Maverick Mixtapes: Son Lux

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For Maverick Mixtapes, we asked musicians from different musical backgrounds to curate an hour of music that they deemed best fit the ideal of an "American Maverick." Today's featured musician is composer and electronic musician Ryan Lott, a.k.a. Son Lux.

"Father of free jazz, Ornette Coleman abandoned all the significant, hard-won traditions of the jazz idiom, embracing aleatory completely. In addition to calling upon all sorts of modified and "non-classical" instruments, George Crumb often generated non-traditional scores. They are sometimes circular or take on a spiraling shape. I've always found notation fails to convey fundamental aspects of music, and I admire that he found a way to make pliable what had always been so rigid.

"Jazz, insofar as it incorporates improvisation, is inherently risk-taking. Miles Davis's Kind of Blue was a sudden and suddenly-skilled shift to modality. And if the story behind its creation is true, it's a prime example of musical risk-taking. When it works, it can be transcendent. 

"Harry Partch bucked the math behind familiar western harmony and pitch, starting from scratch with instruments of his own making. Charles Ives managed to buck and embrace everything at once.

"The moment I first heard Vijay Iyer's music, which was recently, I was struck still because of it's immediate uniqueness. He's a pianist, and his approach to the instrument, from a performative standpoint, sounds fresh. Like, the WAY he plays. Hard to explain. And his compositions abandon so much of what is assumed in jazz, especially rhythmically. But it's still jazz. I can't help but love that.

"While obviously part of a minimalist tradition begun earlier, Steve Reich managed to draw in influences from outside the western world that turned it on its head. And his concept of phasing is still completely audacious in my opinion. And it's hard to imagine, in today's musical universe, what it must have felt like to hear, let alone conceive, Terry Riley's early works (beginning with In C). Our everyday-ears are trained by those whom he influenced and influences, so it's impossible to imagine.

"Frank Zappa's music is weird for me. I mostly hate it with my ears, but my mind is constantly intrigued. How does he manage to embrace so many styles and concepts and remain always sounding like himself? He leans strongly into familiar musical territory, while at every moment disobeying, even mocking its conventions. Art Tatum: Just listen to Art Tatum. What?!?" -Ryan Lott


Steve Reich - Music for Pieces of Wood
Art Tatum - Yesterdays
Frank Zappa - The Beltway Bandits
Ornette Coleman - Folk Tale
George Crumb - God-music
Miles Davis - So What
Charles Ives - Three Page Sonata
Vijay Iyer - One for Blount
Harry Partch - San Francisco
Terry Riley - Rainbow in Curved Air