Kyle Gann: Discography
(Click on the album cover for purchase information; details and reviews below)


Kyle Gann: The Planets

Meyer Media MM10014

University of Kentucky Percussion Ensemble
Live from Lexington

UK School of Music

Musicworks CD 101

Kyle Gann: Long Night

Cold Blue CB0019

Kyle Gann: Custer's Ghost:

Monroe Street msm 60104

Lois Svard: Other Places

Lovely Music LCD 3052

Relache Ensemble: Pick It Up
Monroe Street msm 60102

Ten Years of Essential Music

Monroe Street msm 60101
 

Details and reviews below

Aron Kallay, pianist: Beyond 12: Reinventing the Piano
Contains:
Kyle Gann: Echoes of Nothing, along with works by Isaac Schankler, Aaron K. Johnson, John Schneider, Tom Flaherty, Vera Ivanova, Jason Heath, and Brian Shepard

Sarah Cahill, pianist: A Sweeter Music
Contains:
Kyle Gann: War Is Just a Racket, along with works by Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Frederic Rzewski, Yoko Ono, Phil Kline, Carl Stone, and The Residents

Only two of these works include text: whereas The Residents' drum no fife uses a recorded text that addresses the universality of the desire for both war and piece, in War is Just a Racket Kyle Gann instead gives Cahill herself text to recite while playing, drawn specifically from a 1933 speech by U.S. General Smedley Butler denouncing the military and capitalism. Gann aligns certain chords and cadences with specific words and lines, with solo piano interludes that are pastiches of Americana, evoking a distorted Norman Rockwell image of apple pie. Within this compilation, Gann's work is the most explicit in its condemnation of war and the motivations that have driven America into violent conflicts. - Sidney Chen, New Music Box

Minimal Piano Collection Volume X-XX
Contains:
Kyle Gann: Long Night, along with works by John Adams, Jurriaan Andriessen, Louis Andriessen, Marcel Bergmann, William Duckworth, Julius Eastman, Douwe Eisenga, Morton Feldman, Graham Fitkin, Joep Franssens, Philip Glass, Gabriel Jackson, Tom Johnson, Simeon ten Holt, David Lang, Colin McPhee, Chiel Meijering, Wim Mertens, John Metcalf, Carlos Michans, Meredith Monk, Arvo Prt, Michael Parsons, Alexander Rabinovitch, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, Tim Seddon, Jeroen van Veen, Jacob er Veldhuis, and Kevin Volans
Performers: Jeroen van Veen, Sandra van Veen, Elizabeth Bergmann, Marcel Bergmann, and Tamara Rumiantsev

Relache: The Planets (Meyer Media MM10014)
Contains:
Kyle Gann: The Planets: Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
Performers: Relache ensemble (Michele Kelly, Lloyd Shorter, Bob Butryn, Chuck Holdeman, John Dulik, Chris Hanning, Ruth Frazier, Sarah Sutton, Douglas Mapp)

"For too long it has seemed like the most comfortable portions of the cosmos were musically owned by a dead British composer. Holst had essentially staked his claim on the biggest chunks of well-known real estate outside of the Earth and put up a sort of musical "Do Not Enter" sign. We composers could write about the Earth or Pluto, the "dwarf planets" that may come and go, or any other cosmic entity (manmade or otherwise), but Holst took the celebrities of our galactic neighborhood and hung them on display like so many apples on the Tree of Knowledge. From 1994-2008, Kyle Gann refused to be daunted by this musical monopoly and created his own suite of suites inspired mainly by the more recent evolutions in cosmology/astrology.

"Relache proves to be the perfect vehicle for Gann's music and this collection of works showcases their extreme virtuosity in the realms of rhythm and blend. Relache's rather quirky instrumentation provides a constantly shifting sense of color and, like an instrumental Pierrot Lunaire, each movement maintains its own timbral character within the context of a unified whole. At first I was skeptical of the synthesizer but in the hands of John Dulik the synth always blends with the woodwind-dominated group and never sounds cheesy or anything less than ethereal. Gann, of course, knows what he is doing and The Planets comes across with light and careful touch. Every movement, no matter how driving and rigorous, maintains a fundamental buoyancy.

"While some of these works were available as singles from Gann's website, this disc is the first aggregation of all ten movements collected into three "books." Each book could be performed autonomously and, to my ears at least, each individual movement works on its own as well. Gann's attention to internal driving structures never trumps his generally accessible and listenable sonic palette. This music is intensely difficult to perform but Gann and Relache never make it difficult to hear. The surface is attractive and approachable and repeated listenings reveal a web of clockwork structures that madly spin forth in a way that would make Bach jealous. I never feel as if I am receiving some grand and verbose lecture on How to Write Post-Minimal Music, even though this disc is a treasure trove of relationships and techniques. Kyle Gann is, in this respect, the Neil Degrasse Tyson of contemporary music. Gann has all the smarts and his passion towards the subject is augmented by sharp and highly refined communication skills. I'm sure Gann would kill on The Daily Show, too." - Jay Batzner, Sequenza 21

Orkest de Volharding: The Minimalists (Mode Records 214/5)
Contains:
Kyle Gann: Sunken City (Concerto for Piano and Winds, in memoriam New Orleans)
David Lang: Street
Steve Reich: City Life
Louis Andriessen: Worker's Union
Terry Riley: In C
John Coolidge Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine
Performers: Orkest de Volharding conducted by Jussi Jaatinen, Geoffrey Douglas Madge, soloist

***** (five stars) - "This 2CD set features splendid interpretations of minimalist works by the Dutch ensemble Orkest de Volharding, ranging from Terry Riley's 60s milestone In C to Kyle Gann's 2007 paean to New Orleans, Sunken City, a diptych whose "Before" section refers back to Dixieland and Jelly Roll Morton, followed by a longer "After" section in which the desolate piano and mournful brass slowly battle their way back to a semblance of former ebullience." - Andy Gill, The Independent, London

"Kyle Gann's Sunken City (in Memoriam New Orleans; 2007) forwards this thread of continued relevance; its two movements progress from an Ivesian gloss on traditional jazz elements to a somber, Ellingtonian dirge on New Orleans' status once Hurricane Katrina put it under the water, though Gann shies away from pictorializing the violence that claimed some of the stranded in the first week that followed." - Uncle Dave Lewis, AllMusic.com

"Kyle Gann (b. 1955) may be familiar to some long-time readers, because he wrote for this publication [Fanfare] years ago. He has gone on to a remarkable polymathic career as composer, critic, teacher, and scholar. I think he's not really a "minimalist," because much of his music exults in complexity and prolixity (as does the piece on this disc). But he has written a number of more stripped-down and repetitive works, and he's been a staunch and fearless advocate of much of this music, so his inclusion here makes sense, even if to me he's more of a 'maverick.' His Sunken City (In Memoriam New Orleans) (2007) is a piano concerto in two movements, "Before" and "After," lasting about a half-hour. Of course, we all know what happened in between. The first is a rambunctious evocation of New Orleans jazz from the 1920s (I think Jelly Roll Morton, but Gann has several models in mind). This music is not "jazz" anymore than Stravinsky's version was, but authenticity isnt the point. In fact any attempted "authenticity" would ruin the piece. Instead Gann's clashing, stomping rhythms are a kind of distillation of the original's energy, put through a very personal filter. I remember being impressed a few years back by a set of his Disklavier pieces (New World 80633-2, reviewed in 29:2), in part for their encyclopedic understanding of a vast range of styles of American music, jazz included. This work confirms that judgment.
But the second movement is where things get really interesting. It's an elegy, starting with a passacaglia stated by a series of chords, each of which "swamps" the listener like a wash of sound breaking its boundaries and cascading upon us (like collapsing levees). The rest of the movement slowly picks up the pieces, and by the end there is a return to some of the opening's energy, but it doesn't go for any easy, happy ending. The effect is a glimmer of hope, but tempered by a sense of real tragedy."
- Robert Carl, Fanfare magazine

"Kyle Gann's Sunken City, a memorial piece for New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, is a clever (and surely rhythmically complex) paraphrase of New Orleans blues and early jazz in the guise of a concerto for piano and winds. The textures are richly varied and endlessly fascinating... Gann has spent so much of his energy advancing the cause of younger and little-known composers... and done it so unselfishly that his own work as a composer is still tragically underappreciated. This is a piece that demands and rewards repeated hearings, and I'm glad to see it widely available." - Haskins, American Record Guide, March/April 2010, p. 182

University of Kentucky Percussion Ensemble: Live from Lexington 07-08 (UK School of Music)
Contains:
Kyle Gann: Snake Dance No. 2
with works by Christopher Deane, Brian Nozny, David Crowell, Paul Lansky, John Cage, Christopher Adler, and Anders Astrand
Performers: University of Kentucky Percussion Ensemble directed by James Campbell

Musicworks CD 101
Contains:
"Custer's Ghost to Sitting Bull" from Custer and Sitting Bull (2007 version)
Triskaidekaphonia
Performer: Kyle Gann
Also music by Ann Southam, Louis Dufort, Chris Bryan, Maggie Nicols, and Marla Hlady

Private Dances (New Albion 137)
Contains:
Private Dances
Hovenweep
Time Does Not Exist
The Day Revisited
On Reading Emerson
Performers: Sarah Cahill, The Da Capo Chamber Players, Bernard Gann

"Gann's methods may be cerebral, but his results are immediately appealing. Part of the reason may be that while his complexity is primarily rhythmic, his harmonic language is unconventionally but recognizably tonal. In Private Dances, the complexity of the rhythmic structures sounds natural, never undermining the dance-like character of the movements, and it might not even be apparent to someone who hadn't read the program notes. Each of the remaining pieces, for piano or chamber ensemble, is strikingly atmospheric. With a title taken from Freud, Time Does Not Exist for piano spins gestures of gossamer delicacy into an ethereal, dream-like soundscape. In The Day Revisited, winds and strings tuned to 29-note scale play against... keyboard samplers, and the effect is mesmerizing and mysteriously disorienting.... - Stephen Eddins, AllMusic.com

"This one completely defies expectations. In a good way. And expectations were pretty high when reaching for this disc. Private Dances is filled with beautiful moments and ideas that 'dance' with a translucence of melodic and harmonic ideas creatively and formally developed with the discipline of a writer's sense of pace and editing. The Day Revisited is a particular treasure within this collection of gems as a just intonation ensemble work that unfolds with one delicious bend after another. The solo piano music has a Satie-esque sensibility beautifully realized by Sarah Cahill. Enthusiastically recommended." - Devin Hurd, Hurd Audio

"It is difficult to put one's finger on exactly what it is that makes Kyle Gann's music so affecting. This set of five works... is consistently quiet in mood, but is never exactly either contemplative or somber. The only word that comes immediately to mind is impassive, but that is not right either.... [B]est of all are the two ensemble pieces, both of which, in rather different ways, contribute new shades to the program's limited but interesting palette of tonal colors. Hovenweep employs a similar technique to that of Time Does Not Exist in the service of a sort of tone poem designed to invoke images of Anasazi culture with results that are heartbreakingly pretty and deeply regretful; The Day Revisited is a microtonal reworking of a piece Gann originally produced in 1982. Though harmonically unsettling, this work is ultimately no less accessible and attractive than Hovenweep." - Rick Anderson, Project MUSE

Nude Rolling Down an Escalator (New World 80633-2)
Contains:
Texarkana
Nude Rolling Down an Escalator
Petty Larceny
Bud Ran Back Out
Cosmic Boogie-Woogie
Despotic Waltz
Folk Dance for Henry Cowell
The Waiting
Tango da Chiesa
Unquiet Night

[T]his CD is exhilarating, blowing apart preconceptions with such good-natured devilishness that the only response is a kind of horrified awe. The compositions are all studies in rhythm, counterpoint and style. Jazz musicians simply must hear Texarkana and Bud Ran Back Out. The former is a rag gone haywire, churning with supreme nonchalance under the disquieting tyranny of a 29 to 13 polyrhythm. The latter is an astounding tribute to Bud Powell. (Its troubling how a classical composer glosses the Powell style so well, but Gann did study with an excellent jazz pianist, John Esposito.)Cosmic Boogie-Woogie is an exotic scale layering exercise that makes Lennie Tristanos Turkish Mambo seem nave, and the long, lovely Unquiet Night features sophisticated harmony waxing and waning in polyrhythmic splendor. There are also maniacal Beethoven and Chopin tributes that made me laugh out loud. Although it would be absurd to say any of this music swings or grooves in a normal human sense, the endless manipulation of time gives the computer some remarkable depth of feeling (try Tango Da Chiesa). The future beckons. - Ethan Iverson, on Do the Math

"Gann brilliantly deconstructs familiar genres like ragtime, boogie-woogie, bop and Tex-Mex and reassembles the pieces in ways that are both achingly familiar and completely new, popular and avant garde, steady and revolutionary, experimental and polished. The combination of microtonal tunings and populist roots gives his music a sound that is simultaneously fresh and nostalgic and completely unlike that of anyone else writing today." - Jerry Bowles, Sequenza21

"Fans of Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell should check this acoustic masterpiece out. - Art Gumm, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Top ten list - Sam Prestianni, Jazziz magazine, Jan./Feb. 2007

Long Night performed by pianist Sarah Cahill (Cold Blue CB0019)

"In one 25-minute exhalation, Long Night never strays very far from its quiet, resigned opening. As it progresses, single notes gather together and build into entrancing patterns. Brief lines begin only to be folded into others, then reappear on another of the three pianos. Many of these phrases bounce slowly from piano to piano, slightly out of synch with each other and overlapping like little, cushioned waves. Even when he starts up a section with more of a pulse it's way over on the subtle side. By the end, all of these slow-moving lines are crossing over, above and around each other, making a soothing mix. Bay-Area pianist and new-music heroine Sarah Cahill gives a thoughtful reading to the piece, never hurrying, always relaxed and placing the notes into the air ever so slightly, often sounding like she's off in Keith Jarrett-improvisation-land. The gorgeous sonics make clear which piano she's playing, and if this is a long night, let it go on and on." -- Marc Geelhoed, TimeOut Chicago

"Pianist Susan Cahill performs the three looping parts of the drifting, 25-minute Long Night (for three pianos) by composer, author, and critic Kyle Gann with elegance and control. Ruminative and impressionistic, the pianos sometimes play independently and at other times synchronize with one another. Heavily influenced during the compositional process by German philosopher Martin Heidegger, specifically his rejection of the idea of personality as a unified, linear consciousness, Gann's work likewise presents a series of moods in 'overlapping discontinuity.' Occasionally the pianos cluster into dense pools while at other times singular lines briefly rise to the surface." -- Ron Schepper, Signal to Noise (summer '05), Textura (May '05)

"I played this piece maybe five times in a row last evening. Every time when it was over, I turned it back on . . . the gentle sounds just filled the early evening beautifully. The sun was disappearing and the night was slowly coming, with a nice spring air filling and mixing the room with this music." -- Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly (The Netherlands)

"Even when the ambience seems to be delicate on the first listen, that's only an illusion. There is depth and gorgeous hidden treasures . . . each piano is heard in crystalline fashion. The repetitiveness of the piece itself is hauntingly mesmerizing and draws you in immediately." -- Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta (Poland)

"Pianist Sarah Cahill plays all the three different overlapping manual loops that form the tranquilising architecture of Kyle Gann's "Long Night". Although the music is absolutely not intricate (it works wonders as a source of relaxation while you're immersed in different activities wasn't that the very concept of "ambient music"?), the cross between the casual intersections of modulating chords and the Satiesque peacefulness of Cahill's keyboard painting, with its beautiful natural resonance, is complex enough to substantiate the creative effort and imagination Gann has put into the work. The thin air moves in and around this mature evocation of events definitively entrapped in a past from where they can no longer return; just being able to have a peek at them through this ancient looking glass brings long nights of aural fascination. -- Massimo Ricci, Paris Transatlantic

Custer's Ghost: The Electronic Music of Kyle Gann (Monroe Street msm 60104)
Contains:
Fractured Paradise
How Miraculous Things Happen
Superparticular Woman
So Many Little Dyings
Ghost Town
Custer and Sitting Bull

"Because just intonation sounds out of tune to listeners accustomed to Western musical practice, they may need a few minutes to adjust their ears to Gann's tunings. But the effort is worth it - beneath the piece's shiny surfaces is real gold, the kind that makes us want to listen again and again.... Surely those are triads, and yet not quite major or minor ones, but somewhere in between. Rhythms that initially seem to be quarter and eighth notes refuse to come out squarely on the beat. The pulse seems steady at first, until you try to tap. Do we have one foot too many or too few?.... Custer and Sitting Bull... is as disturbing as any musical-political work in recent memory, for its riveting emotional portrayal of Custer, Sitting Bull, and the events surrounding them." Noah Creshevsky, Institute for Studies in American Music Newsletter

Other Places by pianist Lois Svard (Lovely Music LCD 3052)
Contains:
Desert Sonata by Kyle Gann
Variations on the Orange Cycle by Elodie Lauten
Trapani Stream by Jerry Hunt

"Here we have a wonderfully inventive, two-movement work with a grand architecture, sweeping gestures, and a direct appeal to a tradition.... The piece incorporates fiendishly difficult rhythmic relations derived from the music of Conlon Nancarrow, a poetic ambience related to the Southwestern 'desert music' of Peter Garland, and a harmonic practice that is able to accept Native American hymn tunes (as Ives did the Protestant music of his upbringing; this sonata's second movement made me think of 'Thoreau' from the Concord Sonata).... The tornado of a 41/16 passacaglia that ends the first movement is a wonder to behold.... a major contribution to the piano literature." Robert Carl, Fanfare Magazine

Pick It Up by the Relache Ensemble (Monroe Street msm 60102)
Contains:
Hesapa ki Lakhota ki Thawapi by Kyle Gann
HRT by Michael Nyman,
Octeto Malandro by Arturo Marquez
Paramell VI by Stephen Montague

"Kyle Gann's Native American homage 'Hesapa ki Lakhota ki Thawapi' ('The Black Hills Belong to the Sioux') is almost too gorgeous for its own good, but is saved from new age vacuousness by an underlying sadness and an intriguing structural complexity...." Bill Tilland, Option

"A diverse and intriguing assembly of four primarily melodic compositions for chamber orchestra by different composers: Kyle Gann's "Hesapa Ki Lakhota Ki Thawapi (The Black Hills Belong to the Sioux)" (1984-89) is constructed of several beautiful countrapuntal melodies played against a steady drum beat -- rhythmic units are selectively removed from the overall 12/8 feel (which the composer likens metaphorically to parts of the land being steadily stolen from the Native Americans) resulting in "nervous and fragmented" (Gann) continuity...." "Blue" Gene Tyranny, All Music Guide

Ten Years of Essential Music (Monroe Street msm 60101)
Contains:
Snake Dance No. 2 by Kyle Gann
works by Johanna M. Beyer, Robert Ashley, Peter Garland, John Kennedy, Christian Wolff, Malcolm Goldstein, and Charles Wood

Century XXI (New Tone nt6730)
Contains:
Ghost Town by Kyle Gann
works by Carl Stone, Ben Neill, Mikel Rouse, Nicolas Collins


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