"I like to work with process and collaboration," Fernando Melo says, a few minutes after finishing a rehearsal for his new work Walk-In, "because then we realize things we could not have imagined."
Luna Negra Dance Theatre will perform the World Premiere of Melo's Walk-In at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on October 13, along with a reprise of Melo's critically acclaimed (and massive audience favoroite) Bate and Artistic Director Gustavo Ramírez Sansano's much anticipated 18+1.
Considering how enthusiastic people are about Fernando Melo's choreography, identifying exactly what makes his approach so unique can be surprisingly elusive; his originality can defy description almost as much as it defies expectations. He comes up with such a different take on things that it makes you wonder if Fernando Melo might be the only person around who could have actually reinvented the wheel. Once you've seen some of his work, you start to believe that he probably could have; by now cars and bicycles might all be rolling around on something very different, and probably something better, if he'd put his mind to that instead of choreography.
Sammy Tenuta came out of a very different scene than the one he's in now; he was the singer and leader in loud, driving rock bands that headlined most of the big venues in the Chicago club scene up through the late nineties. He's moved on, in reality, he's moved back to where most of that music started anyway; his new EP "Stay a Little Longer" is purely acoustic -- one guitar played live, one vocal, all about the songs, just the way that really good solo acoustic and solo vocal records should be. Well, all about the songs and how you play them.
Even after you've listened to Andy Moor's new album Zero Point One a bunch of times, it's still hard to get used to how strong these tracks are. There are eighteen of them, and even if you keep going back to listen to the whole album, track after track through the musical light show of its many different voyages, it still won't matter. Although you may think that on just one more listen they can't all seem so rich or so well put together, it doesn't matter; they still do.
Andy Moor is one of the really respected producer DJs in Electronic Dance Music, and on the Trance Nation side of EDM he's been known for years for the quality of his productions. Still, this is something new. As successful as his hit tracks and remixes have been, Zero Point One is an album, a rich, musical album full of different songs, different textures, and different moods.
There's a major new world taking shape in Trance music, as the producers who built the many faceted sound of Trance out of monstrously melodic tracks, layered through and through with the lush atmospheres that make trance music its own art, have started to make really careful, complete albums. The artist album isn't new in EDM, but because trance has always been such an independent world, huge and global but always its own unique country, it's been a gradual, step-by-step process. It's been a complicated challenge, because trance artists don't fit easily into the world's expectation of what a recording artist is; for the most part they're touring DJs, software-based composers and producers who almost all came up putting out one track at a time, usually with its main purpose being to tear up a dancefloor when somebody played it in a set with a lot of other tracks.
Powerplay FYI's new album "A Normal Life" is out now, it's a full length trip through the musical imaginations of some really accomplished performers and writers. "A Normal Life" is a richly textured concept album; it's a new collection of ten tracks that showcase what great writing sounds like with the energy of a percussion-rich Latin big band, with the flawlessly soulful vocals of two great singers, and with the driving funk of a full horn section and first-call rhythm players.
It wasn't hard at all deciding to do a story about Tritonal --- their single "Everafter" featuring Cristina Soto is at the top of the Beatport trance chart (just like several of their releases last year), they're one of the most active and successful new DJ/producer teams on the scene, and they're playing at Enclave in Chicago this Saturday, June 2. What made it hard was that I've been meaning to get their album "Piercing the Quiet" for a while, so I went to eMusic and bought it as I started to write the article. The trouble with that idea was that the album turns out to be just outstanding, and now I don't have the vaguest idea how to focus this story. Not only that, they've just released an album with extended mixes of the tracks, and it's probably even better, but I'm still loving this one so I'll get to that in a few days.
Kay Wilder and Ernesto vs Bastian's new single "Forgotten Summer" is out at Beatport, and it's a great way to start getting ready for a really good summer. We got the original mix when it came out yesterday, and went back today to get the Julian Wess and Mike Carey Remix. The Wess and Carey Remix is dreamier, with a lot of cool instrumentation woven into the still-driving track. We've been listening to the original at Soundcloud for a couple of weeks, and it's a really strong, straight-up Trance track, bangin' and well arranged.
The Joffrey Ballet's Spring Desire is a richly successful evening; it features three works, "Age of Innocence" by Edwaard Liang, "In the Night" by Jerome Robbins, and the world premiere of "Incantations" by Val Caniparoli. Spring Desire continues this week, from Thursday through Sunday, and ticket information is available at the Joffrey website.
Johnny Nevin wrote about the Joffrey performance here at aotpr.com, and has also taken a much more in-depth look at the making of Edwaard Liang's richly enchanting "Age of Innocence" at 4dancers.org. Here's a video collage of photographs by Herbert Migdoll of scenes from "Age of Innocence".
Powerplay fyi keyboard player, writer, and producer Ruben Agosto is just back from the ASCAP I Create Music Conference in Hollywood, and the new Powerplay album, "A Normal Life" is coming out later this spring. Here's a short intro interview Ruben did at the Heart & Soul studios just after finishing mastering on the album.
PowerPlay FYI features some of the most talented and accomplished performers around; their two vocalists (Pam Fernandez and Peter Frank) are both featured in the tracks used behind the photo collages in the video. "A Normal Life" covers a wide range of soulful, smooth jazz and funk-driven beats. Several of the arrangements are by Tower of Power arranger Dave Eskridge. The whole album is already at PowerPlayFYI.bandcamp.com for full strreaming. Not to mention, check out the photo of Ruben hangin' in Hollywood with Lee Ritenour.
Trance music is melodic, beat-driven music with its own standards and its own stars, which is not surprising, because in many ways, trance music is its own world. Almost all of it is made by DJ/Producers, for the trance-aware to find at places like junodownload.com or beatport.com, and especially for other DJs to find and play for their audiences (and the trance audience is global and immense).
It's a world full of energy and imagination, and there might not be anybody more energetic or imaginative when it comes to making and finding great trance music than the UK based DJ trio Above & Beyond. It's a strangely separate set of realities; if you know trance music, you're wondering why in the world anybody would explain who Above & Beyond is, and if you don't know trance music, you're wondering who in the world Above & Beyond is. Just to give you some idea, one of their recent San Francisco shows sold out in two minutes.
It seems like they tour non-stop, but every week they also put together one of the best podcast radio shows on the web, at trancearoundtheworld.com. All of the weekly shows are archived there (they've done more than four hundred), and there's a link to a free download of each show in the upper left part of the page, or you can get there by clicking here.
Above & Beyond will be in Chicago at the Congress Theater on Saturday, May 12. They're playing with Cosmic Gate and Matt Zo, both of whom regularly show up on Trance Around the World with killer tracks and remixes. We're going.
Ruben Agosto came into the studio today working on finishing up his band's new record A Normal Life. Powerplay FYI's last track on AOTPR can be listened to here. You can also visit their website or find them on Twitter and Facebook
The new record is a bit concept album telling the story of normal people doing extraordinary artistic things while dealing with everyday issues. "It covers a lot of ground" Says Ruben. The sound goes from Steely Dan to Santana to Tower of Power with the musicianship of several of Chicago's top musicians.
"You are always going to do what you're passionate about" says Agosto. "If you find out what that is you will find out how to do it."
Look out for previews of the songs here on aotpr.com and the full release in early 2012.