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Michaels (Lowenstern and Brecker)

Michael Lowenstern is a Brooklyn-based bass clarinetist who incorporates a lot of special effects into his music. He gave a great one-man show last night on campus. He sets up at the middle of the stage with his microphone, a delay effect and a Macintosh laptop with sounds programmed onto it. On both sides, about 25 feet from him, are largish speaker cabinets. He usually starts with some sort of figure, which he records, having his delay device play it back at the click of a mouse. He then proceeds to play along with the figure, accompanying himself, and often adding prerecorded bits.

He started off with “1985,” the basis of which is a tape made by his friends in Chicago while he was away spending his high school senior year at the Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan. Old classmates and others who knew him were asked to comment on Michael Lowenstern: “What do you think of Mike Lowenstern?” Some replies:

- I don't know Mike Lowenstern.
- Oh, he's the one who plays the clarinet.
- He's a real ass.
- I'm rather indifferent.
- If he comes to the city again I'll have his legs broken.
- He would always bring his box to bowling class and play idiotic songs.
- Pretty good musician.
- He's an OK kid, a little pushy.
- Michael Lowenstern? No comment.
- I rememeber back in the good old days of the JCC. He was playing right field, and we all thought he was a goof. Some one hit the farthest ball I have ever seen ... And Lowenstern made the catch!

At the concert yesterday he also played some beautiful, minimalist numbers from his “10 Children” album (1,4, and 10 among them) as well as some nice stuff from his most recent album, “Drift.” For an encore he did McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

Seeing that a performer is really enjoying what he is doing gives a certain extra value to a musical performance. It was obvious that Lowenstern was totally into it. His playing was beautiful, and his comments were both funny and poignant.

He played with his shoes off. His socks were orange with black stripes. He probably has greater mouse-clicking dexterity when shoeless.

His web site is www.earspasm.com


Saxophonist Michael Brecker died on Saturday. By a strange coincidence, his brother, trumpet man Randy Brecker was here on Friday. I saw half of that show (I had been at basketball practice). Randy Brecker sounded great and Pavel’s trio sounded sounded good backing him up. I confess to never having been an avid fan of the Brecker Brothers, but I admit that they are great musicians. Randy has even played with Frank Zappa! The Brecker Brothers are the guys responsible for the horn section on Bruce Springsteen’s “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.” I recently listened to Odeon Pope’s Saxophone Orchestra, which featured Michael playing his ass off.

Michael Brecker, RIP


On another musical note (Eb?), I bought tickets to see Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in Asheville. I'm not quite psyched yet, because the show is a full two months off. But as the date approaches my excitement level will increase accordingly.



orange and black.
popular school colors, or so I've heard.
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, is my fave song from the Boss.
it's right up there with Public Animal #9, from Alice Cooper.
gee, I wonder if they also played sax on Schools Out?
I met dweezil.
I met Alice.
I wear socks.
it's all connected somehow.

I met Lowenstern

Twice I guess, but the last time was when I first moved to New York and was working at Apple. I was at the Genius Bar and someone said 'Hey, would you hand me that printout?" When I grabbed it I saw the name 'Michael Lowenstern' at the top.

I looked up, thought I recognized the customer and as I handed him the printout asked 'Hey, do you play the bass clarinet?', since for some reason his solo bass clarinet version of 'Summertime' that he played while I was a student at Western was the first thing that popped into my head.

He was taken aback, and said something to the effect of 'Um, yeah?' So I explained how he had come and given a masterclass and performance at my university and how it made an impression on me.

He chuckled and made some crack about how he wasn't used to being recognized for his bass clarinet playing and bantered a bit before he took whatever it was he was there to have fixed, thanked me and split.

Small world I guess.


Hey man,

Glad you're still reading. Look forward to seeing you again. Say hey to Rebecca. I'm missing NY.


August 2017



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