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The best kept secret in music


"Robert Boston's New Musical Frontier"

Pianist Robert Boston used to be a regular on the concerto competition circuit. Wielding his signature Khachaturian show-stopper, he often found himself standing in the winner's circle along side other rising stars of the classical world. One of his frequent rivals was a young Russian named Evgeny Kissin. This is good company, of course, considering that Kissin is nothing short of classical superstar now.
Boston's classical glory days took place while pursuing a Masters in Piano Performance from Sam Houston State. It was during this time that he got wind of Houston's thriving jazz scene. Longing for a more creative musical outlet, Robert set his eyes and ears on jazz. It was a quick transition. Before long, he worked his way to the top of the Gulf Coast City jazz scene. Robert became a top-call sideman and a regular in the free-jazz improv ensemble, Necessary Tension. He also landed a gig teaching jazz piano at The University of Houston. In spite of his success, he was restless to explore the challenges of the East Coast. So a week after the 9/11 disaster, he relocated to New York City.
Robert now lives in Bushwick, a warehouse-rich Brooklyn neighborhood with his girlfriend and fellow musician April Koester. Hailing from Florida and a graduate of the University of Miami, April is a fiercely intelligent and varied individual. They make music together, of course, but it's the way in which they go about it that's interesting. Whenever they can, April and Robert roam the city with a Minidisk recorder taking sonic snapshots of the things they encounter, much like one would do with a camera. April takes these city sound samples and reengineers them on her bank of computers, turning the most unassuming noise into a funky backbeat. She's also a drummer and a jazz vocalist, talents she applies in equal part to their soundscapes. Robert then adds keyboard textures to April's found-sound grooves, ranging from eerie effects to full-out jazz piano overlays. He even adds vocal parts. Together they have created a hybrid blend of laptops and jazz that manifests itself as the group "IWE" (pronounced I-We).
Last night I went to hear IWE perform in the East Village. For those unfamiliar with this funky neighborhood, imagine a small, dimly lit bar on a street where dimly lit bars dominate the landscape. Now imagine two musicians pushed against a back wall, pinned between a bar and a window. On a TV tray, sits a Titanium PowerBook, manned by April, who is pointing and clicking grooves into submission. By her side, Robert hunches over a pair of old Roland keyboards. Perhaps because their music seems to be at odds with their unassuming presence, many of the bar's patrons don't realize that the Robert and April are a live band. "Wait, is that THEM playing?", asks a woman perched at the bar 30 minutes into their set! Plugged into the house PA, IWE sounds like a record. April's exotic grooves are as fresh as anything you might pick up in the Electronica racks at your local record store. Meanwhile, this one-time classical prodigy is comfortably and convincing ripping out long, flowing jazz lines, many of which make me go "Daammmnnn....". It's jazz electronica, something we could possibly hear more about if IWE gets noticed.
For more info, check out their web site at
- Jazz Houston


Transit of Venus


Feeling a bit camera shy


CIVIC, a duo based in East Williamsburg Brooklyn, has collaborated on rock, jazz and art projects, accumulating an abundance of recorded audio along the way. Cutting up and processing samples from these and other sources including field recordings, found sounds and sonances coaxed from everyday objects--ranging from glass and snow to furniture and malfunctioning stereo components--they create rich, organic soundscapes. They combine these slow-moving oceans of sound and angular bursts of sonic wreckage with live processing, analog electronics and improvisation. CIVIC reflects the vibrancy of the city as well as the desolate factory district where they live and work, with its big sky and faded colors where it seems everything lost shows up found in its endless alleys.