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Jim Fox

Descansos, Past

Label: Cold Blue Music

Format: CD

Genre: Experimental

In stock


JimFox's Descansos, Past, written in April 2004 in memory of composer-performer John Kuhlman, who died a few years earlier, was premiered in Los Angeles (by the same musicians who are heard on the present CD), June 2004, as part of a series of concerts held at the historic Schindler House.

Descansos, Past sets an ever-pizzicato double bass (a five-string, extending to low B), which is featured in a few solo sections, alongside a choir of nine ever-arco cellos, one of which soars up to the highest notes available on the edge of the instrument’s fingerboard (Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick is the featured first cellist). The piece’s nine cello parts were performed for this recording by four cellists who were overdubbed.



Jim Fox’s music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles and soloists throughout the US and presented at the Monday Evening Concerts, New Music America, the Ventura Chamber Music Festival, Real Art Ways, Wires, the SCREAM Festival, the CalArts Contemporary Music Festival, Podewil (Berlin), the Ear Inn, L.A.C.E., and many similar venues. He has also scored feature films.

His music, which has been described by critics as both “austere” and “sensuous,” has been recorded on the Cold Blue, CRI, Advance, Grenadilla, Raptoria Caam, and Citadel labels and published in such new music anthologies as Soundings and Scores.

Composer-performer Wadada Leo Smith has noted, “One of the striking qualities of Jim Fox’s compositions is that you can still hear them inside you long after the music is over.” The Italian music magazine Blow Up chose Fox’s CD Last Things as a Record of the Year (2000). Fanfare magazine described this disc as “suffused with a beautiful sadness” and The Wire called it an “ethereal experience.” John Schaefer, producer of WNYC’s New Sounds, described Fox’s recent recording, The City the Wind Swept Away, as a “beautiful and evocative work.”



Descansos, Past practices yet another kind of soft-grained, southern Californian austerity. Slow-moving and very simple, this harks back to the folky ennui of John Lurie’s soundtracks for string quartet, like his score for Stranger Than Paradise. The miking gives the solo strings almost orchestral presence, and the returning bass pizzicatos possibly hint at jazz. Descansos, past is harmonically driven, and so Fox’s style counts as the most obviously traditional of the three. But his piece ends in mid-sentence, emphasizing the fragmentary, quasi-improv character and showing that he—unlike so many composers nowadays—knows exactly when to stop.” —Arved Ashby, Gramophone


“Mysterious and delicately introspective…” —Peter Thelan, Exposé magazine

Cat. number: CB0021
Year: 2005

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