Friday, June 2, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
Things started really mellow with this show and stayed that way for the
whole hour. For the John Bishop CD, for example -- it's got some nice,
percolating, energetic sax soloing, but I picked the mellow, relaxed
It's interesting how the DJ's mood can affect a show. I'm wiped out from
a long session of work (up til 2:00 last night, up again at 6:00 this
morning), and I guess I just didn't have the energy to crank up the
volume, not at first anyway.
This weekend marks the annual Matthew Sperry memorial
concert, remembering the local bassist who was killed in a traffic accident in
2002. I was lucky enough to see Matthew play in several different settings,
most of them improv gigs. Seemed like a really nice guy, and he'd added a
fifth string to his bass, for an interesting look. We have his work on very
few CDs, unfortunately, one being the Shiurba 5x5 disk that's listed below.
(Matthew also appears on Supermodel
Supermodel, which would be added to rotation a couple of months after this
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
* Francois Carrier -- "Happening (Four)" -- Happening (Leo Records, 2006)
How cool to be getting Leo Records stuff again! Actually, Carrier himself, a French Canadian saxophonist, sent
this one along -- although it did arrive the same week as a package from
* Andy McWain, Albey Balgochian, Laurence Cook -- "Vigil" -- Vigil (Fuller Street, 2005)
This is a really nice concert recording, 2 CDs, of improvised pieces that
mostly run 20 or 30 minutes (luckily one of the 6-minute blips proves
to be one of the best, making for a nice radio "single.") The music
itself is nicely jazz-rooted, with Mat Maneri on viola for an
extra lead voice, and Uwe Neumann playing a whole barrage of instruments,
including sitar and -- on this track -- some kind of thumb piano.
The track starts with thumb piano by itself, a fast patter but very tuneful
and relaxing. After several minutes, the band joins in for a soft
sax solo and a bit of viola, really nice.
I played just the first half, but really the whole 27-minute piece is good,
the best track on here. Some spoken word crops up later on -- apparently
they had dancers as part of the show, and they recited a few things.
Nice work overall, and made me nostalgic for the days of the
Beanbenders shows in Berkeley circa 1999 -- great DIY music.
Anyway, I'll have to carve out the time to play this one in its
Previously noted here. This is the slowish, delicately dark
title track, really nice.
* Louie Belogenis, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, Kenny Wollesen -- "Transmission" -- Unbroken (Tick Tock, 2005)
On an album of acrid, skronky, energetic sax playing, Belogenis starts
things with this track, a light and even pleasant jam. Excellent
sax/bass/drums session that touches on different moods, even a downright
bop-oriented track. Belogenis put this out on his own label, which
doesn't seem to have a Web site.
* John Bishop -- "Orange Blossom" -- Nothing If Not Something (Origin, 2005)
Another sax/bass/drums CD, this time with a more conventional
but hardly conservative sound. This one's got an open, airy feel, with
the kind of natural rapport that comes from this band playing eight
years together up in Seattle. Tracks tend to be fast but laid back;
Rick Mandyck tosses out some interesting tricks but restrains from
blowing it all out on most tracks. Makes for a pleasant sound overall.
Bishop, on drums, plays the important role of keeping things sounding
crisp and lively.
Ted Levine and Peter Madsen -- "Traffic Jam" -- Night Sounds (Playscape, 2003)
This particular track is the aforementioned mellow one... I just latched
onto the idea of playing it and couldn't change my mind. It's a good
track, but the faster ones on here are a better representation of the
band, I think.
Interesting note: Mandyck had to give up the sax for some kind of
health reason. He's switched to guitar, so the trio lives on.
A fast, punchy, one-minute blip that I'd intended to use after
the dramatic and sudden finale of "Cello Counterpoint." But the CD
player turned rogue on me, halted in mid-Concerto, and I had to resort
to starting this track to avoid the dead air.
* Steve Reich -- "Cello Counterpoint" -- You Are (Variations) (Nonesuch, 2005)
If that doesn't make sense, read on...
An engaging and fast-paced piece for (duh) cellos, with the
interwoven pops and pokes that make up Reich's famous counterpoint
tapestries. But -- for reasons I missed the memo on, we're playing
this from a CD-R copy. And one of our CD players suddenly doesn't take
well to CD-Rs, as I discovered the hard way. The disk stopped
playing, and in one of those college radio moments, I couldn't get it
restarted. Had to inser the Levine/Madsen piece, which was
luckily already cued up, while I shifted Reich to a more friendly
CD player. Such is the excitement of college radio.
-- 4:00 p.m. --
NRG Ensemble -- "Straight Time" -- This Is My House (Delmark, 1996)
Vicious cutting skronky stuff from the two-sax assault of
Mars Williams and Ken Vandermark. This band did a lot of great stuff
in the '90s, but Williams and of course Vandermark have moved on to
separate careers of their own.
* Mario Pavone Sextet -- "Xapo" -- Deez to Blues (Playscape, 2006)
particular track starts off in a complex, twisty-bop way, and ends on a
slow grade, quiet and fading. Nice.
* Paper Legs -- "Peoples March" -- Tent School (Heat Retention, 2005)
Loopy, guitar-laden noise. This one's a guitar rustle with
some drums, looped into a big fuzzy cloud. "Serene and hypnotic" is how
our reviewer describes it. Another track I've played before,
"Mouse to Mouse," consists of lots of toys and wind-up-sounding
doodads for a crazy mechanical sound. Nicely creative noise.
* Gianluca Petrella -- "A Relaxing Place on Venus" -- Indigo4 (Blue Note, 2006)
Slowish, spacey, floaty piece that closes out this otherwise hipster
album. The change of mood is for a good cause: This track is Petrella's
Sun Ra tribute. Includes randomly inserted vocals: "Sun Raaa. And his
baaaand. From ou-ter spaaaace. Will entertain you now."
Gotta love that.
* Anthony Brown's Orchestra -- "Rhapsody in Blue/American Rhapsodies" -- Rhapsodies (Water Baby, 2005)
Brown is a Bay Area composer and bandleader with Asian roots.
This project of his takes traditional big-band ideas and spices them up with
traditional Asian instruments: taiko drums, flutes, strings, etc.
Wonderful results. This suite, spanning six tracks and 19 minutes,
is a particular treasure -- the familiar strains of Gershwin, who
according to the liner notes was trying to reflect the melting-pot
nature of American society, tossed in with Far Eastern elements
that you'd hope he would have found exhiliarating.
* John McNeil -- "Delusions" -- East Coast Cool (OmniTone, 2005)
These tracks are full of solo breaks for the various
instruments, including a nice segment for Will Bernard's funky
guitar (not an Asian instrument, but a cool unexpected touch).
It all culminates with a short thundering taiko drum solo and -- in the
final bars -- Brown himself adding some explosive drum-kit rolls
and an elephantine gong stroke to end it all.
Previously noted here.
This is one of the few tracks with an experimental touch, as the middle
segment includes some free group improv. Otherwise it's a velvety
'50s sound all around, quite nice.
-- 5:00 p.m. --
* Liberty Ellman -- "Ophiuchus Butterfly" -- Ophiuchus Butterfly (Pi Recordings, 2006)
My official KZSU review calls this one a great attention-getter,
but upon repeated listens, it doesn't leap out the way I thought it did.
It's still a great track, but the theme -- which revolves around small
bursts of notes with pauses -- doesn't come at you with the 3-D intensity
I'd first heard. Or maybe it does, and I wasn't listening right this
time. Always strange, the way your perceptions of a song -- a fixed
quantity on permanent medea -- can change.
# Dan Plonsey -- "Intro"/"A"/"B" -- Portcullis (Unlimited Sedition, 2004)
As for the CD in general, it's another home run for Pi, which has been
putting out some of the most exciting and forward-looking jazz
we've gotten lately. The artists use complicated writing, new
electronic capabilities, and drum-machine influence (on an acoustic drumset)
to craft a truly new sound. The writing here is bouncy and
energetic; I've likened it to Tim Berne's stuff but "more kinetic,
like a molecule lightly bouncing off padded walls."
Beginning of the Matthew Sperry tribute.
# John Shiurba's 5x5 -- "1.1.5" -- 1.1=M (Unlimited Sedition, 2004)
# Smoking Balance -- "Trajectory" -- Smoking Balance (Limited Sedition, 1998)
# John Shiurba's 5x5 -- "1.1.3"/"1.1.4" -- 1.1=M (Unlimited Sedition, 2004)
Two tracks serving as backdrop to the Concert Calendar, concluding the
Matthew Sperry tribute.
* Ben Goldberg Quintet -- "I Before E Before I" -- The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact (Cryptogramophone, 2006)
* Agrazing Maze -- "We Apologize for the Inconvenience" -- At the End of the Day (Foxhaven, 2006)
* = Item in KZSU rotation
! = Pop anomaly
? = Item not in KZSU library
-- Go back to Memory Select playlists.
-- Bay Area free/improv music calendar: http://www.bayimproviser.com.