Friday Five: PRISM Quartet / Timothy McAllister and Liz Ames, Von Siwel, Doogatron, Flight Patterns, Rosary
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features classical-jazz-new music by PRISM Quartet / Timothy McAllister and Liz Ames, R&B via Von Siwel, techno by Doogatron, emo-indie courtesy Flight Patterns, and synth-pop by Rosary.
Timothy McAllister and Liz Ames, Project Encore, Vol. 1
PRISM Quartet, Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band
PRISM Quartet, "Pueblito Viejo" b/w “Paquetá”
The Ann Arbor duo of saxophonist Timothy McAllister and pianist Liz Ames commissioned 14 composers to write "encores"—shorter pieces that can be played after a longer work but don't call on old tunes and tropes to get the job done. Project Encore, Vol. 1 is a terrific collection that touches on classical, jazz, and new music without resting too long in any one genre. Some standouts include Nina Shekhar's recasting of the sax solo from Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" as an extended-horn-techniques workout called "Careful Shouts," and Jennifer Jolley's "Lilac Tears," which was inspired by Prince's epic guitar solo during his 2004 performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at George Harrison’s posthumous induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retired longtime UMich professor Marianne Ploger contributed the gorgeous "Elegy," and U-M grad Chad Hughes composed the genre-hopping "S.L.I.C.E.," which stands for "Soulful Latin in a Classical Environment."
McAllister is also a member of PRISM Quartet, an all-saxophone chamber group formed at the University of Michigan in 1984. In April, PRISM released its recording of William Bolcom’s "Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra," which the sax ensemble premiered with the Detroit Symphony in 2000. PRISM first recorded the work on the 2011 release Concertos for Saxophone Quartet with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, but Bolcom adapted his piece for sax quartet and wind ensemble, and Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band features PRISM alongside the Temple University Wind Symphony.
Also in April, PRISM released a two-song single — "Pueblito Viejo" and “Paquetá” — showcasing two South American tunes.
Von Siwel, "I Love It"
The third song this year by Ypsi R&B singer Von Siwell recalls his first single of 2002, "Nirvana," which I described as "'80s-influenced R&B delivered by a sweet and pure voice that could fill the lead-singer position in a DeBarge reunion should El not be able to show." Let me jump back and repeat myself because the same goes for the sultry "I Love It."
Doogatron featuring Dia Tee, "Dancing My Life Away"
The latest single by Ypsi techno trio Doogatron is nearly 12-minutes of hypnotic headiness. The song, featuring whispered and spoken vocals by Dia Tee, seems to exist in its own world, like a child leisurely wandering through the forest on a summer's day, humming a random tune, not a care in the world.
Flight Patterns, Flight Patterns
Flight Patterns is the vision of Ann Arbor's Alex Wong, written during his first two years of college—presumably UMich because the lyrics in "Letters Taped to Pens" reference him "cutting through the church near South Forest," which would be Lord of Light Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry. The album is an excellent mix of emo and indie rock, released by the Texas/California-based Chillwave Records, which self-describes as "Home of DIY2 and 5th wave emo." Flight Patterns is a perfect fit.
Rosary, See you Smile and How Tomorrow Moves
Sutton Andrews is Rosary. The Ann Arborite also does an indie-rock project called Twin Girls, but Rosary's two 2022 mini-albums are straight-up instrumental synth-pop—and they're great. While some of Rosary's older works lean more toward ambient, the songs on See you Smile and How Tomorrow Moves are inspired by '80s and early '90s synth-steeped pop.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.