Friday, March 14th, 2008
... 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. ...
KZSU, 90.1 FM
(Return to playlists.)
It was a real treat to have Mark
Applebaum and [sic] (Stanford Improvisers Collective) in the studio
for a live performance. [sic] consists of students taking Applebaum's
quarter-long class in improvisation at Stanford. About 18 of them piled
into our Outer A studio for an hour of great fun, including a couple
of passes at John Zorn's Cobra game piece and some mugging along
with a Mexican soap opera on TV.
Huge ups to David Bug for
engineering the whole shebang and getting everyone set up, mic'ed, and
plugged in. Our chief engineer Mark Lawrence strung the co-ax cable
to get the TV signal into the studio.
There's a small set of photos up on Flickr. (Check out KZSU's other photos while you're at it. If you can't find the [sic] pics there, try here.)
I wonder if Mark was disappointed to find out I was already
indoctrinated to this kind of music; there's a perverse fun in freaking someone out with this stuff for the first time. Regardless, he apparently teaches this class once a year, so I'm hoping to get the next permutation on the air as the fall 2008 quarter ends. We'll see. A lot depends on my time slot, which I might voluntarily move for at least one quarter. (That's a secret. Don't tell yet.)
[sic] was a delight to host, especially since they were willing to put up with my total inability to help set up.
ARTIST -- "TRACK TITLE" -- ALBUM TITLE (LABEL, YEAR)
Horizontal lines denote microphone breaks.
Here's the [sic] set. Titles are mine except as noted.
[sic] -- "Cobra 1" -- (Live in-studio performance)
I thought they did a pretty good job with this. Lots of
emphasis on vocal sounds -- grunts, yells, and the like -- which added
to the fun (this, and an earlier Stanford performance, served as a
quarter-end catharsis for the class).
[sic] -- "Electronics Duo" -- (Live in-studio performance)
Intended to be an interlude for everyone who'd brought
noisemakers, but I think this turned out to be just Applebaum, with
Chris Warren doing live glitching of the sounds (reverb, echoes,
samples played back, etc.) Applebaum played a chirp box, a
small wooden (?) contraption, fitting in one palm, that emits
different electronic squeals and shrieks depending on how it's
pressed or tilted. A matchbox theremin.
[sic] -- "Channel 65" -- (Live in-studio performance)
I couldn't see if anyone else joined in; about half the band was
out of my line of sight. Applebaum later referred to it as a duet,
so I'm guessing it was.
The aforementioned Mexican soap opera, given a formal title
by Applebaum. The idea was to do an improvisation to whatever was
on the TV, inviting listeners to tune in (on mute, of course) to
join in the experience. The students had the sense to seek out a
Mexican soap opera for their source material, and boy, did it
deliver. About half the group did the improv-comedy exercise of
wordless vocals: Grunts and "ho-HUUUNHs" for the mustachioed
(I'm guessing) male lead, and squeaky whiny crying for the female.
The other half added instrumental sounds in sparse doses.
It was funny stuff, doubly so when I peeked in at the TV monitor.
[sic] -- "Cobra 2" -- (Live in-studio performance)
Another take at Cobra. This time, one of the remembered
elements (a moment the performers can be cued to re-enact later)
was the ensemble breathing loudly enough for the room mics to
[sic] -- "Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 1" -- (Live in-studio performance)
Another one titled by Applebaum, having some fun with the
listening audience. Or, maybe there was some Tchaikovsky buried
in the mix as a base root; hey, it's a possible and interesting
exercise. Either way, the end result was another abstract improvisation.
The ending was wonderful: Applebaum had cued the group to let just the
three violins play out the final two minutes, and he signaled me to just
fade them down as a finale. It took me a few seconds to figure out
what he was pantomiming, but once I "got" my part, we had a solid finale.
-- 4:00 p.m. --
Spontaneous Music Ensemble -- "Low Profile" -- Low Profile (Emanem, 1999)
A bit of free improv from Britain, to complement the hour of improv
from [sic]. This disk captures a quartet rendering of drummer John
Stevens' legendary band, with Nigel Coombs' violin taking center stage
on this track, augmented by Roger Turner's guitar.
* Jason Kao Hwang and EDGE -- "Cloud Call" -- Stories Before Within (Innova, 2008)
A quartet with Hwang's violin and
Taylor Ho Bynum
on cornet, creating a supergroup of three-named Asian avant-jazzers.
A nice followup to the Edge CD,
presenting some strong composing with a good sense of drama, and
adding space for substantial improvisation. Meaty stuff.
* His Name Is Alive -- "Capricorn Moon (Live)" -- Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown (High Two, 2007)
* Noertker's Moxie -- "Ladders Cross the Sky in a Blue Wheel of Fire" -- Sketches of Catalonia, Vol. 2: Suite for Miro (Edgetone, 2007)
Inspired by Joan Miro, this is the second in a trilogy of albums
born of bassist Bill Noertker's journey to Catalonia. The first was
dedicated to Salvador Dali, and the third will be based on Antoni Gaudi.
The music is mostly breezy, melodic jazz, taken from the bebop era but
infused with some old-world charm, evidence of how the Catalonia trip
affected Noertker... I'm thinking mainly of the cabaret-style piano and
flute that color "Dona Del Cantir." Some tracks like "Dancer" come from a
rough avant-garde neighborhood, but others like "Ladders Cross the Sky" and
"Harlequin's Carnival" stick to bebop turf. "The Red Sun" is a particular
treat, a dreamy song crafted from two flutes spinning fast, twiny lines.
-- 5:00 p.m. --
Noertker has had this band around for a while. I first saw them years ago
(2000?) in a show with Rent
Romus' Lords of Outland; Noertker was Romus' bassist at the time.
It's great to see him keep the Moxie going as a long-term project.
* Mike Ellis -- "Part 9" -- Chicago Spontaneous Combustion Suite (AlphaPocket, 2007)
Previously noted here.
This one gets into a strong post-bop jam that wouldn't be out of
place in a mainstream setting. I love those kinds of Trojan Horse
* The Vandermark 5 -- "Friction" -- Beat Reader (Atavistic, 2007)
* Caramuru/Baldanza Duo -- "In Walked Tom" -- Bossa in the Shadows (Labor, 2007)
* Steve Lehman Quintet -- "Process" -- On Meaning (Pi Recordings, 2007)
Patrick Cress' Telepathy -- "Meditation, Realization" -- Meditation, Realization (Odd Shaped Case, 2006)
Amy X. Neuburg -- "Residue" -- Residue (Other Minds, 2004)
Tin Hat -- "Dead Season" -- The Sad Machinery of Spring (Hannibal/Rykodisc, 2007)
* Lucien Dubuis Trio -- "Le 31e" -- Le Retour (Unit, 2007)
* Noertker's Moxie -- "Dona Del Cantir" -- Sketches of Catalonia, Vol. 2: Suite for Miro (Edgetone, 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.