Last Things, for bass clarinet, pedal steel guitar, piano, and electronic keyboards, was written for clarinetist Marty Walker in 1987, and has been subsequently performed (as a piece for bass clarinet and tape) by Walker at concerts across the U.S. Somewhat a rhapsodic call and response between bass clarinet and pedal steel guitar, it is constructed of seven connected sections (or songs) that over the length of the piece slowly build in intensity. As the piece progresses, each section expands in length from the one previous and the bass clarinet’s tessitura or average pitch range tends to rise as it embraces stylistic extremes of vibrato and timbre. Beneath the bass clarinet and pedal steel guitar cycle two expanding sets of harmonies, one played on electronic keyboards and the other on piano.
The Copy of the Drawing was composed in 1992 and first presented at the SCREAM Festival in Los Angeles, and subsequently at the Cal Arts New Music Festival and elsewhere. A sectional, non-dramatic, serpentine soundscape charged with a certain abstract mysteriousness—it overlays, chains, and weaves a whispering voice with strands of nonverbal, pitched sound. The text is built of fragments—sentences, phrases, and individual words—from twenty-three letters addressed to the scientists at Mt. Wilson Observatory between 1915 and 1935 (these letters are collected in the book No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge Again, edited by Sarah Simons, published by The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Los Angeles). The original letters offer intensely personal, often quixotic theories, thoughts, and mysterious revelations on a variety of topics, especially astronomical, cosmological, and theological issues.
Jim Fox is a Los Angeles-based composer whose music has been commissioned and performed by groups and soloists throughout the U.S. and presented at the Monday Evening Concerts, New Music America, Real Art Ways, Wires, the SCREAM Festival, the CalArts Contemporary Music Festival, Podewil, the Ventura Chamber Music Festival, 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 Advance, Cold Blue, Grenadilla, Raptoria Caam, Citadel, and CRI labels and published in such anthologies as Soundings and Scores. In the early eighties, he founded Cold Blue Records. (He restarted Cold Blue at the end of 2000.)
“An austere, ethereal experience.” —The Wire magazine
“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.” —Wadada Leo Smith