This modular, site-specific work was designed around and recorded at historic Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington. The piece is grounded by an electronic score and comprised of 110 fragments: 55 composed short motifs for chamber music and 55 pieces from various invited improvisers. As a whole, they highlight the unique visual and acoustic elements of the Fort’s architecture, from its concrete bunkers to the massive cistern. The space itself shaped the piece from foundation to performance. 55 is a collaboration of composer Wayne Horvitz, Yukio Suzuki (choreography and dance), Yohei Saito (video artist) and Tucker Martine (producer/ engineer).

55: Music and Dance in Concrete's website. Purchase.


As of May 13th The Westerlies officially released their debut album Wish The Children Would Come On Home and is now available for purchase. The album highlights 11 of Wayne Horvitz’s compositions, beautifully re-imagined by the Westerlies featuring Willem de Koch (trombone), Andy Clausen (trombone), Zubin Hensler (trumpet) and Riley Mulherkar (trumpet).

In early 2013 The Westerlies were approached by their Seattle-based teacher, friend, and mentor, Wayne Horvitz, to create a record of his music. They wholeheartedly agreed; all four of them were already very familiar with his body of work and had played in a number of his ensembles. After exploring his prolific output of the past thirty years, they selected a range of jazz tunes, film music, and classical chamber pieces, and chose to record them on location during their annual summer residency in the San Juan Islands of Washington.
The album is available for download on iTunes.


“One of the more remarkable albums to cross my path this spring....an impressive feat from almost any angle...Take note of these players. You’ll be hearing more from them soon.” - Nate Chinen, JazzTimes

Wish The Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz means that the Westerlies have arrived and are facing a bright future.” John Garratt, PopMatters

Wish The Children Would Come On Home is a lot of things, but first and foremost it should be noted that it is just a lovely listen. It is that rare combination of approachable and unusual that can challenge listeners who want to be challenged and entertain those who don’t.” - Kurt Gottschalk, NYC Jazz Record

“The Westerlies capture the alien warmth and touching soulfulness inherent in so much of Horvitz’s music, of a soundtrack orphaned from the movie conceived in dream and never put to film…An added bonus are the four improvisatory tracks, for which Wayne Horvitz himself performs on. Just a beautiful album. Highly Recommended.” Dave Sumner, Wondering Sound


The Westerlies are a New York based brass quartet comprised of four friends from Seattle, Washington. Avid explorers of cross-genre territory, The Westerlies are a collectively run ensemble dedicated to the cultivation of a new brass quartet repertoire that exists in the ever-narrowing gap between American folk music, jazz, classical, and indie rock. The Westerlies have premiered over 40 original works for brass quartet since their inception in 2011, and crafted an approach that Dave Douglas had described as “Swinging, grooving, clean and tricky playing. This is the group that, once you’ve heard them, you’ll realize they always needed to exist. Unique, original, exciting. And simply killing in the best sense.” www.WesterliesMusic.com

Commissioned with funding from the Shifting Foundation, the piece is a suite of 11 pieces based on the poems of Richard Hugo. The instrumentation combines two of Horvitz's working ensembles, The Gravitas Quartet and Sweeter Than the Day. Each composition is inspired by a different poem of Hugo's. In its final iteration, the poems will be published in the booklet accompanying the CD. As the suite travels in the Northwest, local readers will read each poem following the performance of the corresponding piece. Many of these readers knew Hugo, and all of them maintain deep connections to the places that inspired the poet.

Richard Hugo was born in White Center, and lived throughout the Northwest before settling in Missoula, Montana. He taught poetry at the University of Montana, and is the inspiration for a plethora of writers of the west, including James and Lois Welch, William Kittredge, Frances McCue and countless others. The Richard Hugo House in Seattle is named in his memory. Hugo passed away in 1982.

Hugo loved to visit the small towns and odd places all through this part of the world, from West Marginal Way to La Push to the Union Bar Grill in rural Montana. He would sit in a cafŽ or bar for hours before he returned home to write. He was a great lover of music, and jazz in particular. It is Hugo's enduring love of music, rambling, and the places of the Northwest that inspired Horvitz's interpretation of his work, which honors and celebrates the poet's legacy.

The members of the ensemble are: Wayne Horvitz-Piano, Ron Miles-Trumpet, Peggy Lee-Cello, Sara Schoenbeck-Bassoon, Timothy Young-Guitar, Keith Lowe-Bass and Eric Eagle-Drums. The tremendous talent in the band is available for workshops accompanying the performances.

In June 2014, Horvitz traveled throughout the Pacific NW to visit a variety of places where Hugo wrote his poetry. Horvitz spent the month of August 2014, at the Sally and Don Lucas Artist Residency at the Montalvo Performing Arts Center, composing the pieces that make up the suite. The pieces include composed and improvisational elements. During the first week of 2015 the piece was rehearsed and recorded in Seattle.

The CD release is scheduled for June 2015 (Songlines) and includes a 26-page booklet with the poems, photos and an essay by the composer. The tour begins in Fall 2015 with stops including Seattle, Eugene, Portland, Helena, Missoula, and more. The tour will end with a free performance in White Center, WA, where Hugo was born and raised.

Follow the project's developments at its blog.

Wayne's club project, The Royal Room is open, and the opening weekend was quite a blowout. Read about it in the Seattle Times article.

With four new releases in 2008, Wayne's CDs have been getting a lot of critical attention. Here are a few examples of recent CD reviews:

Jan P. Dennis, Audiophile Audition
Jennifer Kelly, PopMatters
Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide
Robert Carl, Fanfare

Joe Hill, 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voices and Soloist was released on New World Records on April 1, 2008.  From the liner notes by Paul de Barros:

Perhaps the best way to characterize Wayne Horvitz's Joe Hill: 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voice, and Soloist, based on the life and times of the legendary labor activist and organizer is as a radio play that tells the story of a man's life in words, instrumental music and songs.  Like a song cycle, Joe Hill incorporates much previously-written material (nearly all of it re-harmonized).  There are songs by Hill himself, such as The Rebel Girl and There is Power in the Union, but also by others, including the folk poem The Lumberjack's Prayer, Mississippi John Hurt's Spike Driver's Blues, and an old English street cry, Chairs to Mend.  It also employs spoken word, including Joe Hill's famous Last Will and Testament, plus words used as narration and dramatic dialogue.  But song cycles don't usually include ravishingly beautiful stretches of chamber music, much less a completely open line in the score for an improvising guitarist in this case, the most influential one of our time, Bill Frisell.  This Rubik's cube of jazz, folk, classical and popular music is strikingly elegiac and autumnal in tone, more requiem and lament than celebration or call to action.  This is appropriate to its theme of martyrdom, though there are also many exhilarating, jaunty, and humorous sections.  Apart from classical music and the blues, its' other major influences are what has come to be called Americana, or to be more specific, Appalachian music's nasal vocals, affection for open fifths, ambiguity between major and minor thirds, and the jazzy Broadway writing of Leonard Bernstein, particularly his penchant for rapid time-signature changes.  Horvitz has chosen to tell Hill's story in music that is both complex and direct, ironic and sentimental, dissonant and gorgeous, popular and artful, and that relishes a well-wrought song as much as long-form development.

A Walk In the Dark is the first studio release from Sweeter Than the Day since its' eponymous CD from 2002.  Wayne Horvitz notes,  I've been wrapped up in a lot of other works, including some large ensemble projects, an opera of sorts, and CDs including Solos and two CDs from my other ensemble, The Gravitas Quartet.  That being said, Sweeter Than the Day has been consistently touring and performing, and remains one of my favorite projects of all time.

The CD features 11 new originals, showcasing Sweeter Than the Day's signature blend of Horvitz' unique and understated harmonic language, Tim Young's brilliant and beautiful solos, and the group interplay that the band is so well known for.  "This is more of a playing record", says Horvitz.  "It isn't live, but it's a lot closer to that feeling than Forever or Sweeter Than the Day - a little looser and a little edgier: it's got more up-tempo tunes and we stretch more.  Tim does some things that just knock my socks off.  We actually recorded this the same week I recorded the new Gravitas CD, and we do three or four of the same tunes.  The contrast is fantastic between the two bands, and I am blessed to have not one, but two ensembles bringing so much life to my pieces."

Some of that edge can be heard on The 29th Day of May, despite its gentle theme, as well as on A Moment for Andrew (for pianist Andrew Hill), and Between The Floors, both featuring a mutated swing feel driven by newest member Eric Eagle (drums).  Other highlights include Tim Young's blues groove on A Walk in the Rain, two gorgeous ballads, Good Shepherd and Undecided, and the lovely Waltz from Woman of Tokyo, excerpted from a score for the silent film of the same name by the iconic Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu.

VARMINT came into being on New Years Eve 2005 as a one time only covers project. It featured Robin Holcomb and Danny Barnes as the principal singers, along with Tucker Martine - drums, Tim Young - guitar, Steve Moore - wurlitzer piano, Wayne Horvitz - Hammond B-3, and Keith Lowe - bass. Shortly thereafter, Tia Freeborn (ex-O.K. Hotel) opened a small bar called Lottie's Lounge in Columbia City. Lottie's was just a few minutes from the home of Horvitz and Holcomb, who approached Tia with the idea of leaving the Hammond B-3 there and doing a weekly gig each Tuesday.

Shows began with the members of Zony Mash/Sweeter Than the Day, in addition to Holcomb on vocals and Jon Hyde on pedal steel, and lasted for almost two years. Each week featured special guest vocalists and the band maintained a strict rule of "no original material, and no rehearsals." Guests over the years included Reggie Garrett, Karen Pernick, The Tallboys, Dave Keenan, Nova Devonie, Arni Adler, Grant Dermody, Orville Johnson, Laura Veirs, Joe Miller, Casey MacGill, Del Ray, Garfield High Horns, Jed Jedrzejewski, Jim Burns, Paul Hiraga, Terri Moeller, and many more, including two Christmas shows where the entire bar sang along.

A typical night with VARMINT might include renditions by Holcomb of Black Jack Davey and Cluck Old Hen (traditional), Mister Man in the Moon (Michael Hurley), Enlightenment (Sun Ra), Dues (Ronee Blakley from the movie Nashville), the Al Green version of I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams) and Close To You (Burt Bacharach), with Tim Young singing Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) and It Won't Be Long (Johnny Paycheck), as well as Jon Hyde singing Last Date (Floyd Cramer) and rippin' through the instrumental Bar Hoppin'. Dave Keenan would sit in on Reuben's Train (trad), Laura Veirs would sing Frieght Train (Elizabeth Cotton), and Arni Adler would guest on If He Swings on a String (made famous by Marlene Dietrich.)

In the summer of 2006, the core band went to Montana to record at Snowghost Studios with engineer Brett Allen. In just 2 1/2 days, the band burned through 20 tunes with a "catch it live while it's hot" attitude. With very few fixes or overdubs, these tracks, mixed over a year later, were released in February, 2008 with a guest-filled CD release extravaganza at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle.