PRISM Quartet

Pitch Black

The PRISM Quartet celebrates Dutch “avant pop” composer JacobTV (a.k.a. Jacob Ter Veldhuis, b. 1951). Scored for saxophone and ghettoblaster, the music on “Pitch Black” features spoken word by jazz icons Billie Holiday and Chet Baker, death row inmates, and religious fanatics in Times Square. TV started as a rock musician and studied composition and electronic music at the Groningen Conservatoire, where he was awarded the Dutch Composition Prize in 1980. Preoccupied with American media and apocalyptic moralism, he makes superb use of electronics in compositions that combine ex- plosive strength and raw energy with intricate architectural design.

Guest Artists:
Jacob TV

Record Label / Catalogue Number:
innova/693

Release Date:
April 29, 2008

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The PRISM Quartet celebrates Dutch “avant pop” composer JacobTV (a.k.a. Jacob Ter Veldhuis, b. 1951) on their newest Innova disc. Scored for saxophone and ghettoblaster, the music on “Pitch Black” features spoken word by jazz icons Billie Holiday and Chet Baker, death row inmates, and religious fanatics in Times Square. TV started as a rock musician and studied composition and electronic music at the Groningen Conservatoire, where he was awarded the Dutch Composition Prize in 1980. Preoccupied with American media and apocalyptic moralism, he makes superb use of electronics in compositions that combine ex- plosive strength and raw energy with intricate architectural design.

The title track alludes to Chet Baker’s description of the prison cell he occupied in 1962. The saxophone quartet accompanies excerpts from an interview conducted shortly before his death. “Billie,” for alto saxophone and ghettoblaster, samples many interviews given by the singer and highlights the unusual mu- sicality of her everyday speech. The somber quartet “Postnuclear Winterscenario No.10” addresses “speechlessness about war and devastation.” In contrast, “Grab It!” is a fast- paced duet between tenor saxophone and ghettoblaster that explores profound emotional contrast among men on death row. “The Garden of Love,” for ghettoblaster and soprano sax, is composed around a reading of the poem by William Blake. The final track, “Jesus is Coming,” for saxophone quartet and ghet- toblaster, juxtaposes recordings of an angry street evangelist and a Salvation Army choir with rhythmic patterns based on baby talk.

“Pitch Black” forms the soundtrack to a multimedia production of the same name that PRISM developed with Philadelphia’s Miro Dance Theater. In this evening-length performance, the city’s energy and sounds, from traffic patterns to playground games, fuel a search for human connection amid the hustle.

Reviews

  • "Fueled by the energy, power, and sounds of the city, Pitch Black searches for human connection among skyscrapers and sidewalks. The PRISM saxophone quartet provides the four dancers with live music, performing the work of celebrated Dutch composer JacobTV (Jacob ter Veldhuis). The work incorporates a saxophone quartet and an 80’s style boombox, sampling both urban alienation and beauty – from the vocals of jazz singer Billie Holiday, to the strained sermons of religious fanatics in Times Square. http://www.millerrothlein.org/pitch-black/"

    - South Philly Review by Miller Rothlein