Tom Heasley, John Cage

Tom Heasley – Where the Earth Hits the Sky

The Hypnos label has been around for a few years, quietly releasing ambient and space music. Recently Hypnos put out this gem by Bay Area tuba player Tom Heasly. In the past Heasley has worked the jazz/free improv/new music worlds with Pauline Oliveros, Loren Mazzacane-Connors, Charlie Haden, Bobby Bradford, Don Preston and others. But now he’s gone solo by attaching a microphone to the bell of his horn and routing the signal through digital echos and reverbs. The result is stunning: many layers of sustained tuba drones that leave one in a meditative state.

Besides an amazing two shows in NYC – Nova Nights @ Two Boots and Downtown Music Gallery, he’s been playing all over the Northeastern USA and Canada since late August. I also caught him in Philadelphia at the Gathering concert series ( with the throat singers Spectral Voices. This show was only a few days after the World Trade Center disaster – 9/15/2001, but they still had a great turnout. It was an impressive affair, both acts pumping their sound through digital delays and reverb. With the PA speakers at least 50 feet apart in this magnificent space at St. Mary’s church (chapel?) at the U. of Penn, I felt like I was hearing Heasley in a massive eternal canyon of sound. Tom should be back for a last show in NYC in early October. Stay tuned. Until then…this cd is the next best thing to his live performances.

John Cage – The Works for Violin 4
(Mode 100)
with Irvine Arditti, violin and Stephen Drury, piano.

Mode’s 100th release and number 23 of their John Cage edition, this disc is a nice collection of pieces for violin and piano. The pieces range from the very pleasant Six Melodies for violin and keyboard (1950), a slippery violin in Nocturne for violin and piano and Eight Whiskus for violin to the minimalism of Two6 and One10. The performers Irvine Arditti and Stephen Drury were hand picked by Cage before his passing in 1992. A spotless recording in the Mode tradition, with exemplary performances by Arditti and Drury.

David Beardsley
September 2001

Originally published in the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.


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