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Joseph Byrd: NYC 1960-1963

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Audio CD, February 4, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"[T]he obligation-the morality, if you wish-of all the arts today is to intensify, alter perceptual awareness and, hence, consciousness. Awareness and consciousness of what? Of the real material world. Of the things we see and hear and taste and touch." -Joseph Byrd

The imaginative and carefully crafted music of Joseph Byrd (b. 1937) assumes an astonishing variety of guises: he was an integral part of the experimental arts scene in New York and Los Angeles in the 1960s and he founded the psychedelic rock band The United States of America, and its successor Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies, to name just the most salient. Byrd's career resists easy categorization because his collective activities encompass a broader sound world than is typically admitted within the confines of a single genre. In this sense, Byrd possesses the spirit of radical exploration that has long characterized composers of the American experimental tradition. He initially moved to New York in 1960 to study with John Cage, but among the most influential of his experiences during this period were his two lessons with Morton Feldman, whose delicately floating music enchanted the young composer. The works on this recording provide a rich musical document of Byrd s activities in New York between 1960 and 1963, when he studied with Feldman, served as an apprentice to Cage, and participated in the Fluxus group. Crafted with technical precision, all of the works were designed to explore the "singularity of sound" that was central to Byrd's lessons with Feldman.


"The works on this vital new CD, handled with verve and commitment by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, convey a sense of a talented young composer turning his formative influences to personal ends." --The New York Times

"This fantastically-performed disc featuring ACME and percussionist Alan Zimmerman reveals Byrd's seemingly unquenchable curiosity and delight in uncharted territory, rarely settling into one aesthetic or approach to composition for very long and always pursuing new ground even as some of his cohorts pursued a narrower range of musical experience, with more single-minded purpose. This disc--the first commercial recording of Byrd's concert music--fills a gaping hole in the recorded history of experimental music and should be one of the most exciting releases of 2013 for anyone interested in experimentalism or the New York scene." --New Music Box

"As his work with 'United States of America' and after demonstrated, Byrd wasn't prepared to take an uncomplaining back seat on the American bus. His journey was not so much and uneventful one as a sequence of minutely observed and poignant non-events, like the photographs of Walker Evans, or Don DeLillo's 'Americana'. It's not pretty music, but these singular sounds are intesely and unfailingly beautiful." --Wire Magazine

1. Animals
2. Loops and Sequences
3. Three Aphorisms: Movement 1
4. Three Aphorisms: Movement 2
5. Three Aphorisms: Movement 3
6. Densities I
7. Four Sound*Poems
8. String Trio: Movement 1
9. String Trio: Movement 2
10. Water Music
11. Prelude to The Mystery Cheese-ball

Product Details

  • Performer: Alan Zimmerman
  • Conductor: n/a
  • Composer: Joseph Byrd
  • Audio CD (February 4, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New World Records
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,995 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Stanley on October 14, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This composer's work is well known to those interested in contemporary American music. He's also a rocker, a writer, and a musicologist (see the excellent liner notes); this long-awaited album is welcomed by serious students and performers. For me, though, what matters is my personal experience listening to this album.

This is not music to listen to in your car while driving on the freeway or doing the dishes (unless you're a fanatic). Instead, pour yourself a glass of California wine, turn down the lights, and sit back in your favorite chair, and let the sounds take you away on a 62 minute journey.

At first I was listening intently, focused on each series of notes (or sounds), but soon I drifted into another realm of consciousness. Occasionally I was startled, once I started laughing. A real trip without drugs (except the merlot). Since there are periods of silence, I wasn't aware of the end of the album - I was like I had slowly come down from an enjoyable peyote trip.

To sum it up in one word: Refreshing.
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Joseph Byrd: NYC 1960-1963
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