Sax-Free Zone

Do other jazz DJs experience this? Every now and again, I get sax overload. I find myself scrambling to find something, anything, that doesn’t have a saxophone in it.

What’s funny is that when these moments come, my mind blanks out. Like, what other instruments are there? And who plays them? Suddenly I can’t think of a pianist or guitarist. I figure it out, obviously, but it just shows how sax-dominated the jazz repertoire is.

I had a great time playing Friday’s 90 minutes of Rashied Ali music. But it was so sax-heavy, and most of it in aggressive, late-Coltrane-mode sax. I needed a break. And so came together this set, where I took a break not just from sax, but from conventional jazz.

* Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone — “Barber” — Thin Air (Thirsty Ear, 2009) ….. As noted here. This track’s an instrumental, and not one of the sweet ones. It opens with jarring guitar grunts and gets into soaring viola work from Pavone. Kind of a declaration that we’re moving into “something else.”

source:* Jessica Pavone — “Quartet VI” — 27 Epigrams (Peacock, 2003) ….. Pavone was sending music to KZSU long before the Halvorson/Pavone duo was on the radar, and I haven’t given it enough air time. This CD, in particular, is a cluster of vignettes that would fit the show nicely, sketches of strings and woodwinds in an angular, new-classical mode.

* Fabio Orsi and Gianluca Becuzzi (Etre) — “Act III” — So Far (Porter, 2009) ….. It’s basically one tone, played on a couple of electronic instruments. Each one starts and stops, so there’s a feeling of motion, but… yeah, it’s one tone. Here’s the deal: This CD’s other two tracks, each 16 minutes 16 seconds long, have been getting airplay for their mix of ambient loops and field recordings. This one, at 3 minutes, hasn’t been played at all. How could I resist? (It’s supposed to be 16:16 long and downloads as such on eMusic, but came up as 3 and change on the CD player, and seemed “complete.” So, I dunno.)

* Patti Littlefield & Mark Weaver — “Perfect Blues” — Resonance (Plutonium, 2009) ….. Back into jazz now, sort of. This is a duet of vocals and tuba/didjeridoo, which is unusual enough, but Littlefield sometimes stretches or squashes her voice to create an odd, heavy sound that would wrinkle foreheads at your Friendly Summer Jazz Festival. They play it straight sometimes (they do “Caravan,” because it’s the law), and they go spacey and poetic sometimes (as in the groany, mildly disturbing take on “House of the Rising Sun”). I went for an original track that has a jazzy air and a lyric about not being listened to.

You can see the full playlist in KZSU’s Zookeeper database.