Michael Vlatkovich and Dottie Grossman: Call & Response & Friends (PFMCD060)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="501,503"]
Artists: Los Angeles Recording:
Dottie Grossman: poems
Michael Vlatkovich: trombone
Rich West: drums/percussion
Anders Swanson: bass

L.A. Recording 7/09: Killzone Studio, Los Angeles, CA

Corvallis Recording (indicated by *) 11/05:
Dottie Grossman, poems; Michael Vlatkovich, trombone;
David Storrs, drums/ percussion, toys; Jim Knodle, trumpet

Corvallis Recording: Califas Studio, Corvallis, OR

engineer: Wayne Peet
producers: Michael Vlatkovich, Dottie Grossman
front cover art: Billy Mintz
design: Ted Killian

1. Benjamin Called (1:38)
2. I Wish (1:49)
3. Tumbleweed (:57)*
4. Early Wednesday morning (1:20)*
5. Veterans Hospital (1:18)*
6. Mendocino Coast 1967 (2:21)
7. Merry Christmas, Michael (1:12)*
8. Two Henny Youngman Poems (1:57)
9. This Winter (1:38)
10. Two Appropriations (1:39)*
11. The Two Times I Loved
You The Most In a Car (2:37)
12. Two Poems About Trucks (2:20)
13. Africa (1:29)*
14. Melting Pot (2:35)
15. Zoey Steps Out (1:18)*
16. Quotation (1:56)
17.Little Rock (2:03)*
18.Two More Henny
Youngman Poems (1:48)
19. Helicopter Noise (:50)*
20. This Is What I Do Best (1:33)
21. The People Who Hate Wind (1:22)*
22. Just Before (1:45)
23. Noon Concert (1:36)
24. Another Nose Poem (1:52)*
25. Definition of Happiness/
If I Were Directing This Movie (1:27)*
26. From Iceland (1:36)*
27. Alaska (1:49)
28. What Henny Youngman Loves
Most About America (:47)
29. Vince Salvino (1.16)*
30. Fortune Cookie (3:11)
31. Henny Youngman’s True
Confession (2:06)*
32. Sorry To Disappoint You (1:39)
33. Future Past (1:42)
34. Mark Weber-Type Poem (1:41)

Track 1

Benjamin called
from Long Beach Island,
New Jersey.
I said, “I can hardly hear you;
the ocean’s so noisy.”
He put down the phone
for a second
and screamed,
“Atlantic, will you please
shut up? —
I’m talking to Dottie.”

Track 2

I wish there was a town
called Nirvana
in Nevada.
It would be
a beautiful place,
in a valley,
where the only industry
was happiness.
Wouldn’t it be fun
to send a letter there —
addressed to
“Nirvana, NV”?

Track 3

Something is draped on a fence
until it is time to be tumbleweed.
In this room,
you are heroic,
tasting of summer and vitamins.
Step outside
and the tumbleweed rolls.

Track 4

Early Wednesday morning,
nobody’s kicked up any dust,
nobody’s made a dime, yet.
All the pet dogs
have left-alone faces.

Track 5

Veterans Hospital

The uniform white buildings
shine as pointlessly
as dead men’s teeth.
Here, everything is slower,
even southern,
as they dance to mark
the time between the palm trees
and forget in the clean cut grass.

Track 6

Mendocino Coast, 1967

Inland, where the grasses and grapes lived,
we could not have imagined
the rocks, the cold clouds —
the surf that would surround us
like a headache,
and those long tubes of kelp
like noodles
from another world
where, with the music of foghorns
and wind chimes,
even the kind moon
seemed dangerous.

Track 7

Merry Christmas, Michael

You remind me of a dolphin,
navigating the waves
with your own mysterious sonar
that sounds a lot like a trombone.

Track 8

2 Henny Youngman Poems

Henny Youngman On National Poetry Month

Henny Youngman hates National Poetry Month;
it gives him performance anxiety.

Henny Youngman To His Priest

Forgive me, Father,
for I have sinned.
I’m sexually aroused
by sacred music.

Track 9

This winter feels colder than ever,
or maybe I’m just more sensitive
these days,
when the wind is
a fire engine
and the moon is sinister
and blue.
I’m all bundled up for it,
stamping my feet,
drinking rum,
counting the days
until the yellow flowers.

Track 10

(two appropriations)

Tuna Fishing

“A March 22 “Outdoors” article
about tuna fishing
inadvertently identified an angler
as Rusty Johnson.
His name is Frosty Johnson.”

The Rhythm of Commercials On The Discovery Health Channel

Will a new nose help Wendy
rediscover her self esteem?

Track 11

The Two Times I Loved You the Most In A Car

It was your idea
to park and watch the elephants
swaying among the trees
like royalty
at that make-believe safari
near Laguna.
I didn’t know anything that big
could be so quiet.

And once, you stopped
on a dark desert road,
to show me the stars
climbing over each other
riotously
like insects;
like an orchestra
thrashing its way
through time itself.
I never saw light that way
again.

Track 12

Convoy

Tonight on the road,
the trucks are majestic;
they sashay like elephants
through the turns,
with jewels on their heads
and tails.

Night Convoy

The trucks are wearing rubies in their hair.
They are like beautiful movie stars,
walking carefully in high heeled shoes,
making whooshing noises in the dark.

Track 13

Africa:
its vowels are so seductive,
I get dizzy.
I’ve no wish to deplete
the wildebeest,
I only wish to eat the wildebeest.
Last year’s skeleton crop
set a new record.
The air is succulent
with lions and mahogany.

Track 14

We were sitting around the melting pot
(which is what I call my hairdresser’s):
a Korean, a Vietnamese, and myself (the American)
discussing our homelands calmly
like three women anywhere,
with no mention of bloodshed or memories.
I told them I’d been reading
about Angor Wat
and the Cambodian jungles
where heartless nature
buried the ancient temples
and we all agreed
that could never happen here
in Santa Monica.

Track 15

At eight months old,
Zoey steps out,
wearing a new tooth
and a rose
in her purple hat.

Track 16

“I don’t own an exquisite way to move around in the night.”

Doug Benezra, 9/18/05

It occurs to me that,
when I die,
they might find the necklace
I dropped behind the bed
and wonder
how long it was there,
and whether I’d missed it.
But will they care
about my favorite color,
my long-range plans,
or my habit of searching myself
for signs of rust?

Track 17

“The town has several antique shops and fruit stands, in addition to restaurants and gas stations.“
…from the Little Rock, CA website.

Little Rock

No, not that one —
This one’s in the desert,
about a two hour drive from here
It’s the color of western movies
(blue skies, brown horses).
There’s even a mirage —
rare water and
big Medjool dates,
a fruit stand in the uncomplaining dust
on the way to Valyermo,
to Saint Andrew’s Abbey,
where the dead monks sleep
in the tight-packed earth
of The Holy Land
off the main road.

Track 18

Henny Youngman doesn’t understand
why camping is not permitted
on the cemetery plot
he just paid for.

Henny Youngman On National Public Radio

Once again, I made it through the pledge drive
without contributing a dime.

Track 19

When I remember
how quiet you used to be,
the helicopter noise
in my head
disappears.

Track 20

This is what I do best:
I phone you
and say Congratulations,
Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday,
Happy New Year,
How’s your sister?
Are you better?
Is it hot enough for you?
Thanks, I love you, too.

Track 21

The people who hate wind
are insulated, inland;
they wear hats to keep them safe
from
flying poems.

Track 22

Just before I killed that bug,
I had the guilty thought
that it might be you, reincarnated,
but I told myself that,
if you did return,
it would be as a much higher life-form,
maybe a hummingbird.

Track 23

Noon Concert

These frail, white widows
who get their hair done weekly
in tight curls,
like little flowers
bend their heads
until the applause
says it’s time
to be brave, again.

Track 24

If the bridge of the nose
is really the seat of wisdom,
yours is The Britannica,
edited by Einstein,
illustrated by Picasso.

Track 25

Definition of Happiness #302

Yellow plates on a black table,
and my new curtains,
dancing a tango
in the open window.

If I were directing this movie,
we’d be walking through clouds
wet as dogs’ breath.
Just a dot of pink, for excitement,
and no music, just ice where the wind was.

Track 26

Since she was from Iceland
and didn’t know any better,
she said, “I miss the green of the east.
It’s so yellow here.
Of course, at home, we don’t have any trees.
Once, in New Jersey, I could see Manhattan
across the river,
as if it was a picture of Manhattan.”

Track 27

Alaska

Once, I got into a taxi
whose driver wore a turban.
We chatted about traffic and travel
and he said he absolutely loved Alaska,
where he’d worked on the pipeline for five years.
He blushed when he told me, “You know,
I’m a Muslim. We’re supposed to pray
five times a day, facing Mecca.
But sometimes, when nobody’s watching,
I face Alaska.”

Track 28

What Henny Youngman
loves most about America
is that anybody can
grow up to be the Pope.

Track 29

We were all sitting around,
talking about what kind of animal
we’d like to be,
and Vince said, “A gorilla,
because they’re the most like us.”

Track 30

Fortune Cookie

You are going to look exactly
like your father —
one of those draped,
semi-ecstatic old Jews
you see framed
on the mantel
in grandmothers’ houses.
Like him,
you will lapse into Yiddish,
throwing your hands up
in mock surrender.
And your lips will move
when you read,
and your children will
imitate you.

Track 31

Henny Youngman’s True Confession
(thanks to M.B.)

I think that, if I were to talk to a rabbi,
he’d listen and all,
but then we’d just end up
with him asking me
to explain the Internet.
I went to a palm reader,
said, “I’m in love with a straight guy
who can’t love me back.”
She said, “Why would you
want to do that?”
I’m, like, exiled,
all the best people are.

Track 32

Sorry To Disappoint You

As the elder in your Chinese house,
I have almost no wisdom to offer:
A few books, a few poems –
I’m not sure there’s anything else,
except that I once shook John Coltrane’s hand,
and sex in the morning is more fun
than cereal.
The rest you already know.

Track 33

Future Past

If I had stayed asleep
I would have missed
the fun of speaking English,
the quiet satisfaction
of appointments kept,
the way dreams change
when you try to describe them.

Track 34

Mark Weber-Type Poem

So my latest rejection comes from Iowa,
about a week before Christmas:
“Thank you for allowing us
to consider your work…”
I picture the writer
at a desk overlooking a corn field.
There’s a droopy plant
on the windowsill
and a volume of Yeats or Keats
nearby.
It has been a tough day,
and here I come,
galloping into that landscape
with my palm trees and deserts,
coyotes and surfers.

pfMENTUM CD060

PFMCD060

Steuart Liebig / MINIM: Quicksilver (PFMCD023)

Jeff Kaiser

[playlist ids="405,407"]
Steuart Liebig / MINIM

Quicksilver

Ellen Burr: Flute, Piccolo and Alto Flute

Jeff Gauthier: Electric 4 and 5-String Violins

Jeanette Kangas: Drumset, Percussion and Vibraphone

Steuart Liebig: C, Eb and Prepared Contrabass guitars

1-23: Mosaic – (51:38)
24: Chrysanthemum – (15:37)
25: A Single Rosehip Bursts in Praise – (12:21

Copyright 2004 Steuart Liebig/Sisong Music (ASCAP)

Recorded April 2002, by Wayne Peet
Mixed June and October 2003, and March and July 2004
by Wayne Peet and Steuart Liebig; all at Newzone Studios, Mar Vista, California

Jeff Gauthier plays 4- and 5-string electric violins made by Rich Barbera, and a bow made by some dead French guy.

Jeanette Kangas (formerly known as Jeanette Wrate) plays
Paiste cymbals exclusively.

Steuart Liebig plays Fodera Basses, uses the Raven Labs PMB-1,
and uses Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats strings (C basses) and Fodera roundwound strings (Eb and C basses).

Live Band and dancer (Belinda Cheng and John Dowell) photos by Anthony Cheng. Band rehearsal photos by Belinda Cheng.

Cover photos/montages by Steuart Liebig.
Thanks to David Poelman for digital assistance
Layout by Steuart Liebig and Jeff Kaiser.

Thanks Leslie, Anya and Aron.

“Mosaic” is a piece made up of 23 miniatures based on haiku. “Chrysanthemum” is a single movement of 14 parts. “A Single Rosehip Bursts in Praise” was written for a collaboration with choreographer Belinda Cheng for the Auricle Dance Company and premiered on 17 November 2002.

NOTES:

Mosaic: 23 Miniatures After Haiku

The idea for a piece comprised of a group of 23 miniatures for small improvising ensemble has been one that I had kept in the back of my mind and in small sketchbooks for some four years. I envisioned an ensemble in which I would be able to utilize some of the “prepared bass” and less “bass-like” techniques that I had been using for a number of years. Additionally, I wanted to write for some less-usual (for me) techniques for both tuned and untuned percussion and a standard melody instrument. Finally, after many years of languishing as only sketches, these miniatures were written in a fairly short time.

There were a few catalysts for this seemingly sudden turnaround. One was that I had just finished a long-term writing and recording project that consisted of four long-form pieces (now released as Pomegranate, on Cryptogramaphone Records) and, still feeling the creative ferment from that experience, needed the opportunity to do much shorter pieces that were formally less involved (though, as whole group, the overall structure does have some formal complexities and is pretty long!). The second was the decision to move from a trio setting to a quartet setting, thereby opening up more orchestrational possibilities. Third, I decided to base the pieces on haiku; rather than choosing specific poems, however, I chose to base the pieces on some of the syllabic rules of haiku—while hopefully achieving some of the brevity, feeling and wonder that one experiences from reading this sort of poem.

As such, these 23 pieces are all based on the number 17—a piece may have 17 measures, thematic material made up of 17 notes, etc. The overall piece is structured to have a solo piece (four) for each member of the quartet; a duet and trio for the different possible groupings in the quartet (six and four, respectively); and nine pieces for the full quartet. I tried to have contrasting sections and parts that referred back to other parts of the overall piece and to evoke differing moods and emotions throughout.

A Single Rosehip Bursts in Praise

This piece was written as part of a collaboration with choreographer/dancer Belinda Cheng. The title comes from a passage in the novel, Art & Lies, by Jeanette Winterson. The piece itself is broken into two major sections. The first is a sort of unfolding that the phrase suggested to me. The second is a more pictorial setting of the action in the book: three people (the characters Handel, Sappho and Picasso) on a subway, each with his/her own thoughts.

Chrysanthemum

This piece is based on the structure of a sonnet: 14 lines of 10 syllables each. In this case, I have “cells” of 10 notes (stated at the beginning and end as two 5-notes chords) that I have treated in a more or less serial fashion in 14 discrete sections. That is, each written section of the piece uses only those 10 original notes, though they are reordered or split between the various players. Again, I have split the quartet that performs the piece into some of its component parts: each player gets a solo and there are four trios, the remaining six sections are for the full quartet. Again, I attempted to have contrasting sections. Whereas Mosaic is played in 23 sections with breaks, this piece is performed as one continuous whole.

pfMENTUM CD023

PFMCD023