“Music at First”: Ken Thomson’s Slow/Fast, and Lainie Fefferman’s Phthia

Ken Thomson’s new Quintet “Slow/Fast”, and Lainie Fefferman’s Quartet “Phthia” will close the adventurous Fall Season of Music at First on Friday, December 3rd, 2010 at 7:30pm. This new music series is held at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, located at 124 Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights. Tickets are $10 at the door. Contact [email protected] for more info. Directions: fpcbrooklyn.org.

MUSIC AT FIRST (musicatfirstsite.com), curated by Wil Smith (composer who also serves as organist at First Presbyterian), occurs monthly, featuring two performers or ensembles per evening. A diverse mix of New York City’s best ensembles and performers, accessible to a wide audience of both community members and seasoned listeners, Music at First has been described by Steve Smith in The New York Times as a “vibrant, eclectic new-music series.” This season has already included performances by Kyle Bobby Dunn, Dither, Eleonore Oppenheim, Lesley Flanigan, Flutronix, and Isabelle O’Connell.

Ken Thomson (ktonline.net), co-leader of Gutbucket and Asphalt Orchestra, performer in Signal, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Fire in July, and acclaimed emerging composer commissioned by Bang on a Can and the American Composers Orchestra, unveils a new project called SLOW/FAST (slowfast.net). This concert is the official release event for their debut CD, “It Would Be Easier If”, housed on the German label, Intuition Records. This recording has been called “…an impressive amalgam of influences, ideas and inventiveness…. exciting and at times mesmerizing” by Bruce Lindsay (All About Jazz). Slow/Fast aims to connect the heavily-composed work Thomson has written and connect it with small ensemble jazz. The music is long-form and through-composed, yet requires the personality of the musicians to succeed. The concept is called “21st Century Third Stream.”  The band includes some of the outer boroughsʼ great talents –other sympatico musicians whom Thomson met over over a decade playing in the NY scene. Band members Russ Johnson (trumpet), Nir Felder (guitar), Adam Armstrong (bass), & Fred Kennedy (drums) are all capable of reading very complex music as well as bringing fire to improvisation.

PHTHIA, led by composer/vocalist Lainie Fefferman (lainiefefferman.com), is an unconventional folk group with a beautiful and unique voice.  Backed by a quirky acoustic ensemble of all-star players (Sara Budde on clarinets; James Moore on banjo, guitar, and mandolin; and Missy Mazzoli on melodica), Fefferman mixes her musical loves in songs that draw from rigorous minimalism, breezy folk tunes, and gritty rock ballads. New Music Box calls Fefferman’s music “A provocative rocking that sounds good, feels good.”

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF BROOKLYN (FPC) is committed to supporting the arts in the community, and has been noted by Lucid Culture blog as as “doing double duty as comfortable neighborhood hang and avant garde central for the budget conscious.”  FPC is an open and intentionally diverse congregation, by race, culture, age, theology, and sexual orientation.