As one of the most exciting and thought-provoking groups in the business, So Percussion's members (Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting) take composer, author and thinker John Cage as their guiding light. It seems improbable, given that Cage is still among the most avant of the avant-garde, but he would have turned 100 this year — and So Percussion is celebrating all year long.
Though audiences are still often puzzled or even infuriated by Cage, the composer brought essential joy and optimism to his work. Music is everywhere, Cage taught; frame sound, even the sounds of everyday life, and hear what is there. In the signature mix of serious play (or is that playful seriousness?) that So Percussion brought to this unusual Tiny Desk Concert, the group mixed a work by Cage (the first movement of his Living Room Music) with two pieces by Treuting: Life Is [ ] and 24 X 24, in which the text Quillen reads aloud comes from Cage's own writings. Inasmuch as many of their instruments are quotidian tools, the sounds they create can be magical: For example, the bells in Living Is [ ] are as delicate and transporting as Balinese gamelan.
The minute they were ensconced in our office, the So guys started borrowing all kinds of items to add to their set, from the resident Emmy to a mug filled with spare change to an empty padded envelope autographed by Tiny Desk alum, Wilco member and frequent So collaborator Glenn Kotche. We'll leave it to you to see how they put all those materials to use.
- Jason Treuting: Life Is [ ]
- Jason Treuting: 24 X 24
- John Cage: Living Room Music: "To Begin"
Producer: Anastasia Tsioulcas; Editor: Doriane Raiman; Videographers: Michael Katzif and Doriane Raiman; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR