18 June 2010

RIJF 2010: Day Seven

Oof, all this different music is starting to run together, tough to keep it all straight.

Made it to all of the first set and most of the second for Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. It was my first time seeing or hearing the band without founding member Reed Mathis. Reed is an amazing player, a unique player, and was a big part of the JFJO sound. Speaking of basses, there was a malfunction with the upright bass so leader and pianist Brian Haas was forced into unexpected solo piano work while it got worked out. He was quite capable to carry that load, but finally the band did come on for what we were there to see. We got one tune with the electric bass while the upright was still be worked on. I wish we had gotten more from the electric and it wasn't just used as a last resort, but that would be my only complaint from their sets. They played Monk, Mingus, Armstrong, and perhaps my favorite jazz man Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and on the other side a couple from that Lennon/McCartney outfit. All excellent, but the real shining moments were the originals. Haas was a master on the piano, banging and flying across the keys, Josh Raymer added a rock edge to his drumming reminiscent of Dave King of the Bad Plus, and Chris Combs on lap steel added that extra something that took the music to that next level. Great stuff.

Another rock-influenced band, Get the Blessing, featuring the bassist and drummer from Portishead, was at the Christ Church. And they brought their dry wit with them. Got a good laugh in between almost every song, also reminiscent of the Bad Plus once again. A song about donuts with sprinkles, followed by a song about donuts with chocolate icing and custard inside, a song about an Albert Einstein action figure, etc. I would categorize their music pretty closely with JFJO almost, just replace the lap steel and piano with a trumpet and a sax. The spirit of the music was a similar mix of rock-influenced jazz. Get the Blessing was a bit more out there than JFJO and pretty much just as good. Caught a bit of both the early and late set.

Stopped into Palle Mikkelborg on the way up to Abilene for the Bottle Rockets. The place was jam packed, SRO. Sometimes I am very surprised by what is a popular set, and this was one of those times. This was very spacey and out there, not easily accessible by any means, but there the crowd was, packed in and not leaving. I came back and caught more in their late set. Really quite amazing. Palle on trumpet and his drummer Marilyn Mazur had played together in one of Miles Davis' bands. Mazur had one of the larger kits I have ever seen. She was more percussionist than drummer. She was encircled by a billion percussive doodads, had a full size kit, and a large gong-like drum behind her. Palle's wife was playing harp, some of the better harp playing I have heard (not sure exactly what that means being that I am not a huge harp enthusiast or anything.) But whereas many times a harp is used to fill in the spaces with beautiful strumming, Helen Davies was using it as a much more specifically melodic instrument. Add in Mikkelborg's spacy trumpet and some fusion-y guitar playing, a great mix of new age (which I hate to say, but there was definitely some in there) with Bitches Brew era jazz fusion.

I determined after a few tunes that the Bottle Rockets just weren't for me. It was pretty much as simple as I didn't like their songs, nothing more nothing less. Was OK by me, it certainly made the rest of my evening a lot easier, which is how I was able to go back down the line and catch all the late sets.

1 comment:

PJ said...

Great review. I wish I could have been there. JFJO used to be quite "out there" for a group that didn't play totally outside music, especially around the turn of the century. Very dissonant, stabbing, aggressive music, but full of pathos and beauty. It would be interesting to see peoples' reaction if they were playing that style now instead of ten years ago when they weren't as well-known. Their new bassist has been involved in a few "out" projects himself, and I look forward to hearing what he'll bring to the group.

My favorite Palle Danielsson stuff is with Terje Rypdal. Glad to know he's still playing.

Love all the videos.