Review: Third Coast Percussion Releases Their CD Perspectives With an Excellent Performance

No musical techniques benefit more from visual performance than percussion. The number of ways that percussionists can produce sounds is limited only by the number of objects humans and nature have created. Many objects are deliberately made for making music. Some objects produce sounds that are not intended for making music. Most objects are not intended for making sounds at all. Even to the well-trained musician, the item being used to make a sound on a recording is not always obvious. A live performance allows one, for example, to watch a performer rub water-filled bowls or move a bow across a marimba or crotales.

New Third Coast Percussion CD on Cedille Records.

Most of the objects onstage at Third Coast Percussion‘s excellent in-person concert on Thursday night were created for making music. The event was billed as a record-release party for TCP’s new release Perspectives, which was reviewed here. In addition to pieces on the new release by Danny Elfman, Phillip Glass, and Jlin, the concert also included music from previous releases by Devonté Hynes and Clarice Assad. (I’m still waiting for a full, live performance of Archetypes, last year’s excellent release that TCP did with Clarice and her father, the legendary guitarist Sérgio Assad.) Thursday’s concert included introductory video clips from Phillip Glass, Hynes, and Jlin.

One interesting aspect of watching percussion concerts is movement. The act of drumming by itself can be lively and intense, but members of TCP frequently move between different instruments within single pieces. This movement requires choreography that would not be needed in a typical classical music performance, which adds a new feature to a classical performance. On Thursday night, there were seven stations on stage where members of TCP were performing, and movement among the stations was frequent and, in some instances, fast.

TCP also adds multimedia elements to their performances, as some sounds are electronic. “Fields” by Hynes is from the collaboration TCP did with Hynes and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago a few years ago on the CD release entitled Fields. Thursday’s performance was accompanied by a video with choreographer/dancer Rena Butler.

In terms of performance, TCP delivered excellence, as they usually do. It is so nice to see them in person, and Chicago area residents will have several opportunities. On Monday, May 16, TCP will be performing in Elgin. On Friday, May 27, they’ll be at the Unity Temple in Oak Park. On Sunday, June 26, they’ll be at Constellation in Chicago. For more information, click here.

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Louis Harris

A lover of music his whole life, Louis Harris has written extensively from the early days of punk and alternative rock. More recently he has focused on classical music, especially chamber ensembles. He has reviewed concerts, festivals, and recordings and has interviewed composers and performers. He has paid special attention to Chicago’s rich and robust contemporary art music scene. He occasionally writes poetry and has a published novel to his credit, 32 Variations on a Theme by Basil II in the Key of Washington, DC. He now lives on the north side of Chicago, which he considers to be the greatest city in the country, if not the world.