Upcoming Shows: The Greenlief Five

Phillip Greenlief, at Bluesix with The Lost TrioYou don’t turn 50 every day (so I’m told). Phillip Greenlief is celebrating in fine fashion, with five shows starting with Valentine’s Day. Below, I’ve cut-and-pasted his show announcement and added some comments in italics. Happy birthday, Phillip!

concert #1 – an evening with the lost trio
phillip greenlief – tenor saxophone; dan seamans – bass; tom hassett – drums
saturday, february 14th (phillip’s birthday) 8:30 pm
@bluesix acoustic, 24th street (at treat street), san francisco, 94110

[For two decades, this trio’s been playing their mix of covers: standards, rock songs, country songs. They’ve got a great sound together.  Click at right for a full band picture taken at Bluesix.

Bluesix, by the way, is a Mission District housefront that hosts quite a range of interesting music. It’s the kind of place that makes you glad to live in a big city.]

concert #2 – improvised music at 1510
first set – michel doneda, tatsuya nakatani
second set – tom djll, michel doneda, phillip greenlief, scott looney, tatsuya nakitani
sunday, february 15, 8pm
@1510 performance space – 1510 8th street, west oakland 94607

[Doneda (sax) is in from France for a few concerts. Nakatani (percusssion) is on his way back to Japan and will be in the Bay Area for just this one night — listen to him here. Djll (trumpet) and Looney (piano/electronics?) are mainstays of the local scene.]

concert #3citta di vitti at improv hootenany
monday, february 16 9:30 pm
@the ivy room – san pablo street, just north of solano avenue, albany

[Jazz trio playing music inspired by the films of Michelangelo Antonioni.]

concert #4music for large ensemble [click for details]
compositions by greenlief for orchesperry, special guests, the cardew choir
tuesday, february 17, 10:30 pm
@the uptown – telegraph street@18th street, oakland

[Part of Weasel Walter‘s monthly Avant-Garde Tuesdays at this downtown rock club. It’s a free show! (Donation suggested.) Come out, see a sprawling 20-piece band of great local musicians — and help convince the Uptown that they’re doing a good thing by supporting this music.  With two opening sets, including a quartet with Weasel Walter.]

concert #5orchestra nostalgico plays nino rota
sunday, february 22 @9:30 pm
@amnesia, valencia street between 19th & 20th streets, san francisco 94110

[Amnesia’s a bar, but one with an affinity for jazz/world live music and the occasional out-of-left-field group, like the What Cheer? Brigade. Cool place; the music will fit the vibe, even if the band doesn’t fit the stage.]

Before and After, and After

Running pitifully late last night, I made it to Berkeley for a little bit of Lisa Mezzacappa’s Before and After. They took the first set at the Jazzschool, and I managed to catch the last few numbers. The band does terrific new compositions in the Dolphy/Ornette vein.

Got to see Aaron Bennett turn in a neck-throttling sax solo, and Vijay Anderson on drums was really impressive, both in his solo and in the regular drumming during the songs.

That’s the band I really wanted to see, but the Kasey Knudsen Septet afterwards was worth sticking around for. This was music in a more conventional vein, based off sources like Prokofiev and Shostakovich (including a horns-and-piano reading of the Piano Quintet in G Minor).

(About the headline on this entry … I don’t mean to relegate Knudsen’s group to the “After” category. Just couldn’t resist the play on words.)

The highlight of the evening was when all 11 players got together to form a jazz army. Mezzacappa led them through an arrangement of an old Very Very Circus tune by Henry Threadgill. While studying at Berkeley, she’d played in ensembles he conducted, and she said he’d jump and dance around the whole time, making it your job to play notes that would impact some part of his body. The Threadgill piece was huge fun, and Vijay Anderson and Knudsen drummer Jon Arkin ended it with a double-drum solo that stacked up the polyrhythms.

The other 11-piece piece was Knudsen’s “BPMG,” standing for Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Martha Graham, written specifically for this group.

Mezzacappa and Knudsen will be playing together in Thorny Brocky, the latest Aaron Novik band that includes Alisa Rose on violin and Marié Abe on accordion. That’ll be a free show at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13, at Adobe Books, 3166 16th Street in San Francisco. Novik was at the Jazzschool show handing out fliers in the form of mini comic books.

Shipp +2, Braxton +1

Matthew Shipp Trio — Harmonic Disorder (Thirsty Ear, 2009)

shippYou can almost forgive someone for mistaking this for “cool traditional jazz.” Shipp’s piano trio frequently slips into some standard-sounding club-jazz soloing, with brisk, bright keys and deliciously wooden thickness to Joe Morris’ bass plucking. Whit Dickey on drums adds a chattery jazz feel and some nice cymbals rhythms.

But this is still Matthew Shipp, even minus the electronica dabblings he’s worked on in the last decade. On “Quantum Waves,” he sledgehammers the low notes, while the standards, “There Will Never Be Another You” and “Someday My Prince Will Come,” get the flying-off-the-road free-jazz treatment. “Roe” is catchy, but its sinister low-register melody is less cocktail hour and more SxSW; same with the creeping rainy-day comfort of “Mel Chi 2.” And then you’ve got the band just spouting large on “Zo Number 2.”

Anthony Braxton and Kyle Brenders — Toronto (Duets) 2007 (Barnyard, 2008 )

BarnyardBraxton’s Ghost Trance Music is like a brick wall, and to some listeners probably just as opaque. Seemingly endless matrices of nonrepeating pokes and stabs, one clearly discrete note after another, makes for an abstract kind of march that really stands out when, say, played during a radio show. Everything slams to a halt while the beat pulses on.

There’s a lot going on under the surface, though, and a listen to the full 30- or even 90-minute pieces on Rastascan‘s Six Compositions (GTM) 2001 reveals passages of passionate, jazzy soloing and playful individual improv. You can lose yourself wandering the magnetic fields of the pulse.

But that’s with 10 players; how does GTM translate to just two? It turns out, those freer moments stand out even more, as Braxton and Brenders work through lots of mood changes. They’ll play in composed unison for a minute or two — rigid, then free, then fast, then a slow break then fast again … and then shift into “soloing,” or at least a looser, improv-spiced passage. Moods and speeds can change every couple of minutes. It’s like a series of tricks joined together with brief improv periods, and it can be engrossing.

Toronto (Duets) is a 2-CD set, one composition per CD. Disk 1 is noticeably faster and perkier overall, but Disk 2 is equally rewarding, with some nice gentle improvising in the quieter spaces.

‘Go Home’ Comes Out

Ironic that my first night out in weeks would be to see a band called Go Home. I’d written about them here. They opened a California mini-tour tonight at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and they brought the house down. You can relive the moment via this really awful picture from my cheap but loveable camera.

gohomeliveGo Home is a supergroup, at least from a Bay Area fan’s POV. To review: Ben Goldberg (clarinet) does the composing for the band, molding songs from Thelonious Monk and Steve Lacy influences and adding a touch of Klezmer. But he’s written these pieces knowing that Charlie Hunter is in there on 7-stringed guitar, ready to deliver the funk (as is drummer Scott Amendola), leading to some hard-driving, danceably bluesy songs.

Hunter, Goldberg, and Amendola all have local followings, so it was a receptive crowd tonight, with generous applause after almost every solo. It was fun. Ron Miles was the only unknown quantity to the crowd, being a trumpeter from Colorado, but he won them over immediately with his solo on “TGO,” the catchy opener. Everyone got a solo on that one, actually, and it was a nice way to rev up the audience.

Continue reading “‘Go Home’ Comes Out”

Tweeting Tim Berne

screwgun2Tim Berne, or at least a representative of his Screwgun Records label, is doing the Twitter thing. Tweeters can start following @screwgunrecords for updates. (*)

Tim Berne’s Twitter feed will tell you there’s an Adobe Probe clip to be heard, over on Facebook.

That’s Berne’s latest band. Mary Halvorson’s Web page lists the personnel as:

So. Berne and Speed get reunited from the old Bloodcount days. (They’d reunited last year already for a few shows of all new material — this one, for instance.) Halvorson is the new critics’ fave, as I’ve noted here, and you can find quite a bit about her on the blog for promotions outfit Improvised Communications (Try this WordPress search.) Hebert is part of Halvorson’s much-lauded trio. Cleaver’s an A-list drummer, of course.

The Facebook clip, “Duck,” is heavy on the horns, but the piano and guitar get a good moment later on. Sounds like a lot of energy. Matt Mitchell has a brief description on his blog. This could be a very cool band.

(*) OK, Twitter rant. Yes, I use Twitter, and I enjoy it. Yeah, it’s frivolous. Some people talk about how the 140-character limit forces “brevity and clarity,” which is partly true, but it also forces shallowness: You can’t convey deep ideas or carry on long conversations. Perfect for a society that’s being taught, by technology and TV, that it’s OK to treat life with impatience and self-absorption.

Anyway, for delivering short notes to lots of people, or for seeking quick info among your friends and semi-acquaintances, Twitter is a pretty good system. Commercial interests are taking notice awfully quickly, though, and Twitter will someday be under the gun to make actual money. I predict in three years it’ll be a platform for coupons and advertising deals (a.k.a. spam), so we should enjoy the fun while it lasts.

UPDATE, 2/4/09: This is a particularly egregious example of what I mean.  But I think the real danger lies in something like Magpie.

Playlist: Jan 6, 2009 (Long Tracks)

One thing I enjoy about college radio, both as a listener and a DJ, is that longer tracks get a chance to fully stretch out. I don’t always have the space to spare, though; I’ll often use excerpts of 15- and 30-minute pieces as a way to flit from one mood to another, but because I’ve usually got a stack of music I’m hoping to play, I’m stingy with the time I give those tracks.

Given a big expanse of time to fill today, with folks still returning from Xmas break, I decided to take the chance to feature only long tracks: 15 minutes or more. It might sound lazy, but 15 minutes goes by really fast when you’re the DJ, trust me.

It turned out to be a fortuitous bit of programming, since a mild cold left me with a sore throat and not much energy today.

As of this writing, the stack of music beside me includes: Tim Berne, Weasel Walter, Aruna Sairam, Todd Rundgren, Magma, Tanmoy Bose (do I dare play a 32-minute tabla solo?) and others.

Here’s the playlist, being updated quasi-real-time. Most album titles link into KZSU’s Zookeeper database; the Album Review icon means there’s a review or description there as well.

Playlist for The Long Form Tuesday, 6 January 2009 9am – 3pm DJ: Wedge
Artist Track Album/Label
Hartigan, Royal Ensemble Anlo Kete Album Review Blood Drum Spirit: The Royal Hartigan Ensemble Live In China
Innova Recordings
Allen, Tony No Accomodation For Lagos Album Review Afro Disco Beat
Vampi Soul
Zappa, Frank The Purple Lagoon Läther
— (10:00 a.m.) —
Taylor, Cecil Amplitude Great Paris Concert
Get Back
E.S.T. Premonition Album Review Leucocyte
Decca Music Group Ltd.
Sairam, Aruna Bandanodi Album Review Divine Inspiration
Harmonia Mundi Usa
— (11:00 a.m.) —
Sairam, Aruna Bandanodi [cont’d] Album Review Divine Inspiration
Harmonia Mundi Usa
Krause, Drew Go-Round Ding
Capstone Records
Bose, Tanmoy Slow Tintal Album Review Solo Tabla
Bol Records
— (12:00 noon) —
Garnas, Agnes Buen/Jan Garbarek Margjit Og Targjei Risvollo Album Review Rosensfole
Ecm Records
New Haven Improvisers Collective Quantum Decoherence Album Review Interference
Self Release
Evans, Peter/Weasel Walter Group The Eyes of Hell Oculus ex Abyssus
— (1:00 p.m.) —
Magma Mekanik Zain Magma Live
Rca Records (Modern)
Kalhor, Kayhan & Brooklyn Rider Silent City Album Review Silent City
Harmonia Mundi Usa
— (2:00 p.m.) —
Smith, Chas Descent Descent
Cold Blue
Berne, Tim/Copenhagen Art Ens Impacted Wisdom Open, Coma
Screwgun Records

EPILOGUE: There, it’s done. Rewarding, and relaxing at first, but kind of boring later on — there’s a lot of sitting around involved, as you’d imagine. Tim Berne will clock out the final 40 minutes of the show now… ‘turns out “Impacted Wisdom” is the one track of the Open, Coma CD that no one’s played on the air ever at KZSU, so, what the heck.

Capsule reviews, week ending Jan. 2

Bits and pieces from the Jan. 2 playlist:

I’m experimenting with ways to reconcile my full-blown, old-school playlists with WordPress, so we’ll see how this works. Consider it a work in progress.

Continue reading “Capsule reviews, week ending Jan. 2”