Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places for Richard Hugo)

Wayne Horvitz


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Original Recording Format: PCM 96 kHz
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Composer-pianist Wayne Horvitz leads his Gravitas Quartet (“Way Out East”) and Sweeter Than The Day ensembles on a musical journey through the poetic soul of America mid-20th century.
– Mark Werlin

For Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places for Richard Hugo), supported by San Francisco’s Shifting Foundation, Wayne Horvitz brought together the members of two of his most successful groups, Sweeter Than the Day and the Gravitas Quartet, to pay tribute to Pacific Northwest poet Richard Hugo (1923-1982). Horvitz has often set texts to music, but in this case he wanted to create instrumental music that reflected Hugo’s poems. (In performance, each poem is read aloud following the piece of music named after it.)

Researching Hugo, Wayne and his daughter Nica Horvitz took a two-week road trip into Montana to see towns and other places he’d written about. Lois Welch, a close friend of Hugo’s, “arranged for us to stay in the cabin where Hugo spent a lot of time in the last decade of his life, which was incredible. Very spare, with no running water and heated by wood. It did have electricity, and it was amusing to note that all the beds, cots really, with sleeping bags and old blankets, were crammed into two tiny rooms, and were not exactly comfortable, but they all had reading lamps. This was a gang that liked to eat and drink and hike and lay in the sun and also clearly loved to read.” Nica’s photographs in the booklet provide a visual analogue to the words and music.

As for the music, Wayne relates: “I had been thinking about putting these two bands together for a while. Gravitas provides such a variety of texture and color and personal improvisational language. Sweeter Than the Day has just become such a great band; we have learned to play as a single organism. These are just some of my favorite musicians on the planet…The music is fairly structured, and in ways that are not typical of me. I think that was a result of the poems. These are really instrumental songs, more than vehicles for improvisation and ensemble playing, although those elements certainly occur…Hugo’s poems are inherently musical because of the way they sound, the way they read, and the way they are structured. Some composers, and poets, and novelists, work very methodically, in that they start with a complete structure, then an outline, then a complete draft, and so on. I believe Hugo, like some novelists I know, and certainly some composers, including myself, was inclined to begin somewhere and see where it led him. But I also am sure that his poems were drafted, revised, re-considered, and carefully crafted.”

Over the years Hugo crisscrossed the Northwest, searching out new places and experiences that would trigger a poetic response, and he listened to the radio as he drove. From Bill Haley to Mozart, Benny Goodman, Brahms and Ellington, “music was, clearly, a visceral pleasure for him…I find compelling his obvious reverence for music as a kind of gold standard when it comes to discerning the importance of the conscious and the intuitive; how much of each, how they interact with each other.” Horvitz, who has himself “hitchhiked and backpacked and driven around this part of the world my whole life”, also notes Hugo’s appetite for life: “He celebrates its grandeur without sentimentality. Yet he seems to not be baffled in the least by its transience. Having grown up in the culture of the 60s, I am always fascinated by the part of that generation that didn’t buy into ‘The Greatest Generation’ mystique, the one of miracle drugs and progressive capitalism and assumed endless upward mobility – the writers and poets and painters and musicians that were the precursors to the giant sea change that happened in the 60s. Obviously artists like Kerouac and Ginsberg and Pollock and Cunningham, and of course Cecil Taylor, Mingus, Coltrane. It is a sort of psychological no man’s land. It’s so much easier now to identify as an artist, to maintain progressive ideas about gender and class and race, to worship the individual. To me this era is analogous to America in the late 1800s – modernization and industrialization standing side by side with what remained of the plains Indians and the last of the frontier. The opera house that was built in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the city to arrive.”

Wayne Horvitz, piano, Hammond B-3, electronics
Ron Miles, cornet
Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon
Peggy Lee, cello
Tim Young, guitar
Keith Lowe, bass
Eric Eagle, drums


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Money or a story (The Milltown Union Bar)
those who remain are the worst (Three Stops to Ten Sleep)
you drink until you are mayor (Dixon)
Nothing dies as slowly as a scene (Death of the Kapowsin Tavern)
all weather is yours no matter how vulgar? (Fairfield)
the beautiful wives (Missoula Softball Tournament)
for Jim and Lois Welch (Cataldo Mission)
in some other home (The Only Bar in Dixon)
The car that brought you here still runs (Degrees of Gray In Philipsburg)
last place there (for Richard Hugo)
You must have stayed hours (Driving Montana)
Some places are forever afternoon (West Marginal Way)

Total time: 00:58:08

Additional information





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Audio Engineer

Floyd Reitsma


Mastered by Graemme Brown at Zen Mastering


Mixed in analogue to 24/96 by Floyd Reitsma and Wayne Horvitz at Studio Litho


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Original Recording Format

Recording Location

Recorded (24/96) at Studio Litho, Seattle, January 6-9, 2015.

Release DateMarch 1, 2024

Press reviews

New York Times

Hugo was a plain-spoken writer who compressed great emotional weight into language at once casual and exacting. Mr. Horvitz comes to the table with a similar feeling for the American vernacular, drawing from Muddy Waters, Charles Ives and one of his peers, the jazz guitarist Bill Frisell….Mr. Horvitz was wise not to incorporate a vocalist on the album, instead creating compact soundtracks for the scenes that Hugo so evocatively sketched. The earthy nobility of this music could easily stand on its own, with no poetic corollary. But that sells something short — the way, for instance, that the sad, sweet air of the title track complements a poem called “West Marginal Way,” with its image of a tugboat straining upriver, “and the saw mill/bombing air with optimistic sparks.


The album provides a balance of order and feeling, performed in the spirit of a chamber music group…and moods that range from quiet and solemn to quirky and bluesy….”The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs,” the album’s centerpiece, is classic Horvitz storytelling, complete with pauses and interludes, unison lines and haunting melodies.

Bird is the Worm

…a masterpiece of Horvitz’s unique expression of cinematic jazz-chamber-folk… highly lyrical, deeply melodic music that inspires imagery of full-moon nights over dark alleys, warm beams of sunlight cast through the gaping holes of abandoned industrial complexes, and a curious tranquility that radiates a reverential tone and an ambiance tailored for paradise.


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