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Waves and Particles

Waves and Particles is a shimmery, beautiful, and virtuosic string quartet. In six movements—particle dust, spectral waves, velocity waves, triadic waves, murmurs in a chromatic field, and particles rising—it is alternately full and vigorous and quiet and spare. Performed by the incredible, illustrious JACK Quartet.

This is Cold Blue Music’s third album of John Luther Adams’s string quartets performed by the JACK Quartet. Waves and Particles was co-commissioned by Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Summer Stages Dance at The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Liz Gerring Dance Company. Premiered by JACK Quartet at Black Mountain College, November 2021.

"An important album of shimmering beauty, complexity and ambition, confirming John Luther Adams as a hugely important composer, successfully pushing boundaries and creating new territory for deep listening." — Simon Duff, Morning Star

“Newly out is a premiere recording of Waves and Particles, Adams’s mesmerising 2021 string quartet. The JACK Quartet do astonishing things with this work, which is apparently based on subatomic analysis, but you don’t need to know anything about that to enjoy — or at least succumb to — its juddering collisions, icy interludes and, in the end, intoxicating pulse. ” Neil Fisher, The Sunday Times

John Luther Adams is a Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning composer who lived for many years in Alaska, where his work derived much of its unique character from the landscape and weather of the Great North. Some years ago, he moved from Alaska, living in various desert and mountain areas in South and Central America—places that also inspired and found expression in his music. He currently resides in rural New Mexico. He is a long-time associate of the Cold Blue label; his music has appeared on nine previous Cold Blue CDs, including Darkness and Scattered LightHouses of the WindArctic DreamsEverything That Rises, and the Grammy-nominated Lines Made by Walking.

“John Luther Adams . . . one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“His music becomes more than a metaphor for natural forces: it is an elemental experience in its own right.” —Tom Service, The Guardian

“His music perfectly echoes the landscape he loves: impersonal, relentless, larger than human scale, yet gorgeous, a quiet chaos of colors, suffused with light.” —Kyle Gann, Chamber Music Magazine

“Adams’s music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to.” —All-Music Guide

“Adams’s music is as hypnotic as it is different.” —MusicWeb Int’l

“Adams’s powerful music finds inspiration, depth of field, and sonic substance in the shapes and textures of the natural world and, most of all, in the composer’s own deep and passionate commitment to the act of listening itself.” —Dusted magazine

“Adams’ manner is that of Thoreau—to be in a place, incorporate it into his memory and values, and recreate that through music. It misses the point to say he is inspired by nature—Adams is changed by nature and his music is a catalogue of the places that changed him. . . . Adams [is] an important and necessary musician for our time.” —New York Classical Review

“Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music.” —Alex Ross, The New Yorker

JACK Quartet has been deemed “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe), “the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment” (The Washington Post), and “a musical vehicle of choice to the next great composers who walk among us” (Toronto Star). The group is focused on the commissioning and performance of new works, leading it to work closely with composers John Luther Adams, Derek Bermel, Chaya Czernowin, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Vijay Iyer, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, George Lewis, Steve Mackey, Matthias Pintscher, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, Wolfgang Rihm, Salvatore Sciarrino, Julia Wolfe, John Zorn, and many others. JACK has recorded three earlier albums of Adams’s music for Cold Blue: Lines Made by Walking (CB0058), Everything That Rises(CB0051), and The Wind in High Places(CB0041).

“The string quartet may be a 250-year-old contraption, but young, brilliant groups like the JACK Quartet are keeping it thrillingly vital.”—The Washington Post 

Adams's swelling orchestral work may be the loveliest apocalypse in musical history. - Alex Ross, New Yorker
john luther adams
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