RighteousGIRLS: gathering blue

About

RighteousGIRLS (flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi) present their debut recording, "gathering blue" featuring works written for them that draw from the worlds of contemporary classical music, avant garde jazz, and experimental pop. Winners of a New Music USA grant to fund this recording, RighteousGIRLS highlight their innovative collaborations with diverse artists from pianist/composer Vijay Iyer to downtown luminary Randy Wolff to their co-curator and producer, Pascal Le Boeuf. 

Audio

gathering blue is the debut album by contemporary music duo RighteousGIRLS (flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi). RighteousGIRLS champions work at the intersection of contemporary classical music and avant-garde jazz, as part of a growing movement to evolve beyond conventional genre boundaries. A highlight is Vijay Iyer's Accumulated Gestures, in a trio setting with Iyer's drummer, Justin Brown. Other guest composer/performers include rising trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and steel pan player Andy Akiho. Award-winning producer Pascal LeBoeuf contributes the quasi-title track “GIRLS” and a series of interludes throughout. Works by Randy Woolf, Christian Carey, Dave Molk, Mike Perdue, and Jonathan Ragonese round out this provocative release of premiere recordings, all written for RighteousGIRLS.

Producer: Pascal LeBoeuf
Engineers: Andy Taub (Brooklyn Recording), Ryan Streber (Oktaven Audio), Alex Sterlin (Sterling Studios), Pascal LeBoeuf (Sullivan Studios)
Mixing and Mastering: Dave Darlington (Bass Hit Studios)
"gathering blue" was made with support from New Music USA and annual program support from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust

 

RighteousGIRLS

As RighteousGIRLS, New York-based flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi continually expand their creative reach by bringing 21st century music to new audiences and commissioning works root themselves in classical idioms, but draw from other genres.

RighteousGIRLS recently performed as part of Vicky Chow’s “Contagious Sound Series” at the Cornelia Street Café, and at international venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Roulette, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, the Yamaha Piano Salon, An Die Musik, Bohemian Caverns, the Jazz Standard, the DC Jazz Festival, the Jazz Gallery, and the Montreal Jazz Festival.

In the summer of 2015, RighteousGIRLS will release their debut album 'gathering blue' (New Focus Recordings) featuring compositions by contemporary/classical and jazz artists including Andy Akiho, Ambrose Akinmusire, Pascal Le Boeuf, Christian Carey, Vijay Iyer, Dave Molk, Mike Perdue, Jonathan Ragonese, and Randy Woolf.

Inspired by the Lois Lowry novel 'gathering blue', the album draws together collaborators including steel-pannist Andy Akiho, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and drummer Justin Brown while integrating improvisation and post-production techniques. Incorporating complex meters, improvisation, and unconventional forms, 'gathering blue' is woven together by a series of interludes, illustrating the duo's evolution and the sonic colors they've collected.

'gathering blue' has received numerous awards including a 2015 New Music USA Awards Grant, a 2015 International Songwriting Competition Nomination for GIRLS by composer/producer Pascal Le Boeuf, and a 2014 Independent Music Awards Nomination for gathering blue (Best Album) and KARakurENAI (Best Instrumental) by composer/steel-pannist Andy Akiho.

RighteousGIRLS have performed in collaboration with various artists stemming from the New York Downtown music scene. Some recent projects include a music video of composer Andy Akiho's "NO one To kNOW One" filmed by videographer Michael McQuilken at the "Original Music Workshop" in Brooklyn, released by Vic Firth. In September 2014, the duo was featured on "Improvisatory Minds" an LA-based music series highlighting new works by Billy Childs, Bevan Manson, Michael Patterson, Ed Neumeister, Alan Broadbent, and Gernot Wolfgang. RighteousGIRLS have also been featured artists in viral videos presented by CDZA and in publications such as YomiTime and NYJapion.

Gina Izzo has participated in international festivals including Centre d’arts Orford in Montreal, Canada, and Les Nuits Musicales de Nice, France. An active orchestral musician, she has performed under conductors like Kurt Masur, Eric Jacobsen, JoAnn Falletta, Alondra De La Parra, and George Manahan. Izzo has performed at the Umbria Jazz Festival and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and appeared at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Symphony Space, and the Jazz Standard. She has also worked as coordinator of New York’s Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival at Symphony Space and Chamber Music America's New Music at Bryant Park Series.

Erika Dohi has made appearances at international festivals including the Montreal Jazz Festival (Canada), Washington DC Jazz Festival (U.S), Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music (Canada), International Society of Improvised Music (U.S) alongside Wadada Leo Smith, the Tokyo Experimental Festival (Japan), and Norfolk New Music Workshop (U.S). Additionally, she has performed with contemporary ensembles including Contemporaneous, Ensemble Moto Perpetuo, Le Train Bleu, Ensemble LPR, and the Metropolis Ensemble.

Gina earned her BM from the Manhattan School of Music and MM from New York University. Erika earned her BM and MM from the Manhattan School of Music and is currently pursuing a doctorate at Stony Brook University.


Reviews

Second Inversion: Seattle KING FM

Blue is a color rich in symbolism. For many it represents peace, tranquility, mystery, and truth. But it may also be a symbol for trust, wisdom, faith, and, above all, harmony. Lois Lowry’s science fiction novel “Gathering Blue” tells the story of a young orphan with a deformed leg living in a dystopian society that leaves disabled people to die in the fields. But her life is spared due to her talent in threadwork—and her greatest triumph occurs when she discovers the art of dyeing the color blue, the one color no one else in her cruel society knows how to make.

Contemporary classical duo RighteousGIRLS takes this notion of blue as a symbol for social (and musical) harmony and explores its full spectrum of dazzling and luminous shades in their debut album, “gathering blue.” Titled after Lowry’s novel, the album blends elements of classical, avant-garde, jazz, improvisation, and post-production techniques. RighteousGIRLS, comprised of New York-based flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi, creates a colorful musical palette through their collaboration with a variety of dynamic New York artists. Featured composers include Andy Akiho, Ambrose Akinmusire, Pascal Le Boeuf, Christian Carey, Vijay Iyer, Dave Molk, Mike Perdue, Jonathan Ragonese, and Randy Woolf.

The album opens with a bang—literally. The duo introduces themselves with “GIRLS,” composed by album’s producer, Pascal Le Boeuf, and scored for two flutes, piano, and prepared piano. The theatrical showpiece utilizes a variety of extended techniques and unconventional acoustic sounds, creating a dynamic, idiosyncratic, and completely otherworldly musical experience. Izzo’s rhythmic flute playing hovers above an array of distinctive piano timbres. For Izzo and Dohi, nothing is off limits: Dohi uses palms, elbows, and forearms on the prepared piano keys while Izzo strums inside the piano itself.

The next piece moves beyond the musical score: Izzo and Dohi experiment with improvisation in “Accumulated Gestures” by Vijay Iyer. Featuring drummer Justin Brown, the piece explores the ever-evolving theme of rhythmic contrast, keeping the listener (and the musicians) constantly on their toes. Improvisation is a key theme in “Anzu” by jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire as well. Titled after the Japanese word for “apricot,” the piece captures both the velvety sweetness and also the faint tartness of this vibrant fruit. Featuring Akinmusire himself on trumpet, the piece paints a gorgeous sonic landscape with slow and soulful trumpet and flute melodies dancing over a twinkling piano backdrop.

RighteousGIRLS picks up the pace again in their adaptation of “…nobody move…” by Randy Woolf. The intentionally chaotic piece employs an energetic groove that showcases Dohi’s avant-garde jazz piano chops. The work is followed by a RighteousGIRLS rendition of Jonathan Ragonese’s solemn and contemplative “non-poem 1.” In direct contrast to the preceding piece, “non-poem 1” explores soft, meditative melodies surrounded by silence. Andy Akiho’s “KARakurENAI” offers another dramatic change in musical texture. The piece, which features Akiho on prepared steel pan, crafts an entire orchestra of colorful percussive sounds accented by flute and piano embellishments. But this is not just any average old prepared steel pan—Akiho performs the left-hand ostinato with the cardboard tube of a dry cleaner coat hanger while poking out the right-hand melody with a wooden chopstick. Yes, a wooden chopstick. The duo also performs Mike Perdue’s “Entr’acte,” written for two flutes and two prepared (and intentionally overdubbed) pianos. Quizzical and unconventional, the piece is titled after the French term for music that accompanies a theater set change.

Perhaps the duo is setting the stage for a tribute to one of the biggest names in contemporary classical: Milton Babbitt. The next piece on the album, titled “For Milton,” is a flute and piano duo written by Christian Carey in fond memory of the late composer. The piece showcases both Babbitt’s famous serialism as well as his affection for the soulful swing of early jazz. The piece is followed by Dave Molk’s “Edge,” a RighteousGIRLS-commissioned piece that packs some serious punch. The flute and piano spew glitchy and jarring staccato melodies blurred by brief legato interludes.

And true to the blue color symbology, “gathering blue” also packs a little bit of mystery: a series of ethereal hidden interludes written by Le Boeuf weave together this fearlessly bold and vibrant album. And somewhere between the serialism, the prepared steel pan ostinati, the elbow piano playing, and the brink of silence, RighteousGIRLS crafts a palette of blue hues richer and more diverse than you ever dreamed possible. - Maggie Molloy, 7.13.15

Downbeat

RighteousGIRLS is the real qualifier here, straddling the pop/indie divide. The duo claims that its sound is “rooted in classical idioms” yet “draws from other genres,” and one of those genres is certainly pop. Their Gathering Blue (Panoramic/New Focus 03; 55:39 ++++½) is revelatory. Flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi excel as instrumentalists, and the 13 originals on their latest album are a study in contrast. On the surface, they don’t seem danceable, at least not in the typical sense. But from the dark notes and elliptical, frantic counterpoint of “GIRLS” to the elegiac, gravity-defying “Non-Poem I,” the artistry is at times stunning. A number of guest spots enliven the mood. On “Anzu,” trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire brings a kind of stillness to this expressive chamber-like piece. The three instruments exchange ideas in a captivating musical give-and take, like dancing of a different sort.

John Ephland, Downbeat, October 2015

New York City Jazz Record

Just another classical piano/flute duo of wannabe improvisers? Guess again with these RighteousGIRLS. Pianist Erika Dohi and flautist Gina Izzo make a dynamic, refreshing duo in tackling largely commissioned, often evolving, pieces by nine daring Gotham-based composers, working in cahoots with producer Pascal Le Boeuf, a savvy pianist and facile composer who provides atmospheric echoes and brief melodic riffs on other pieces throughout. Dohi and Izzo, classmates at Manhattan School of Music, fuse careers at an incandescent intersection of jazz, contemporary and electronica. Their opening salvo on Le Boeuf’s “GIRLS” rattles speakers and expectations with stop-time razzle, vocal (flute-talk) and electronic (phaser) effects, damping and derring-do. Izzo and Dohi then tackle headlong a thorny Vijay Iyer piece in an electrifying trio with Justin Brown (drummer with both Iyer and Le Boeuf) as Izzo struts over snare patterns and Dohi chimes in with tart chords, then all stride forth. “Anzu”, a brooding chorale with and by sub-toning trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire treads somber ground betwixt Monteverdi and Miles Davis. The pieces themselves fuse into a landscape of glitchy terror and anticipation; case in point: the undamped, arid transition from Randall Woolf’s “...nobody move...” and Jonathan Ragonese’s “Non-Poem I”, where the duo spins platinum-hard tensility to spider-web gossamer fragility. Their third and final encounter is with Andy Akiho, whose “KARakurENAI” features his steel-pan in a playful skein of overlapping quasi-electronic keyboard and phases and cheerful flute line as cherry on top. Other composers admirably engaged: Dave Molk’s “Edge” (snappy suite over-explores minor thirds in pleasing patterns); Christian Carey’s “For Milton” (acute angles cutely cut for Babbitt); Mike Perdue’s “Entr’acte” (bright mirrored shards in kaleidoscopic arrays.) The music is crisp, shiny, avid, lucid, exciting and technically quite accomplished between the RGs, bless them. - Fred Bouchard, August 2015

I care if You Listen

Riding along the highway at 70 mph, the air conditioning chilling you to the bone, RighteousGIRLS’ newest album Gathering Blue plays. The passing cars and streetlights seem to disappear as you listen to something breath-taking happening before your ears. Your senses seem on overdrive but there are moments of quiet tranquility on the CD. This was my experience upon first hearing Gathering Blue. I couldn’t help but daydream while listening as I drove my hour commute from rehearsal. Pianist Erika Dohi and flutist Gina Izzo, along with guest artists from the New York new music scene have one of the most adventurous new music debut albums in recent years.

Blending disturbing musical interjections (“GIRLS”) with the utterly serene (“KARakurENAI”), Gathering Blue takes its concept from the Lois Lowry novel by the same name. In it, the protagonist finds solace in her challenging world through thread-making. Eventually, she discovers the color Blue, something that is unavailable in her society. RighteousGIRLS uses the metaphor of “colored threads” and illustrates it through the various “threads” of new classical artists around New York, who have composed and recorded tracks on the CD for the group. Composers such as Andy Akiho (the recipient of UMASS-Boston’s 2015 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund) and Ambrose Akinmusire are two of the featured composers on the album, both providing instrumental accompaniment on their tracks, as well.

From the opening chord strikes of “GIRLS,” the album provides a gourmet dinner of odd and new intersperced by Pascal Le Boeuf’s interludes which serve as superb filler music to transport us from one composer’s song to the next. Le Boeuf’s pieces never seem too long but are sadly not long enough, teasing at intense climaxes and cadences that never come. His knack for writing dark movements are evocative of Bartok’s most restrained and, at times, Stravinsky in the way he brings out gorgeous melodies while winding up the tension with rhythms of auxiliary instruments in the background.

Randy Woolf’s “…nobody move…” moves at the speed of a subway train in Manhattan, halting often to allow us to pick up new arrivals and discoveries yet always traveling to get to the destination. The piece even dives into some near parodies of jazz and blues in the solo piano sections while mixing Prokofiev-like runs with the flute, pulsing and pounding till the very end. “Accumulated Gestures” by Justin Brown feels like it doesn’t have a destination at all, a wildly inventive thing to try. This is the strength of the song, for we do not know if it will ever end until it finally does and we are surprised. Brown’s writing feels like 6 minutes of exposition, leaving the listener uncomfortable, waiting for something that won’t come: a cadence. For this reason, it excels as one of the top tracks on the album.

Mike Perdue’s “Entr’acte” and Christian Carey’s “For Milton” are perfectly written for the group. They play to the group’s expert playing abilities, stretching the limits of what their artists can accomplish when given difficult material; the result is enjoyable to listen to. “non-poem I” by Jonathan Ragonese places the viewer in the middle of an open field in its heart-wrenching delicate melodies from the flute and equally wrenching accompaniment by the piano.

What Gathering Blue accomplishes is creating an outlet for new composers and this new group RighteousGIRLS get [sic] the proper attention needed to take off in the new music world. This album will do it. Gathering Blue places RighteousGIRLS in the top ranks, along with Yarn/Wire, an equally provocative group, as the new risk takers in recording and commissioning new works. What RighteousGIRLS accomplishes is that their music is never alienating of its audiences. It provokes questions and forces us to explore the depths of our imagination & psyche through their selections. It is then that we begin to care about what we hear as audience members, and for a group to give the trust of experiencing music over to something new and unfamiliar is an accomplishment matched by very few before them.

- Jackson Cooper, I Care if You Listen, 9/2015

BirdIsTheWorm

Strangely compelling debut from pianist Erika Doh and flautist Gina Izzo. They capture the spirit of the late-60s, when jazz was entering an out period, and compositional seeds and improvisational waves were less inclined to produce form than they were presence. Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire is both a guest musician on the recording and a contributor of a composition, along with Vijay Iyer, Pascal Le Boeuf, Christian Carey and others. - July 2015

TriangleArtsAndEntertainment

Gathering blue draws together RighteousGIRLS and their collaborators in duo/trio settings (Andy Akiho, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Justin Brown) while integrating improvisation and post-production techniques. Virtuosic, adventurous, and charismatic, RighteousGIRLS play with white-hot intensity and cool control. The album, out July 10 on New Focus Recordings, features music by nine contemporary classical and jazz artists including Akiho, Akinmusire, Pascal Le Boeuf, Christian Carey, Vijay Iyer, Dave Molk, Mike Perdue, Jonathan Ragonese, Randy Woolf. Their music incorporates complex meters, improvisation, and nonconventional forms, illustrating the duo’s evolution and the colors they’ve collected. - July 2015

Brooklyn Rail

Flutist Gina Izzo and pianist Erika Dohi celebrate the release of their debut album gathering blue at Joe’s Pub. The record opens with the ominous low piano notes of “GIRLS,” composed by Pascal Le Boeuf. “GIRLS” quickly unfolds into a charging, subtly mutating duet between Dohi’s sprightly piano and Izzo’s flute, now fricative and rhythmic, now melodic and elusive. The whole of gathering blue, featuring compositions by Vijay Iyer, Ambrose Akinmusire, and others, displays the same enthralling quick-change artistry. - July 2015

AreYouHipToThis.com

Ok team. Suit up and get your game faces on. Today we’re going on a ride.

RighteousGIRLS is a contemporary piano-flute duo comprised of Erika Dohi and Gina Izzo based in New York who are taking the 21st century music scene by storm. Their music is rooted in various classical traditions while incorporating a wide range of other genres, all the while creating a progressive, avant-garde approach to new music. These two women are not lacking in credentials either, both having studied music at Manhattan School of Music, NYU, and Stony Brook University. After individual appearances at multiple international music festivals and a selection of awards for their work, RighteousGIRLS are releasing their debut album “gathering blue,” today, July 10, on New Focus Recordings. This album features compositions by contemporary artists of many genres, including Pascal Le Boeuf, Andy Akiho, Viyay Iyer, and more.

The first track on the album, “GIRLS” by Pascal Le Boeuf, is an exploration of the far reaches of both rhythm and timbre. Odd time signatures and aggressive articulations by both Gina and Erika create a powerful rhythmic sound, with a driving beat that the listener just can’t seem to get a hold of quickly enough before the time changes. A barrage of uncertainty and surprise, this piece is reminiscent of certain 20th century classical movements. In addition to the unorthodox rhythmic nature of this composition, the listener experiences both Gina and Erika approaching their instruments in ways that would perhaps make an average “mainstream” listener give an inquisitive look. Gina is using her flute in a percussive manner at many times throughout the piece, with heavy and short attacks on the notes. Erika is playing prepared piano, procuring unexpected sounds from the instrument. (If you are not familiar with this technique, I suggest you read up on it and listen to other examples. It is one of my favorites.) All in all, “GIRLS” is a piece that would have, in another world, been composed for percussion. But in our world, it falls into the capable hands of RighteousGIRLS, who push their instruments outside of the realm of expectation and produce a truly unique sound that one does not come across every day.

The rest of RighteousGIRLS’ debut album continues on this unfamiliar journey, exhibiting sounds and ideas "woven together by a series of interludes, illustrating the evolution of the RighteousGIRLS sound and the colors they've collected. This debut album acts as an introduction to the ensemble, displaying not only the RighteousGIRLS as instrumentalists, but the rush experienced when they are given the freedom to unleash their own discoveries while "Gathering Blue." So, dear reader, I invite you to go on your own unusual journey outside of your comfort zone and explore these peculiar sounds created by Gina and Erika. You can find "gathering blue" on iTunes and learn more about RighteousGIRLS on their website and Twitter. - 7.10.15

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