Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Henry Threadgill + Billy Bang 5/16/08

After the stellar RMA show I got on the 1 train and headed down to jazz gallery for Henry Threadgill's ZOOID. I've seen them before and love them. I've missed them the past few times they've played there, and I have to try harder to catch it when I can. It's awesome.

Dana Leong is usually in it, but wasn't there on Fri, probably due to the RMA gig. Instead, there was a guest dancer for the 1st piece, Judith. They asked us to make sure we cleared the aisles so she could dance. At the time, I didn't know she was only going to play for 1 number, so I was a little disappointed for 2 reasons. It would be inappropriate for me to dance in the back as I usually do. Also, I was concerned the focus on the dancer would take away from the music. I was pleasantly surprised how good that piece was.

Henry and the tuba player were in the back of the room and Liberty, the bass, and the drums were onstage. Judith started toward the back in the aisle. I was surprised she started off the piece. It didn't take long for me to get completely absorbed in the whole thing. It was an improvisation were the dancer was more a part of the band as another player. They would look at her while determining what notes to hit and how to play them and she was in turn feeding off of them. It was really interesting.

After that, Henry and the tuba moved up front and I moved to the back. The rest of the music was as awesome as usual. It was kind of a short set, probably around 50 min or so.

Henry Threadgill - alto saxophone/flute, Dana Leong - cello/trombone (15th & 17th only), Liberty Ellman - guitar, Stome Takeishi - bass guitar, Jose Davilla - tuba, Elliot Humberto Kavee - drums, Judith Sanchez - movement (16th only)

Then I set out in the cold rain to get back to the East side and The Living Theatre for Billy Bang. That was awesome as usual, too. They did 3 very long songs which were all phenomenal. The first one started with a great long bass solo. Billy told us at the beginning the guy that usually plays piano is playing the clarinet for the evening. I was a little worried, but he turned out to be awesome.

The last song, the "short" one, was about 15 min and was something Billy used to play with Sun Ra when he was in his Arkestra. It was awesome and fun to hear a little "Space is the Place" tease in there.

So a super great night of music to hold me til Mon night in Cambridge. I'm writing these 2 posts on my Blackberry on the train, to be posted when I get back.

Billy Bang Quintet featuring Billy Bang violin, Henry Warner alto cl, Andrew Bemkey cl, Todd Nicholson bass, Newman Taylor Baker drums

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