In the liner notes to his most recent album, Degrees of Iconicity (Hat Now), composer Guillermo Gregorio writes, “I compose ‘visually.’ I ‘see’ the music first (as I imagine it) as figures, shapes, and movement in space or along a plane, simultaneously as I ‘hear’ the sounds.” In fact, much of his work in recent years has drawn explicit inspiration from abstract visual artists, notably constructivist Aleksandr Rodchenko and Bauhaus designer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. And his latest project, the Madi Ensemble, is named for an art movement that began in 1946 in his native Argentina. The Madi artists were interested in making the constructivists’ geometric abstractions concrete and in making the relationships between these shapes flexible. Gregorio’s compositions for this ensemble are heavily graphic, with bits of conventional notation; geometrically described episodes float on the page, and often it’s left up to the performer not only how to interpret them but also how to connect them. In “Madi Piece #1,” for example, a series of circles, triangles, and squares is connected by hatch marks that represent predetermined periods of inactivity, and each shape comes with its own set of parameters: a triangle, for instance, requires three notes, one for each side. The composition meticulously organizes improvised passages to produce dramatic shifts in density and encourage serendipitous interaction. Gregorio, who will conduct and play clarinet and alto saxophone, will be joined by Kyle Bruckmann on oboe, Jen Paulson on viola, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Michael Cameron on bass, John Corbett on guitar, Jim Baker on electronics, and Carrie Biolo on vibraphone and percussion. Monday, December 17, 7 PM, Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph; 312-742-8497.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.