Compact in Canada

I’m on a whirlwind assignment to Ottawa, with just a couple hours at a time free to myself. Of course I used those hours to stop by a CD store.

I suspect CD Warehouse might be the place Ottawans would tell me to go, and I might sneak over there tomorrow, time permitting. This evening, though, I was downtown, and Compact Music was closer by.

Turns out they’ve got a really good jazz section, expansive, and thick with lesser-known names. Lots of CDs from the ACT label (which I know primarily through the recent Vijay Iyer recordings) and Jazzwerkstatt (going well beyond the obvious Peter Brotzmann titles). A few from Justin Time, which I’d forgotten is a Canadian label, and lots of the more obscure ECM issues. Thumbs up.

I walked out with four CDs: the one CD I saw from the Dame collective (the Ambiances Musiques folks); Bruce Cockburn‘s new one, Small Source of Comfort, because I wanted to be that sterotypical about by Canadian purchasing; one more Canadian jazz CD selected for having a promising cover (I’d gone in intending to do that) … and a surprise pull: Bunky Green’s 1990 album, Healing the Pain.

I’m not familiar with that one, but the track “Seashells” gets a good mention here from Rudresh Mahanthappa. And fwiw, there’s an endorsement on this message board.

Haven’t listened to any of them yet and probably won’t until I get home. For now, I can be content knowing I’ve found a roost in Ottawa. Compact Music is in the thick of downtown at 190 Bank St., and even better, it’s a neighborhood with a coffee place on every block.

UPDATE: I did squeeze in a visit to CD Warehouse. It turns out to be a mall store — well meaning, but reminiscent of the final days of Tower Records. DVDs and even books take up a lot of the floor space (but not a majority). Still, they had a sizable jazz section, which is more than I can say for even some indie stores in America. Most of the items-of-interest I found were obviously leftovers from the days of a freer buying policy (i.e., the avant-garde-leaning jazz was all from 2004 or earlier) but they had lots of ECM and even a couple of the Black Saint/Soul Note box sets. So, Compact Music is the place to be — but I’ll still peek into CD Warehouse next time I’m in town.

Moe Rocks It

Surplus 1980, the new Moe! Staiano art/punk band, rocked the house at the Starry Plough Friday night. The band was energetic and tight. They were a quartet — bass, guitar, drums, and Moe on vocals, keyboards and extra guitar. I arrived mid-set, and through the door, it sounded like a lot more than four people.

Rhythmically, a lot of the songs moved in bursts, with barked staccato vocals and jagged guitar and bass parts. The drumming was terrific — loud but with a surprisingly light touch. (I don’t have the band members’ names down, sorry.)

I haven’t yet listened to the Relapse in Response album, copies of which were available at the show. It’s going to be a different experience, packed with horns and with Moe himself on drums. I’m glad I caught the band in straight rock format, though. They put on a solid show.

Surplus 1980

Moe takes to the guitar.

I’m pretty sure that’s Alee Karim on bass.

Moe owns an Invader Zim bag. I’m so jealous.

I expected White Pee to be noisy and bristling. The noise elements were there — guitar feedback, some keyboard/electronics — but the overall vibe was a more easygoing jam, drifting along with the rhythm. The band’s lineup varies every time, and this edition included a violin and cello, which I gathered was unusual. The strings might have helped define the mood of the show, and their contributions were great, often twirling well outside the determined rhythm and drone-chord to add all kinds of exciting color. They weren’t a jam band and weren’t a noise band — I thought of them as something closer to The Necks but with less looping.

White Pee, the sextet version. Dig the cute little amps.

I didn’t catch Aram Shelton’s Marches, which opened the evening. My kids had discovered the board game Clue and wanted to play a couple rounds before bed. Much as I enjoy seeing music, sometimes a better offer comes along.

Moe Staiano / sfSound / Grex

So much happening this weekend, including about 100 shows, it seems, this Saturday night. Go visit Bay Area Improvisers Network or the Transbay Calendar for full details.

Here’s a handful of picks from me, but believe me, the non-mentioned shows have a lot of promise too. (CJ Borosque! Rent Romus! Phillip Greenlief!)

Moe! Staiano, White Pee, Marches
Fri., Oct. 21, 9:00 p.m.
@ Starry Plough, Berkeley

Remember the Moe! Staiano project called Surplus 1980? It’s the thing I tried to get people to help fund.  Well, it’s out, and while Surplus 1980 won’t be a regular touring band kind of thing, Moe is doing at least one show, in honor of the CD release.  Great thing about the Plough: Kitchen’s open until late (like 11pm, IIRC).  Marches is an Aram Shelton jazz quartet including keyboard; the sound sample on that link is a slow, marchy kind of piece. White Pee, I don’t know… but it’s probably loud.

Sat., Oct. 22, 8:00 p.m.
@ Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco

The final SFsound show of the year brings the to Noe Valley Ministry, a nice spot for music. (The venue’s Web site mentions music having moved to another location, but a letter from sfSounder Matt Ingalls stresses that Sanchez St. is indeed the place to be.) They’ll play older modern-classical pieces by the likes of Iannis Xenakis and Stefan Wolpe, and new ones from SFsound members.

Grex, Wiener Kids, and Alee Kareem & The Science Fiction
Sat., Oct. 22
@ Swarm Gallery (560 2nd St., Oakland)

It’s the CD release party for Grex’s second full-length effort. As a duo, Grex has an artsy singer/songwriter vibe with occasional flurries of loud electric guitar. They’ve also got a quintet incarnation that puts a more jazzy spin on the tunes. Find out more by hearing both sides of Grex on Bandcamp.

Wiener Kids was mentioned here, and their last show got this nice writeup at the Fenderhardt blog. Alee Kareen was the bassist in Moe! Staiano’s band, Mute Socialite, and was quite good at it, so I’m curious what his band’s got cooking up. (Mute Socialite … ah, memories of 2008…)

Dogon A.D. Becomes a CD

Whoa. It’s out.

After years of obscurity, after foiled attempts by Tim Berne to get the rights… Julius Hemphill’s 1972 album, Dogon A.D., is again legitimately available. It’s been released by a Chicago label called International Phonograph, in a gatefold sleeve that replicates the LP’s cover (and apparently also includes the artwork from the original LP).

They’re printing a limited edition of 1,500, according to the latest newsletter from Downtown Music Gallery. (Of course, it’s available from other sources as well, like Dusty Grooves in Chicago.)

I know many of you — OK, many of us — have managed to get copies of this music despite its being out of print. But I’d still implore you to get a CD copy, preferably from one of the outlets like DMG or Dusty Grooves rather than some uncaring online behemoth. Consider it an investment, a vote that says it’s worthwhile to keep good music alive. Don’t let the American Idol watchers win!

(See also “Tracking ‘Dogon A.D.’“)

Dave Rempis in October

Saxophonist Dave Rempis is coming to town from Chicago. He’s part of the same Chicago scene that’s lent us Aram Shelton. Rempis is a veteran of The Vandermark 5 (the free-jazz band that’s a centerpiece of Ken Vandermark‘s career) and has led or co-led scads of other bands, like The Engines and Triage.

Here’s the itinerary:

11 OCT :: Rempis/Darren Johnston/Larry Ochs Trio @ The Uptown – Oakland
… Sax, trumpet, sax.

13 OCT :: Rempis/Shelton/Hoff/Ospovat @ El Valenciano – San Francisco
… Sax, sax, bass, drums. Hey, everybody, it’s Devin Hoff! Former Bay Area bassist (and half of Good for Cows) who’s moved to Chicago.

14 OCT :: Rempis/Shelton/Looney/Hoff/Nordeson @ Studio 1510 – Oakland
… Sax, sax, piano (electronics?), bass, vibraphone. Whoa.

What happens when you go listen to Dave Rempis? Things like this:

I’d also recommend hearing his group Ballister. There’s a sample on Rempis’ web site that shows the energy and bombast you can get from a trio. Visit here: