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New Century, Same Genius: Ornette Coleman at JVC

Going back to the early 1980s, experimental music provocateur and rebel Glenn Branca has been making a spectacle in the form of massed electric guitars. Of late, he has upped the ante to an almost surreal degree, scoring his Symphony No. 13 (Hallucination City) for an aural sprawl of 100 guitarists (actually, 80 guitars and 20 electric bassists, with one lock-step grooving drummer to hold them together).

The piece had its world premiere, a bit eerily, in front of the World Trade Center in June 2001, a few months before that landmark ceased to exist. Fittingly, or not, the west coast premiere of the work took place in March in the still-new Walt Disney Concert Hall. The acoustically stunning venue was turned, for this occasion, into a throbbing resonant vessel for Branca’s microtonal wall-of-guitar-sound.

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