Monday, November 23, 2009

The Tori Ensemble @ Roulette 11/20/09

It was actually The Tori Ensemble + Special Guests Ikue Mori, Min Xiao Fen, Sylvie Courvoissier and Zeena Parkins. OK?!! The special guests, as great as they are, and the regular NYers I see as much as possible, Erik Friedlander, Ned Rothenberg and Sotoshi Takeishi, weren't even the big reason I wanted to attend this. It was the chance to explore Korean Traditional musicians fusing with American greats.

I've been wanting to get exposed to Korean ever since I overheard Ned Rothenberg telling his friends he was going to see something at the Korean Ministry of Culture a few years ago. It was a Sun night at the Freestyle Music Series at Jimmy's No 43. It was probably before 2007 and therefor probably before Ned started playing with Korean Traditional musicians. I remember I was intrigued by his description. You probably know how faulty our memories are, so this one could be complete ca ca. I have a notion Ned was talking about how inventive Koreans are and how funk may have originated through them. Since then I took an introductory Korean tea ceremony class and attended a demonstration where the Korean Tea Ceremony was performed with music (not live music). I was loving how every move the participants made was completely in sync with the music. It was so cool.

This show was phenomenal. It was an Improv night, with 1.5 hours of various improvised pieces in various formations of the 10 artists.

Let's see how much I can remember.

It started with Yoon Jeong Heo on geomungo-zither and Min Xiao Fen on pipa. Aha! Now I know she plays 2 pipas! I was sitting in the front row, so I got a good look at them.

Next came Zeena Parkins on harp, Kwon Soon Kang on vocals and Sylvie Courvoissier on piano.

Erik Friedlander on cello, Young Chi Min on percussion, the changgo-drum, and Ikue Morie on laptop were pheonemenal. Ikue stayed out there for the next piece, which included Satoshi Takeishi on percussion and I think Sylvie and maybe someone else.

So, it's all becoming a blur. I do remember there was one piece with just Korean artists and then one with the NY representatives. It was all truly awesome. Satoshi had various percussion instruments on the floor and it reminded me of a very simple and different type of drum kit. There were drums and other stuff around him. Young Chi Min also played a daegum-flute.

The program is great. I'm talking about the printed program. I got a lot of info about everyone and learned something new about each of them. I now know that the tribal flute Ned plays is a shakuhachi-flute. He's been studying it for quite some time.

I also noticed that same groove that is always played differently by Ned. It came up for a few moments when he was on the bass clarinet. I love it, which is why I always notice when it emerges.

This was really great. I need to keep my eye out for more Korean over time.

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