Friday, April 15, 2011

Japan Benefit Part 1 @ Abrons Art Center 4/8/11

It was quite impressive how smoothly it went. They pretty much started right at 6:30 with The Jack Quartet. They played I think 3 short and awesome pieces.

Then we got a John Zorn/Ikue Morie Duo piece. I liked some of it, some of it was a little too much for me. Zorn got very wierd and sometimes very loud. There were some grooving sounds from Ikue that I enjoyed a lot toward the end of the piece. It was still good, though.

Next was a stellar piece from Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier. They are both so amazing.

At this point Ned Rothenberg started coming out to MC. He told us a little later that Zorn had to leave because this was the last night of his opera at the New York City opera. Say what? I was further intrigued when at one point Ned told us that Zorn was wearing a burka at the time he told us where he was. In case you are wondering, I missed the recent Masada Marathon because I was away.

The 4th performer was Gyan Riley on solo guitar. Apparently, he is Steve Riley's son. He was awesome on his acoustic in front of a mic. I heard he had a CD on Tzadik that is an extended version of what we heard that night. I must get down to DMG and get myself a copy (it would be smart to call first when looking for something specific).

I think my favorite part of the evening was the Jamie Saft New Zion Trio. However, I am very confused about who was in it and if I am missing a band in my write up.  The trio includes Craig Santiago and Larry Grenadier.  I distinctly remember Craig playing drums.  However, before I started fact checking and editing this post, I remembered it as having Ben Perowsky and Danny Blume.  I'm thinking Danny Blume was there instead of Larry Grenadier and that Danny turned it into something a little different (and even more magnificent).  Maybe it was my experience, or maybe I'm re-inventing a whole different experience.  All I know is I was blown away. I need to see a whole show of this. I loved what the bass was doing. I also loved Jamie' piano beyond description. Ben always impresses me (even though I'm pretty sure it was Craig and not Ben here).

Miya Masaoka had a very nice koto solo. She was at The Stone the next night, but I missed it.

The next ensemble was Aya Nishina & Friends, which was an all female vocal ensemble. I liked it for the most part. Since I'm usually anti-vocals, it wore on me as the piece went on. Actually, I enjoyed until they had the vocalists step up to the mic either 1 or 2 at a time to be featured while the rest of the chorous continued to sing in the background. They started with high voices which turn me off. The saving grace for me was that right before that point, Aya moved from conducting to the piano. For the most part, the piece was nice and there were no words.

Next was 2 fabulous solo Eric Friedlandler pieces. I must have known his cello is black and looks a little different from the typical. It's nice and he is amazing.

The Alhambra Trio consisted of Rob Burger, Trevor Dunn and Ben Perowsky. I think this was the lineup the first time I saw them. You already know this 2nd piano trio of the night was excellent. It was quite different from the 1st piano trio (Jamie Saft).

Then we got a William Parker solo. He really knows how to go with the spirit of the event. I think he may have played 3 different Japanese intruments for his piece, but I don't know for sure. I do know that the first big bamboo flute was a Japanese shakuhachi- per Ned Rothenberg. The 2nd instrument was a guitar-looking thing kind of like a kora.  I think it was a doso ngoni. The 3rd was another reed. He also sang a poem. He was offkey and real and ot was more about the poem than the voice and it worked, I reconnected with the overall reason we were there. No, I did not know what the doso ngoni was until I found this article.

Ned Rothenberg then came out to introduce himself. He had the sax and told us he was going to play a piece composed for the Japanese shakuhachi, which was William Parker's first instrument. That was especially interesting to me because when I first saw William with it I thought it might be that tribal reed I often see Ned play. Needless to say, Ned was stellar.

Elliot Sharp! It's been too long! His piece was incredibly awesome.  I need to get to more of his gigs when he's around.

Matthew Shipp was awesome. I hate to admit I can't quite remember if he was solo or had a trio. I think he was solo.

Next was the only other act that was unfamiliar to me (Gyan Riley being the first). Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Apparently they are part of Sonic Youth. Before this, I didn't think Sonic Youth was so experimental. It was great. Kim played the microphone. Sometimes she tapped it, dragged it around on the floor or funnelled her voice through it. Thurston played his electric guitar primarily on his lap. It's hard for me to describe what went on, but hopefully there is a writer or 2 with a better recap out there.

The 15th and final performance of that 1st show was Milford Graves. He danced in wearing percussion and was entralling with his voice and percussion throughout his piece. It was great to end it with him.

You may have noticed that the Masada String Trio was on the bill and they did not perform. I didn't see Greg Cohen at all. I was wondering how they were going to pull it off without Zorn conducting - I believe that's how it usually goes. While I love that trio, the 2-2.5 hours of wonderful music was enough - for the first show of the evening.


Save Japan Benefits said...

Terri - thank you for taking the time to post and contribute to the relief for Japan - we reposted a link for this on our face book page "Save Japan Benefits" -

dblume said...

Hi Terri,

Thanks for the extremely complimentary words about New Zion Trio. I was indeed subbing for the amazing Larry G. He plays acoustic. I couldn't possibly play that music on acoustic. It becomes a different beast with electric bass I guess. Craig Santiago played drums - but later I played with Ben Perowsky in Elysian Fields. That would explain the confusion.