Friday, February 16th, 2007
... 3:20 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
Delayed start due to Stanford baseball.
Devoted a HUGE chunk of the show to artists who are playing in town
during the coming week. I often do that, but this particular week,
there was just a ton going on. This is one of the few times when
I actually planned out a show -- that is, I didn't select specific
tracks, but I played the artists roughly in sequence (starting with
those performing tonight, then working through the week), which put
an interesting constraint on the show. I enjoy that kind of
arrangement once in a while.
Anyway, everything from Mark Dresser on down was chosen that way.
Either they're artists performing during the following seven days,
or artists really similar in concept to what was coming up.
(To represent Mills College's annual Signal Flow
festival, for example, I spun a couple of local artists associated
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
* Mark Helias/Open Loose -- "What Up" -- Atomic Clock (Radio Legs, 2006)
* Bang on a Can/Don Byron -- "Eugene" [Part III] -- A Ballad for Many (Cantaloupe, 2006)
Whoa -- Don Byron tries his hand at modern classical music, and does
quite well at it. I mean, seriously, there are some jazzy passages here and
there among these short pieces (most of them grouped into a couple of
suites), but overall, it's definitely a "classical" sound. Great stuff.
* Bang on a Can/Don Byron -- "Integrity" -- A Ballad for Many (Cantaloupe, 2006)
* Sean Noonan/Brewed by Noon -- "Connection" -- Stories to Tell (Songlines, 2006)
Very "pop" flavor mixing jazz and West African pop (you know, that
fast electric bass and quick-handed, chirpy electric guitar...). But it
goes beyond that, bringing in elements of rock, funk, prog. Unexpected and
fresh.... maybe a little less so once the Afropop element starts to
sink in, but still a great idea for a band. Susan McKeown even
sings on one track that's described as "Celtic," although that aspect
is hard to hear.
* Ellery Eskelin -- "Like I Say" -- Quiet Music (Prime Source, 2006>
* Kris Davis -- "Bloodwine" -- The Slightest Shift (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2006)
* DB Boyko, Christine Duncan, Jean Martin -- "Turrun" -- Idiolalla (Ambiances Magnetiques, 2006)
Two female vocals and a drummer, a different kind of improvisation.
The vocals are all in nonsense languages, feeling out for odd sounds rather
than melodic constructions, for a playful, experimental sound. The drums
kick in with enough jazz drive to give the session a jazz tinge. Argue
if you want, but if Al
Jarreau were doing this, they'd call it jazz for sure. This is cooler,
* Brian Groder and the Sam Rivers Trio -- "Involution" -- Torque (Latham, 2006)
Gotta love it when you can get the Sam Rivers Trio to be your
backing band. Actually, they're more on equal footing with Groder here,
although he does most of the composing, as I recall. Groder is a trumpeter,
and at first blush, it seems like he meshes will with Rivers' band.
The Trio doesn't do their usual instrument swapping -- Doug Matthews sticks
to bass and Anthony Cole to drums -- but that's a nit. Good album overall,
with a few nice post-bop excursions and several short scribbles.
-- 4:00 p.m. --
* Steve Lacy Quintet -- "Esteem" -- Esteem (Atavistic, 2006; recorded 1975)
Previously noted here. This one
starts and ends with a shrill alarm blare of saxes, but in between, there's
a long jam with a chugging rhythm; today, they'd say it's close to
* Kidd Jordan, Hamid Drake, William Parker -- "Peppermint Falls" -- Palm of Soul (AUM Fidelity, 2006)
Mark Dresser -- "Trains" -- Invocation (Knitting Factory, 1995)
I'd actually played a chunk of Dresser's stuff earlier in the
day. This track was a bit edgier than what I'd spun then, though.
Ganelin Trio -- "It's Too Good To Be Jazz" -- Encores (Leo Records, 1994; recorded 1978)
Vladimir Tarasov, drummer for these guys, is apparently in town to
appear with Dresser, Fred
Frith, and Larry Ochs of ROVA in two shows at
Mark Dresser -- "Flocus" -- Force Green (Soul Note, 1995)
The Ganelin Trio started 30+ years ago in the old Soviet Union, playing
free jazz at a time when such things were frowned upon (even more so than
they are in this country). But the ties of music are strong; the trio
managed to get its music out, thanks largely to Leo Feigan, proprietor of
Leo Records. Now, of course, the Iron Curtain is lifted, and the trio
are free to spread their art worldwide.
This seems to be literally a CD of encore tracks, mostly three or four
minutes but with one 11-minute improv in there (cleverly titled "Who's
Afraid of Anthony Braxton?") Thunderous applause at the ends, lending
more grist to the theory.
Back into a more accessible avant-jazz sound, including Theo Bleckman
! The Octopus Project -- "The Way Things Go" -- Identification Parade (Peek-a-Boo, 2002)
Lots of blippy synths, and sometimes (as here) some breezy pop
elements. More often, the band is artsy/hip with its electronica.
Edmund Welles: The Bass Clarinet Quartet -- "Asmodeus: The Destroyer, King of the Demons" -- Agrippa's 3 Books (Zeroth Law, 2005)
Yoshida Brothers -- "Hyakka Ryouran" -- Yoshida Brothers (Domo, 2003)
Superstar Japanese combo: Two guys on shamisens. Apparently they'll
dress up in samurai gear for their shows sometimes. The shamisen is a
three-stringed Japanese instrument; you've heard it plucked in contemplative
zen mode before. These guys choose to shred instead, rocking out in
a dueling-shamisen mode, often with the backing of a band. This one's
a nice fast track with just the two of them (Ryoichiro and Kenichi Yoshida).
Axolotl -- [untitled track 2] -- Axolotl (Psych-o-Path, 2004)
Local noise/electronics artist. Not related to the same-named
art-rock band in Seattle. Often works in a loud droney mode
using lots of music-related samples (organs, strings, etc.) This track is
a little different: lots of fast blippy sounds, relatively quiet but busy.
Yoshida Brothers -- "Kagero" -- Yoshida Brothers II (Domo, 2004)
This time with tabla, other percussion, and guitar -- a rich, full
sound, and a nice groove. Cool!
Climax Golden Twins -- [Untitled tracks 8, 9, 10] -- Impreial Household Orchestra (Scratch/Trackshun, 1996)
Includes heavy guitar, light drumbeats, and odd electronics and samples
(not all at the same time). I thought I remembered these guys being
more "electronic" than this, but 1) it's an older album, and 2) OK, I admit
it, I know diddly about Climax Golden Twins. They're definitely on the
Cheryl E. Leonard -- "De-ai" -- V/A: The Lab 20th Anniversary CD (The Lab, 2004)
Now this is electronics! Leonard also appears on the
fabulous compilation Women
Take Back the Noise, which we got into rotation this week. I'll be
spinning that one a lot.
Leonard and Climax Golden Twins are each doing a performance at the Exploratorium this
weekend. Leonard's (aided by a couple of musicians) is an installation
piece for amplified water and percussion.
Now, how's this for a bill: Dos (two basses) and Good for Cows (bass
plus drums). Nice choice by the Hemlock Tavern.
Dos -- "Number Seven" -- Justamente Tres (Kill Rock Stars, 1996)
The husband-wife duo of Mike Watt and Kira, both on electric
basses. No other instruments! For all their hardcore credentials, they made
some lovely duet music with Dos. In fact, their tracks ended up being
the melodic cool-down segments for this set.
Good for Cows -- "Chickenshit" -- Good for Cows (Evander, 2001?)
The duet of Devon Hoff and Ches Smith, on just acoustic bass and drums.
Previously noted here, the duo is
quite effective as a band and seems to get gigs consistently. This track is a
driving, jazzy sprint, good stuff.
Dos -- "Dream of San Pedro" -- Justamente Tres (Kill Rock Stars, 1996)
Back to melodic dreaminess with Dos. Nice.
Good for Cows -- "The Whopper" -- Bebop Fantasy (Asian Man, 2005?)
Possibly my favorite 'Cows track, another peppy, jazzy one.
Dos -- "Taking Away the Fire" -- Dos (New Alliance, 1986)
This set was supposed to stop at four tracks, but midway through
"Dream of San Pedro," it occurred to me that I hadn't checked our vinyl
collection for the first two Dos albums, the ones where Kira sings.
Sure enough, we had this one stashed away in there, as yet unkeyed into
our Zookeeper online
Enough with the pretty melodic tracks; this one's got a tougher edge
to it. Kira's voice is unconvincing in trying to sound aggressive here,
and yet, maybe because she's got the credentials, it seems to work. Nice
way to end the set, a nice departure without abandoning the quieter,
bass-heavy sound of the first four tracks.
* Bobby Previte -- "Anthem for Andrea" -- The Coalition of the Willing (Ropeadope, 2005)
William Parker, Donald Robinson -- "Slashing the Bird" -- Cherry Box (Eremite, 2000)
Marco left the Bay Area for Vienna in late 2005, hoping to find an
environment better suited to supporting himself with music. I'd played a
block of his stuff in tribute here.
He's back in the U.S. for a visit, although he's got only a couple of gigs around here. (Plus a couple in New York, one at The Stone.)
William Parker, Donald Robinson -- "Slashing the Bird" [cont'd]
-- 6:00 p.m.
The Flying Luttenbachers -- "Number Three" -- Revenge (ugEXPLODE, 1996)
Played these guys to note that Weasel Walter's quartet will be
on the same bill as Marco Eneidi this coming week.
Kyaw Kyaw Naing -- "Enchanting Lake of the Elephant" -- Drum Circle of Burma (Shanachie, 1998)
Naing plays the Pat Waing, or, basically, drum circle. It's a
collection of percussion, most of it metallic, and he's able to riff some
pretty complex sounds, as if he were playing some kind of reed instrument.
Wonderful stuff, fast and exciting.
* Tomoe-Ryu Yutakadaiko -- "Chichibuyatai/Bayashi"
Japanese Drums (Arc, 2007)
Naing relocated to the United States from Myanmar circa 1999, and he's been
promoting Burmese music ever since. People at the time were calling
Burma the last
frontier of world music, an untapped source even in a time when
musics of the world were gaining in popularity here. He'll take the
mission to Stanford this coming week, playing a show in the Pan Asian
These guys aren't playing in town next week, but with the whole
Asian drum thing going on, and this CD sitting in rotation, taunting me, I
had to give it a spin. Big fun Taiko stuff.
I would later find out that taiko artist Kenny Endo is doing a
residency at Stanford and is leading an ensemble in a Feb. 23 performance.
So, taiko turns out to be relevant to the theme after all.
John Raskin -- [Untitled improv, solo alto sax] -- Music + One (Rastascan, 2005)
This set is meant to relate to the 2+2 series of shows put on
by Raskin and Phillip Greenlief. Each show consists of two pairs of improvisers
performing in separate duets.
Kris Tiner and Mike Baggetta -- "Second Preference" -- There, Just As You Look for It (pfMentum, 2005)
The CD, kind of a cousin to 2+2, is credited to Myles Boisen and John Raskin. It's a collection of two dozen solo improvisations, all
three or four minutes long. The idea is to use them as backdrop for one's own
improvising; it's like an exericse book, and the musicians were instructed to
build the recorded improvisations with that idea in mind. Interesting
I'm reminded of Jean Derome's CD, Le Magasin
de Tissu, which consists of 69 improvisations recorded in random groups of
one, two, or three, creating fragments of imaginary duets and trios.
Trumpet and prepared guitar. Tiner and fellow trumpeter Darrell Johnston are playing in the next 2+2, with Greenlief and Raskin forming
the other duet.
Phillip Greenlief and Scott Amendola --
"Spunk" -- Collect My Thoughts (Nine Winds, 1995)
Along with Greenlief's duo with Trevor Dunn (bass), an important
document of the jazz/improv scene in the '90s. This is a disc of
improvisations; I happened to choose a catchy, tuneful one to end
Every year, Mills
College puts on Signal Flow,
a festival of new works by the school's graduate students, presented
across three or four evening programs. Almost by definition, we don't
have CDs from these students, so instead I trotted out some local
electronics/noise folks, as it's the kind of stuff I expect to hear
for at least part of Signal Flow. Payne and Bischoff, I later learned,
teach at Mills.
Maggi Payne -- "Lab Fountain" -- V/A: The Lab 20th Anniversary CD (The Lab, 2004)
Harsh noises like an airplane revving up and taking off. Then it
splinters into a strong, loud flow of choppier sounds. The ending is
just great, kind of abrupt, showing that noise music can be
constructed with a conventional sense of drama.
John Bischoff/Tim Perkis -- "Next Tone, Please" [excerpt] -- Artifical Horizon (Artifact, 1989)
Peaceful and even pretty. Small, quiet electronic tones
that lay out slowly, kind of forming a crystalline melody.
Compomicro-Dexall -- [Untitled 23 min. piece, excerpt] -- Live at Beanbender's 1998 (self-released, 1999)
Back to harsher sounds. Compomicro-Dexall is the duo of Jake Rodriguez (aka "The Bran (Pos)") and Mike Guarino, playing bass and drums respectively
but adding other instruments and electronics and noisemakers. Jeremy Stone
was a member for a while, too, and is probably on this CD (it definitely
sounds like more than two people). The disc is just the one 23-minute
track, probably a combination of improvisations and a few composed bits
of brutal mathy rock, judging by other Compomicro performances.
the way, was a weekly music venue in Berkeley, an abandoned bank building that
was being used as an art classroom by day. It was a comfortable and well-lit
place to see shows, and it was instrumental in getting me into this kind of
music in the first place.
Badland -- "Nissa" [excerpt] -- The Society of the Spectacle (Emanem, 2005)
Saxophonist Simon Rose is coming to town for a gig or
two. He's the front voice in this trio, with bassist Simon H. Fell and
drummer Steve Noble. I was quite impressed with this disc, a nice set
of jazz improvisations showcasing a versatile and lively Rose.
? Jessica Lurie Ensemble -- "For a Thousand Kisses" -- !ZIPA BUKA! Watch Out, Noise! (self-released, 2002)
Lastly, saxophonist Lurie is swinging down from Seattle for a couple
of shows. Her music is that kind of NPR-friendly mix of jazz, Latin, world,
and blues, with plenty of drive and funk. There's also some edge -- like the
swarming angry sax invasion that starts "Z.I.P.A." -- but most tracks settle
into accessible melody and pleasant beats.
Her stuff works, though, on pop and jazz levels. This track happens to
have her singing lyrics, so I figured I'd play it here, followed by
a more challenging instrumental.
? Jessica Lurie Ensemble -- "Z.I.P.A." -- !ZIPA BUKA! Watch Out, Noise! (self-released, 2002)
* = 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.