When: Wed., May 23, 9:30 p.m. 2012
The four members of improvising group Mythic Birds had to have been looking to challenge themselves when they decided what instruments to use: Jeff Kimmel, Jason Stein, and Keefe Jackson all play bass clarinet (Jackson also picks up the even more unwieldy contrabass clarinet here and there), and Brian Labycz plays modular synthesizer, mostly using sounds that parallel the croaky, wheezy low end of the horns. On the group's debut recording, The Name by Which the World Knows Them (Peira), they do an excellent job pushing against the conventional limits of their instrumentation, with upper-register squalls that shatter into jagged split tones and serendipitous unison notes that create a surprisingly plush, velvety bottom. The musicians adroitly respond to one another's melodic fragments, coloristic blurts, and frictive textures, and though Labycz could have been a wild card, he opts to complement the others, bridging the various reed sounds and connecting their utterances. The six pieces flow easily through a broad range—soft to loud, dense to austere—and everyone sounds fully engaged at all times. This is a release party. —Peter Margasak A duo of cellists Fred Lonberg-Holm and Tomeka Reid opens; Jim Dorling spins.