Friday, July 22nd, 2005 ... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ... KZSU, 90.1 FM

Elliott Sharp is coming to town! He's playing a show at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco on Monday the 25th (and kudos to Du Nord for continuing to throw the occasional curveball into their music lineup!) and has a couple of other shows scheduled in Oakland. If you happen to be reading this before July 28, 2005, check out the BayImproviser calendar for details.

Sharp, who likes to use the abbreviation E#, is a figurehead of the New York avant garde scene and was a big factor in the "downtown" scene of the late '80s. He's a master guitarist and an honest-to-god blues fan, but he's better known for work that borders on modern classical, including homemade instruments that base their tuning on the Fibonnacci series (it's a spin on just intonation, for those who know the term). His stuff is filled with blaring, oddball chords/harmonies -- a by-product of that Fibonacci tuning, I think -- but often has a fast, primal beat at its base, creating the strange effect of being crazily danceable.

My one Elliott Sharp story involves my first trip to NYC on my own. I made it a point to check the Village Voice for music listings and happened upon a one-line listing for Elliott Sharp at a place called Context. No further explanation. Hm.

So, I made my way down to the Lower East Side. It took probably 20 minutes to find the place. I had the address, but I couldn't locate the door -- all I could see were two vegetable stands right around where the venue should have been. Turns out the door was between them, and not at all easy to spot. Behind the corridor was a long corridor leading to a staircase up into an old but reasonably clean building. It was like discovering some secret corner of the city. I was thrilled.

The performance turned out to be Rheo~Umbra, a 40-plus minute piece written for Carbon, E#'s regular quasi-classical band. The ensemble had about a dozen people including two bass clarinets and Zeena Parkins on her harp. It was wonderfully brash and fast-paced, with space for some pretty cool solos from the performers. E# himself played a "slab" for part of it -- that's an instrument of his own invention, a stringed instrument sort of like a koto with a moveable bridge to change the timbre at will. Very cool.

I was apprehensive about approaching Elliott after the show -- he's this imposing bald guy, and here I was a stranger getting swallowed up in New York. But an elderly couple -- dressed rather nicely, too, almost like they were at the symphony! -- was headed up to the stage, so I followed. Elliott turned out to be very warm and gracious, thanking us for coming out, asking if the sound was too muddy. (The couple loved the show, by the way, so they obviously knew what they'd been in store for.)

As you might imagine, Elliott doesn't venture out to California much, so I'm very much hoping to catch one or more of his shows out here.


Elliott Sharp -- "Rheo~Umbra" -- V/A: Texaco New York Jazz Festival presents: Live at the Knitting Factory (Knitting Factory, 1998)

* Joelle Leandre and India Cooke -- "Firedance 3" -- Firedance (Red Toucan, 2005)

Elliott Sharp -- "Music of Amrka" -- Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Yahoos (Silent, 1992)

Elliott Sharp -- "Snowy Day" -- Terraplane (Homestead, 1994) Ned Rogthenberg, Elliott Sharp, Samm Bennett -- "Terra Firma" -- Semantics (Rift, 1985)

* Normand Guilbeault Ensemble -- "Moanin'" -- Mingus Erectus (Ambiances Magnetiques, 2005)

* Ted Nash and Odeon -- "A Night in Tunisia" -- La Espada de la Noche (Palmetto, 2005)

* Clarinet Thing featuring Beth Custer -- "Echoes of Harlem" -- Agony Pipes and Misery Sticks (BC, 2005)

* Mark Dresser and Denman Maroney -- "M.C." -- Time Changes (Cryptogramophone, 2005)

* John Tchicai, Garrison Fewell, -- "Grappa To Go" -- Big Chief Dreaming (Soul Note, 2005)

* Anthony Braxton and Matt Bauder -- "Dots" -- 2 + 2 Compositions (482 Music, 2005) * Assif Tsahar and the New York Underground Orchestra -- "Seventh" -- Fragments (Hopscotch, 2005)

* Myra Melford/The Tent -- "Where the Two Worlds Touch" -- Where the Two Worlds Touch (Arabesque, 2004)

* Steve Baczkowski, Chris Corsano, Paul Flaherty -- "No Boat Will Ever Come" [excerpt] -- The Dim Bulb (Wet Paint, 2005)

Elliott Sharp -- "Dodecane" -- Arc 3: Cyberpunk and the Virtual Stance (Atavistic, 1998; recorded c.1986) * Scott Amendola Band -- "Resistance" -- Believe (Cryptogramophone, 2005) * Terence Blanchard -- "Flow (part 1)" -- The Flow (Blue Note, 2005) * Marc Ribot -- "Invocation" -- Spiritual Unity (Pi Recordings, 2005)

* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library

-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: