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Jon Gibson - Two Solo Pieces (1996)

Jon Gibson achieved some degree of renown as a regular member of Philip Glass' original ensemble, but his own career as a composer has been somewhat overshadowed. These two compositions from the mid-'70s show that he was right at the vanguard of the minimalist movement with his better-known colleagues. "Cycles," for pipe organ, is a steady-state piece with a basic seven-note chord and alterations thereof; it creates a cloud-like atmosphere, slowly shifting certain characteristics but maintaining a singular sound throughout. "Cycles" is related to Steve Reich's earlier organ works ("Four Organs" and "Phase Patterns," the latter on which Gibson performed) but with the rhythmic element removed, leaving a mysterious stasis. "Untitled" is a lengthy melody for alto flute, where the performer is only required to perform the notes in sequence but may improvise as to repetitions, phrasing, rhythm, etc. Gibson's flute has a lovely sound, coming a little bit into shakuhachi territory, and the melody is captivating and haunting. The overall sense of serenity combined with the constantly shuffled elements makes this piece a luxurious joy. Originally issued by Chatham Square on LP in 1976 and long out of print, this was reissued on disc with three additional pieces by the Italian Robi Droli label. (amg)

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