Playlist: February 12, 2010

Click here for the full KZSU playlist for Friday, Feb. 12, 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

The first half hour was dominated by free improv from Grosse Abfahrt (more info in a post to come, or read the review in the East Bay Express, *or* go see them live on Wednesday at 21 Grand).

Other notes:

* Jerry Granelli V16 — “Unnamed” — Vancouver ’08 (Songlines, 2009) … Had to play something from Vancouver to commemorate the Olympics opening, and this one did the trick nicely.  The album is another set of what you might call avant-blues, a rock-influenced jazz with rock/blues guitars up front but a penchant for jazzlike composing.  Some tracks, like this one, even get pretty far out there in terms of free soloing, but the guitars stick to blues-club sounds, as opposed to jazz guitar. It’s got punch. Plenty of grooves and sweat involved here.

* Matthew Welch — “Bagpipe Quintet” — Luminosity (Porter, 2009) As threatened, I played the five-bagpipe composition from Welch, warning listeners ahead of time that the sound can get shrill.  See, when we, the DJs,  preview the next sets of music we’re going to play, we can listen to it on “cue” speakers — which, in our case, happen to be cheap but resilient little things. The sound is tinny. When you’ve got five bagpipes hitting those high notes, it’s really tinny.  Anyway, the piece is only four minutes long and turns out to be less grating when heard through decent speakers.  It’s in a droney mode, with some interesting slow ostinato patterns that crop up.

* Helmut Lachemann — “Grido” [excerpt] — Streichquartette (Kairos, 2009) … I followed Welch with some harshness from the Arditti String Quartet, although this piece quickly settles into a busy and low-volume level of activity. Lachemann, we’re told, is very highly for his post-tonal work.  The CD consists of three quartet pieces, all about 20 minutes long.

Playlist: January 22, 2010

Click here to see the full KZSU playlist for Friday, Jan. 22, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.


* Matthew Welch — “Self/Non-Self And Luminosity In The Bardo” — Luminosity (Porter, 2009)You gotta love bagpipes.  That is, if you’re going to make it through most of this album, you have got to love bagpipes.  That’s Welch’s instrument, and this album compiles some of his compositions … for solo bagpipe … for three bagpipes … for five bagpipes.  It gets shrill; if I ever play the five-pipe track, I’ll warn the audience to turn down the radio first.

The plus side: With dronescapes being a perfectly acceptable form of experimental music, Welch’s work has an obvious home. (Think about it: bagpipes are the original drone instrument.)  Also, there are two 20-minute pieces for large ensemble.  “Symphony of Drones #1,” ironically, doesn’t drone; it’s a spritely, bustling group improv with some agile bagpipes thrown in the mix. “Self/Non-Self” is a different animal, a 20-minute concerto for harp and bagpipeless ensemble that does drone in parts, albeit against some nicely scattery harp plucking by Zeena Parkins.

* Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Jeff Arnal — “Brooklyn Mantra” (Generate, 2009)It’s a 7″, one of three such disks we got from Arnal recently.  Experimental jazz singles!  I love it.  The A and B sides here make up all of “Brooklyn Mantra.”  I wussed out of playing the A side, in favor of the noisier B side, which is dominated by a one-chord guitar rhythm from Diaz-Infante, over which Arnal plays various percussion. Energetic, abstract, and a bit lo-fi. I liked it a lot, and I’ll be anxious to hear the other two 7″ disks when I get time.

* Tim Berne — “Quicksand” — The Sevens (New World, 2002) … Just in a modern-classical mood today, I suppose. This album compiles pieces Berne wrote for guitarist Marc Ducret and/or the ARTE Quartet (a sax quartet).  “Quicksand” is a 25-minute piece that combines all three (Berne, Ducret, ARTE) for some lively improvisation and galloping composed segments. I skimmed off the first 10 minutes for radio purposes, but the entire piece would be worthwhile someday, even in a radio environment where most listeners aren’t paying full attention.

* Bruce Friedman — “MCT-4 with Duos” — O.P.T.I.O.N.S. (pfMentum, 2009)It stands for Optional Parameters To Improvise Organized Nascent Sounds, and it’s a graphical-score piece intended to be stretched into an improvisatory framework.  The CD starts with a 3-minute run-through of the piece by itself: a scattery, disjoint, group jumble that reminds me of Rich Woodson’s Ellipsis (which performs through-composed pieces of dense complexity, full of sharp precision corners).

That’s followed by three longer takes, extended to include solos (or, in this case, duos).  They all tend to be calmer than the first track, and each of the longer tracks has its own personality. There’s apparently a sense of form that can develop from the original piece. No wonder it’s being used in the music curriculum at a Vancouver college.  Read more about O.P.T.I.O.N.S. here.

….. Notice how everything this week was “pieces,” not “songs.”  Not intentional.  Either I was in a modern-classical mood today, or I’m just getting all fru-fru with how I describe the music. Maybe I’ll remedy that by dragging out some Gutbucket next week.