Friday, January 18th, 2008
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
(Return to playlists.)
I did manage to see Vijay Iyer
and Mike Ladd
Still Life with Commentator
last night, in the theater that's literally above our heads here at KZSU.
I'd interviewed Vijay and played some of the album's tracks on
last week's show; the link includes
a description of the piece.
It was great stuff. I'd love to have seen the full theatrical production
put on at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music
last year, but this stripped-down, more intimate version was
plenty moving in itself. The pieces come with compositional
skeletons and of course pre-written lyrics and narration, but the
music is largely improvised, creating swirls of textures that can
build up to a frenzy.
I became a fan of
Guillermo E. Brown,
who showed a lot of stage presence with his vocal parts. It was also
great to watch Pamela Z in
action, as always, and to see Liberty Ellman for
the first time; he got to dig in with a couple of solos late in the piece.Okkyung Lee on the cello
was terrific, too, laying down deep bassy grooves or adding scraping
metallic sounds to the overall textures.
Electronics samples were flying everywhere. The overall piece has a
drifting quality to it -- not necessarily dreamy, as some songs get
hard-edged and crisp, but wandering, a byproduct of the improvisation
that's going on. I like that. In addition to being a rewarding sound,
it's a good representation of the confusion around media today --
things are changing, but we still don't know what the final forms
The "Tips" Project: Took some time today to interview
who along with
(of ROVA and
has been performing
Steve Lacy's "Tips,"
a set of 14 songs based on aphorisms by cubist painter
Braque. They'll be performing it again at the
Jazzschool in Berkeley
tomorrow. (The second act will be a Larry Ochs
group that also includes Okkyung Lee).
More on the interview below.
(You can read more about "Tips" by following the Lacy link above;
from the Home Page, click on "Play," then "Art Songs." The site
is set up to reject you if you try to go there directly.)
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
Bruce Ackley Trio -- "Out of the Box" -- The Hearing (Avant, 1998)
* Martin Speicher, Georg Wolf, Lou Grassi -- "Shapes and Shadows" -- Shapes and Shadows (Clean Feed, 2007)
* Bill McHenry -- "The City" -- Roses (Sunnyside, 2007)
* Erik Friedlander -- "Rachisel" -- Volac: Book of Angels, Volume 8 (Tzadik, 2007)
Solo cello workings of songs in the Masada songbook, mostly
in percussive pizzicato. Like the other Book of Angels disks we've
sampled, it's got a classical air to it, quite serious stuff.
Definitely in contrast to the folkier, melody-driven stuff on his
Block Ice and Propane, noted here.
* Mick Barr -- "rdd-4" -- Octis: Iohargh Wended (Tzadik, 2007)
Over-the-top crazy guitar solos with occasional drum machine,
as Barr is wont to do. He's been part of the Flying Luttenbachers and
has been doing this solo stuff lately. Blazing metal-influenced
stuff heavy on the "complexity" thing, well played but not easy
to take in large doses.
* Francois Carrier and Michel Lambert -- "Amarawati Garden" -- Kathmandu (FMR, 2007)
* Amir ElSaffar -- "The Blues in E Half-Flat" -- Two Rivers (Pi Recordings, 2007)
* Happy Apple -- "The New Bison" -- Happy Apple Back on Top (Sunnyside, 2007)
* His Name Is Alive -- "Geechee Recollections" -- Sweet Earth Flower (High Two, 2007)
A well-deserved tribute to jazz saxophonist Marion Brown. The
packaging includes a marketing sticker on the CD case that reads:
"'It's beautiful, thank you, you really understand me' -- Marion Brown."
The connection isn't immediately clear to me, unless there's a
chunk of Marion Brown's work I'm unfamiliar with
(which is possible). This stuff is low-key and droney, lots of
percussion, lots of keyboard noodling and some guitar attack.
It's good, though, and Marion Brown does deserve the recognition.
? (Tim Berne's) Bloodcount -- "Scrap Metal" -- Seconds (Screwgun, 2007; recorded 1997)
* Healing Force -- "Heart Love" -- Songs of Albert Ayler (Cuneiform, 2007)
* Rothko -- "Torch" -- Fractures (Acerbic Noise, 2007)
Nicely hazy guitar instrumental, a bright sort of drone.
From a split EP with Dysrythmia, which contributes a 14-minute
prog/metal attack that starts with over-the-top rawk and develops
into some nice interlocking prog noodling.
Phillip Greenlief and
Joelle Leandre --
"Variation 2 (For Soprano Saxophone And Contrabass)" -- That Overt Desire of Object (Evander, 2006)
Steve Lacy -- "Trickles"/"Duck" -- Clinkers (Hatology,2000; recorded 1977)
From a solo sax concert by Lacy.
* Rempis Percussion Quartet -- "The Bus and the Canyon" [excerpt] -- Hunger-Gatherers (482 Music, 2007)
Phillip Greenlief -- Interview, on Steve Lacy's "Tips"
As noted above, Greenlief, Ackley, and Josephson
have performed this album a few times. It's a project that was in
Greenlief's head since first hearing the album -- which conveniently came
with sheet music to the songs. Lacy had somehow found these aphorisms
of Braque's while living in Paris and set them to music, leaving room in
the frameworks for improvisation, of course. Greenlief's trio, in performing
"Tips," uses a looser struture, where sometimes all three players will
Steve Lacy +6 -- "Aggression" -- The Cry (Soul Note, 1999)
The collaboration could become a longer-term idea, as Greenlief mentioned
they've got a couple of composers in mind for possible commissions.
"Tips" itself wasn't meant to be a long-lasting production, but their most
recent performance, at Noe Valley Ministry, apparently went really well.
When Larry Ochs asked the three to perform "Tips" again at a
they happily said yes.
With Irene Aebi on vocals and a full band that includes
harpsichord (!) and accordion. We don't have "Tips" in the library,
sadly; it's a hard record to find. I did the next best thing
and played an arbitrary Lacy/Aebi track to go out on the right
sound and mood. This is probably a lot jazzier and more aggressive
than "Tips," but that's just a guess.
The Cry is a very interesting project in itself. All the
lyrics are translated texts by Taslima Nasria, an activist who
has spoken out on the state of women in Bangladesh and received
death threats for her troubles. She actually had a role in creating
this 13-song "opera," which goes through a variety of tough moods
and strong beats, while crossing into jazzy territory and
some art-song sounds. The title track, which comes second to last,
is brutal and powerful.
Water Shed 5tet -- "Braque" -- Blue Plate Tectonics (Rastascan, 1996)
Great combo from Pittsburgh, Pa. I got to see the
saxophonist, Ben Opie, on one of
his trips to Beanbenders in Berkeley
(Dan Plonsey seems to have taken down his
Beanbenders pages, sadly).
This is a fun track with a funky horn riff that repeats, and in
between "verses" of the instrumental, they get into weird free improv.
? Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd --
"John Stewart on Crossfire" -- Still Life with Commentator (Savoy Jazz, 2007)
Steve Lacy --
"Monk Medley" [excerpt] -- Solo: Live at Unity Temple (Wobbly Rail, 1998)
More solo Lacy, this time sorting through the Monk songbook. I think
we heard parts of "Evidence" and "Pannonica."
* Quartet San Francisco -- "Boy Scout in Switzerland" -- Whirled Chamber Music (Violinjazz, 2007)
Fun string quartet stuff, an album with lots of Raymond Scott
tracks, including this one. Scott, if you don't know, was a jazz
composer who wrote a lot of cartoony stuff, fun and fleet.
He was also a pioneer in electronic music, making gloopy tuneful
noises to go with TV commercials, work done under his lab called
Manhattan Research Inc.
* Tony Wilson 6tet -- "Squirk" -- Pearls Before Swine (Drip Audio, 2007)
* = 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.