14 June 2010

RIJF 2010: Day Three

Caught two AMAZING acts Sunday night. Started off at the Harro East with the Charnett Moffett Trio. Except, it was a quartet. And soon after it became a quintet. It was a family affair, I'm not clear on the relations, but there was a Moffett on Tambura, and another Moffett on drums and tablas. This made up the base Trio. But then they were joined by piano/electric piano and trumpet (on occasion). For the early set the quartet was on stage for almost the whole set and for the late set they kind of built the set up from 1, to 2, to 3, to 4, to 5 only reaching the full band toward the end of the show. The music ranged greatly, from heavy Indian influenced fusion to straight-ahead bop and everything in between. The band was very good, but Moffett was over-the-top near best-ever status. Most bass players of this caliber that take front and center in a band tend towards showing off, but with Moffett his playing was almost always driving the music to a greater plane skirting the fine line between jamming and soloing, rarely stepping over into straight hey-look-what-I-can-do territory. I have never seen anyone slap the shit out of an upright bass quite like that. The guy had some large and powerful thumbs. He also employed an interesting technique of slapping it with the bow too. The tambura was an interesting addition to the band, sometimes lost in the madness, but when it was present it added a very nice Shakti-esque element. During the Trio portion it was very present, and for at least one tune the music turned heavily toward the Indian influence. Moffett played his bass to sound like a sitar, and we're not talking some fancy pedal effect he added, it was almost entirely in the way he was playing it. Unbelievably cool. During the last tune of the late set the fire alarm went off [insert hot music joke here]. Instead of stopping playing, Moffett took the bow to his bass and imitated the sound and continued to worked it into the music. Talk about getting lemons and making lemonade.
Check it out (fire alarm starts around 2:30):

Ended the evening with Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba. The ngoni is an african stringed instrument not unlike a mandolin. I believe that all the stringed instruments in the band were actually considerd ngoni, so that would make 4 in total, each completely different than the other with a different tone. The rhythm of this band was so infectious that every time the crowd was encouraged to clap from a solo or whatever, the applause would turn into rhythmic clapping within seconds. It was nearly impossible to clap out of rhythm. This band will be the best dressed of the fest, best dancers of the fest, and may very well be the best act of the fest when all is said and done. Intensely gratifying. I will no doubt be getting a repeat listen (or two) tonight at Kilbourn Hall. The Big Tent was packed and dancing (where dancing was "allowed.") Can't say I am too pleased with this year's set up of the Big Tent, Much less up-front seating and too much table seating. With last year's set-up I think the whole tent would have been on their feet dancing.

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