“Wiener-U-Bahn-Kunst” is a lavish, glossy, 294 page, 9″ X 12″ German language hardcover book (with an accompanying DVD) chronicling the history of Vienna’s subway system, and its interface with commissioned visual arts projects over the last two decades. As the Reform Art Unit (founded in 1965), and its offshoot Reform Art Orchestra have periodically presented their music in the subway, they were invited to add a musical component to the project. Recording sessions focusing on sub-groupings of the Orchestra  took place in 2009 and 2010, and make up the material featured on the two CDs. To reiterate something stated in an earlier post, I am deeply grateful to RAU spiritus rector Fritz Novotny (et. al.) for his efforts in making my trip to Vienna for the 2010 recording session (and subsequent concert that evening at the Porgy & Bess club) possible. The club, by the way, is very similar in appearance to Minneapolis’ Dakota. And while there is certainly an overlap in programming orientation, Porgy & Bess, to their credit, and unlike the Dakota,  periodically programs music out of the money-making, audience-stroking mainstream and/or pop jazz category. (Perhaps ironically, it’s worth noting that the place was packed for the aforementioned Reform Art Orchestra concert. Imagine that. A full house for a locally-based avant grade group.) That a marginalized group like the RAU/RAO is not only periodically afforded the opportunity to present its work in an established jazz club, but also to be an integral part of this subway project is as much deserved as it might be considered a wonderful aberration.

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