Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Two Bands and a Legend

Pete reminded me of this one the other day and just gave another look over and listen.  Thurston Moore sums it up in the liner notes.  The Thing would rock out some outdoor summer festivals. No rooms to clear there.  Why not?  Who else would mix James Blood Ulmer and PJ Harvey?

T w o  Bands and a Legend   
Cato Salsa Experience, The Thing, Joe McPhee

Friday, September 21, 2012

An avante poem from within the MRI.


soft, white.
sweet voice over a latin beat.
Hannibal and the bulbous sensor.
Rollin', roll in, rollin'.
Welcome my son. To the machine. 
Caged in with Lou. Metal Machine Music.
Batta baat baat! 
Full Metal Jacket.
A blue tooth chicken clucks at my feet.
Symmetry, A. Low
freqs run amok.
What would Lasse do?
Check your image.
Paint it black.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Note to a friend

I recall one time you asked me to let you know about these left-of-center shows in Philly.  Most folks we invite to go  just listen to a snippet and politely say "No, that's okay."  Several friends (and my wife) who I have dragged to these types of shows do have fun telling stories at parties about what they saw that nite and where they saw it.

I'd say 90% of shows are improvisation with most being by jazz-trained players and 70% of shows are avante-garde jazz with acoustic instruments.  That said, some of the best, most outrageous and energy-filled shows incorporate electronics and electric instruments.  New season just started up with Ars Nova Workshop coming up this Spring 2012.  

Most shows on the outer fringe  of avante garde jazz/rock/funk and can be dissonant but are almost always put on by exceptional musicians who just choose to play that way.  The series always includes lots of European improvisors, mostly trained in jazz (but not always) whose style is typically less restricted by the jazz "tradition" than jazz-trained players from the US.  Often incorporate lots of rock/funk/noise.

Price is right, typically <$15 or free, so a good way to take a chance on exploring different music.   Events are in very small venues (sometimes as small as your living room or literally in a 2-car garage).

"Oh, the Audacity" - Thurston Moore and Mats Gustaffson

Tom: This sprung from our animated conversation on the streets of philadelphia after a show at the IHOP a few years back by Thurston Moore and Mats Gustaffson.  While I have no clue where we were, for some reason I have a very clear view of us walking the dirty sidewalk next to a giant concrete wall with nobody else around. We are walking, stopping, laughing, walking, stopping, walking... LAUGHING...our arms gesturing and lips spewing out: ...ha ha....can you believe what we just &**%i saw?  ...ha ha. ha....Mats and his black box and baritone and "Lovey" (Thurston the 3rd) on his guitar? ...ha ha... LOUD.  Who would play this as a show?  the audacity of these guys...  ha ha ha   And of course, me probably smacking Pete on the shoulder or chest like us Jersey guys do. ha ha

newtacity: What a great sounding word.  audacity.  Goes with the feel of veracity and velocity.  A few weeks back the word came around again in a waiting room with newt on the cover of newsweek magazine with the 100 point font "The Audacity of Newt".  But is there some veracity in the Newt's audacity? Or is it just pugnacity served up with opacity?

Mingus Mangus Mungus.  "On this (rehearsal ) version of  Meditations on Integration ... Worth pointing out is moment...where the 3 horns honk insistently in a wonderfully dissonant riff...a glorious section marked by a massive grin on Mingus's face as he revels in the sheer audacity and musical acumen of this ensemble."  Rob Bowman, professor of ethnomusicology, in liner notes of DVD  "Charles Mingus Live in 64"  Just checked out this DVD above from the local library.  Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Donnie Richmond, Jacki Byard, Johnny Coles, and Clifford Jordan in Sweden, Norway, and Belgium in 1964.  Some cuts are on online (see below), but looks like the youtube videos that refer to the above quote cutoff before showing that audacious piece.

Mingus quintet in Oslo, 1964.  Especially, check out  Ellingtons "Take the A Train" with Jaki Byard piano solo (47:04) and rag transition (47:43), Mingus diggin it, then Dolphy on baritone clarinet (49:34).  Sound quality okay but not great but ptl for European television having the vision to record this stuff!

Dave Burrell and Han Bennink at Phildelphia Art Alliance


Dave Burrell  “crams a century of jazz history into ... and churning dissonance" writes Francis Davis for Village Voice

Han Bennink. is “impatiently and heedlessly knocking things around”  writes The New York Time

Pete and I saw first duo performance ever by Philadelphian pianist Dave Burrell and Dutch drummer Han Bennink last week (1/30/2012) at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Great show with two masters in conversation and a full house.  Both had their wives in attendance and very appreciative of audience and said it had the feel of a European crowd where this type of  music gets lots more attention.  It was clear, as the critics say, that they both know how to move throughout jazz genres and history (even in one tune).  Stuff we have seen them do separately before has leaned more towards the free end (and they certainly showed us some at this show).  But their conversations backstage before the show motivated them to play some Duke Ellington and that "of course" (says Burreell) lead them to want to play some Billy Strayhorn (Lush Life).  You can just feel the joy they have playing anything that swings.

Antics:  Bennink busted through his snare drum, rubbed his stick though the hole, spun snare and cymbal like a quarter on the wooden floor, and played sans snare until the head was replaced.  At that point he was already lying on the floor on his back beating out a perfect rhythm on the floorboards.  A young, hairy audience member helped him put the snare back on his kit.  Later, as Bennink was offstage on a break, Burrell started without him into a little rag.  Before entering, Bennnink slammed the door (in time of course) at the back of the room and the audience craned their necks to see what the f^(*.  Last time we saw him with ICP, he opened the show playing a leftover pizza box from backstage. in a duo with Misha Mengelberg on piano.

Lagniappe: awesome video of Han playing the wooden stage in duo with a tap dancer (starting at about 2 minutes in after drum solo)


"two masters in conversation"... that nails it.

Who else would slam a door in rhythm to act as percussion for the start of a song but Bennink?

I made a few notes... these get the caveat that I don't know a thing about music theory or vocabulary, I just know what I feel when I hear it. So, pardon any technical inaccuracies in the narrative...

Opening piece: Burrell original "The Box." Very bluesy. Drum solo by Han early. How in the heck does Burrell move his fingers like that? Long, arching, bent fingers that seem to move in an arc up and down, dancing on the keys but in almost a blur at times. Another example of Burrell's compositions reflecting influences from the history of jazz and blues but still being modern, free-er, his own voice.

Second piece: Another Burrell original? Code Name: Cheap Shot." Han goes nuts, drums on everything. Parts sound like it could be a 20th century classical composition or movie music. Never heard either of these guys do music like this. The Arsnova blogger (Mark Christman" describes it as a "virtuousic whirlwind."

When was it... the first piece? the second? Han has a handful of drum sticks and, while in mid-stream rhythmically, throws them at his drums, sticks bouncing off, clattering on the hardwood floor, rolling everywhere. At the end of the song, a helpful audience member asks another guy in the front to give Han one of his escapee drumsticks. No, man, it's where he wants it!

Third piece: Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady." Watching Burrell's wild chasing fingers running up and down the keyboard, as if the crowd of five on one hand is trying to catch the crowd of five on the other. Beauty at the start and end with a wild fugue by Burrell and a drum solo by Bennink. These guys are both around 70 years old... where the heck do they get their energy and dexterity at that age? Mind blowing.

Fourth: "Lush Life" by Billy Strayhorn. They played this one fairly straight but very expressively.

The closer, for an encore: A.M. Rag. Another Burrell original? A great, short, rag-time-flavored piece. As Tom notes, Han is out of the room as Burrell comes in for the encore, chats to the audience for a bit, introduces and starts the song. Suddenly - slam! A lot of the audience starts looking around, irritated for a second, at this sonic intrusion into the piano's line. But Tom and I look at each other: "Han!" Sure enough, slam, slam, in rhythm, and then in walks Bennink to join in on his drum kit.