Music and Things

Did I just go through my longest stretch yet without a blog post?  I hope so, because I’d hate to think there had ever been a longer one in there…

Various factors including work and, yes, the start of baseball season have curtailed my music listening lately. I should have kept being a good blogger, typing one or two sentences a day and hitting PUBLISH just for the sake of keeping up appearances. Instead, I’m gonna do all those missives at once, right here.


* It was great to see Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch play to a packed house at Yoshi’s on Monday, March 28. A packed lower section anyway — fullest I’ve ever seen it. For the first time, I had to be ushered to a seat, sharing a close-quarters table with strangers. Lots of great music, including a new song in the vein of the album Air Lore (by Air, the Threadgill/Hopkins/McCall trio) — meaning, an inside/outy jazz tune derived from old, old-timey jazz. They also played “Evil Bohemian” from Go-Go Fightmaster, a band that has exactly the same people but a different mission.

* Breaks my heart, but tonight, I’m missing an sfSound performance of part of Einstein on the Beach.  It’s at Amnesia, a friendly San Francisco bar that houses weekly jazz (hot club style, that is).  Would have loved to support the cause.

* My previous blog post mentions The Lost Trio playing at the Ivy Room weekly. Apparently, that’s ending as of right about now. Crud. Keep an eye out for other good (and probably free) creative music there, though.

* Cardiacs music continues to impress. I’m starting to understand how some people could be so viciously opposed to the band. One possibility: Tim Smith’s chord progressions often go intentionally out of tune (a C major to an A major seems to be a favorite leap), creating a sound like a warped record or a warbly circus act. It rocks, but if you’re not buying into the band’s premise, I can see how it might grate. I don’t care. These guys are awesome, and you should attend the May 8 Cardiacs tribute (and Tim Smith benefit) at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. It’s a good cause.

* More Cardiacs: There’s a Tim Smith tribute/benefit album, Leader of the Starry Skies, available at thegenepool.co.uk. It’s very cool, if melancholy; most artists seemed to either pick the sadder songs or do sadder versions of the songs. Best-of-set, at first listen, goes to prog band Knifeworld, which includes former Cardiac co-guitarist Kavus Torabi.

* I mainly knew of guitarist Antoine Berthiaume through his times recording with Fred Frith. Then, one year, he surprised me by releasing a fairly straight jazz album. Now he’s doubly surprised me with a fairly straight country/folk instrumental album called Small Tease. Engaging and breezy stuff.

Thanks to those of you who actually keep tuning in here. I’m not gone, or done, just flaky. It’ll pass.

Upcoming Shows: Sept. 20-29+, 2010

UPDATE 9/24: OMG, the People & Thingamajigs festival, mentioned at the bottom, made it onto cable TV news. Check out The Rachel Maddow Show, and look into Kent Jones’ stuff.

It’s one of those times where a lot of interesting shows have clustered. You can keep up with Bay Area creative music shows at BayImproviser or Transbay Calendar — they use the same calendar database.

Here’s a summary of some upcoming events, including an unusual number of multiple-show appearances. All shows are eveningish (8 or 9 p.m., usually) unless noted. 

The Lost Trio — The longstanding Bay Area trio that turns pop songs into jazzy takes that aren’t cheesy. They also cover Monk, Ellington, and country tunes, creating solid platforms for peppy jazz exploration. (Previous mention here.)

    • Mon. 9/20, not really The Lost Trio but the same sax & drums paired with a guitar, at The Ivy Room (see below)
    • Mon. 9/27, The Ivy Room (San Pablo Ave. @ Solano Ave., Albany, really close to Berkeley)
    • Wed. 9/29, NOON concert for SFJazz (Levi Strauss Plaza, San Francisco, free!)

Marco Eneidi — Alto saxophonist Eneidi is back from Vienna again, with a couple of exciting programs on his itinerary. (Previous blog entries here and here.) The second pairs an Eneidi ensemble with Kihnoua, the malleable Larry Ochs group that just might be performing in bare-bones trio form this time. (Previous entry on Kihnoua.)

    • Thu. 9/23, quartet with Ava Mendoza (guitar), Lisa Mezzacappa (bass), Vijay Anderson (drums), plus electronics/noise acts, at First Church of the Buzzard (2601 Adeline @ 26th, Oakland)
    • Fri. 9/24, quartet with Vinny Golia (woodwinds), Mezzacappa, Anderson; plus Kihnoua, at Community Music Center (544 Capp St., San Francisco)

Wrack — Kyle Bruckmann first convened this group in Chicago, and he’s now bringing the idea with him to the West Coast. With viola, bass clarinet, and oboe, Wrack puts a distinctively different sound on its chamber jazz improvising. It’s more tart, slightly sour. You can easily hear that the instrumentation isn’t the usual, and on CDs, it’s been a terrific experience. Wrack plays twice by themselves and once with ROVA.

    • Fri. 9/24, College of Marin (Lefort Recital Hall, at Sir Frances Drake and Laurel streets, Kentfield)
    • Sat. 9/25, Trinity Chamber Concerts (2320 Dana Street, Berkeley)
    • Fri. 10/1, Community Music Center (544 Capp St., btw. 20th/21st, San Francisco)

Other Minds — I don’t know who Dane Rudhyar was, but if Other Minds is this interested, so am I.  They’ve put together a Rudhyar program that’s getting a couple of dates:

    • Mon. 9/27 at Swedenborgian Church (2107 Lyon St., SF)
    • Wed. 9/29 at Valley Presbyterian Church (945 Portola Rd., Portola Valley)

Coltrane Tribute — It’s Coltrane Birthday season, and I would assume there’s a concert or two every year around the Bay Area that I’m not aware of. This time, though, one of them lands in the Luggage Store Gallery, a regular improv spot. Dan Plonsey, Steve Horowitz, and Vinny Golia will represent on the saxophone, and there’ll be readings as well.

San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra — The classical new-music group convenes again. Serious music in a neighborly atmosphere. The theme this time is “Animal Vegetable Mineral,” and the slate includes pieces by the late Jorge Liederman, the non-late Terry Riley, and SFCCO members.

Music for People and Thingamajigs — The 13th installment of this annual festival celebrating not only experimental music but creative, new instruments. The Thingamajigs folks are a bona fide nonprofit group that takes to the schools, teaching children the joy and education that can be found in building instruments and messing around with sound.