Those Who Came After: Songs of Resistance from the Spanish Civil War, offered ten iconic songs from the period recorded live with the Bay Area singer Velina Brown at the Japan Society in 2016. The occasion was the annual celebration of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, an organization of American volunteers who traveled to Spain to fight fascism during the conflict. ~ Mark Deming

    Brooklyn, NY

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