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The Ancients

from The Ancients by James Armstrong

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    The 2017 session, recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley. Yamaha C9 piano.

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The 2017 session at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley. Artists Recording Collective, ARC-2819.

“The Ancients” sits at the intersection of improvisation and modern classical music; a crystallization of techniques and processes that were initiated some forty years ago.

As its form evolved, over several years, it was apparent that it could not be contained by traditional music notation. Reductions to a score, in two dimensions, had become a distraction; irrelevant for purposes of a complex, solo performance, in real-time.

Realistically, extended performances along these lines are a lost art here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Long takes, informed profoundly by European piano concertos, are anomalous. In music venues especially, there is a tendency to focus squarely on standard, American repertoire of relatively short duration. An insistence on show tunes has in fact overridden new music.

This work continues despite the odds; it has thrived in the absence of ‘vetting’ by regional promoters and broadcasters. All of this gets back to the idea of serving the art, as opposed to a corporation, or for-profit business entity.

James D. Armstrong, Jr.
Fall 2017


from The Ancients, track released September 1, 2017
James David Armstrong, Jr. (BMI), composer and performer. Alberto Hernandez, session engineer.


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James Armstrong San Jose, California

Forty years after university, I continue to explore the intersection of improvisation and modern classical music, through the medium of concert grand piano. Purposely removed from electronic effects, this is a content-driven music centered on extended, real-time performance; an original practice that has moved beyond the political barriers that exist in the San Francisco Bay Area. ... more

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