Mobtown Modern takes the low (note) road
Mobtown Modern, the edgy-friendly new music gang that has settled into Baltimore's funky Metro Gallery this season, offered an interesting program Wednesday night built on low-register woodwind instruments.
The concert (accompanied by Guy Werner's video work) centered around Mobtown co-curator Brian Sacawa, a first-rate sax man with a very open ear who dressed for the occasion in a "Mad Men"-worthy three-piece suit -- the most unlikely image at a Mobtown event.
Sacawa (he soon dropped the jacket) tackled some tough stuff, starting on baritone saxophone with David Lang's kinetic "Press Release." Much of the work is driven along by low-note patterns that set up a kind of urban beat, punctuated by occasional high-pitched bursts; at one point, short bass notes alternate with long-held treble ones to create an intriguing dialog. Sacawa delivered it all with flair, including the final yelping flourish.
Gerard Grisey's "Anubis et Nout" is a study in sonic exploration and structural diffuseness. In the first movement, Sacawa summoned a wealth of honks, eerie vibrations and squeals from a bass sax (and added occasional human cries as required); the moody second movement, which employs the tricky technique of playing two notes simultaneously, proved most effective.
Sacawa yielded the stage to
The program-closer was a seamless progression through Giacinto Scelsi's "Maknongan," with Sacawa on baritone sax; an instant, vivid remix of it by Mobtown co-curator Erik Spangler; and Lee Hyla's "We Speak Etruscan." The latter proved to be a great showcase for Sacawa and Everhart, who meshed tightly through intricately syncopated flurries of spicy dissonances and a feast of thunderously low, low notes.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MOBTOWN MODERN