UC San Diego's Department of Music

June 05, 2008

  by Ian Power

SOUND CHECK THREE is the new CD featuring grad-level composers and performers from U.C. San Diego's Department of Music. Curated by music faculty member and saxophonist David Borgo, the CD includes ten fiery original compositions, from Jeffrey Treviño's solo contrabass piece "Binary Experiment for James Tenney," to PRF's "Squirrel Pod Saskatchewan," which incorporates computer processing, and Jude Weirmeir's adventurous "Triptych" for a trio of flute/piccolo, guitar and violin. Sound Check Three is a fitting representation of UCSD's emphasis on new and experimental music. These Sound Check series incorporates improvisation, unconventional use of traditional instruments, provocative arrangements and emerging technologies include computer processing. All of the music was recorded in UCSD's studios.

For your free copy of Sound Check Three, send a message including your mailing address to:

"The Sound Check series serves a dual purpose," Borgo says. "First, the discs document the music of grad students, and second, as curated by individual faculty members, each disc represents a specific conceptual window into the department's activities."

Of ten pieces on Sound Check Three, only two (composer Michael Pisaro's "an unrhymed chord" and jazz clarinetist John Carter's "Encounters") were not composed or conceived by musicians from UCSD. Six are improvisations, which sets this CD apart from its predecessors.

"I wanted to present a cross-section of recent student music as a balanced and compelling collection, but my choices were indelibly and purposefully informed by my own history as a jazz and improvising musician," Borgo says. "I selected performances that showcase improvisation, an approach that has been under-acknowledged and under-supported in academia. Several tracks are completely improvised, others use thematic, textual, and/or textural sources as a point of departure."

Completely improvised works include pfr's "Squirrel Pod Saskatchewan" and b.i.ko.'s "721 in the books," while structured pieces with significant improv include Tracy McMullen's "Random House," Myth America's "Mother Myth (no. 72)," and Steve Willard and Jeff Denson's "Shadows (numbers) tell it (to the executioner)." Rounding out the set are Jeff Treviño's "Binary Experiment for James Tenney," Benjamin Carson's "Peleas/Pele," and Jude Weirmeir's "Triptych."

Borgo enjoyed curating Sound Check Three and says the process was organic. "The order of the tracks presented itself to me without my having to impose my will," he says. "And Cameron Ashraf's wonderful cover photo of a flaring sun represents to me the dynamic complexity of the music and the powerfully charged collaborations that produced it."

  Listen to selected tracks.

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