Wednesday, April 30, 2008

John Zorn's Cobra + Text of Light 4/29/08

I had to get some experimental in before I get to some regular awesome music at jazzfest. I was in quite a different world tonight.

Right before they started playing at Roulette, some of the musicians were tuning up for a few moments at the same time. It already sounded excellent and I knew I was in for a special treat. I'm so glad I thought to make a reservation as most or all of the people seemed to have one. There were lots of seats, but there were also several people standing, kind of like at the ABB shows at The Beacon. There were probably 100+ people there.

It was a benefit for Roulette, which has existed for 30 years. Zorn debuted Cobra in 1984 there. I knew it was some kind of game, and expected lots of improvising, but that was about all I knew. Oh, I also knew that all of the artists were great great musicians who've been AROUND the block in the improvising realm.

It was really cool. It reminded me of Butch Morris, but the musicians were leading a lot of the calls. They would raise their hands and if Zorn acknowledged them, they could give the signals for what they wanted to happen. It was all improvised, just the structure was somehow directed. There were also many times where one of them would put on a headband and then start playing. Zorn would put on a hat every time, and then take it off to signal that the headband-wearer was supposed to stop playing and take off the headband.

It was wild and a lot of fun to watch. It also sounded excellent. There were times where he would keep pointing around the room and everyone would play something for just a moment. I can't describe it that well, but it was really cool.

I had to do some surfing on this, and here's some stuff I came up with:

The artists:
John Zorn
Zeena Parkins
Jim Staley
Ikue Mori
Sylvie Courvoisier
Mark Feldman
Okkyung Lee
David Watson
David Weinstein
Shanir Blumenkranz
Kenny Wolleson
Eyal Maoz
Annie Gosfield

I definitely have to see more of Zeena Parkins. I see her listed at The Stone a lot, but hadn't seen her play until tonight.

I wanted something else after that. It was over at about 9:20. That means I have just enough time to walk over to The Stone for the 10pm show, whatever that is. I took my time, even stopping at McNally Robinson, this awesome bookstore on Prince St. I'm starting to plan a trip to Germany, and especially Berlin. I thought "maybe they have a good book on Berlin". I couldn't believe it when I noticed a display with several books on Berlin, sitting there waiting for me. My intuition was in full swing!

I made it to The Stone right at 10, and there were people in line waiting for them to open the doors. Not a lot of people, but it was still wierd. I decided I wanted to be surprised and didn't ask who was playing. I must admit I was a little worried because it seemed the people attending were mainly young hipsters. What was I in for? I walked in and paid my $10, sat in my usual front row center seat, and noticed a screen and projector set up. Uh oh, what was I in for? I felt a little better when I saw 2 electric guitars plugged in. There was also a turntable/dj setup. Hmm.

They came up from downstairs around 10:15. It was DJ Olive and 2 very different guitar players and old, like 1929-1940 experimental films. It reminded me of Space during a Greatful Dead show, only spacier. These guys were playing guitars with bows and sticks and holding them up to the amp. And, I was into it. Not out of my mind into it, but I wasn't bored and was interested in seeing what was on the screen or watching what the musicans were doing. It was very mellow, though and I also felt like sleeping. I think one guy did fall asleep. It was interesting and very different.

10 pm
Text of Light
DJ Olive (turntables) Lee Ranaldo, Alan Licht (guitar)
With projections of early experimental films

Yeah, I'm ready for some good old funky music and whatever else I run into for the next few days!

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