Tony Gnazzo's concert at 1750 Arch, entitled PEANUT BUTTER & MARSHMALLOW PIZZA (further adventures of the late A. J. Gnazzo) was a mixture of various levels of juxtaposition, reflections on art and music, and, above all humor.
Tony is a master of juxtaposition. He superimposes visual images on sounds to create delightfully absurd pieces, like "Music for Cello and Tape, No. 2" in which the performer remains silent with poised bow while one hears a tape of someone's voice, not necessarily that of the performer, discussing her feelings about the cello, music, performance, Etc. "The Gain is Well Worth the Price" is a sequence of images (slides of every imaginable category) with words which complete the sentence,"Art is.." His juxtapositions of word and image worked well with his temporal juxtapositions, including a gamut of tableaux from such prosaices as "structure" (an arrangement of concrete pipes) and "repetition" (Blue Boy shown unexpectedly twice) to more elevated subject matter such as "absolutely right" (a very hokey-looking family waving from the dinner table) and "precise definition" ( an out-of-focus girl on a hill). I felt this was the major piece on the program. Each combination was just right, either in its humor or its artistic truth, which are probably equivalent for Tony. In any case it left me amused and reflective.
Most of the pieces involved tape recording of voices, records or electronic events; and his impeccable recording technique, which has now become a sine qua non for him, can be considered a distinctive feature of his compositional style. The voice tapes are marred only by occasional slight overloads on the plosives. However, these overloads or slight popping sounds may not necessarily be considered faults as they have the effect of intensifying the whole experience of recording and listening (subTLE) DIstortIONs). They reminded me of the scene in A Clockwork Orange which involved one's eyes being forced open seeing until it hurts.
But Tony's music never assaults. It is always gentle and tasteful, but increasingly assertive. He is one of the chief spokesmen for the kind of thinking that identifies life with art --- a true concept artist.
nearly every piece on the concert had a "message", referring to aspects of life we all know but tend to ignore, or to music itself, sometimes using minimal and/or banal contents. The final tape piece ("Listening", --- his self-proclaimed Warhol piece --- consisted of the major and minor scales played on the organ and identified in slow, tedious succession. I walked out on it when I thought I perceived a pattern. C G F A E flat... In spite of its untouchable starkness, I think he used this tape more effectively in conjunction with his interview tapes in his Nanny Goat Hill concert last year.
This program, incidentally, was set to the form of the Roman Catholic Mass; the individual pieces taking the place of the various parts of the Mass. I didn't quite catch the symbolic value of this unless it be simply another juxtaposition (of the metaphysical with the concrete) or a reference to his own past.
The last juxtaposition that occurs to me is truly a juxtaposition of the opposites. In the midst of this elaborate theatrical presentation, which included performers in formal attire, appears Tony Gnazzo in denim work shirt humbly reading his sound poetry ("The Gospel Accordingly"), which was nice. Shades of the romantic.
I came away from the concert elated and appreciative, like I wanted to steal his ideas. New Arts lovers of the bay area should consider themselves fortunate in having Tony Gnazzo as an active resident composer. He works with great technical polish, is possessed of perceptive and cutting social insight , and has a deep awareness of the state of contemporary arts. Jan Pusina
Typed by Barb Nov 1 94