Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Outside the Box @ Judson Memorial Church 11/4/08

My plans changed so I was able to make this after all. It was a nice, large open space with some cocktail tables. They kept saying they had tv with sound downstairs if anyone wanted to watch CNN. The sound guy would surf the web for us and we could see what was going on from the screen behind and above the continuous performance. Lisa Bielawa, the curator and host, would come up to the mic during the performance to let us know when something major happened on CNN, like Obama won Ohio and such.

I got there at around 7:15. Gordon Beeferman was playing piano and Steve Ben Israel was doing poetry.

The schedule was designed so that there was lots of overlap of artists. Each artist had a 45 or 60 min time slot and every 15-20 min someone would come and/or go. That meant continuous music and many different combinations of artists. I really loved how it was set up. It also wasn't rigid, they were listed as "approximate performance times".

For the poetry, it was mainly the poetry and only a little music. The poetry was good, I was just disappointed it was so long and it took up most of Ches Smith's timeslot. The piano left at about 7:25ish, pretty early. He was scheduled til 7:45. Ches came on at his scheduled time of 7:30, but he only played a little. At first it was good, Israel completely changed his cadence mid-poem and was jamming with Ches. But he changed after that and Ches dwindled over time, especially after the poet's son came up to do an improvised rap. It was all good, I just would have preferred more music and less poetry. Shahzad Ismaily joined with his basses at 7:45. He tried to play with the Israels, but only did a little.

The poets left at 8 and Miguel Frasconi joined with his glass instruments. I also found out from a friend that the opening at 6pm was John Zorn, Ches Smith, and Shahzad Ismaily playing an intense trio. That explained why they could be subdued for their 45 min slots.

I enjoyed the 15 min of glass, bass, drum trio and then Ches left. Joan La Barbara came up to join with her very interesting sound art using her vocal cords. It was very good.

Shahzad left at 8:30, and at about 8:40, the visual artist Kevork Mourad was ready to perform. That was pretty cool. It was like a very high tech etch-a-sketch. He was very good and not only was his art nice, he got into an interesting rhythm with the music. While the poetry felt kind of disconnected at times, this felt very connected to everyone else up there.

At about 8:45, this clarinet, Kinan Azmeh, started playing from his seat in the audience and it sounded awesome with him, Joan, and Miguel. That was really one of the best parts so far. He made his way up to the performance area and had a nice sound. He was also able to adapt and improvise with whomever was up there. Joan left after that one piece, a little later than her time slot, which was great. Then we had Miguel and Kinan and I think still some visuals for a while, which was nice. Miguel probably stayed a few minutes later, also.

Then, the violinist Colin Jacobsen and guitarist Kyle Sanna started upstairs or somewhere where we couldn't see them, doing interesting and different sounds that also came through a speaker. They were both scheduled for 9-10. Kinan phased himself out at 8:45 by again going back to his seat and sitting while playing his clarinet.

At some point, the violin and guitar had come into the performance space. At first playing with Kinan and then a duo. Then, Lisa Bielawa, the host, came up and did a little vocals with the duo for a little bit. Then, at 9:40, Paul Knopf came up and swung on the piano for a while. I left at just about 10, even though I was enjoying it. I needed rest and knew if I waited too long and then saw Jim Black, it would be really really hard to leave. I knew I couldn't stay up for his 11-12 spot since I was up late the night before.

That was nice and a great place to be. I think they did a good job and I felt very good there in that space. It was also nice to see so many good musicians I never knew existed.

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