Kudos to the folks at Dana Street Roasting Co. in downtown Mountain View. They’re trying to host jazz and even avant-garde events every couple of months, it turns out.
The owner was talking about it after tonight’s show with the improv/jazz/noise trio Brotulid, which I’d mentioned yesterday. Bassist Steuart Liebig happens to know the guy, which is how they’d set up the gig. Apparently something with Nels Cline in the fall is a possibility too.
Dana Street is a regular host to acoustic or folky acts, but they’re getting jazz into the mix too — Scott Amendola and Wil Blades are apparently set to perform in June, and on the very straightahead side, Hammond B-3 player Tony Monaco recently did a show there. It’s a friendly place right near the downtown restaurant corridor, and they didn’t charge a cover to the folks who stepped in just for a cup of coffee.
The show was loud: electric guitar, electric bass, and sax, with all three players adding laptop electronics and a matrix of pedals. Long stretches of ambient (but loud) synthy tones would emerge, eventually broken up by hard, forceful beat loops from a laptop. The band would then improvise over those beats.
The aesthetic was closer to noise than to jam bands, but Liebig would sometimes settle on a riff on his 6-stringed fretless bass. Even better were the passages where he took long, blistering solos on the instrument. G.E. Stinson‘s guitar added plenty of fireworks, too, and Andrew Pask’s occasional saxophone kept things close to the legitimate borders of jazz.
Pask’s monome, a multi-buttoned and tilt-sensitive interface for the laptop, attracted the most audience questions between sets (each set being an uninterrupted 30- or 40-minute piece). Pask mentioned one trick he’d used it for. Apparently, playing a clarinet in this ensemble is just hopeless; it can’t compete in volume. So he sampled his clarinet and used the monome to play it from the computer, nice and loud (and bendy and cartoony, too).
The music was audible out on the sidewalk, through the closed door, so it attracted a lot of stares from passers-by. Some seemed impressed or even interested, which was a nice surprise. At any rate, it was a bit of added entertainment watching people get caught in music’s effective radius.
It’s hard to promote this kind of music in what’s essentially the suburbs. Dana Street’s owner knows that but still wants to soldier on with it. If you live anywhere on or near the peninsula, keep an eye on the place. Hopefully they’ll continue packing the occasional surprise for some time to come.