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November 09, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-11-09

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The Stage Coy'm





The Michigan Daily
Eclipse Jazz brought a very unusual
type of music-both for Eclipse and
Ann Arbor-to Rackham Auditorium
Thursday night. Philip Glass is perhaps
America's premier modern composer.
He is certainly one of our most talked-
about musical influences. His impact
on the work of Brian Eno and David
Bowie is already well-documented. His
opera, Einstein on the Beach, received
critical acclaim and public attention
unparalleled in its field. It was an un-
deniably unique opportunity to see
Glass perform with his Philip Glass
Ensemble in Ann Arbor-an oppor-
tunity that will probably not come
again soon.. if ever.
Glass' strengths as a composer were
especially apparent in contrast to the
works of George Cacioppo, an Ann Ar-
bor composer who opened the show at
RIckham. Cacioppo is a respectable
conposer in his field, and the two gen-
tlemen who performed his work
(Robert Morris and William Albright,
the latter from the U of M School of
Music) were exceptional, but their per-
formance was just "interesting" in a
very uninvolving sort of, way. I felt
alienated from Cacioppo's work very'
early in their set. His compositions
seem to be experimenting with
techniques and theories that only music
students could appreciate,
A major exception must be made,
h6wever, for Cacioppo's final piece, a
second version of his opening com-
position, the "score" of which is printed
elsewhere on this page. The major
change made to the advantage of
"Cassiopeia" in its second
"realization" was the distribution of
eight additional musicians around the
auditorium. The multi-textured and
multi-directional sound created by all
ten musicians and Cacioppo himself at
the mixing board added a mysterious
and occasionally startling air to what
had been a somewhat dry piece the first
time around. In spite of any reservation
I might have about Cacioppo's style, it
} was an important and laudable step for
Eclipse Jazz to see fit to allow an Ann
Arbor audience the chance to ap-
preciate the work of a composer
working right in our community.
PHILIP GLASS is able to avoid the
fatal "in-joke" elitism of most other
modern composers, however, though I
am somewhat at a loss to explain exac-
A folk s
"Yes, I was in an auto accident, and
yes, just as I was about to go back to
work I had to go back into the hospital
to have a couple of brain operations, but
no, I didn't have three-quarters of my,
brain removed and now all I can play
is bluegrass."
Michael Cooney returned to Ann Ar-
bor Friday night, and aside from the
above comment halfway through 'the
performance, one would hardly know
that a year ago this man survived a
head-on collision, two brain operations,
and a paralyzing stroke.
SUCH FACTS were' largely
gratuitous, however, and except for a
couple of lapses when lines from some
songs escaped him, he was almost the
same folk singer who has been playing
at the Ark for a decade. Almost, that is,
because although healthy, he's
changed. Cooney's scrape with death
has softened him up-he now relies less
on the actual songs and more on his deft
wit and sense of humor to carry the

show. When, in fact, in his second set,
Cooney relied entirely on the music it-
self. his evelids got heavy, and half-way
through one song he seemed to momen-
tarily leave the audience, sedated by
his own fifty or sixty-line ballads. By
his own admission, Cooney's talents as
a singer and musician do not stand

Sunday, November 9, 1980

Page 5

music for waterfalls

Arts Staff

tly how. I believe that the key lies in the
fact that although Glass' compositions
are exceedingly repetitious and almost
painfully precise, they still manage to
maintain a sense of flow and spon-
taneity. This fact is brought home by
the realization that although the En-
semble plays in such tight formation
that their music almost sounds pre-
programmed, there is still a tangible
aspect of immediacy and improvisation
to, their playing.
Although Glass employed a limited
range of sound Thursday
night-utilizing keyboards, wind in-

distinguishable manner in an obser-
vable period of time. Glass' com-
positions move in cycles, but the
themes we revisit never sound quite the
same. If it is possible to move forward
linearly in a circle, then Glass has ac-
complished it.
Through this progressive repetition,
the Ensemble builds an accumulated
momentum that is nothing less than
astounding: The abrupt ending of each
piece threw members of the audience
forward in their seats, almost as if they
had physically internalized the momen-

made any past faults nearly forget-
table. "The Spaceship" is notable in
that it is one of the most memorable
pieces on the eight-album set from the
opera, Einstein on the Beach. Its
bassline is reminiscent of a church
organ fugue, but the overall effect is
one of unusual subtlety and pleasan-
tness for a Philip Glass composition.
The most phenomenal aspect of "The
Spaceship," however, is that it has
something that is almost unheard of in
a Philip Glass composition-an honest-
to-god climax. This event took place
when all six musicians suddenly slipped
from their out-of-sync, interlocking rif-
fs into a united progression. In that
moment, several things were star-
tlingly clear-the momentum that the
Ensemble-had gathered, the precision
with which each of them was playing,
and the sheer power of their sound.
That realization accomplished, there
was nothing left to do but end the piece,
which they promptly did. But that
couple of bars seemed a perfect cap to
the whole evening-one short climax to
over an hour of eventful, enlightening,
and entertaining build-up.

NOV. 6-9-$PM
Ndv. 9 Matinee Sunday 2PM


f i e m
4 8
v r'aiona 'C sF 6. codngt h rga oesfrF ia ih'
fome ntrpes}hems..

'struments, and a solitary voice ex-
clusively-and though his compositions
always experiment within a relatively
narrow style characterized by in-
terlocking scale-like progression
played rep'etitively at an impossibly
fast pace, Glass' work never ceases to
amaze. It is in constant flux on an
almost imperceptible level, creating a
curious ebb and flow of sound.
The best comparison, although an
unlikely one, is to a waterfall. First of
all, a sheer wall of sound that is at first
quite overwhelming soon reveals itself
as a multitude of infinitely divisible
sounds each worthy of close inspection.
Also, the sound of Glass' music is con-
stantly progressing, though very few of
the actual changes are noticeable.
Glass views change as a process, not an
event. The riffs played by the various
musicians clearly alter over the course
of a piece, but rarely in any

tum of the music and had been unex-
pectedly and almost brutally halted.
GLASS' CHOICE of pieces to perform
was also faultless. "Dance No. 3" from
IDance began the show as a goodexaample
of this current stage of development. It
was a good deal more thematic and
melodious than the following piece,
"First Dance" from Einstein on the
Beach, which harkens back to his
earlier work (i.e., Music in Similar
Motion, Music in Changing Parts).
Because of this, "First Dance" is a
much less readily accessible piece, but
ultimately more rewarding in its
rhythmic ensconcing of gem-like
The first piece after intermission was
rather long-winded, but for only one out
of four pieces (all clocking in at over fif-
teen minutes) to be of noticeable length
is pretty surprising. And the last com-
position of the show, "The Spaceship,"

1140 South University

toryteller returns

alone. Rather, he owes his national
popularity to his unending anecdotes
and one-liners. What makes them so en-
tertaining is that when paired with his
straight face, he tricks you into
believing that he is iust trvina to make
his way through his periferal stuff to
finally get at the songs themselves. But
of course he's not, for it is just such
periferal repartee and deflections that
make his shows so enjoyable.
The traditional folk music that
Cooney performs with him consists of
simple words, put to standard-length
lines help together in rhymed couplets,
The number of stanzas in his songs is
often so great that one hasn't a hope to
follow each one and feels lucky to com-
prehend the general plot. The lyrics do
stand on their own on the written page,
and can be taken descriptively or read
"Three legged ladder, wobbly
as hell
Reaching for an apple-
whoaa-almost fell
Get a twenty-pound sack
hanging 'round my neck
And there's three more apples
that I can't get."
Common in most of the songs in his
repertoire of 500 is a rural or country

setting, with simple characters of a less
complicated time. His act plays off the
pastoral yearnings of the usually urban
audiences that Cooney plays before.
VERY EARLY into his first set at the
Ark Cooney gave a brief definition of
folk music. There is the "Well-I've-
never-heard-a-horse-sing," all-
inclusive sense of the term. Cooney
adheres to a more conservative


5th Ave. at Liberty 761-9700
October 15, 1980

Stuart *Byron

The School of Music
NOVEMBER 14 and 15 at 8:00pm
AmC M D C D 'R"o -a: OFAn

it Julian Bream isx
a great musicalP
interpreter of our time.
He should not be
The New York Times
Passacaille and Gigue in D .. . . Sylvius Feiss
Sonata No. 1.... J. S. Bach
Fantasia Opus 30 . . .. Fernand: Sor
Tonadilla: La Maja de Goya , . . squ Granados
Danza Espanola No. 10 .... Eniquc Granados
Fantasia (1957) .... R~oberto Gerhard
Invocation et Danse (1961) .. .. Joaquin Rodrigo
Cordoba .... Isaac Albeniz
Torre Bermeja . ... Isaac Albeniz
M,,nr_1rc ic 1


THWACK! A bloody arm hits the floor. Thwack!
Now a leg, Thwack! An ear! By the end of the scene,
the samurai has been dismembered by a group of
sword-wielding women. The movie is part of a so-
called "babycart" series about a discredited samurai
who wanders the Japanese countryside wreaking ven-
geance, on his enemies, all the while toting his young
son in a wooden baby carriage.
Shotgun Assassin could become the first new
thing in the exploitation field since Halloween, and
if, as suspected, the knifewielding-
killer-of-teenage-girls movies
have just about run their course,
Japanese mutilation pictures could be
arriving just in time. Moreover,
like Halloween, Shotgun Assassin
could prove very popular among t
hip followers of the bizarre.
All I know is that at a recent
screening, I was riveted. Blood does not
spurt in Shotgun Assassin-it gushes
and volleys in poetic rivers across
the screen in a manner that makes
Peckinpah pale. Swords enter bodies
in imaginative ways that manage
kto be beautiful and horri-
fying. There's a scene of blood
spreading across sand from
wounded warriors hidden under-
ground that is as visually com-
pellingdas anything I've seen all
year. And there's a scene near the




guo-tv", - I





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