review Dan Joseph
Tonalization (for the afterlife)
(Mutable 17545-2)
(UPC: 80102175427)

Tonalization (for the afterlife); Wind Patterns; Music Primer
Dan Joseph Ensemble: Dan Joseph (hammer dulcimer); Tom Chiu (violin), Loren Dempster (cello); Marija Ilic (harpsichord); Leah Paul (flute); Danny Tunick (percussion). Special guest Thomas Buckner (baritone).

Mutable Music is pleased to announce the release of the latest collection of chamber works by New York-based composer and hammer dulcimer player Dan Joseph. The central work is the 33-minute multi-movement sextet Tonalization (for the afterlife) scored for flute, violin, cello, marimba, harpsichord and hammer dulcimer. The work, composed in 2009, was the composer's first new large-scale piece to follow his 2006 collection Archaea and marked the return of the Dan Joseph Ensemble to New York's concert stages after a two-year hiatus. Along with the accompanying duos Wind Patterns and Music Primer, these three works formed the core of the ensemble's repertoire from 2009 to 2011. While discernibly tethered to minimalist and post-minimalist idioms, the works on this CD draw strongly from the composer's decade in California (1991-2001), where he came into contact with West-coast pioneers Terry Riley, Lou Harrison and Pauline Oliveros and studied Chinese and near Eastern folk music. The works thus combine the rhythmic drive of pulse minimalism with a contemplative, improvisational approach. Ever present, however, is the composer's strong sense of timbre and unabashed ear for pure beauty.

Tonalization (for the afterlife) is dedicated to the memory of Suzanne Fiol who tragically lost her battle with cancer at the time of the work's creation. Her sudden death in October 2009 affected the composer deeply, as it did so many of those who came to know and appreciate her through their involvement with Issue Project Room, which she founded.

Wind Patterns was composed for flutist Jackie Martelle and was premiered with her in New York in November 2002. It has subsequently been included in Dan Joseph Ensemble programs in an arrangement for cello and hammer dulcimer as well as in its original scoring.

Music Primer for baritone and hammer dulcimer sets the first ten lines of Lou Harrison's poetic 1971 prose book Lou Harrison's Music Primer. It was written for Thomas Buckner and reflects musically on the time the composer spent living in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place where Mr. Buckner also spent a number of important years. The piece is divided into ten sections - one for each line - and allows a good deal of improvisation and interpretive freedom.

Dan Joseph is a free-lance composer based in New York City. He began his career in the early '80s as a drummer in the vibrant punk scene of his native Washington, DC and was later active in the experimental tape music underground, producing ambient-industrial works for independent labels in the U.S. and abroad. Moving to California in the early '90s, he completed his academic work at CalArts and Mills College, where his principal teachers included Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Curran, Mel Powell and Terry Riley. In 2001 he founded the Dan Joseph Ensemble as a vehicle for his growing body of post-minimal chamber works. The ensemble has been a steady presence in New York City's lofts, galleries and concert stages, while the group's first CD, Archaea (Mutable Music, 2006) helped gain an international audience for the composer's work. In addition to Tonalization (for the afterlife), 2011 has seen the release of two additional recordings of electroacoustic and electronic works by the composer, Dreams of Seven and Digital Ephemera, both available for download at

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