The quiet rumbling of trombones and the soft keening of strings haunt the piano’s slow stream of notes. A mosaic, a tapestry. Rich harmonies and simple triads come and go, like the ever-changing, yet ever-similar, landscapes one passes while driving through a remote area, perhaps a Southern California desert, perhaps a deep woods. Although not in any sense a programmatic music, the events in The City the Wind Swept Away coast in and out of earshot in much this way, or like drifting clouds, slowly changing shapes, shifting angles, picking up different light.
The City the Wind Swept Away, commissioned by the late trombonist Will Sudmeirer’s Le Quatuor Tromboni de Marin (which annually gathered in the San Francisco Bay Area for a concert augmented by strings), was written at the Dorland Mountain Colony in 1982 (and slightly revised at the time of this recording, 2003/04). On this recording, it is performed by a group of noted Los Angeles new-music and studio players.
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.” And the Int’l Record Review wrote of The City…: “As we know from the music of Feldman, this kind of attentiveness to the integrity of slowly passing sound events can be a strangely moving experience. It is so here.”