You could argue it wasn’t worth the effort, but with a free evening and two interesting shows to pick from, I decided to try doing both. It meant catching only the tail end of Telepathy, but I’m still glad to have done it.
I’d been meaning to check out the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra for some time. The program last night was titled “Restless Dreams” and featured a wide variety of new music, with lots of bells and whistles: Tom Nunn performing a concerto for the sonoglyph, one of his homemade electroacoustic instruments; Michael Cooke debuting a piece for the Chinese sheng (a fragment of that music is pictured above), a newly acquired instrument; and a finale piece featuring electronics, lasers, a strobelight, and a fog machine.
It wasn’t all abstract music, either; some pieces were downright tuneful.
I do prefer the more opaque stuff, but some variety was nice.
The concert had a casual air, with the audience sitting attentively during the pieces but mobbing the stage during intermission and after the show, to congratulate friends in the ensemble, ask questions, or check out the sonoglyph — a board sporting a variety of metal percussion elements — up close. Nunn let people play with the instrument and posed for several pictures with it. Should’ve brought a camera.
A summary of all the pieces is beneath the fold. (Warning: it’s long.)
Patrick Cress’ Telepathy (see also here) is a creative jazz quartet that’s been around for some time. Their stuff is a mix of Ornette Coleman-like lines, touches of Klezmer, open group “soloing,” and the occasional careful/quiet piece.
The band is primarily Cress on saxophones and Aaron Novik on clarinet or bass clarinet. Drummer Tim Bulkley has moved to Brooklyn, although he was in town for this performance. I think the bassist this time around was David Arend, who’s appeared on past albums (but isn’t in the photo above). I liked his playing a lot, a good mix of strong tones and small clicks and harmonics.
Among the highlights: a sinewy, involved composition by Novik, and “Expressions,” dating back to 2002, which started with a driven Bulkley solo that led into a spirited composition. The band got pressed for an encore and did a quick run-though of “Lonely Woman,” with Bulkley’s jackhammering patter underneath the slow melody, played up brashly.
This is the kind of band that deserves the time and space to be nurtured, to work together night after night in live settings, perfecting the sound. I know, those days are long gone — it’s a familiar jazz lament but one that’s worth repeating, if only to remind the world of the possibilities it’s missing.
The new album, Alive and Teething, is available for download. (Oh, fine — it’s at iTunes too.)
I had a good evening overall, aided by the Parking Gods. If I lived in New York or Chicago, this would probably be the way I spent every weekend, and I’d be broke.