Friday, December 29th, 2006
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
My first experience at playing tracks from a laptop computer on-air. We've
got a way to plug it in, though an amp, and it seems to work OK.
The only handicap is that MP3s sound cruddy over the airwaves (and in
general, according to musicians). I didn't happen to record the show,
but things seemed to be working well enough when I listened to the air
sound from the studio. Hope it worked.
I did this because I didn't have another way to broadcast the
Real Vocal String Quartet -- there's a whole story that,
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
* Vinny Golia Quartet -- "Repetition" -- Sfumato (Clean Feed, 2006)
Free jazz, brash and intense, almost always busy,
although you've got a couple of sparse, cerebral tracks too. Features
SoCal legend Vinny Golia on his usual variety of woodwinds (sax, clarinet,
flute) and former Ornette Coleman sideman Bobby Bradford on trumpet.
The stuff is bright, in an Ornette kind of vein, and it's got a sustained
energy level that's impressive.
* The Vandermark 5 -- "Morricone" -- A Discontinuous Line (Atavistic, 2006)
* Jason Shearer and Mike Khoury -- "Noh Music: Ashirai Pattern" -- Your Tenant Is Dead (Detroit Improvisation, 2006)
* Henry Kuntz -- "Tenor of the Times, Part 1" [excerpt] -- Wayang Saxophony Shadow Saxophone (Humming Bird, 2006)
Kuntz has been on the local scene for a long time, but he seems to
record only sporadically. He's developed an aesthetic all his own, involving
very quiet sounds on the saxophone, often just the rushing of air
blown through the horn. Sometimes this triggers ghostly little
harmonics; sometimes not. A very Pauline Oliveros
This CD features two suites. The first is a series of solo pieces,
often quiet and still. The second, played here, is a two-parter for
four tenor saxophones, all played by Kuntz overdubbed. The stuff
takes patience sometimes, and it might be difficult to hear over the
radio (especially for listeners in their cars), but it's certainly
a different sound and one I'm glad to share with listeners.
* Tomasz Stanko Quartet -- "Lontano 3" -- Lontano (ECM, 2006)
Previously noted here.
This is the least of the three "Lontano" pieces (all 15 minutes, with
placid themes that lead into deeply creative free jamming), but it's
still good, and besides -- the other two got played on the air
by other DJs, and someone had to give this one a chance.
Uwe Oberg, Georg Wolf, Jorg Fischer -- "Lontano" -- >Lo< (Leo Records, 1997)
I've no idea what "Lontano" means, but it's used in a ton of song
titles. Apparently it means "slow" or "peaceful," because that's how
this track feels. I enjoy doing these kinds of stupid database
tricks, looking up new CDs based solely on words and titles. Our database,
Zookeeper, makes this
ridiculously easy, and sometimes the temptation to geek out like this
is just too much.
Actually, I've made some nice discoveries this way. This particular CD
arrived at KZSU before I did, so I'd never heard it. It's a piano/bass/drums
trio in that European chamber style, with classical leanings to it.
The CD has a couple of peppy, free-jazzy pieces that I'm going to have
to spin later on, and its longest track (15 minutes) wouldn't be
that far out of place in a NYC jazz club -- an open-minded one,
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Antoine Berthiaume, Michel Donato, Pierre Tanguay -- "La Betterave" -- Ellen's Bar (Ambiances Magnetiques, 2006)
* Roy Lisker -- "The Dog Was Walking the Dog" -- Language Compositions: Sound Poetry 1981-87 (Ferment, 2005)
My kids love this one. "Sound Poetry" is apt; Lisker speaks words
here and even managed to create narratives, but the "art" is in his
relishing particular words or phrases by repeating them in spirited
fashion, testing out different emphasis or tone over and over. This
one's an extreme example, where he says the title phrase, or fragments
of it, until the meaning gets all twisted up. Another track called
"That Bad Bat" does something similar. One of the other tracks uses
the same technique but moves forward, tracing the demise of the dinosaurs.
The most serious track is an artsy reading of someone eles's Reaganomics economics
lecture (my guess being that Lister isn't a supply-sider himself).
* Alvarius B -- "Jet Nicholson Murder" -- Alvarkius B (Abduction, 2006)
While it's hard to listen to the whole thing in one dose, it's a delightful
CD with a sense of humor, even though the project itself is no joke.
At least, I don't think it's one. Be sure to check out the link for
Lister above; it leads to a site packed with info about Ferment,
an indie magazine he published for some time (the "income statement" is
One of the Sun
City Girls members, doing solo guitar snippets lasting one or two
minutes. This one had a chuggy rhythm that I thought would fade in
well from the repetitions of the Lisker piece.
* Mei Han and Paul Plimley -- "Blue Now" -- Ume (Za, 2006)
* Lou Grassi's PoBand -- "Phantasmagoria" -- Infinite POtential (CIMP, 2006)
* Tena Novak -- "Slijepa Ulica" [excerpt] -- Tena Noval (Slusaj Najglasnije!, 2006)
A lightly proggy or psychedelic kind of rock, instrumentals led
by violin. Melodic stuff that's a little spacey sometimes but not
that challenging overall; it fit a set nicely once, here, but I'm
not sure I'll play it much else (well, maybe during another
Horror of Prog Mountain set -- this CD has good work on it, just not
the sound I'm pursuing for my show). From some folks in Croatia who
send us quite a bit of stuff.
Gino Robair -- "Catalog of Supplementary Strokes" [excerpt] -- Singular Pleasures (Rastascan, 1997)
Solo percussion, kind of a local classic considering all the
contributions Gino has made to the Bay Area scene. Great showcase
for his dextrous style.
* Stephan Crump -- "Tag" -- Rosetta (Papillon Sounds, 2006)
With two guitars and a bass, and nothing else,
this has kind of a folky sound. But it's also packed with those
free-floating kinds of moments that nudge it toward the jazz pile.
Melodic stuff that's just unpredictable and off-balance enough to
avoid being new age; it's not challenging on the surface, but I'm
hoping there's a depth that will reveal itself on stronger listenings.
* Charles Gayle -- "I Remember You" -- Shout! (Clean Feed, 2006)
* Steve Lacy Quintet -- "The Rush" -- Esteem (Atavistic, 2006; recorded 1975)
Steve Lacy apparently left behind a library of hundreds of cassettes,
taped live shows documented meticulously. Atavistic is apparently going
to be releasing some to CD, starting with this one, a session from his
days in Paris as an ex-patriate. It's a nice peek at Steve Lacy's working
band during those years, and a glimpse at some of his compositions in raw,
early form. The band includes Irene Aebi on cello, of course, along with
bass and drums ... and Steve Potts on tenor sax. Potts is going nuts
on these tracks, particuarly "The Crust," which opens up the set, where
he launches a 10-minute sax tirade early in the piece. Awesome stuff.
* Rudresh Mahanthappa -- "Wait It Through" -- Codebook (Pi Recordings, 2006)
-- 5:00 p.m. --
* Kahil El'Zabar Ritual Trio -- "Kau" -- (Delmark, 2006)
? Real Vocal String Quartet -- "Green Been Stand" -- [live performance from www.rvsq.com]
String quartet that infuses their classical music with elements of
folk, world, and country, including occasional vocals. Sophisticated stuff
that would appeal to an NPR
kind of crowd, musically speaking. One member, Irene Sazer, was a
founding member of the Turtle Island
String Quartet, which gives you a point of reference.
Kaila Flexer -- "Mazel Tov" -- Next Village (Compass, 1998)
I discovered the RVSQ by researching the players in
Amy X. Neuburg's
Secret Language of Subways, in preparation for an
interview. Cellist Jessica Ivry's name sounded
familiar, and I was trying to figure out why. (Turns out she was
part of local band People's Bizarre,
which has nothing to do with the rest of this story.) Ivry also plays
in the RVSQ, so I saw the site, listened to the clips, and was
pleasantly surprised to discover they had a show in early January. Great.
Some time later, I checked the
Freight & Salvage site to
discover the Jan. 4 show had changed -- it was now a benefit for
Sazer, who had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Lots of her
musical colleagues were ganging up for the benefit, including the other
RVSQ'ers and Neuburg, who would do an acousticized version of some
of the "Subways" songs.
So, I played this track off the site (we're able to plug computers into
the air feed now; very exciting although it's always sketchy sending
an MP3 file over the air), just to help promote the show. Turns out
I didn't need to; Sazer, a longtime Bay Area resident and
managed to pack the house. It was a wonderful event, full of the warmth
that can only come from shared sense of community.
Sazer is apparently responding well to chemotherapy, and it
appears the RVSQ still plans to record their first CD this year.
Great news all around.
The rest of this set involved folks who were slated to perform
that night at the Freight.
Upbeat acoustic music led by Flexer on violin, with traces of
jazz and Mediterranean folks in there. Also some Klezmer, especially on
this track, which gets fast and fevered and fun. This one brings back
some memories, as it was one of the earliest CDs I reviewed for KZSU.
Amy X. Neuburg and Men -- "My Empire" -- Utechma (Racer, 1995)
Bouncy "avant-cabaret" stuff from earlier in Neuburg's career.
* Jason Kao Hwang -- "Grassy Hills" -- Edge (Asian Improv, 2006)
Henry Threadgill -- "Award the Squadtett" -- Easily Slip into Another World (RCA/BMG)
Part of our modest and underappreciated Threadgill collection on
vinyl. Picked this one out of the blue; it turns out to be loads of
fun, with a chipper marching-band sound emerging in places.
* Keefe Jackson's Fast Citizens -- "Signs" -- Ready Everyday (Delmark, 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.