The Orlando Weekly’s Review of Midaregami

I wanted to post this review of the Tangled Bell Ensemble‘s performance of Midaregami here as I am very proud of that piece and it is a stellar review.

This Little Underground: Jim Ivy’s Tangled Bell Ensemble debuts at the In-Between Series

The local rule is that if Jim Ivy is involved, it’s gonna be weird or smart, often both.

For the consistently intriguing music monthly the In-Between Series, he rolled out a rather grand conceptual experiment with the debut of his Tangled Bell Ensemble (May 18, Gallery at Avalon Island). Using the early 20th century poetry work of Japanese author Akiko Yosano as impetus, the idea of the performance – titled “Midaregami (Tangled Hair)” – was to explore orchestrating heterogeneity into concert. To do that, he assembled a cast of 11 members – the biggest to perform the series yet – from an intentionally wide spectrum of musical backgrounds. Many of them looked and sounded like more classical players, but musicians I recognized from my usual beat included members of weirdo acts like Moon Jelly and Happy Valley. The resulting body was a small orchestra expanded with guitar, piano, accordion, voice and modern drum kit. At its head was Ivy pulling double duty as conductor and player on his trademark sax.

Sonically, the four-act journey was a tapestry of music and word (English and Japanese) that slithered from mystery to beauty to excitingly unchained bedlam at the end of the second act. Though structure and arc formed the program’s narrative, the individual pieces were composed loosely to allow some placed pockets of improvisation, moments that seemed to make Ivy beam with the most joy and that at some point engaged each and every player. Further testament to the extemporaneous spirit of the performance was the fact that the first time the entire ensemble was in the same room together was about 40 minutes before the show. Though the end was an interesting, fully in-the-moment display in itself, this was a demonstration of the art of process and spontaneity. As such, the result was adventure not recital, and it was an experience of unfolding, evolving tension.

by Bao Le-Huu


Tangled Bell

HEADERA quick word to help promote the upcoming show: May 18 at 7pm at The Gallery at Avalon Island. The In-Between Series presents Jim Ivy’s Tangled Bell Ensemble performing Midaregami.

Anna Wallace: voice
Midori Imhoof: japanese voice
Andrew Toth: trumpet
A.J. Herring: trombone
Jim Ivy: composition, reeds
Sarah Morrison: violin
Matthew Davis: cello
Steven Head: guitar
Thomas Milovac: bass
Elizabeth Baker: piano
Nick Boutwell: accordion
Evan Shafran: drums.

Tsutsui_Toshimine-No_Series-Second_Bloom-00038067-050716-F12The main goal of this exploration is to juxtapose seemingly conflicting concepts and approaches, and display them in an aligning way; to show how antagonistic forces and unfamiliarity can create a cooperative friction and become formidable allies. The intent being that all portions of the whole (notated music, text, improvisation) were at once independent of and mutually dependent upon each other; symbiotic. Each being a part and apart simultaneously.

By coordinating loosely written themes that rely on improvisation for story detail, the inclusion of musicians with vast differences in musical background and influence, semi-spontaneous arrangements and impromptu conducting, Midaregami is presented as more of an experimental exercise than a completed work.

36658g1Creating an environment where the construction of composition is immediate and experientially apparent has been an objective of mine for some time. The game piece, Milton Bradley (2012), attempted to coax improvisors into immediate composers by interpretation.

This piece is based on the collection of 400 tanka poems written by Akiko Yosano titled Midaregami (Tangled Hair). Appearing in 1901, Midaregami brought a passionate individualism to traditional tanka poetry, unlike any other work of the late Meiji period. A Japanese author, poet, pioneering feminist, pacifist, and social reformer, Akiko Yosano (1878-1942) would become one of the most famous, and controversial, post-classical woman poets of Japan.

In other news, The Delusionaires hit the road north-bound once more winding up at the Midnight Monster Hop in NYC. More details to come. June is already full.