I’d started this blog with the intention of posting notes and photos from shows I attended. I’ve proceeded to attend zero shows since then, partly due to a mild flu followed by sinus allergies — conditions that just make it torture being out in the nighttime winter air.
So I might as well post some shows I’d like to go to, health permitting. It’s not the next best thing — not even the 15th-next-best thing, really — but it makes me feel better, and what’s a blog about if not self-indulgence, right?
Lisa Mezzacappa‘s Bait and Switch, Jan. 16 — Actually, I missed this one already, but I’ve loved the free-jazz sound of Mezzacappa’s Before and After band, which you can hear on her MySpace page. This band has exactly the same personnel — it’s basically a repermuting of the band Go-Go Fightmaster — but given the name, maybe they do something completely different. I may never know, now!
Moe! conducting Moe!kestra, 2007
The last Moe!kestra ever?, Tues. Jan. 20, at The Uptown — This colossus of a big band/performance art collective has been a stalwart of the local scene for some time, with “Piece No. 1: Death of a Piano” being a particular highlight. Calendar listings are saying this could possibly be the last Moe!kestra ever, which makes it worth checking out; the fact that it’s free kind of adds to the allure. This is part of the monthly Avant-Garde Tuesday series that Weasel Walter has been putting on at the Uptown, so I’m hoping to finally attend one of these and buy a couple drinks to show the series some support.
San Francisco Tape Music Festival 2009, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, at Cell Space — A very cool annual event presenting pre-recorded pieces of sounds experimentalism, musique concrete, and electronic works, ranging from classic older works to brand new pieces by local composers. The “performance” is more than just engineers playing you the tape — it’s played on an array of 20+ speakers surrounding the audience, which sits in total darkness, for a cinematic sensory experience. (Lights come up between pieces). The program is different for each of the three nights. A crowd will probably turn out for Sunday’s playing of Varese, Xenakis, and Messaien pieces, although there’ll be a lot of curiosity seekers on Saturday for a new piece by The Fireman (consistsing of Youth, from Killing Joke, and Paul McCartney).
Dan Plonsey‘s opera, Leave Me Alone, Jan. 31, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, on the Web — At last, something I’ve got a near guarantee of attending! This opera, by Plonsey and Harvey Pekar, is being performed at Oberlin College and Webcast to the world. I can let the kids zombie out on videos while I listen! Check the opera’s Web site for details.
Rob Mosher‘s Storytime — The Tortoise (self-released, 2008 )
An ambitious album of modern big band (well, 10-tet) music with movie-soundtrack atmosphere, particularly in the solo moments for instruments like the french horn and oboe. I’m guessing the “soundtrack” feel is the entire point, given the look of the CD packaging — the band is listed down on the bottom, horizontally, like the credits on a movie poster. Think of those moments in ’50s/’60s movies when some grand landscape or gorgeous outdoor springtime scene unfolds. The music doesn’t just float; it’s got definite beats and melodies, and plenty of jazzy soloing. Neither is it completely retro, as in the use of electric guitar (not a jazz guitar either) on a few tracks. The sentimental, happy-ending feeling can be nice at times, but it sometimes hits my ears like unchallenging classical music.
Still, there are some impressive moments. “Jupiter” has a strong pulse to it, coming across like a hefty modern big-band chart with Mosher dishing out a solid solo on soprano. I found myself drawn into the peaceful flow of “Twilight” (another guitar-heavy track) and the 7/8 ambling of “Joy,” a pleasant track that surprisingly dissolves into free chaos. The goofing around on the appropriately titled “1920s Car Chase” is irresistable, as is the quasi-bossa nova “The Sands of Maundune.”
But I’m turned off by moments like the horn lines near the end of “On a Clear Day,” putting a sappy kind of Hollywood mystique onto an otherwise snappy track. Likewise, “Silhouette of the Man in the Fog” gets into a tough-digging, bluesy place with Brian Landrus soloing on baritone sax against Nir Felder’s guitar … but then Mosher comes in with sweet-toned oboe lines, and that film-noir feel just dissipates.
That’s my problem with much of the album; I’m not a fan of traditional movie music, so I don’t agree with many of the directions here. I do think it’s wonderful that Mosher can get a project like this recorded — it’s certainly not going to get airplay on cloistered, Miles-obsessed jazz stations — but I’ll stick to the more jazz-oriented tracks as opposed to the soothing satin of “The Forgotten” or “Twilight.”