The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

January 17, 2018

ESP-DISK 55th Anniversary Concert on 1/27

and the Dragon and Phoenix album release -


Stephen Dydo and Alan Sondheim


And !!

ESP-Disk 55th Anniversary Winter Concert

January 27, 2018 at 7:30 PM
Greenwich House
46 Barrow Street
Part of the Sound It Out series
All tix sold at the door: $20 ($15 for students/seniors)

Stephen Dydo & Alan Sondheim with Azure Carter
Kali Fasteau
Megumi Yonezawa/Ken Kobayashi /MK
Talibam! with Matt Nelson and Ron Stabinsky

This, the first of four concerts planned to celebrate the 55th
anniversary of Bernard Stollman's creation of ESP-Disk' in 1963,
features two artists from the legendary first period of ESP-Disk
(1963-75): Alan Sondheim (Ritual-All-7-70, 1967, and T'Other
Little Tune, 1968) and Kali Fasteau (The Sea Ensemble's We Move
Together, 1974). Also featured are artists who joined the ESP
family after the label's 2005 revival, Talibam! and friends
performing HARD VIBE, one of their two 2017 ESP releases, and
the trio of pianist Megumi Yonezawa, bassist MK, and drummer Ken
Kobayashi, a group whose debut album ESP is about to release.
This concert also functions as the release party for
Yonezawa/MK/Kobayashis album Boundary and Dydo/Sondheims October
release Dragon and Phoenix.


Description of Dragon and Phoenix from the album:

Dragon and Phoenix refers to the names of the sound holes on the
Chinese instrument known as the guqin a.k.a. qin (gu is a prefix
meaning "ancient"), which figures prominently on this album of
improvised acoustic duos, being heard on thirteen of the sixteen
tracks, with two qins on four tracks.

Stephen Dydo, former president of the New York Qin Society, is
the more traditional player here, whereas Alan Sondheim has a
style heavily based on free improvisation. The two bonded over
their instrument collections, sometimes trading or loaning
choice items. Dydo, who has also had lengthy careers as
classical guitarist and as a twelve-tone composer, once told the
author that a good day of composing yielded a measure and a
half; this painstaking attention to detail has stood him in good
stead during his more recent study of the qin. Sondheim, who has
previously had three releases on ESP-Disk' starting in the 1960s
and has prolifically spread his recent musical evolution across
a variety of other labels, is an impulsive musical adventurer
who uses his dizzying array of instruments for what their sounds
can contribute to his musical style; he is not unaware of the
traditional performance techniques of his instruments, but he
never lets his musical expression be limited by or to those

Except for the use of madal (a hand drum) on one track, all the
music here is made with stringed instruments. The music is very
often focused on contrasts of timbres and textures. However,
there may be as much pure melodic content here as on any
Sondheim album. Harmonies are spare but spiced with
microtonality. Though it may be more subtle than much of our
catalog, attentive listeners will likely find that this meeting
of tradition and experimentation lives up to an old ESP-Disk'
slogan: "You never heard such sounds in your life."


Stephen Dydo: qin, viola, banjo

Alan Sondheim: qin, viola, banjo, guzheng, rababa, erhu, madal

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