Acoustic Guitar Magazine, May 2005 By Celine Keating The beauty of Tuolumne Songs steals slowly over the soul, perhaps the way the early morning sun creeps over the Yosemite mountains to bathe Tuolumne Meadows in light. Bill Horvitz cites that landscape-where he has performed for many years at the Tuolumne Poetry Festival-as the inspiration for these original solo guitar compositions, and for the gorgeous cover art as well. A northern California composer and guitarist, Horvitz most often plays electric guitar, frequently in avant-garde jazz settings. But on acoustic, his tone is as pure and clear as a mountain-fed spring. The pieces have the deceptive simplicity and immediacy of momentary meditations, their sophistication becoming apparent only with repeated listening. While there are traces of blues and even boogie-woogie, most of the pieces, like the haunting "This Time of Year" and "When Eric Dolphy Opened My Eyes," are abstract and ephemeral. The striking "Rain on Mt. Dana" and "The Stillness of Rock" capture the serenity and austere poetry of the natural world that can be expressed on solo acoustic guitar. Liner Notes from Tuolumne Songs Bill Horvitz Solo Acoustic Guitar Since 1997 I have had the truly good fortune of being invited to play solo acoustic guitar at the annual Tuolumne Meadows Poetry Festival in Yosemite National Park. This intimate and exquisite festival of spoken word and music takes place during the third weekend of August and is a National Park Service event. Each year there are three poets who read for two afternoons. The pieces on this CD are ones I composed specifically to go before each poet's reading. For this festival I have annually written six or seven such works -- short and succinct, in many ways much like poems. My goal has been to evoke a mood, to create an opening in which images might appear, linger and move on. I love performing at Tuolumne. People of all ages come to the high Sierra to camp and hike and sit around the fire, and in mid-afternoon walk the path to Parson's Lodge, an historic stone building rising from the meadow. They arrive in small groups and alone, with daypacks and writing pads, step inside and listen with a hungry intensity and rapt attention. Many of them return year after year. I couldn't ask for more. Being invited to compose and perform these pieces has provided a wonderful opportunity for me to focus on acoustic guitar. While I have always played acoustic and loved it, most of my performing and recording through the years has been on electric. More recently, largely because of these commissions, I've been able to give acoustic guitar playing the attention that I desire and that it deserves. I'm often complimented on my ability to capture in these pieces a sense of the high Sierra. I'm forced to admit in these moments that I don't actually set out with this goal in mind. When I'm composing I'm playing with sound, sifting through possibilities, mucking around. Notes, textures, patterns, chords and melodies appear, disappear, come together, fall apart, and eventually become something complete. It is when I give titles to the pieces that I consider how they relate to place. Perhaps the connection comes from time spent in these mountains, a gift I treasure and wish to share in these songs. Bio Bill Horvitz stretches the boundaries of guitar music and points it in new and exciting directions. Horvitz fuses traditional and extended techniques in a most inventive way; his strikingly personal instrumental vision endows the music with an infinite array of tonal color. His long and varied experience in the realms of jazz, rock, classical, folk, and new music have resulted in an entirely original compositional voice--a voice that is forceful and innovative, yet always intelligently accessible. Since 1974, Horvitz has led both large and small ensembles. Between 1978 and 1988, he lived and worked in New York City, where he explored and extended the sonic range of the guitar in a wide variety of settings. He has collaborated with many of the world's most influential composers and improvisers, notably Butch Morris, John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Bobby Previte, Shelley Hirsch, Arthur Blythe, Bill Frisell, Myra Melford, George Lewis, Bill Laswell, Eugene Chadbourne, Alex Cline, JA Deane, Herb Robertson, and Walter Thompson. He has most recently recorded the CD Tuolumne Songs featuring original compositions for solo acoustic guitar. In addition he has worked with the improvising quartet Out by Five, the band, Cross-Eyed Billy, and collaborates frequently with poets and writers combining electric and acoustic music with spoken word. In addition to his considerable achievement as a guitarist and bandleader, Horvitz has created music for dance, theater, film, and art installation. He recently composed the music for the theater piece Circus Proboscis: A Sneeze of Freaks and the films DamNaged and Gravity Hill and has created music for dance and art installation.
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