Thursday, March 2nd, 2006
... 6:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
Freaky coincidence: This quarter, a DJ named Ben decided to take a
break from the station. Ben is my cohort in jazz/experimental musics,
especially the crazy free jazz likes of Peter Brotzmann and Ken
Vandermark, and European improvisers like Evan Parker. Who should
step in but another DJ named Ben, who's also into some of that stuff.
Ben W. is debuting this quarter with "Rock in a Position," a show that
includes prog rock and some acoustic/folky stuff, but also touches on
weird noises and the occasional out-jazz track.
When Ben W. asked for a substitute for today's show, I just had to
step up. Particularly since my regular time slot, tomorrow, is 70%
pre-empted by a baseball game. Since I won't be here next week, this
lets me get my on-air fix in -- aaahhhhhh.
As usual, in trying to conform closer to what Ben would play than
what I would play, I opened up a lot of new directions; it's like
exercise for the mind. I was left with a lot of unused ideas that
I'll be trying to pack into my show in weeks to come.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
* Wayne Peet Quartet -- "Five Swirls" -- Wayne Peet Quartet: Live at Al's Bar (pfMentum, 2005)
Swirly organ with two guitars; shifts between happy surf music and
ascerbic experimental noise. Cool! It's a 15-minute track; long ago, when
I had a 6:00 a.m. show, I realized that no one would be listening to the
very beginning (we're usually off the air from 3:00 to 6:00 a.m.), so why
not toss on a long track, allowing a few listeners to gather before
wasting breath on a mic break.
Fred Frith Guitar Quartet -- "Stinky Eye/To Laugh Uncleanly at the Nurse"/"Spitty Boy" -- Up Beat (Ambiances Magnetiques, 1999)
Kind of a misnomer; there are four guitarists in the band,
but they're rarely playing all at once. Much of the album consists of
solo takes. All tracks are blended together into a whole, and some of the
track consist of multiple titles (note the punctuation above -- I played
tracks 2 and 3, with track 2 consisting of two segments.) Nice stuff with
long stretches of droney or rumbly sound punctuated by quick, quirky
composed segments of spiky guitar unison.
Brothomstates -- "Brothomstates Ipxen" -- Claro (Warp, 2001)
Sort of dance-electronica, but with sparse experimental leanings.
This track is mostly a dry drum beat, with a subtle keyboard line
eventually floating up top. Fast but thoughtful. This is a CD I found
randomly in the drawers while looking for something else -- I love sampling
random stuff out of the library.
* Hard Cell with Tim Berne -- "My First Phone" -- Feign (Screwgun, 2005)
One of the quieter tracks from this album, at least at first.
Then they leap into faster, aggressive playing. Woo hoo! Berne on sax,
Craig Taborn on acoustic piano, Tom Rainey on drums.
! Happy the Man -- "Run into the Ground" -- Better Late ... (Azimuth, 1983)
Tossed in a prog-rock set, since Ben's show description
highlights prog as part of his show (he once opened with "Supper's Ready"
from Genesis, apparently using the same long-track strategy that I do).
Picked this track at random from the one vinyl HtM we have --
it turned out to be a bit cheesy, with sax (presumably Mel Collins)
leaning almost in a smooth-jazz direction. Luckily the keyboards
kept to proggy chords. Phew.
! Djam Karet -- "Heads of Ni-Oh" -- A Night for Baku (Cuneiform, 2003)
*! Mats Morgan Band -- "Sinus" -- Thanks for Flying with us (Cuneiform, 2005)
The Cuneiform label has become our source for modern prog. They
put out prodigious amounts of the stuff and it's all quite good. This
is from a couple of Swedish guys (Mats and Morgan) plus a full band,
and it really harkens back to the glory days of prog while adding
some new material to the argument.
-- 7:00 a.m. --
* Steuart Liebig Stigtette -- "Alchemy" -- Delta (pfMentum, 2005)
Chamber music, really, with vaguely jazz leanings. Liebig on
contrabass guitar is joined by woodwinds: flute, bassoon, clarinet, for
some wandering, academic pieces. Good stuff with a strange sound,
especially due to Liebig's thick, gnarled bass sound.
? Ethel -- "Shuffle [mvmt. 3 of "Sweet Hardwood" by John King, 1996] -- Ethel (Cantaloupe, 2003)
An honest-to-goodness string quartet with lots of Bang-on-a-Can
attitude. Fun modern stuff; this track starts out with a delicious
bluesy drawl, for instance. The Cantaloupe label has lots of this
sort of stuff, plus some really interesting jazz (Gutbucket, e.g.); we've got
to talk to them about servicing KZSU.
The Redressers -- "To Each According" -- To Each According ... (Free Porcupine Society, 2005)
I've expounded on the genius of this band before, but it's worth
saying again: They're really cool. Led by bassist Devin Hoff, half of
Good for Cows, the
band also includes Ches Smith (the drummer from Good for Cows), Carla
Kihlstedt (violinst-about-town, appearing in
Tin Hat Trio,
Gorilla Museum, and 2
Foot Yard), and Marika Hughes (cello, from 2 Food Yard and the
later versions of Charming Hostess). I was lucky enough to catch one
of their few live shows -- as you can see, they're all busy with
other projects -- and they were fantastic. Here's hoping Devin can
reconvene them for a sequel sometime.
* Edmund Welles: The Bass Clarinet Quartet -- "Asmodeus: The Destroyer, King of the Demons" -- Agrippa's 3 Books (Zeroth Law, 2005)
Yes! "Heavy chamber music," they call it. Leader Cornelius Boots
plays a mean bass clarinet but listens to all sorts of rock and metal.
For this Bay Area quartet, he enlisted some top-notch jazzsters (Aaron
Novik is one, as I recall) for a fast-paced, complex, rollicking set
that includes a cover of Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom." The CD is at the
crux of jazz, classical, and metal (at least in attitude).
* Zu and Mats Gustafsson -- "How to Raise an Ox" -- How to Raise an Ox (Atavistic, 2005)
* Dirty Three -- "Even Since" -- Cinders (Touch and Go, 2005
* The Stares -- "From the Sky" -- Spine to Sea (Web of Mimicry, 2005)
Slow, slow, really slow "pop" with soft guitars and soft
vocals, both male and female. Takes some patience, but it's pretty stuff.
Charming Hostess -- "Zenica Blues" -- Sarajevo Blues (Tzadik, 2004)
Amy Denio -- "Car Life" -- Birthing Chair Blues (Knitting Factory, 1991)
Brisk galloping jazzy beat with cool vocals atop. I used to play lots
of stuff like this on my show and have gotten lazy in recent years;
doing Ben's show (which tends to be less jazzy than mine) is really
forcing me down some adventurous paths I haven't traveled in ages.
Always a good thing.
-- 8:00 a.m. --
* The Vandermark 5 -- "That was Now" -- The Color of Memory (Atavistic, 2005)
Starting off what I'd declared to be the Jazz set. That
idea didn't last long...
Peter Kowald, Miya Masaoka, Gino Robair -- "View 20" -- Illuminations (Rastascan, 2003)
Wonderful improv session of bass, koto, drums, from German legend
Kowald and local legends Masaoka and Robair. There's a bright, tumbling
energy throughout this CD, and I remember being very impressed with it
upon first listen. That Kowald had recently passed away added to the
emotion, I guess.
* On Ensemble -- "Little Man" -- Dust and Sand (self-released, 2005)
Anyway, here's an interesting example of how DJ improvisation can operate.
During the Vandermark track, I got a call from a listener who'd heard my
comment about taking the show into Jazz mode and specifically
requested this CD. Great request; I had to play it. But the two jazz
tracks I'd planned for the rest of this set just wouldn't "fit" with
the ending to this one, so ...
Taiko drums! Plus flutes, with a quiet start and a raucous
section later. A perfect complement to the Kowald track, albeit more
music/festival stuff than jazz. So, out went the jazz idea, for now.
I used the cool transition I had in mind (Moutin to John William Gordon) in
the next set.
* Ettrick -- [untitled track 4] -- Demo EP (self-released, 2005)
This duo sent us a CD of tracks midyear 2005, just before they put
out a "proper" CD. Sax and drums, or sometimes just two saxes, played
with metal ferocity. Cool stuff, more appropriate for a rock club than a
jazz club. A very Hemlock Tavern kind of band.
* Moutin Reunion Quartet -- "MRC" -- V/A: French Jazz Essentials (Bureau Export De La Musique Francaise, 2005)
Crisp mainstream jazz, nicely modern.
* John William Gordon -- "Quidnunc Mo" -- John William Gordon (self-released, 2005)
Bay Area guitarist with a knack for twisted, oddball music.
Complicated composing and quirky solos. It's a trio format, with bass and
drums, so there's some jazz roots in there. Definitely a unique voice
* Decision Dream -- "Steamroom Variations, part 1" -- Steamroom Variations (Red Toucan, 2005)
Some guitar noise to top it all off.
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Prog set
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.