Johnny Nevin

Andy Moor Brings It All Together In Zero Point One

Andy Moor

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.

Luna Negra Dance Theater's "Luna Nueva"

Luna Negra Dance Theater

Luna Negra Dance Theater is such an imaginative and unique Company that it's never at all surprising when they do something new and forward-looking. Their collaboration with the Museum Of Contemporary Art Chicago was a program of three exceptionally strong premieres, combined in a program called Luna Nueva which means, "the New Moon". It was a superb choice as the title for the program; in the pre-electrified past of almost every culture on Earth, the new moon has been a powerful and enchanting symbol of change. Luna Nueva's explicit purpose was to showcase works by choreographers "whose movement style and artistic voices extend beyond the conventional aesthetics of dance".

Tritonal's "Piercing the Quiet"

Tritonal

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.

"Age of Innocence" at the Joffrey's Spring Desire

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".

Matt Darey

Matt Darey (Photo by Mike McNulty)

There are a lot of different worlds in the galaxy of Electronic / Dance Music, and more appearing all the time as DJ/producers find new sounds and new ways to put them together. It's a universe of many voices, but among all of the creative and energetic artists that keep the beat-driven grooves changing all of the time, UK Producer / DJ / Artist Matt Darey has always managed to be one of the most forward-looking, one of the most resilient, and one of the most dependable when it comes to just bringing it.

The Joffrey Ballet Lights It All Up With "Spring Desire"

Joanna Wozniak and Matthew Adamczyk in "incantations".  Photo by Herbert Migdoll
Joanna Wozniak and Matthew Adamczyk in "incantations".  Photo by Herbert Migdoll

The Joffrey Ballet's "Spring Desire" is a beautiful, masterful evening, made out of elegance and precisely focused inspiration; it opened April 25 at Chicago's legendary Auditorium Theatre, and will run through the beginning of May.

"Spring Desire" starts out with Edwaard Liang's "Age of Innocence", an intricately conceived and beautifully performed work of profound insight. I wrote about the making of the piece in an article at 4dancers.org called "The Choreography of Understanding", and in the process I had the chance to see one of the rehearsals for it. In a way it's a revelation to see the movement isolated in the bright light of the Joffrey's expansive rehearsal studio, repeated again and again until it shows the multiple perspectives of individual performance, ensemble precision and choreographic architecture, but it's nothing like seeing the lights come up on it at the Auditorium. There's a depth to the staging, a harmony to its richly woven movement-fabric, a brightness in the dancers who perform in it, that immerses you in it's rich, brooding story.

The second work in "Spring Desire" is a widely respected work by Jerome Robbins entitled "In the Night", set to four Chopin Nocturnes. The Nocturnes are performed live, and beautifully, by Paul James Lewis, as six dancers weave a hopelessly enchanting spell with Robbins' movement design. The program notes say that the "exquisitely romantic pas de deux explore love in all its phases", and although "exquisitly romantic" is exactly what they are, the graceful eloquence of the Jofferey dancers adds a whole new kind of love to the list.

The last work in the show is the world premiere of "Incantations" by Val Caniparoli that I won't even try to describe; you just have to go see it. It starts out with a nonstop energy that could be the finale of almost anything else, then one of the most effective lighting changes you'll ever see brings everything way down, and it finishes, it finishes, maybe I shouldn't say how it finishes. You should just go see it.

Watching the Joffrey work is beyond impressive; the performance is at a level that's stunning in its gracefulness, its energy and its commitment. In three very different works, "Spring Desire" showcases what can happen when a group of richly talented people work really hard together to make something brilliant. This is a band where everybody knows how to play; this is a show to go see.

Spring Desire is at the Auditorium Theater through May 6, tickets are at the Joffrey (10 E. Randolph Street) and Roosevelt Box Offices or from Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787.

Music and Dance at 4dancers

Music and Dance

4dancers.org is a great, broad-based dance site that brings together a number of different perspectives on the world of Dance. Johnny Nevin has joined the site as a monthly columnist, writing about Music and Dance. His third article just posted there, about Finding Music, and you can check out these links for his first two articles: Choosing Music For Choreography, and Music and Dance: An Introduction. There are a number of regular features at 4dancers well worth keeping an eye on; one of them is the series "10 Questions With ...", where Editor Catherine L. Tully engages different people from the world of Dance; her interview with Johnny Nevin is at 10 Questions with John Nevin.

Hearts and Minds

Claire

Claire's new EP Release "Hearts and Minds" in many ways completes her transition from major label artist to self-managed independent. This is her third independent release, and like many artists in tune with both what changes and what stays the same, she's increasingly adapted her release approach to the digital-friendly EP. Hearts and Minds is a three-song collage of where her music is now, including flawlessly produced recordings with writing partner Tommy G ("A Long Goodbye" and "Winds of Change") and a beat-driven mid-tempo track with 'ohana Dreamdance producer Johnny Nevin ("Wouldn't It").

Claire came by Heart & Soul to talk about the EP's release -- about how the songs came to be, who was in on the project, and a lot more. “The EP is about balance or the lack of it,” she says. “In these songs, either the heart or the mind is in control – but you need them both working in unison to make choices for real happiness." Here's the ten minute interview, most definitely worth a listen to get a look inside the exceptionally creative mind of Claire Massey -----

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You can find much more about Claire at planetclaire.com, and you can hear Hearts and Minds at cdbaby. We also have another podcast about the production of "Wouldn't It" right here, and you can hear the entire track in the aotpr.com story "Wouldn't It" from Claire's New Hearts & Minds EP".

Black Light Saints SXSW

Black Light Saints

The first Black Light Saints album, Impossible Picks, is streetwise and edgy, so until you hear it a few times, you only feel, but don't realize, how carefully they build their musical thoughts. Since completing the album, they've picked up Danny Lucero and Fonz and have been playing those don't-wait-too-long-to-see-them shows that you can only ever find when a really good new band comes along. They've got one at the Art Institute After Dark Friday the 11th, and then they're on the road, in on the South By Southwest madness in Austin at Cedar Street on Wednesday (March 15) and the next night in San Antonio at Limelight.

The band has also kept up the heat on the recording side --- there's a new web-exclusive release at dopecouture.com, and their first remix package is being put together now.

Britton Wetherald and Dan Agosto (producer of Impossible Picks) stopped by Heart & Soul to talk about all of this --- about how it all got started and why, and about where it's going now. Here's what they had to say:

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All the while, Impossible Picks keeps getting more attention, like when Kate Stahl is doing a story at popsugar.com about fashion designer Christina Fan and has this to say: "Fan let us in on some of her favorite Chicago things — and even introduced me to awesome new Chicago band Black Light Saints". Black Light Saints' Impossible Picks is at Amazon, Amazon U.K. and iTunes. You'll love it.

Great Reviews: The Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert

"The White City" at the Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert

The Thodos Dance Chicago Winter Concert, featuring major new works by Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos ("The White City: Chicago's Columbian Exposition of 1893") and by multi-talented choreographer Ron De Jesús ("Shift"), has received a very impressive crictical response. The show begins with Reinking and Thodos's work, and in the second act, which closes with "Shift", audiences also get to see the return of two audience and critical favorites from 2010 New Dances series: "Quieting the Clock" by Francisco Avina and Stephanie Martin-Bennet, and "Dancer, Net (Solo 1)" by Wade Schaaf, as well as a second world premiere by Thodos, "Getting There", a sequel to the signature work that began her choreographic career. Here are some excerpts from a few of the reviews:

Hedy Weiss, The Chicago Sun-Times: "The program, whose second act contained four other works of exceptional quality ... is a must-see for anyone intrigued by Chicago history, by the power of dance to spin a story, and by the sight of a dance troupe clearly in the throes of a major breakthrough.
... “The White City” is a sophisticated, utterly involving blend of ingeniously imagined, superbly executed movement (with echoes of everything from “The Green Table” ballet to Broadway’s “Ragtime”); ravishing music (Bruce Wolosoff’s seductive “Songs Without Words,” played thrillingly by the Carpe Diem Quartet, perched in a balcony box); film (clever use of archival material by Christopher Kai Olsen, with deft narration by Chris Multhauf); haunting lighting (by Nathan Tomlinson, whose artistry was on display throughout the evening), and period-perfect costumes (by Nathan Rohrer)."

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