Sunday, April 12, 2009

Word with Ras Moshe.

Ras Moshe is another of the younger players who keep the music alive, well and robust, a semi heroic thing in this day and age.

1.What brought you to music?

I always loved music.Jazz especially,but many kinds of music. Its hard to describe why. It was just always there..its still like that!

I heard Jazz everyday in the house..that's not too unique because lots of young black children grew up around Jazz,but maybe they didn't like it for themselves even though they know about it.

2. Describe your role models, muses and mentors. good model for me was/is John Coltrane. He overcame certain personal issues and because he devoted so much time to the music he was able to make a living from it...and playing some very creative music as you know already!
Politically some of my role models are Malcolm X and Amiri Baraka..they had/have the ability to move forward and recognize that Things Have Got To Change.

Billy Bang was a kind of musical mentor in that he taught me about dynamics and playing the personality of the composition. He had a song called "The Softness Of Light" and I was barreling through the thing like Ascension or something. He said"man,what's the name of the piece?" I said "The Softness Of Light",and he said "so what the hell are you doing?" It improved my playing doing workshops with him.

All the artists I listen to are muses and mentors for me..just by listening.If I name them all,that would take a loooooong time!

3. Describe your community of colleagues and audiences.

There are a group of us who play in different combinations. As far as my own bands I have a few. One with Jackson Krall,one with Rashid Bakr(Charles Downs) and Shayna Dulberger. One with Tor Snyder..and other formations with Hill Greene, Andre Martinez..Dave Ross,Tom Zlabinger,Kyoko Kitamura,Dafna Naphtali,Todd Nicholson.

The audiences are composed of many people of different cutural backgrounds and ages. I still have an audience from my Brooklyn days when I was playing Reggae too. Cultural Roots Reggae that is.

4.What are the important elements you apply to your personal approach to performance, repertoire and composition?

Sometimes I use composition,and sometimes I dont use any..I just start playing. Both are important directions. At times,I can't get some people to play the pieces I write,because they think composition is not free enough. Or they intentionally play them the wrong way..I'm still not quite sure why,but I always have a lot of fun when I play anyway.

5.What role does teaching have in your work?

I'm currently preparing myself to be able to pass this music on to young people..this music is a cultural legacy and passing on what you've learned yourself is one of the main functions of cultural/political/artistic activity.

6. How have changes in the economy impacted your work?

I was on the bus once and an older friend got on and she told me that the 60's represented a "great depression" in Jazz. I couldn't help but wonder,depression for who? The club owners or the musicians? Its been a damn depression already for many jazz musicians..since the music started!

I mean there have always been those who worked a lot and those who didn't..within any part of the music's evolution.
Actually a lot masters of this music have been through crazy things in order to play..not just in the 60's.

I think its better to say "i didn't like some of the newer music happening in the 60's" instead of saying the "60's was bad for jazz". In a lot of ways it was a good time because of the expansion of consciousness among the people. But that consciousness is seen as bad by those who want to conservatize Jazz. They think Bird and Louis Armstrong were going to vote for Rudolph Giuliani.

So,I said all of that to say that the Jazz musician(swing,be-bop,free,fusion etc.) has always been in a precarious situation regardless of all the econmic changes in America. I just think postive and make sure I have a day job. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how well played the "free music" your playing is..if its different it takes a little longer to get your voice out there.

7. If you perform beyond your region or overseas, how has that changed over time?

I haven't been overseas yet..but that's coming soon! Its always been a great reception and great turnouts when I play outside my NY/Brooklyn region .

8. How has technology and changes in the way music circulates impacted your work?

Its easier to produce your music yourself and put it out. One of the catches is that sometimes there's tons of music out there that's not that good just because the technology is there. I really don't like to judge,I want to record too,but that's what I've been seeing/hearing.

9. Describe your current and potential future projects and collaborations along with things you would like to do.

I'm developing my writing my large ensembles..I want to do that often in the future. I like large and small groups.
I would also like to play with Rashied Ali,Sunny Murray,Milford Graves or Cecil Taylor!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Odean Pope at Nightstage circa 1987 or So.

This is another conversation from my small archive of interviews from the late 1980's. It is a conversation Craig Schildhauer taped with Odean Pope at a Max Roach show in an odd grubby Cambridge called Nightstage that has long since vanished beneath the waves.

Craig: "What were some of your earliest influences as far as formulating your current musical (approach)?"

Odean Pope: "There was a great keyboardist in Philadelphia. I lived about two or three blocks from him, Hasaan Ibn Ali. He was a great influence on all the musicians there. He was like this extraordinary keyboardist. In fact, he did a recording with Max Roach some time in the early sixties, the Max Roach Trio featuring the Legendary Hasaan. He was a great, great innovator. He was the kind of person that could just create all kinds of different melodies, rhythmic concepts, harmonic concepts, cross rhythms, two against three, three against five, seven/four, nine/four, eight/four and all kinds of different rhythms.

And I was blessed to be living probably about two or three blocks from him. Him and I used to get together sometimes, two or three days a week. And that was the first, early developments. And then after a period of six to eight months, we started getting together practically every day and it was like a sort of institution for me."

"In terms of music, learning all the different kinds of cross rhythms, seven/four, eight/four and things of that nature, from that experience, I think, I listened. I learned to listen to keyboards a lot. I started doing research on Fats Waller, Bill Evans, 'Fatha' Hines, Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. And I just started listening to a whole host of keyboard players because I always wanted to play long phrases like keyboard players."

"I was never fond of listening to horn players. Because at a very early age, I developed a sense of thinkin' if you play too much like another horn player, it would be very hard for you to get any kind of recognition. So, as a result, I started listening to a lot of keyboard players. And the greatest influence would be, to answer your question, would be Hasaan Ibn Ali."

Craig: "Was saxophone your first instrument?"

Odean Pope: "In the beginning, I was playin the keyboards, piano player, a piano and clarinet. I played clarinet and piano, I guess probably about four or five years."

Craig: "What made you cross over to saxophone?"

Odean Pope: "Well, I'm thinkin' it was an experience of trying to search and trying to find a voice that would be close to the human voice. And, basically, it's all sort of derived from, like I said earlier, my child experiences like singing in the church. I was always looking for that voice that was going to sound like the (human) voice."

And I don't know whether you know it or not but the saxophone is the closest instrument to the voice. And, as a result, from studying the clarinet and the piano I went through some additional instruments like the oboe, the alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, but for some reason I feel very comfortable with the tenor. I mean, to me the tenor saxophone is the closest voice to the human voice."

Craig: "About what time did you have any teachers that brought you into learning about circular breathing and that kind of technique?"

Odean Pope: "Well, I had some. I studied with Max (Roach). I did some studying with Max. I also did some studying with PMA in Philadelphia. I studied in Paris with Kenny Clarke. I had a whole host of teachers, Ray Bryant was one of my teachers. Hasaan Ibn Ali Was one of my teachers. I did some studying with Jimmy Smith. Archie Shepp and I sorta collaborated because he's originally from Philadelphia. He used to live in Germantown so we collaborated on some things."

"I just had a whole host of different kinds of teachers in terms of writing, improvisation, intonation studies, theory studies with just a whole host of teachers. I feel extremely blessed."

Craig: "Why don't you talk about the Saxophone Choir and where that started and things just previous to that that you've been working on."

Odean Pope: "The Saxophone Choir was sorta derived from the church, bein' raised up in a Baptist church. I started writin' for the Saxophone Choir in the early seventies and I started compilin' different kinds of concepts. Around 1978 I started rehearsin' the Saxophone Choir. And from that point, 1978, the Saxophone Choir consisted of nine saxophones, piano, bass and drums.

Occasionally we played with just the nine saxophones, no bass, no drums and no piano. That was the original idea. Just to play, have the saxophones playin' counterpoint and rhythm, rhythm changes as well as harmonic concepts, same as the bass, piano and drums would be doin'. Some of the newer compositions that I'm writin' now have the saxophones playin' rhythmically and harmonically, the same thing as the piano, bass and drums are playin."

"So I guess around 1978 we did our first performance. We went to New York City. We worked at Rashid Ali's place and Max heard it and from that point Max gave me a lot of support. In 1979 I went to Europe with Max and I got the opportunity there in 1980 to take the Saxophone Choir on a European tour. We did a concert in West Germany, we did something in Holland and from that experience it really inspired me to come back and study and do a lot of research and really get involved with the writing for the Saxophone Choir."

Craig: " How would you describe the situation of the music in general, like in America or in Europe?"

Odean Pope: "Well I see a tremendous change at this point, primarily because so many young people like yourself, Craig. I'm very happy to meet you and I've heard quite a bit about you. Max had mentioned some things about you, also Chris. I think it's going to be a tremendous change primarily because a lot of people like yourself, young people, are getting more involved with the music like Wynton Marsalis (and) Branford.

There are some extremely talented musicians in Philly, Robert Landham, Willie Williams, (and) Joe Soule. They're very young musicians and I think the younger musicians are going to play a tremendous role in bringing the music to its proper place. And at this time I'm very happy to see, from my travels, so many young people becoming involved with the music. And I think that's the nucleus to bringing it around."

Craig: "It seems that conditions in America are improving while the conditions in Europe are slacking off a little bit from what I hear from other musicians".

Odean Pope: " I think it's more or less like a transition, primarily, there are certain circumstances when the same thing is happening here. Now that the dollar is sorta balancing out in Europe, I can see more concerts. Say from 1983, possibly into about 1986, the last of 86 the promoters was like reluctant about bringing a lot of artists over at the time because the dollar was so powerful and they just couldn't afford it. But in the last six or eight months, the economy has really balanced itself out and there's a tremendous change.

And I think the change that has taken place now is primarily all over the world. There's a lot of folks in Europe, there's a lot of people in this country. So it's a rewarding kind of feeling to see this change taking place at the same time where people in Europe as well as in this country are beginning to try to support and bring the music and give it its rightful place in history."

Craig: "Are there other parts of the world that you've traveled and played besides Europe?"

Odean Pope: "Last year we was in India with the Max Roach Quartet. We did a concert in New Delhi and we also did one in Bombay. And from that experience, it's like a dream somewhat comin' true to see that people, if you can envision 750 million people in a place about the size of Texas and what I saw from that experience is so many wonderful people who are really hungry for this kind of music. And I've never been treated better in my whole life than the trip that I was in India in 1986."

Craig: "Did you folks do any work with Indian Musicians while you were over there?"

Odean Pope: "I worked with a tabla player and I worked with a sitar player, I got a chance to. As a matter of fact we was in New Delhi for four days because we did a concert and we was off and I got a chance to go into a performance, there was some Indian musicians playin'. And I got a chance to play with the tabla player and a sitar player and the kinda scales and the chords they play are just incredible. It's like a natural high. I'm workin' on some of the scales. There's a scale, I might just point it out. It's like a scale where you're using the root to flat 9, the third, the fifth and the fourth and the seventh. And it's a whole scale where you try to exhaust all those notes before you repeat yourself."

"And the trick, the secret is utilize or exhaust all those notes before you start comin' around again. And it's a mind boggler because it's so many possibilities, there's so many things there which you can do. You can play the flat nine against the seventh.. You can play the flat nine against the root. You can play the flat nine against the perfect four. You can play the flat nine against the third. You can play the flat nine against the fifth."

"And all of the intervals, you can do the same thing. You can take the fifth and play it against the fourth. It's just a combination of ways how you can approach it. For example, what you're doin', you're takin' a particular scale and makin' secondary roots. You're basic root might be E flat but each time you approach one of the other intervals, you're thinkin' in terms of those intervals as secondary roots. And when you comprise and compile all different kinds of ways, you come up with some very, very unique and different kinds of scales."

Craig: "It's really like drawing as much as you can on the larger structure from the smallest part".

Odean Pope: "Right. That was a wonderful experience. I remember, at the end, I'd made arrangements to play with the tabla player and the sitar player. And we was only supposed to play for about an hour and we got involved, man. It was about three or four hours went past before I realized it. In fact, I had some other commitments at the time. I had no idea where the time went. It just went past so fast, I was unable to do my other things. And I was so high from this I didn't want to do the other commitments because it was like a real natural high, just playin' with the sitar and tabla player."

Craig: "Are there other places in the world that you like to travel and play music?"

Odean Pope: " Well you know from my experiences of just moving around on the East Coast and the West Coast, I'm beginning to enjoy so many wonderful people on the East Coast and the West Coast. I'm meetin' people like your self. I talked to Chris today."

"And there's just a whole host of wonderful people. And what I anticipate and what I see here is the kind of nucleus begin to gel to the extent where I see a whole host of musicians as well as people at some point are going to collaborate and get together and it's going to be what I foresee is something like the Northsea Jazz Festival in Holland. I would like to see big, large festivals like that happenin' here. And I've been talkin' indirectly with some people here and I can see, eventually those kinds of things are going to happen. Because, again, I see it's a lotta young musicians are becoming involved with this music that we perform and that is the secret, to involve the younger musicians to make them a part of what's happening."

Craig: " What do you see as far as the future of your own music and directions that you might go in?"

Odean Pope: "I'm writin' a portrait of my family at this time. What I'm doin', I'm utilizing strings. It'll probably be a seventy five or eighty piece ensemble where I'm utilizing strings, flutes, all of the different instruments and it's going to be probably ten movements and each one of the movements will probably be a tribute to my family. It's like a portrait of my family. Each one of the pieces will be like a portrait of one of the members of my family. So I'm anticipating, in fact, I'm workin' on that now. And I'm thinkin' it's going to take me another year or so before I can complete this project."

Craig: "Anything else?'

Odean Pope: "I'm going to San Francisco next month, as a matter of fact to do some things out on the West Coast with the Saxophone Choir. And I'm hopin' that at some point you and your colleagues can arrange something for me to come up to the University because I'm workin' on some new material and I've just been rehearsin' it with the Saxophone Choir, probably two or three times a week. And it's really getting to a point where I think we need to start to move around and work some because the Saxophone Choir is ready at this point out there."

Craig: "Anything you'd like to add?"

Odean Pope: "I think the nucleus to all that we're doin' is to let the younger people participate more and make them more a part of what's bein' done in terms of explainin' certain concepts, basic concepts, and givin' them a major role. And the nucleus of what they would like to do and what you would like to see happen. I think that's going to strengthen not only this country, but the whole world. Then we can think in terms of that and I'm seein' a tremendous amount of that is taking place at this time and it's a very rewarding kind of feelin' for me".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Set from Mr. Frenette.

1. What brought you to music?

My mother plays the piano so I grew up with music around me at home. But when I was about 10 years old – I saw a neighborhood friend playing acoustic guitar and I knew that's what I wanted to do. I begged my parents for lessons and after about a year -- -they finally caved in.

2. Describe your role models, muses and mentors.

I am a HUGE fan of Anthony Braxton’s music…for the obsessive music collector (like myself)…you can’t get better than this guy. Labels release between six and ten CDs of his music each year…many of them are multi-disc sets. His body of work is so extensive and the breadth of the material and ideas are absolutely incredible. Add to it that he is a master musician on all of the woodwinds...It is an understatement to say that he is a giant in the history of creative improvised music.

When I was in college in the 90s – I used to come to Boston all the time to see Joe and Mat Maneri perform…whether it was Joe’s quartet or Mat’s trio…I had never heard any other groups musically “breathe” together the way they did. I still listen to their music and love it just as much as when I first heard it.

And of course…there is Joe Morris. I had also started to see Joe perform in Boston quite a bit around the same time and he really leveled the field. His approach and virtuosity on the guitar are astounding and as far as I’m concerned…set the bar extremely high for what can be done with the instrument.

3. Describe your community of colleagues and audiences.

I think that the community in Boston had kind of dried up for a while but its slowly coming alive again. When I was in college - I remember checking the Boston-Improv gig calendar and it was packed with events and people playing all over town. Things seemed to slow down as a few key players moved closer to New York. But now it seems like things are on the rise as several local performers have been organizing events and really trying to pull a scene back together here.

4. What are the important elements you apply to your personal approach to performance, repertoire and composition?

I think its hard dealing with the history and the inherent limitations of the guitar --- to find a different "way" than guitarists like Derek Bailey and Joe Morris and to also try to incorporate all of the things that I envy about techniques available to piano and wind players. Between those two guys --- both such strong individual voices -- the challenge is "what do you play that they don't already do best"?

I guess it's the same frustration for all instrumentalists. I have tried my best to develop (and continue to develop) a unique linear rhythmic signature. To me - that seems to be most unique identifier in a person's musical imprint. I'm trying to play lines that kind of expand/contract/fold into themselves. Melodically and harmonically --- I'm trying to invoke forward motion.

5. What role does teaching have in your work?

I used to teach several guitar students at a couple of music stores years ago and although I don’t have the time to teach anymore --- I think that those skills have given me some insight on how to develop my own playing and what works are far as setting goals and implementing efficient methods to achieve those goals.

6. How have changes in the economy impacted your work?

Let’s face it – no one is getting rich doing this. And even though it is part of what it’s all about in this music…it is tough to justify spending the money on even a small run of CDs --- while you may sell a few --- we all end up with a box of them in our closets. I have enough material recorded and would like to put out another record --- and I know career-wise that I have to put another one out…it’s just hard to drop the money on it during these uncertain economic times. And are the consumers going to buy during this time period? Considering how many artists are also trying to sell their music too --- there doesn’t seem to be enough buyers out there to sustain all of us. Right now I’m trying to figure out a way to wade thru the endless assault of music available on the web and deliver it to the people who are really listening to this stuff.

7. If you perform beyond your region or overseas, how has that changed over time?

I perform in NYC a few times a year and while I really enjoy it and understand that travel is a necessary evil in the music business - I’m currently less inclined to take the ride as often when the expenses greatly outweigh the gains. But that should change with time as things get better (hopefully!!!).

8. How has technology and changes in the way music circulates impacted your work?

I’m also a freelance recording engineer and this is an amazing time to be working with the current digital recording technology. I have been able to work on several of my own projects at nowhere near the expense it would have been running through the classic regular studio channels. And I’ve been able to help other artists out with their recording/mastering projects too. It really is a great time for the independent artist as it is really easy to make your music available…the tough part is that there is so much music out there…do people have the time to listen to all of it?

9. Describe tour current and potential future projects and collaborations along with things you would like to do.

I have a couple of projects going on right now that I’m pretty excited about. I hope to continue to develop my current quartet. The core group has been performing together for about a year now and we have been making some really interesting music. James Rohr (the pianist in the quartet) and I have worked together quite a bit this year…he is an amazing player and a perfect fit for where I want to go with my music. We are planning to record a duo session later this year. I’m also a member of Forbes Graham’s Wild May quartet – I’m really looking forward to working more with this group. Forbes has written some really forward-thinking music for this ensemble. We’ve already done a couple of great gigs together – the other guys in the group are all so talented and I think that we can continue to do some really amazing stuff.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bill White: The Bookstore Cafe: Cambridge MA 1993-1999.

This is a guest segment from the majestic Bill White, now an affiliated music writer with the Seattle Post Intelligencer but for much of the 80s and 90s a significant contributer to quality of life here, particularly Davis Square, Somerville.

The Bookstore Cafe was a transient performing space owing its existence to the imagination and initiative of employees.

"Vincent McCaffery, owner of the Avenue Victor Hugo, a prestigious used book store on Boston's Newbury Street, found that it would cost no more to open a new store than to rent storage space for his overstock. He found a basement space in Cambridge's Porter Square, where he started the area's first combination bookstore and cafe. Attending a poetry slam there, I felt the space was being under-utilized, and spoke to Mr. McCaffery about my ideas for developing the cafe side of the store into a performance space that might become a cultural focus for the area. He hired me to manage the place in 1993 and he sold the business in 1996."

"The people who bought him out tried to keep it going, but the doors were permanently closed by century's end. During those three years, The Bookcellar was home to Boston's avant jazz enclave, which included musicians like John Voigt, Lawrence Cook, Tom Plsek, Steve Norton, Michael Bloom, Syd Smart, Matt Samolis, Craig Schildhauer, Raquib Hassan, as well as the story-telling sub-culture revolving around the colorful Brother Blue, and The Pendulum Theater, a group that adapted literary works to the stage, including world premieres of the Greek and Roman translations of Poet Richard Moore."

The Bookcellar thrived as a multi-use performance space because there was absolutely no money involved. It was a true art for arts sake proposition. There was no cover charge, no performer fees, no rent to pay, and no administration costs."

"My booking policy was simple. Everybody got a shot. Some, like Voigt and the improv group Debris, found a home there, and brought brave new music into the world on a regular basis. Others were not invited back, usually because they saw the Bookcellar as an opportunity for personal gain, for which there was no possibility."

Jazz was a significant element of the array of presentations there and it became a mini-institution in a surprisingly short time.

"The Bookcellar began its stint as a listening room for jazz with a performance by Two Bass Hit. John Voigt and Craig Schildhauer played their double basses in ways that were completely new to the denizens of Porter Square."

"The first Festival of Spontaneous Composition happened over the first week of May, 1993, when Voigt and Schildhauer played with Syd Smart, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Jemeel Moondoc on successive nights. Two Bass Hit eventually split up, leaving Voigt as the Bookcellar's prime connection to the world of improvised jazz. In addition to bringing in such out of town luminaries as Malcolm Goldstein and Sabir Mateen, Voigt used the Bookcellar as an experimental stage for some very unusual evenings of conceptual art, including works from his "Theater of Fantasy," created with poet/actor/dancer Bill Barnum. The audience for improvisational music runs between 20-40 people in any given area, and most of them usually showed up for the Bookcellar performances."

"Being a small space, a turnout of 40 people was a packed house, although some events drew in excess of 100 bodies. The local press was kind to us, due in part to our provocative press releases. For example, when Matt Samolis brought a flute ensemble to the store, it was christened The International Flute Army, and the papers, keen on the name, gave us a lot of coverage. We tried to make each show sound like nothing that had ever happened before."

"Voigt was especially helpful on this front, with solo performances such as "Exorcising Nightmares,' described as "for months, Voigt has worked with a shamanka in releasing a set of childhood traumas that have plagued him in nightmares for over twenty years. Under hypnosis, Voigt recorded the nightmares. At the Bookcellar, the outcome of the entire process will be revealed. Hear the tapes played while Voigt accompanies himself on string bass and djembe." The element of hucksterism in our promotion was key to getting the press coverage we needed to let the city know of our existence."

"The cafe had its ration of minor problems but the scale of operations and absence of financial pressures kept these from having a significant impact. Life is a setback. People are nuisances. Every day bought a set of new problems. ASCAP kept sending spies to try to identify cover tunes so they could hit us with licensing fees. The espresso machine was loud as hell, and there was always the prissy wanker who would come out and complain that it was ruining the music for him. Musicians would play past closing time and take forever to pack up, pissing off the bookstore staff who had to wait around for them to leave so they could lock up. But, on the whole, the Bookcellar was an ideal situation for most of the people who were drawn there. Because of its uncommercial nature, it was possible for real art to be created there."

"Since the audience was not paying, the performers owed them nothing. The question of "was it worth it?" was never raised. The values, since they could not be measured by a financial investment, were intrinsic to the experience itself. Neither was the duration of performance an issue. One of the store's most successful pieces was an adaptation of Artaud's radio play, "To Have Done With The Judgment of God," which lasted less than half an hour. Had it been done by a corporate arts group, it would have been a rip off at ridiculous prices. At the Bookcellar, it was a gift to the community. And when the doors closed for the last time the neighborhood was left with fleeting recollections and satisfactions that might otherwise never happened at all."

"During the very first appearance by Two Bass Hit, a bookstore browser asks, in all seriousness, if those guys know how to play their instruments. Violinist Malcolm Goldstein leading the quietest and listeningest octet on Earth. Over 100 people squeezing in to hear guitarist Henry Kaiser in duets with cellist Daniella L. DeGruttola. Ken Vandermark guesting with Debris. Richard Moore's adaptation of Eliot's "The Waste Land" for three voices. John Voigt's many performances, including "Hamlet Variations," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and his illimitable contribution to theater/installation piece "The Psychiatrist at the Cocktail Party, " in which his free jazz ensemble reflected the mounting insanity of the socializing psychos in conflict. The Gaduri Ensemble, which hung their metal and glass, instruments from the Cafe's ceiling. The whole Bookcellar web getting together to celebrate the songs of Charles Mingus. The Raga Ensemble's performance of the traditional vocal music of India, featuring Warren Senders and Vijaya Sundarum. After Sun Ra's death, Raquib Hassan's Cosmic Revelations, keeping the legacy healthy Chenrezi, with Michael Bloom on a variety of Asian percussion instruments and Craig Schildhaur on bass, with Debris' Steve Norton guesting on saxophone. John Voigt and drummer Lawrence Cook playing with Sabir Mateen, Jameel Moondoc, numerous others. The intermissions between Debris' sets, during which the musicians crowded the book aisles, drawing up plans for the next wave of energy."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

RIP Kill Me Trio.

Kill Me Trio.

There is something particularly fun about a new effort's launch. It seems like only yesterday, it was 1983 or so and a younger Joe Morris was handing a younger me his first home made lp, Wraparound, outside my flea bag Cambridge dump a few blocks south of my current fleabag dump.

Then was like now in some significant ways for those in the early stages of participating in this idiom. The artists tend to get lost in much louder and dimmer shuffles and hustles. The saving grace of now is probably the onset of Mass Media and Major Label die off and, of course, there are no young lonely guy boomer hordes to wave a flag for sophomoric fusion bands.

The trio described below was a debut project for Shayna Dulberger. All the participants are well prepared for the most demanding form of expression one is likely to tackle. There is an interesting design to the sequence of pieces as well with the opener a full ensemble introduction. The middle pieces are Ms Dulberger's composition's with the most extensive one, "Myopia" occupying the center.

There are several group made 'miniatures' that are utterly complete unto themselves. And these miniatures are preceded and followed by pieces embedded with a ringing singing so there is well envisioned contrasts in the discs unfolding. These early efforts, with uncertain budgets and less than optimal resources are also a technical challenge but the outcome is superb and again suggests the demise of the bloated music industry will not impact the ability of people to make something well.

Darius Jones, Alto Sax, Point Person, is fully equipped with all the capabilities discovered over the past few decades and likes the diamond cutter tone as a gravity center. From the comfort of that home he ranges widely across the sonic terrain with an assured deftness and a delight in covering a dynamic range from a mouse whisper to elephantine rampaging. Alto Sax is no doubt pleased that people continue to to do this as life gets pretty dull in football marching stints, GB and session fatigues or the gnawing sense of abandonment in pawn shops and music stores.

Shayna Dulberger, Bass,the Navigator, rises like Athena from some Zeus head of the idiom's capacity for stirring the imaginative, as with her counterparts, she has absorbed voluminous understandings and shaped them into formidable capabilities. Mr. Upright Bass is probably pretty psyched to make such a new friend when so many of the old ones have gone.

Jason Nazary, Drums, Engine Room, favors the wood but shifts to the metal in alert heartbeats. He is also acutely alert to dynamics and thus does his part to bridge bygone riverboat days before microphones and monitors made a hash of things. Drum Kit gets pretty dizzy from carrying the headbang water at high decibels and finds comfort in another prodigious effort to keep drum machines at bay.

1. Improvisation.

Full tilt start right out of the paddock. Ms Dulberger does a plucked launch with a muscular mid to heavy attack and distant Chambers archetypes. Mr Jones bright glass cutter develops a short figure as fanfare and all rides on a float of rolling pulses and cymbal splash from Mr. Nazary.

2. Improvisation II. When I think About You, I Hate Myself.

Fluttery Buzz of Sahel mirliton makes the direction evident early on with deft switch to bow work from Ms Dulberger. Mr Nazary works the wood side of the kit as a core with cymbalic darts and splashes as an element of surprise. Mr. Jones applies a striking feather flutter buzz of intra tones lurking beyond the diatonic and alternates with hypersonic long tone smears. The flutter horn makes an uncanny interweave with the flutter bow and provides a vivid indication of how attuned the ensemble is to each other.

3. Kill Her.

Mr. Jones considers to steer clear of the diatonic and musters remarkable nature evocations, unusual water fowl echos over understated drums and majestic pluckery. We have a hat snare core darting to toms
with gradations of increasing activity density akin to the sunrise chorus in an ecotone near you. Mr. Jones takes flight in an extensive soar through shifting textures enveloping the tone core densely.

4. Past Explosion.

Ms Dulberger's opening is shaped by elegiac tone bending to quiet subtle chirps from Mr. Jones and a Zen kit approach from Mr. Nazary with generous subtleties of silences sprinkled throughout.

5. Myopia.

Opening assertions from Ms Dulberger commence a fairly long result of her composition acumen that is a triptych form with the first segment mastering understatement with more substance than some dry exercise in minimalism. The mid section melody shaping takes on a whirling with some resonance to the massed shawms and oboe-ish things of Ottoman lands. The final section is a march as imagined.

6. Lowed.

One suspects the lingering memory of the late Frank Lowe sleeps in the title of a Dulberger composition made from a jaunty melody figure stated by Mr Jones.

7. Zeek.

This group invention is frog pondishly redolent of the trillings of vernal pools as amphibians gather after winters torpor to launch another polliwog generation. And at 32 seconds it has a lot going on in a way oddly similar to the amazing Folkways field recordings of the nation's frog species.

8. Duct Tape.

Full ensemble simultaneity subsides into interesting applications of the potential in 'Boing' like a more subtle boing than those spring noise things in cartoons or jaw harps in Patagonia. I'm guessing it involves some slide of a bow between bass strings that Ms Dulbeger then flicks into a boingish semi frenzy. Mr Jones offers a counter point of texture smears and long tones sparsely spaced.

9. Appendix.

This is a simultaneous full ensemble opening wash with long alto sax tones juxtaposed with bowed bass and full kit ranging of drums rising like a July line squall thunder rumble of alto lightening and the bass a wind tossed tree subsiding into alert quiet with a rise to the distant soaring pitch registers of polyphonic raptors rising from an alto bass interweave coaxed by cymbal thermals.

10. I Wish I Was.

A subdued, quiet as it's kept ballad vector, anthemic in its way. It is a bookend in some ways to "Lowed", both Dulberger compositions with a wistful otherworldly melodic one might hear in still lands at days end and things done.

Those who are interested in discovering this trio can get the cd from Ms Dulberger.