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Composer/performer Joshua Tazman creates subtle, rippling musical textures that undulate from Webernian pointillism to quietly shimmering impressionism. His music is motivated by questions of meaning, doubt, and faith, setting up dichotomies between fractured flurries which never quite come together and sustained choruses of flowing sound reminiscent of rivers or breath. Originally a singer/songwriter, Tazman often sings on his own pieces, seamlessly blending his roots in Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell with classical influences such as Béla Bartók and Helmut Lachenmann to create an ever-changing sound that nonetheless remains uniquely his own.

Tazman draws from a rich and varied musical background; he played the role of the Second Spirit in the 2013 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute with the SF Opera, before learning jazz in middle school. His experiences singing jazz earned him an impressive set of accolades including being named a candidate for the 2017 US Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and winning competitions such as the 2016 Downbeat Student Awards, the 2016 PDX Jazz Forward competition, and the 2017 Monterey NextGen Jazz Festival. In 2017, he debuted two song cycles at a sold-out concert at the Red Poppy Art House: The Spicer Songs, in which he set poems by Jack Spicer for voice and string trio; and The Leaving Suite, a searing odyssey for jazz quartet plus string trio, exploring the anxiety, excitement, and bittersweetness of leaving for college. He continues to write prolifically as he pursues a double Bachelor’s degree in Composition and Comparative Literature at Oberlin College and Conservatory.

Distillation

for voice, alto flute, bass clarinet, trumpet, violin, and cello

Joshua Tazman - voice, Andrew Santiago - alto flute, Caleb Rose - bass clarinet, Jason Arevalo - violin, J Holzen - cello, Sam Friedman - trumpet

Distillation reflects upon the process of composition through a series of abstract images. A sand castle is built, then crumbles; a tapestry is woven, then unravels; salt spins in water, then dissolves. The indirectness of the lyrics is matched by a fractured musical texture, spinning around without advancing a grand narrative. As it progresses, the work dissolves, ending in a tentative, inconclusive tone. My intention for this piece was to explore the concept of decentralization, building a composition from the ground up rather than the top down. When the surface flurries are the principal concern of a piece, when coherence and structure have evaporated, what is left behind?

The Leaving Suite

for voice, jazz quartet and string trio

Joshua Tazman - voice/piano, Julian Weissman - bass, Mario Fabrizzio - drums, Solomon Alber - flute/tenor saxophone/clarinet, Juliana Layendecker - violin, Lawrence Wong - viola, Robbie Bui - cello

The Leaving Suite is a 35-minute song cycle that captures the bittersweetness of leaving my home for the first time to start college. The work weaves together fragments of my past, present, and future in more ways than one. The work mixes a jazz quartet with a string trio, melding through-composed forms with frangmented, odd-meter grooves to create a fusion of my past in jazz and my growing interest in classical composition. The lyrics reminisce, speculate, and reflect in an organic flow of dreamlike images to create a seething and searing portrait of a time of great tenderness, excitement, and growing up.

After After Lorca: The Spicer Songs

by Joshua Tazman

“After After Lorca: The Spicer Songs” interprets a set of seven poems by Berkeley Renaissance poet Jack Spicer, all drawn from his serial collection “After Lorca.” The poetry itself is a “translation” of work by Federico Garcia Lorca, and Spicer includes letters written directly to the late Lorca in between the poetry.

This song cycle “translates” the poems yet again — into music — and interstitial letters grapple with the implications of this process, delving into the very nature of creation and inspiration.

Joshua Tazman Reinier - vocals

Ariana Chin - violin

Eva Gillet - viola

Emily Ross - cello