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New music champion Bonnie Wright's Fresh Sound concert series continued on Oct. 1 with a dynamic evening of solo percussion by mallet specialist Ian David Rosenbaum performing before a large and enthusiastic house at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights.

Mr. Rosenbaum began with a sure winner, "Stop Speaking," scored for snare drum and recorded voice. As "Vickie," droned inane instructions in a robotic monotone, Rosenbaum's eclectic mix of asymmetrical cadences, press rolls and martial arrhythmia danced in stuttered orbits for a mesmerizing sonic adventure.

Next, he performed several pieces on a huge, five-octave marimba, starting with "Karakurenai," a loping line with dual-tonalities that enlarged incrementally with additional layered material. "Even Song," featured spooky, dramatic intervals leading into tinkling arpeggios and intricate four- mallet sticking techniques.

Super-wide mallet spreads characterized "Khan Variations," where one hand kept a stair-stepped ostinato alive while the other layered on, and against the rhythmic theme. Rosenbaum's command on all things percussive cannot be exaggerated, and one got the feeling that conducting brain surgery with mallets would not be outside his wheelhouse.

He then knelt on the floor for Rzweski's "To The Earth," performed on four flower-pots. He was very successful in making them sound musical, with a kind of hypnotic, pentatonic thing happening-- but the accompanying poem was a little too "New Age" for me.

Rosenbaum closed with the five-movement "Memory Palace," featuring, in turn, plucked strings from a "thrift-store" guitar; manic strikes on muted-boards (for a woodpecker on amphetamines effect); piercing glockenspiel tones over pre-recorded wind chimes; tuned wood-blocks struck with the violence of a police raid, and finally, blowing into various sized bottles over an undulating electronic wash.

I had my doubts about how interesting a night of solo percussion could be-- but I have to admit that the performance was amazing and Rosenbaum certainly earned the tumultuous and prolonged ovation he received at concert's end.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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