Archive for May, 2016

Musical Crash

2-cropYes, I’m still here. This month had what I think is my biggest-ever gap between posts, and June is likely to have some slow times as well, but I’m hoping to kick things into gear during the summer.

Blogging about why-you’re-not-blogging is a trope older than The Powerpuff Girls, but the gap in May happened for a reason beyond the usual kids-and-work excuses.

It does start with a kid: I have one who’s into theater. These productions are serious. They take place in a municipal center for the arts — a real, plush theater with a professional staff — and even the smallest ensemble parts are packed with responsibilities. It’s a rewarding experience for me as a parent volunteer, but unfortunately for me, most children/teen theater programs focus on Broadway-style musicals. After a show, I usually rush for an antidote — either Brotzmann-style screaming or lower-case improv. Something as far from showtune melody as possible.

This time, I worked backstage. Being behind the scenes while my teenager was performing was a thrill, but it also meant listening through a full week’s worth of dress rehearsals as well as five performances. I heard the complete show eight times, heard certain portions rehearsed again and again, and actually watched the show in the audience twice.

Luckily, the music was modern and more than tolerable, even catchy in a good way. No saccharine Andrew Lloyd Webber nursery rhymes, no mothball-scented Rogers & Hammerstein. I was able to actually enjoy the songs, aided by the fact that it was my kid out there.

But early in dress rehearsals, I hit a kind of musical fatigue. In addition to being way too bouncy and commercial-jingley (even by my kid’s standards), the music was loud, because it had to fill a theater. When we got home from rehearsals after 11:00 p.m. (I told you they were serious), I just didn’t want to hear music any more. I needed silence.

That extended into my days as well. The car commute, if I used the radio at all, was all about NPR, podcasts, and afternoon baseball — even pregame shows, which are 90 percent commercials.

Bottom line is, I’ve listened to hardly any music all month. This wasn’t a permanent condition or anything, just a need for some mental rest. (Physical fatigue probably played a role as well, because I was running the fly rail — the ropes that bring scenery up and down. Again: serious.)

It was interesting, unintended experiment. In the past, I’ve needed to escape a particular genre for a while — jazz included — but I never knew I had a hard limit for music in general. It was a rewarding experience, though, and I’ll gladly do it again. Just, please, not for any Andrew Lloyd Webber shows.

May 29, 2016 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

RIP Marco Eneidi

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 4.01.15 PM

Marco Eneidi at Amati Jazz Club, January 2016. Detail from a photo by “Mike in Mexico

(UPDATE:  Point of Departure has published a thorough Marco Eneidi bio, written by Pierre Crépon. Find it here.)

I was saddened to learn that Marco Eneidi passed away earlier this week. I don’t know the circumstances, but he apparently did not make it to San Francisco for the aforementioned concert on May 18.

Marco was a tornado on the alto sax, using a nimble and aggressive approach to craft persuasive, emotional stories. Jimmy Lyons is the commonly referenced touchpoint, and like Lyons, Marco did play with Cecil Taylor. He also recorded with Peter Brotzmann, William Parker, Bill Dixon, and a host of other greats. Though he hadn’t lived in the Bay Area for more than a decade, Marco still felt like part of the scene here, at least to me. He’ll be missed.

In honor of Marco, a few random treats from the web:

Here’s a gem: a previously unreleased session that includes Marco on alto sax alongside his brother-in-arms Glenn Spearman on tenor. It’s from 1997, the year before Spearman was prematurely taken away from us, and it was posted the other day by bassist George Cremaschi.


The trio Sound on Survival, which teamed Marco with drummer Peter Valsamis and bassist Lisle Ellis, is a must-hear. Their album on Henceforth Records — with Eneidi,  — is worth seeking out; they also released American Roadwork, following a marathon U.S. tour, on the CIMP label. And here’s a video snippet, with Marco in prime form.


All About Jazz has a couple of nice Eneidi interviews in its archives.

One, from 2005, was conducted by Taran Singh for Taran’s Free Jazz Hour. they discuss Eneidi’s move to Europe and the strategies and philosophies behind his playing. An excerpt:

Sonny Simmons taught me about long tones, about getting the sound a certain way, doing things a certain way, through breathing and meditation and Yoga. Jimmy showed me how to hold the horn the proper way, and Jimmy was about speed, that was his thing. He played Charlie Parker twice as fast and I try to play Jimmy Lyons twice as fast.

You can read the transcript here.

A second interview, by Anna Poczatek in 2013, is shorter but gives some details about the Cosmic Brujo Mutafuka band and Marco’s relationship with (and learnings from) Cecil Taylor.

Finally, Marco always had a special rapport with Bay Area drummer Donald Robinson. Here’s one of their final duo performances, from 2015. Rest in peace, Marco.

May 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

Marco Eneidi’s New Groove

Marco Eneidi performs May 18 at The Chapel (777 Valencia St., San Francisco) as part of the Patrick Wolff Sextet, opening for the Peter Brotzmann Quartet.

Cosmic Brujo Mutafuka (feat. Marco Eneidi) — Rhapsody of the Oppressed (Dimensional, 2016)

eneidi-CBMNow based in Mexico after a decade in Vienna, saxophonist Marco Eneidi has found two solid bandmates to help forward his cause of light-footed improvised jazz.

Itzam Cano is a terrifically energetic bassist, full of agile, cross-currented ideas. And Swiss drummer Gabriel Lauber brings the energy level and inventiveness that provides the right setting for Eneidi’s higher-energy improvisations. Formerly compatriots in the trio Zero Point, they’ve teamed up with Eneidi to form Cosmic Brujo Mutafuka, a trio (sometimes quartet) that’s simmered for a few years and has now put out their first album.

The bulk of Rhapsody of the Oppressed consists of some mid-length improvisations and a handful of miniatures, short declarations about a minute long. Many of the titles hint at the themes of social injustice and inequity that have pervaded Eneidi’s work and thinking over the years — a fire that still burns bright.

The album’s major statement is the 27-minute “Liberation.” It builds at a measured clip, first with springy bass and mournful quips from Eneidi as a warmup. After about 7 minutes, the band hits full stride, with drums at maximum energy and Eneidi pacing himself with a mid-to-high-energy discourse. It’s a well considered mini-epic with a slow middle segment that gives Cano a good chance to show off his improvisatory skills.

Often, Eneidi sets the overall energy level while the bass and drums run at high throttle. As an example, “Language Is Never Neutral” (a quote from Paolo Friere, whose work was based on the premise that education can’t be neutral either) plunges directly into an angry (or perhaps joyous) blast. But “A Child Walks in a Dream” feels more sublime but is really no less intense.

Certainly Eneidi takes center stage during much of the longer stretches. But when he goes through segments of short phrasing, it’s fun to listen to the music in a “negative space” way — hearing the bass and drums as the forefront, with the sax becoming background color. It probably works with all manner of trio music. But I like the effect in this particular case.

The miniatures on Rhapsody aren’t just trifles; they’re full statements that just happen to be short. “In Us Free” is another great bass showcase for Cano, springing and bouncing along with a colorful drum-kit accompaniment. “Exoridum” opens the album like an electrical burst, introducing the slashing, unfettered playing that dominates the album.

The group has also performed with guitarist Juan Castañón, as you can see here. But here’s a look at the trio, by themselves, in 2012.

 

May 2, 2016 at 7:46 pm 3 comments


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