New music champion Bonnie Wright concluded her Fresh Sound series on Nov. 1 with a bang, drawing in a large audience to experience the solo clarinet and electronics of Evan Ziporyn.
Ziporyn began with slow, pure tones, resonant stabs piercing the silence before branching out with more virtuosic language, showcasing a remarkable facility. He picked up the bass clarinet to open a suite of nine movements composed by Christine Southworth, the first of which featured dizzying, pre-recorded harmonies of what sounded like a Cambodian choir. Ziporyn's dark, elastic phrasing and rhythmic pad-popping cycled over many layers of marimba sounds, thumb-pianos, assorted percussion and the swirl of spoken voices. The suite was an unqualified creative success.
Turning 180 degrees to interpret some pop classics from the 1970s, beginning with "Ride, Captain Ride," from the Blues Image, Ziporyn continued with a ruminative reading of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" and, as an encore, the Shuggie Otis classic "Strawberry Letter #23."
Throughout the evening, Ziproyn impressed with his rich timbre and subtle virtuosity, maintaining listener interest even in the longer pieces, which could have bogged down in the hands of a lesser musician.
Robert Bush Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years.