Joe Lasqo performs Weds., Jan. 11, at Meridian Gallery in San Francisco.
Joe Lasqo’s Turquoise Sessions album consists of ragas and similarly long-form Asian music, realized on the piano. He stirs some blue notes and soulful jazz into the slow-brewing mix, as well as some modern-classical ideas. It’s sometimes contemplative but certainly not static.
That’s not his only trick. At his show Wednesday night, he’ll be displaying some very intellectual-sounding piano work and some laptop experimentation as well. “Deconstruction/resynthesis of Miles Davis and cool jazz via linguistic theory & finite state machines,” one part of the bill reads. Things like that.
I’ll let him tell it himself, as he’s got a blog entry that pretty well describes his plan for Wednesday’s show. He’ll play some laptop along with his piano and will show off a new raga he’s been performing.
As for the ragas and “Neo-Gaku” songs on Turquoise Sessions, they’ve got their relaxing side but (like traditional ragas) reward long spans of attention. You can get wrapped up in these pieces, and the jazzy twists in the two ragas add some welcome spice.
The longest piece, at 25 minutes, is “Enteraku in Mode Hyo.” I have to admit, I was wondering if it would be 25 minutes of wandering in the desert, but it turns out to have lots of listener footholds, especially a repeating, ladder-climbing motif of high notes that feels very placidly Japanese. It’s also got occasional chordal washes that resemble the strumming of a koto or harp.
Often, you hear about classical or world influences on someone’s music, and they’re not quite evident. This is the real thing; Lasqo, who’s studied Indian classical music, is toying with new forms of the piano “piece.”