It’s finally happening…I’m thrilled to announce that my first solo record, Memory Palace, will be released on January 6, 2017 on VIA Records. This album is a collection of pieces that I’ve commissioned over the past several years, and each work stretches the capabilities of percussion music in a unique way.
When I commissioned Timo Andres‘ Crashing Through Fences back in grad school, I asked him for a piece for marimba and flute – but he came back to me with this beautiful piece for piccolo, glockenspiel, and two kick drums. His idea was better than mine. This recording features the wonderful Gina Izzo of RighteousGIRLS.
I first met David Crowell through a mutual friend, and shortly after, he sent me a CD of his percussion music. I immediately fell in love with his writing, and asked him if I could play any of these pieces live. He told me that they were all conceived of as recordings only – the layering was too complex to attempt a performance. But, he was interested in composing a piece in a similar style that could be performed live. So, I organized a consortium of 12 percussionists, and David wrote Celestial Sphere for a live marimba and many pre-recorded ones. In addition to the recording, my good friend Michael McQuilken has produced a video that captures each of these marimba parts and portrays them visually. Check outmy last collaboration with Michael here, and stay tuned for this new video…
I met Paola Prestini in 2013 while doing a performance of her music at the River To River Festival. Paola is a consummate artist who wears her heart on her sleeve, and I was blown away by the raw emotion that she pours into her work. G-Force is a beautiful tribute to Mickey Straus, a dear friend of hers who passed away too soon. I’m honored that the incredible Brooklyn Rider has joined me for this recording.
Tawnie Olson and I have been dreaming up the project that would eventually become Meadowlark for several years now. The whole piece is based on 2 short field recordings of Western Meadowlark birdsong that Tawnie processes in various ways. It’s a virtuosic piece that asks the performer for a very unique kind of independence between their two hands – they continually get louder and softer in opposite directions from each other to create a dense polyphony that’s always moving. It’s an incredible effect that I’ve never seen before in marimba music – and it’s a lot of fun to play.
And finally, Christopher Cerrone’s Memory Palace is, in Chris’ words, a “kind of paeon to places and people that have deeply affected” him. It’s a walk through his past and his upbringing – through the path that turned him into the musician and person that he is today. It’s scored almost entirely for homemade instruments – wooden slats, metal pipes, beer bottles – and is accompanied by field recordings that Chris made at some of these important places. There aren’t a lot of 22-minute percussion pieces – in general – let alone ones that have the effect that this one does. It’s an intensely personal and reflective piece that I grow closer to each time I perform it.
Thanks to a generous residency at EMPAC, Chris and I were able to join with director Mark DeChiazza to create a short film that accompanies this recording. It combines footage of a performance in the EMPAC theater with location shots that correspond to Chris’ remembered places. I’m extremely proud of it, and can’t wait to share it with you all.
The record will officially be released on January 6, but you can pick up an advance copy at the CD release show at National Sawdust on November 21 at 9pm. I’m going to play the entire record live from top to bottom, and both Gina Izzo and Brooklyn Rider will join me. Tickets and more information about the show are right here!