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Evan Ziporyn: Animal Act

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Album Review

Clarinetist Evan Ziporyn came to prominence as a core member of the Bang on a Can new music ensemble. Animal Act, his first release under his own name, offered four varied compositions that sketched out his principal areas of interest. "What She Saw There" is a trio for Ziporyn (on bass clarinet) and two marimba players. As in much of his work, there's a trace of Balinese gamelan in the air, but here more as a slight structural tinge, the percussion echoing the repeated rhythms while the bass clarinet takes on a very distorted version, perhaps, of the Balinese flute. "Tree Frog," scored for an unorthodox septet, is an ambitious work also referencing Southeast Asian music, though rather obliquely, combining certain elements with a minimalist attack more reminiscent of John Adams than Reich or Glass and interjecting instrumental commentary with roots in free jazz. Ziporyn performs a delightful solo piece, "Waiting By the Phone," a fairly free-form fantasy with roots in his transcriptions of Bach's writing for solo strings, brought forward with grace into the 20th century. The closing "Walk the Dog" finds Ziporyn, once again on bass clarinet, in front of an electronic tape (realized by Ted Kuhn) that replaces the orchestra he had originally envisioned. It's a wide-ranging piece that reminds one of a bit less minimalistically oriented take on the sort of music Reich was doing around the period of The Desert Music. Much of the work here finds Ziporyn occupying similar territory as that of his cohorts in Bang on a Can, merging several strains of global and modernist music (including rock and jazz) into a complex whole. Sometimes, one can hear the glimmer of something new, other times it can sound a bit confused or overly academic, but it's certainly worth hearing as an example of the early-'90s approach of this "school."

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Evan Ziporyn: Animal Act, Evan Ziporyn
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