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Wild Up, 'Stay On It'

To create a definitive performing version of Julius Eastman's Stay On It, from 1973, is next to impossible. Since the brilliant, forward-thinking Black and proudly gay composer met an early death in 1990 at age 49, no manuscript for Stay On It has been found. And judging from the highly improvised nature of the work, and those musicians who recall their parts delivered on a single sheet of handwritten instructions, Eastman may have never created a complete score in the first place.

Thank goodness, then, for Wild Up, a group that has jumped on the recent Eastman bandwagon, done extensive research, and come up with its own rapturous rendition. The opening stammering rhythm is the lodestar of the piece which gradually devolves into a raucous house party — with caterwauling saxophones and frenzied vocals — then chills into tranquility by the end of its glorious, exhilarating 10 minutes. Look for a full album in June.

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Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.