Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cobra @ Yoshi's 8/28/10

Any chance to see this experimental music game is a worthwhile experience.  It's also fun to get the experience with a bunch of musicians I rarely or never get to see.  This 13 piece ensemble was heavy on the percussion and electronics.  There were a couple of familiar faces, Scott Amendola on drums, Mark Dresser on bass, the 3 I saw the other night: Wollesen, Dunn, and Burger.  And then of course, the star among stars, Fred Frith, the Bay area version of Marc Ribot.  I'm saying each coast has a phenomenal and versatile avant guitarist.  I would love to see the 2 in a duo guitar show at Roulette sometime.

I still can't figure out how they play.  I think if someone puts a hat or a headband on and Zorn puts a hat on, that person gets to direct who plays until either one of the 2 takes off the hat.  It did look like there were some instances where Zorn was the only one with the hat.  I didn't get that.  The only thing I can think of is that's when he can call on people without them raising their hands.  There were also times when Zorn would raise his hand and then a bunch of musicians would raise their hands indicating they wanted to be called on.  Sometimes, a musician would hold up a number of fingers, like 2 and then point to 2 people they would want to play.  Sometimes a musician would hold up 2 fingers and then 4 fingers in succession.

Zorn also sometimes used cards to prompt.  He has different ones.  Sometimes he slowly moves the large displayed card down or up.  I know sometimes that indicates get softer or louder as the card is moving.  Sometimes it indicates get faster or slower.

The music itself was great.  I enjoyed some parts more than others. There was a few second hiphop portion toward the end.  I loved the times it was all percussion.

For Saturday's finale Zorn will present his improvisational "game piece", Cobra. The rarely performed game is based not on a set of notes, but on a set of rules and cues/signals from the prompter (Zorn). It will feature some 14 players, including Frith, Patton, Trey Spruance (Secret Chiefs 3), Joan Jeanrenaud (Kronos Quartet), Scott Amendola, Wollesen, William Winant, Burger and many more.

Cobra is

fred frith guitar
trey spruance guitar
scott amendola drums
kenny wollesen drums
william winant perc
rob burger piano
dave slusser keys
mike patton vox, electronics
chris brown electronics
david rosenboom electronics
timb harris violin
joan jeanrenaud cello
mark dresser bass
trevor dunn bass
john zorn prompter

Native New Yorker and enfant terrible John Zorn has had very deep ties with San Francisco since his first visit here in 1974. His yearly visits have deepened his connection with local musicians and venues and many of his closest collaborators still live right here in the Bay Area. This special three night series showcases him performing with many of San Francisco's best musicians in improvisational units, and includes the world premiere performance of his popular tribute to the Bay area ALHAMBRA LOVE SONGS, his first ever duo concert with California's Guru extraordinaire Terry Riley and of course his legendary game piece COBRA, featuring an all-star Bay Area lineup.

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