Eastman, Julius: Stay On It LP

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In 1973, Stay On It turned the coordinates of avant-garde music on its head. It is minimal, but un-ashamedly groovy; it is open to improvisation, grants performers all the freedom they could need, but it isn't jazz and never slips into the non-committal. It is open to theatrical and performative elements, but also to poetic-lyrical ones. Cut to 1981. Julius Eastman releases The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc. Where has the lightness gone? The relationship to pop music? The love for the musicians who have to develop the piece during its performance? It sounds like heavy metal: forceful, dark, urgent, sawing -- and then plaintive, heartbreaking.

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