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Musicians on Musicians: The Gloaming is Dream-Music

the gloaming
Photo: The Gloaming, who perform at Michigan Theater on October 7, 2015. Photo by Feargal Ward.

There’s something special about music recommendations from friends. Think about your favorite bands, musicians, artists. How many did you find through someone you know? Did you discover your new favorite track by tapping a headphone-wearing someone and asking, “Hey, what are you listening to?”

This happens to us all the time at UMS offices, colleague to colleague. We’re also lucky because we can sometimes ask artists the same question.

We opened our season with Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and then we found out she’s a fan of The Gloaming. Here’s what she has to say about the group:

When pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett [founding member of The Gloaming] tells me he is creating something new, I show up. Whatever Bartlett does, I know it will always be thought provoking, challenging, and beautiful; The Gloaming is just that.

Another artist we admire is Sam Amidon. He’s a Nonesuch Records artist who grew up in Vermont with childhood friend and frequent collaborator Thomas Bartlett.  Amidon‘s latest release is Lily-O (Nonesuch, 2014), documenting his musical explorations with guitarist and composer Bill Frisell. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Feist). Mr. Amidon is a member of the Icelandic music collective/record label Bedroom Community. When asked to share with us what he personally admires in The Gloaming’s unique approach to contemporary Irish global music, Sam told us:

The Gloaming is dream-music. Not only do the songs and melodies and improvisations emerge and fade in a dreamlike manner, but the music itself seems to come from a trance-like state of deep listening that the five musicians practice. It is ensemble playing of the highest level in any genre. For me, it is also truly a dream made real, in the sense that as a kid, in my early teens, Martin’s fiddle playing was what I listened to while falling asleep and waking up, and in The Gloaming I now hearing him and the rest of the musicians surrounded by the piano playing of Thomas Bartlett, my childhood friend with whom I played and discovered music.

So we’re all listening to The Gloaming, and we can’t wait to host the group at Michigan Theater on October 7, 2015.

Have you got a band you love and which you discovered through a friend? Share your stories below.

UMS Playlist: A Touch of Minimalism

This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by artists, UMS Staff, and community. Check out more music here.
dawn of midi
Dawn of Midi perform at Trinosophes in Detroit on January 31, 2015. Photo by Falkwyn de Goyeneche.

Minimalism can be extraordinarily beautiful. I’ve always been a believer of “less is more.” In the right hands, repetition, simplicity, and homogeneous textures of sound can envelop the listener in deeply meaningful and even spiritual ways.

In the playlist below, I’ve attempted to offer a sampling of minimalist techniques in a cross-section of genre and style, from pioneering tape experiments by Steve Reich (“It’s Gonna Rain,” ca. 1965) to minimalist 1990s electronica from the UK’s Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) and the Manchester duo Autechre (selected from their seminal 1995 LP Tri Repetae) to Dawn of Midi, a group with a mesmerizing, “electro-acoustic” sound that will perform at Trinosophes on January 31, 2015.

I have also included some surprises: Jason Moran and The Bandwagon’s cover of American-born innovator Conlon Nancarrow (who composed “Study No. 6” for player piano) and downtown New York experimental post-disco songwriter, cellist, and composer Arthur Russell (who died in 1992 at the age of 40 in relative obscurity).

This playlist represents merely a snapshot of some of my favorite minimalist moments. Hopefully it will encourage and inspire a deeper personal journey of discovery.

Please note: These fascinating (and intricate) soundscapes are best experienced on headphones.

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.

UMS Playlist: Staff Picks by Mark Jacobson

This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by UMS staff, artists, and community. Check out more music here.
Photo: James Blake (performing in Ann Arbor on November 11, 2013).

Perhaps because, as a kid, I studied and practiced Western European classical music while primarily listening to 1960’s and ’70’s rock, blues, and jazz, I find myself with an affinity for a range of diverse styles, especially hybrid ones. I’m a firm believer that it’s not about the genre, but rather about the music itself. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been drawn to lately.

Listen on Spotify:

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.

Esperanza Spalding Montréal International Jazz Festival

Our programming manager Mark Jacobson shared this photo with us. A crowd gathers outside of Esperanza Spalding’s performance this past summer at Montréal International Jazz Festival. We can’t wait to host her in Ann Arbor this weekend, Saturday, April 6.


We asked Esperanza Spalding what she’s been listening to lately. Check out her playlist.

Who Is Stew?

Stew is Mark Stewart.
Stew is Mark Stewart’s stage name.
Stew is an artist.
Stew is African American.
Stew is from Los Angles.
Stew is a composer, musician, and poet.
Stew is creative collaborators with bassist and vocalist Heidi Rodewald.
Stew is a two-time Obie winner.
Stew is a 2008 Tony Award winner for his evening-length Broadway musical Passing Strange.
Stew is a co-resident of New York City and Berlin.
Stew is big.
Stew is gentle.
Stew is angry.
Stew is sweet.
Stew is communicative.
Stew is honest.
Stew is smart.
Stew is powerful.
Stew is magical.

Stew says, Black men ski:

Get to know Stew this week when he performs in Ann Arbor.  Discover who Stew is to *YOU* by checking out his artist interview “Post Minstrel Syndrome: A Public Conversation with Stew” this Wednesday, November 17 at 7:00pm at 523 S. Main Street.