Duo Noire, Classical Guitar Duo Press:
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, Guitarists Duo Noire get 'a little weird' at Ethical Society concert
It’s always a special pleasure to have Duo Noire back in town, and Saturday night at the Ethical Society was no exception. Classical guitarists Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett created a relaxed, informal atmosphere as they presented an eclectic program that included two world premières...With its incredibly transparent and lightly textured delivery, spectacular precision, delightful commentary, and a wide range of guitar techniques, Duo Noire produced another engaging and profoundly enjoyable program. After all its applause, the audience was rewarded with an elegant version of “The St. Louis Blues” which, like Piazzolla’s tango, was all dressed up for the concert hall.
STEREOPHILE: An Enlightening Debut from Duo Noire by Jason Victor Serinus
"Duo Noire's debut recording for New Focus Recordings, Night Triptych, covers so many bases, and speaks so clearly to contemporary realities, that it immediately qualifies for several gold stars. But once you hear the sheer musicality of its premiere recordings of six new works for duo guitar, and how wonderfully they are played, you may be tempted to award the album several more...the depth, variety, and range of colors is astounding....There's a goldmine of ideas and feelings here, whose riches will unveil themselves more and more over time."
THE ARTS FUSE- Night Triptych Album Review
“Its first strengths rest precisely where they should: in the music and the sheer excellence of the performances that catch the ear and don’t let it go…Mallett and Flippin play the whole program with terrific panache. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine more engaged or sympathetic performances of any of these pieces and the guitarists’ command of the varied stylistic demands between all six is faultless. An important disc, sure, but, even more, an inviting one that takes you to some fresh places well worth experiencing.”
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Review- Terrific premiere recordings of new music for two guitars. (October 2018)
“The music really is terrific: original, colourful, exciting and taking advantage of everything two guitars have to offer in the way of technique, tone and timbre. It helps that the music also has such talented advocates, who embrace opportunities to improvise and embellish with style and gusto…[a] marvelous recital.”
TEXTURA, Night Triptych Album Review - July 2018
"As laudable as the project is for presenting works by female composers, it would be less of an accomplishment were its contents of only middling value, but that's hardly the case: the pieces are a varied lot that speak highly on behalf of their creators, and it doesn't hurt that the musicians bringing the material to life are Flippin and Mallett, virtuosos who invest their performances with energy and conviction. To claim that the two break new ground in the world of classical guitar music on the hour-long release isn't overselling it: deploying everything from stabs and strums to trills and taps, the guitarists consistently extend the acoustic instrument into adventurous territory without sacrificing musicality in the process."
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, Duo Noire Presents Newly Commissioned Works on Night Triptych
"Thanks to delving into this refreshing and musically diverse offering from Duo Noire...listeners will expand their understanding of the kinds of sounds that may be drawn from this beautiful instrument. And not only that–the Duo achieves their sonic explorations with an impeccable sense of ensemble and easy musicianship that sounds like they’ve been playing together for decades. The disc is a delight...an imaginative world full of one new acoustic discovery after another. Duo Noire transitions between extended and standard techniques with virtuosic ease, using their athletic and beautifully focused sound to project musicianship in perfect ensemble."
ALL MUSIC REVIEW: Night Triptych
"You might not expect much...and you would be making a major error...All-contemporary programs of guitar music are not common, and this may be the first to feature exclusively female composers. All the works were commissioned by Duo Noire, and they're a varied group...All these works include extended techniques (sample the second movement, "Shamans," of the Assad work, where a spoon is used to produce eerie guitar overtones), and the duo handles a large variety of technical demands well. Another star of the show is producer William Coulter, a guitarist himself, whose crystal clear, close-up guitar sound is absolutely exemplary. A TRULY PATHBREAKING RECORDING THAT IS GREATLY SATISFYING IN ITS OWN RIGHT."
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, Where Classical Guitar Meets Minimalism
"Figments, composed by Raymond Lustig and performed by the virtuosic pair, Duo Noire (Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett) is a unique and entrancing album that exists at the unusual intersection of minimalism and impressive classical guitar technique...The technique in this piece, with the rapid scale passages, sounds ripped from a Rodrigo y Gabriela album, and all the talent to execute the challenging passages with it. Flippin and Mallett definitely don’t disappoint...The impressive technique displayed by Duo Noire is perfectly suited to Lustig's delicious compositions, and you wouldn't regret getting a hold of this; if you like acoustic guitar, bluegrass, minimalism, blues -or music at all- you'll definitely enjoy this excellently produced and mastered album."
NEW MUSIC BUFF: Duo Noire, Guitar Duo Revisioned by Allan J. Cronin 8-10-2018
"...This duo seems to have a unique sound and are clearly schooled in their instruments to the point that they even seem to be expanding the very possibilities of a guitar duo...It appears to be a landmark release for identifying new composers contributing to the guitar...Above all this is an intelligent album...you have a glorious celebration of gender/cultural diversity as well as some mind blowing compositional efforts ably handled by these visionary musicians. It is admittedly unusual (though clearly not risky) to program compositions by all women composers. This is a wonderful collection with performances that are incisive and intriguing enough to leave their listeners wanting more. This is a group to watch/listen to."
AN EARFUL: Night Triptych Album Review-
This [is a] brilliant album…[they] expand the repertoire for two guitars in marvelous ways…the works both transcend and exemplify the characteristics of the instruments…this wouldn’t work without the Duo’s phenomenal technique…Gabriella Smith fill[s] out the collection, which is a delight throughout. When ideology intersects with music it only advances the cause of both when the results are as compulsively listenable as what Duo Noire has put forth on Night Triptych. The album, out now on New Focus Recordings, is a complete success on all counts.”
SOUNDBOARD MAGAZINE Vol.44 No.4 December 2018
”This music is excellent…[Duo Noire] have done us all a great service…Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett are fantastic players and their duo is a treasure for our guitar community.” - Al Kunze
Duo Noire, Night Triptych Album Review:
"Duo Noire, aka Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett are talented exponents of the contemporary classical guitar, with technique to spare and an interpretive acumen that serves them well in bringing to us the subtleties and sonic pleasures of each composition in the program...The result is a sort of state-of-the-art view of what we can understand and appreciate today...It is thoroughgoing, most musical in design...It is not music to upset the applecart of assumptions in the contemporary music spheres. It does not need to do that because one gets something of lasting worth not just a shock blast of newness! I most definitely recommend this to any with an interest in New Music for guitar. Bravo!" 7-26-18
GUITAR FOUNDATION OF AMERICA - SOUNDBOARD MAGAZINE:
"Figments is a substantial piece over half an hour in length...At times the effect is similar to the early minimalism of pulse-pattern works, but fragmenting much sooner than the music of Philip Glass or Steve Reich & Terry Riley...captured in crystalline sound...both composer Lustig and Duo Noire are to be congratulated for their work. I look forward to hearing more from them."
St. Louis American: St. Louis Classical Guitar Society Welcomes Duo Noire to Town
"In the ten years since classical guitarists Thomas Flippin and Chris Mallett formed Duo Noire, they have become trailblazers."
ACOUSTIC GUITAR MAGAZINE: GUITARS FOR GOOD
Needy schools benefit from nonprofits bringing guitars into the classroom...The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society didn't get involved in the Ferguson protests, but took the message of those signs to heart nonetheless...[and] instituted the Ferguson Guitar Initiative...Students of Johnson Wabash Elementary School in Ferguson Missouri pose with Artists-in-residence Thomas Flippin and Chris Mallett of Duo Noire.
"A groundbreaking record...Heady stuff that opens the ears in fine style."
Midwest Record Review: Night Triptych - -5/23/18.
"What a pleasure it was having Duo Noire on our series. Not only was their musicianship brilliant , but also the diversity of their programming was exceptional. The two provided delightful on-stage commentaries, adding tremendously to our audience's appreciation of each selection. How gratifying it is to see young artists so devoted to their craft."
-Music Programming Director, Placitas Artists Series
"Thomas Flippin and Chris Mallett of Duo Noire are the kind of teaching artists that the guitar world desperately needs now. They’re both fantastic recitalists and teaching artists, equally loved by students and community audiences alike. Reach out to them—they belong on your next series!"
-Wiliiam Ash, Executive Director of the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society
"Duo Noire were impeccable...charming musicians performing gorgeous, slow-blooming, stereophonic.guitar music. Everybody fell in love with them."
Conrad WIndslow, Juilliard composer
"Duo Noire bring a creative artist's vitality to all the music they perform, as if the music were being written before your very eyes."
-Ray Lustig, Juilliard Composition Faculty
Flippin as Banjoist in The Black Clown, and Voodoo, Theater Productions:
WALL STREET JOURNAL: ‘The Black Clown’ Review: Performing Race:
“The energy and sheer talent of the show are irresistible. The music, accompanied by a brassy dance band led by Jaret Landon, and drawing on blues, soul, jazz, gospel and other historically African-American genres, is vigorous and catchy;”
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Pure poetry from ART’s ‘The Black Clown’
“Tines plays the titular character, surrounded by an exceptional all-black ensemble…music and dancing that paid loving tribute to myriad black art forms and traditions. Schachter’s score follows Hughes’s directions in mood, drawing influence from New Orleans brass bands, jazz, swing, soul, gospel, blues, and the field hollers from which the blues sprouted…High kicks and harmonies alike were tight and on point.”
THE NEW YORKER: The Black Clown” Beautifully Reconfigures a Langston Hughes Poem
“In the course of the seventy-minute show, Schachter’s score tracks the changing tones of the poem’s stanzas, likewise shifting in tempo and style. The numbers—performed by an eleven-piece band, inspired by the kind that one would see in a nineteen-thirties dance hall—jump from the blues to minstrel-performance music, from spirituals to military marches, and from gospel to sixties- and seventies-style R. & B. and funk, with [Flippin’s] a twanging banjo and thumping drum, keyboards, and electric bass.”
“The Black Clown” features jubilant dance numbers fueled by a hot combo playing as if they sat on the Cotton Club bandstand in 1935.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES: Langston Hughes Sings in ‘The Black Clown’
“Featuring a vocal ensemble of 13 and a Cab Calloway-style dance orchestra, the 70-minute show deftly evokes the brassy vitality of a 1920s speakeasy, the relentless rhythms of the cotton fields and the congregational fervor of a Southern Baptist religious service.”
THE NEW CRITERION: A show based on a poem:
In The Black Clown—the show, I mean—there is wonderful music…Davóne Tines is the star of the show, and, last night, he performed in star-like fashion. But The Black Clown is very much an ensemble show. Moreover, each member of the ensemble has a star-like turn. There was not a weak link in the bunch. Don’t forget the orchestra—which, under Jaret Landon, was spiffy.”
THE HARVARD CRIMSON: The Black Clown’: A Rich Legacy of Jazz and Blues
“Of course, the show’s music is its true star. Schachter does an excellent job of bringing to life traditionally black forms of music in a kind of progression…with New Orleans jazz eventually blending into gospel and blues seamlessly. The orchestra stuns with their energetic playing, driving the performance forward.”
BROADWAY WORLD REVIEW: THE BLACK CLOWN at Mostly Mozart Festival
“An eclectic mix of music is heard, mainly soul, gospel, Black choral, and spiritual. Various verses of the poem, which is lengthy, are brought to life by the extremely talented performers…Special mention to the orchestra which played flawlessly.”
THE GUARDIAN, Voodoo review – a lost Harlem Renaissance opera soars
"Underneath that late-Romantic two-part vocal harmony, Freeman’s orchestra featured bluesy scales, gorgeously shaped on this night by the Harlem Chamber Players’ strings. Eventually, the stylistic threads converged...Throughout the night, this dynamic delivered one surprise after the next – as when [Flippin's] banjo plucked its way to a greater prominence in the orchestra, or when the rhythmic phrasing of a vocal line would close off with a subtle nod in the direction of American swing. This exquisite ambiguity mirrored the tensions at the core of the opera’s narrative..."
THE NEW YORK TIMES: 'Voodoo,’ by H. Lawrence Freeman, Has First Staging since 1928.
"Years in the making, this “Voodoo,” a collaboration among the Morningside company, Harlem Opera Theater and the Harlem Chamber Players, conducted by Gregory Hopkins, is the fruit of much labor and love...And passages of the score, an intriguing if overcautious mixture of traditionally operatic and folk styles, are lovely: [Flippin's] banjo’s plangent astringency and the saxophone’s croon cut effectively through the textures of a standard orchestra."
PARTERRE BOX, That Sly Come Hither Stare (Voodoo Opera Review)
"This group was short on strings and heavy on brass, but individual touches made their effect. Melodies from [Flippin's] banjo (sometimes as continuo, sometimes as local color) were echoed by harp, as if caught by a breeze in the willows."
Collaborations with Alicia Hall Moran & Jason Moran:
ARTFORUM INTERNATIONAL: Northern Soul
"It was just this kind of phenomenal experience- of solace and sublimity, communion and catharsis- that Alicia Hall Moran conjured into being for an intimate crowd in February at Cambridge's Regattabar...Accompanied by an equally brilliant and worldy ensemble- operatic baritone Steven Herring, guitarist Thomas Flippin, bassist Tarus Mateen, taiko drummer Kaoru Watanabe, and Hall Moran's husband, jazz musician Jason Moran." - Huey Copeland (May 2011)
DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE - Q&A with Alicia Hall Moran: Adding to a Daring Catalog
"Your collaborators on this album, like with guitarist Thomas Flippin and the band Harriet Tubman, are impressive." - Robert Ham (January 4, 2018).
THE OKLAHOMAN: CONCERT REVIEW
"Mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, jazz pianist Jason Moran, and classical guitarist Thomas Flippin, of New York, performed jazz, classical and spiritual numbers...at the conclusion of his wife's vocal numbers, Jason Moran...delighted the audience by playing Fats Waller's version of "The Sheik of Araby." Flippin followed by mimicking several instruments on his guitar as he offered an amazing version of 'The Prince's Toys' by Nikita Koshkin." -June 10, 2018 by Kimberly Burk.
THE NEW YORK TIMES: Heavy Blue Review
"[Alicia Hall Moran's] debut album, “Heavy Blue,” runs less than 40 minutes but covers some ground, moving with purpose through an African-American spiritual, a Duke Ellington overture, a Renaissance lute song and a few emotionally potent originals...she understands what a bit of ragged intensity can do and she seeks out provocative partners."
SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN: All that Jazz: Alicia Hall Moran Black Wall Street Review:
"Her performance Monday at SITE Santa Fe was an explosion of personality and talent — the great surprise of the New Mexico Jazz Festival...Monday’s performance was unpredictable, unfiltered, a little unruly and, in the end, powerfully generous and uplifting. Hall Moran’s band — with pianist and husband Jason Moran, and guitarists Brandon Ross and Thomas Flippin — concocted a mood of deep blues and Duke Ellington, in a 21st-century way. They seemed to float in space around the singer’s person and voice, the soft moans of the guitars hanging in the air like trails of smoke." -Richard Scheinin Aug 3, 2018
JAZZTIMES, Alicia Hall Moran: Deliberate and Natural
"On Friday, June 21, at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom, Hall Moran reprised her critically acclaimed motown project, a surreal reimagining of classical, soul and pop music that laid Mozart and Marvin Gaye side by side over the strange brew of husband Jason Moran on Fender Rhodes, Tarus Mateen on electric bass, Kaoru Watanabe on the ancient Japanese taiko drums and bamboo flute, Thomas Flippin on guitar and theorbo (a towering, largely outmoded lute) and the baritone Steven Herring. It should have been a sendup. Instead, the result was a kind of musical decanting...making dust-covered arias sweat and steam..."
ALL ABOUT JAZZ: 5-Star Review of Alicia Hall Moran's "Here Today" (December 26, 2017)
"The contributions of Moran's accompanists are as potent as they are sparse. A string trio (violinist, Chala Yancy, violist Lorenzo Rundo, and cellist Francesco Parente), a jazz trio (guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer JT Lewis), guitarist Thomas Flippin, along with husband Jason Moran and the leader herself on piano, are the inhale to her exhale." -Tyran Grillo
THE NEW YORK TIMES: Art, Ancestry, Africa: Letting It All Bleed.
“Bleed” was neither about jazz nor about opera, per se, though it contained some of both, and much else: film, video, dance, poetry, lecture, diary, journalism and alternative medicine. It offered 26 performances, including Ms. Moran singing operatic arrangements of Motown songs backed by harp, piano, [Flippin’ classical] guitar and percussion...“Bleed” was pretty extraordinary in breadth, depth, planning and execution.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ: 5-Star Review of Alicia Hall Moran's "Heavy Blue" (October 20. 2015)
"the acoustic guitar of Thomas Flippin grounds a transformed "Flow My Tears," in which we feel the evergreen pulse of its composer, John Dowland, but awaken to the lucidity of operatic diction and lyrics flown in from Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin.'" This shift finds new parallels in the unceasing love song to haunting effect." -Tyran Grillo
"transitions so artistically created, thanks to the subtle magic of Thomas Flippin's classic guitar."
-Destination Chelsea, Friday Night in The Kitchen.
"...It was clear that he is an excellent performer and guitarist...This is a guitarist who I am certain will do remarkable work in his field."
-Benjamin Verdery (2007), Prof. of Guitar at Yale University.
CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE: Review of Something New album
"The opening Casseus trilogy is great stuff....these indeed, are three little gems...The Brouwer pairing is always a winner...tuneful and warmly evocative music [that is] beautifully played here...The Mompou...remains one of the 20th Century's most beautiful and original guitar works [and] Flippin does it full justice...With Flippin's own pieces...there are many beautiful moments...A fine recital with some attractively performed and recorded music."
"His performance was outstanding - skillful technique, beautiful repertoire, & sensitive interpretation."
-Gloria Collins, Presenter, Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia
CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE: LETTER FROM NEW YORK
Feature story about Flippin and the guitar and working towards increasing the representation of underrepresented voices in the field.
"An amazing job! Flippin was very professional and really understood the nature of the series. His playing is musically compelling and precise, with good stage presence and great contact with his audience. I look forward to the next time."
-Marija Ilic, Artistic Director of the OSilas Series
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MAGAZINE:
"I’ve spent more than a few hours back in Chicago listening to the videos on Thomas’s website. Who knew guitar could sound this glorious?"
"an extraordinary performer...they loved him."
-Patricia Fahy, VP, Windsor Art Center.
CLASSICAL GUITAR INSIDER Podcast with Bret Williams. Discussing the state of guitar as well as race, gender, and class dynamics in the field.