Saturday, October 27, 2012

Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels

It's a wonderful museum.  They give you an audio headset that you can listen to with or without headphones.  I got the English version, which was music and no words describing the instruments.  It was "smart" and played the instruments I was standing in front of in the museum.
"In a beautifully restored complex in Brussels, of which one part is Art Nouveau and the other, neoclassical in design, the 1200 most interesting instruments are assembled in 4 galleries, enhanced by images, text panels and sounds. In addition the mim has a concert hall, a space for workshops (for groups and by reservation only), a museum shop, a library and a rooftop restaurant, from where the breathtaking view over the city gives a unique flavour to the menu. No wonder that, since its opening in 2000, the mim has become a first class cultural attraction on the Mont des Arts, with an average of 125,000 visitors per year (not including restaurant guests)."

I went through my favorite room with the tribal instruments 3 times.  From the website, it seems to be a favorite of other visitors as well:  "A favourite for many visitors is the room dedicated to traditional musical instruments. The tour starts in Belgium and passes through a whole series of European traditions to cultures from around the world. Besides the well-known Scottish version, many more countries appear to have their own type of bagpipes, Tibetan monks make musical instruments out of the bones of their deceased colleagues, and African slit drums are the local form of Twitter."

The descriptions were in French and Flemish.  I was so inspired by all of the instruments from all over the world, I kept thinking I wanted a book that described them all.  When I got to the museum shop and I asked about it, I was directed to the awesome Visitor's Guide that's in English.  I am still reading the awesome 200 page book and I'm reliving my Museum experience.

When I got home, I googled the "best musical instrument museum in the world" and it turns out there's a great one in Pheonix, AZ.  I see a trip in my future.

Matthias De Weale Trio @ Cafe Hopper, Antwerp, Belgium 10/1/12

It was a nice little cafe with no food and no cover.  I had delicious fresh mint tea.  This site I found said they feature musicians from the local jazz academy.  It was nice to get out to some music, but nothing to write home about.  I do have to write up all live music experiences for posterity, especially those in foreign countries.  I stayed, so it wasn't awful by any means, I'm just spoiled.  The piano was OK, there was an enjoyable bass solo.  It was a nice space that felt good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paris Music

I wanted to sample more of Paris so I left for some Funk at Le Petit Journal. When I got there the band was on and it sucked.  It wasn't just the singing (atrocious), but the music itself wasn't very good.  It was a tourist spot and they wanted 25 Euro for that.  I kept noticing a lot of good music was outside of Paris:  Denis Colin, Kris Davis, Larry Corryell.  I feel like I haven't quite figured it out yet.  There's got to be more.  Everyone comes through Paris, so last time I lucked out that Warren Haynes Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Secret Chiefs 3 were all in town when I was.  All American bands that I already know and love.  There's got to be more to it.  Also, I realize how lucky I am to live in a place where there are usually multiple stellar options on any given night.

I'm still in love with Paris regardless of whether I ever figure out how to get great music more often than not.  I also suspect it's better to go for the lesser known places.  I'm looking forward to checking out the Barbes area and the 11th more and planning out before hitting the suburbs on a future trip.

Cheb Aissa Et Les Gypsies @ New Morning, Paris 9/29/12

I was told this is the best jazz club in town.  It was reinforced seeing some of the listings. Randy Weston is coming in a week or 2, Fred Wesley played there the previous night, etc.

I love how they have a dance floor.  It's right up front and a couple of steps down from the seats.  There are only a few tables and lots of chairs facing the stage.  You are allowed to dance wherever you want.  And there were plenty of dancers as well as sitters all commingling and enjoying themselves.  It's not really that nice a space, compared to our nice NYC jazz clubs.  The music was good, but not at the level I've grown accustomed to.  It was still fun and enjoyable.  There were 3 guitars, a bass, drums and doubek and keyboard.  I liked it, but would have liked it more if there was a horn or violin or something instead of the keyboard making those sounds.  I really liked the crowd and how into it they were.

Lionel Boccara Trio @ Comptoir Bouchant, Paris 9/29/12

It was a free trio at a bistro.  Free as in no cover.  I just had a glass of wine and enjoyed the sax, bass and guitar playing standards.  As far as level of playing, this was the best it got for this stay in Paris.  I have more to say about the Paris music scene in a later post, 2 or 3 away from this one.  I was starting to have some restored faith in the Paris music scene.

Deaf Drummers, Paris 9/29/12

It was the middle of the day and I was near Place Saint-André des Arts when I heard the drumming over by the Seine.  I was curious to find the sound.  It was some kind of march or parade of people with about 8-10 drummers taking up the rear.  It sounded good and I was intrigued as to what it was about.  It turns out they were all deaf. 

I flashed back to my first time in Paris back in 1995.  I heard The Who blaring outside during the day and wanted to know what was going on.  It was another event with deaf people, some kind of party.  I was fascinated because I didn't realize one could appreciate music without being able to hear.  Makes me feel better as to the possibility of losing hearing in my old age.  Hopefully it won't happen, but if it does, I may not have to live without music.

I subsequently asked a friend who is a sign interpreter and she told me there's a big school in that area.  Also, a French guy pioneered a type of sign language that is used in France and the US.  She also told me about some of her clients and how they listen to music by feeling the vibrations.  She said one client uses a balloon at concerts to feel the vibrations through the balloon.  This is very interesting to me.  I may need to explore this further.

Denis Colin, France

I was thrilled when I saw the 1st of my 2 night weekend say in Paris coincided with Denis Colin Et Les Aprenteurs.  The only problem was they were playing outside of Paris, a RER (regional train) ride away.  Paris is confusing enough navigating the streets and metro.  I was also told at the hotel those RER trains can get sketchy late at night.  Still, Denis Colin Trio sparked my entire quest to see the world through music.  I saw them years ago at The Knitting Factory Jazzfest (not sure if it was Winter or Summer).  It was awesome.  I remember Denis walked back and forth across the stage playing the bass clarinet and an African woman was sitting in a chair singing and chanting.  I can't remember the other instrument.  It was very spiritual and very good music.  Then and there I knew I had to get out in the world and see what else I was missing.

In spite of a huge effort to get to this show, taking wrong trains and wrong stops, getting lost in the suburb, and 3 hours later making it back to Paris without making the show, I was happy for the adventure and the chance to remember that great experience years ago in NYC.

DENIS COLIN & LA SOCIÉTÉ DES ARPENTEURS ‘subject to live’ (Chant du Monde / Harmonia Mundi)
France - USA
Denis Colin (clarinette-basse & compositions)
Benjamin Moussay (fender rhodes & electronics)
Julien Omé (guitare)
Philippe Sellam (sax alto & soprano)
Antoine Berjeaut (trompette & bugle)
Sylvaine Hélary (flûtes)
Fabrice Theuillon (sax baryton & soprano)
Stéphane Kerecki (contrebasse)
Thomas Gimonprez (batterie)
Eric Echampard (batterie)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flamenco & Jazz @ b-flat, Berlin 9/27/12

It's basically a power trio from Spain.  I love a band that starts off the set with powerful drums.  The piano and electric bass joined in pretty quickly, but it set us up nicely.  There were a few songs that first set that started with a long wonderful piano solo.  One of them had the piano sometimes played with keys and sometimes as the hyperpiano.  There was also a cool part with piano and drums duo before the electric bass joined in, throwing down.

Then they took a bow and it was setbreak.  They played James Brown at setbreak, and not the same old same old James Brown, either.

The 2nd set was even better.  It was much more intense and we got a couple of kickass drum solos.  The bass solo was more like a rock bass solo and very cool.  They didn't leave the stage and then did an encore.

Diego played the piano strings with drumsticks and mallots toward the end and it was killer.  They left us very wound up.

Then they were done, but we weren't.  The crowd started a very cool rhythmic clapping that I never heard a crowd do before.  It was somewhat complex.  They couldn't help but come back up for that. Diego started playing the kit standing behind Israel.  He was stoked by the rhythmic clapping and wanted the crowd to keep it up.  Israel then decided to relinquish the kit and take the piano.  He's also a great piano player.  It was a fun way to end it.
Diego Amador (piano, vocals),
Jesús Garrido Toro (bass),
Israel Varela (drums)

Kalinba @ KaffeeBurger, Berlin 9/26/12

I got there and was told that first there would be a panel discussion in English for an hour and then the music.  The talk was about an article in Ex-Berliner about Afro-Germans and some history of Germany and Africa.  Here's the magazine if you want to know more.

The discussion went a little long, but we eventually got about 45 minutes of music.  We sat on long backless benched for the talk, which they started to fold up and take away as people got up.  Yay!  That means dance floor!  It took some time for the people to get up and the benches to be moved.  I danced off to the side in the meantime.  Later I moved over to the other side, near the drummers.  The sound was terrible over there, even though it was right by the mini soundboard.  I eventually moved back, and the sound was much better.

The music was good.  I loved the kora.  There was also good guitar and violin.  2 drummers with hand drums and a little bit of percussion.  There was a male lead singer and a female singer who also played flute occasionally.  It was fun and I enjoyed it.  I did have to watch out for the drunk youths, but it wasn't too hard.
After the discussion, our musical guests Kalinba Orchestra takes to the stage!
The Berlin-based trio plays original compositions in traditional and modern African styles, including Afro-reggae, salsa, soul and sukus. Kilinba are the creators of the Afro-casa style, mixing Afro and Latin beats with rhythms from Casamance, the southern region of Sénégal.
Get a sample here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hornbostel-Sachs System

Stay tuned for my post about the wonderful Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels.  I still have a few shows to get up first.

This is a system used to classify all musical instruments. This system was created by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs. The Hornbostel-Sachs system is based on how an instrument vibrates to produce sound. Even though the system has been criticized and revised over the years, it is the most widely accepted system of musical instrument classification used by organologists and ethnomusicologists.

The system was first published in 1914 with a revised English translation in 1961. Other classification systems date back to the 4th century B.C. The Chinese classified instruments by the material that they were constructed from (stone, wood, silk, etc.). The idea was originally conceived by the Hindus in the 1st century B.C. They created four main groups, vibrating strings, vibrating air columns, percussion instruments made of wood or metal and percussion instruments made with skin heads. Later, the Greeks used a similar system to classify their musical instruments. Organologists such as Martin Agricola then refined the system even further by dividing stringed instruments into the plucked and bowed categories. In the late 19th century, Victor Mahillon, curator of the Brussels Conservatory musical instrument collection, adopted and refined this system. Although his system was limited to the serious instruments of Western music, he used the four groups of strings, winds, drums and other percussion. By expanding on Mahillon's system, Hornbostel-Sachs made it possible to classify any instrument from any culture.

The original Hornbostel-Sachs system classified instruments into four main categories. The fifth category is a later revision to include the latest technologies in music performance. Within each category are many subgroups with a formal structure based on the Dewey Decimal classification system. The basic categories of the system are listed below, and a more complete version of the system is found in the appendix (Table of Musical Instrument Classifications).

1 - Idiophones:
Instruments which produce sound by vibrating themselves;
2 - Membranophones:
Instruments which produce sound by a vibrating membrane;
3 - Chordophones:
Instruments which produce sound by vibrating strings;
4 - Aerophones:
Instruments which produce sound by vibrating columns of air;
5 - Electrophones:
Instruments which produce sound electronically.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jazz @ Waldo Bar, Berlin 9/25/12

I wasn't quite ready to back to the hotel yet, so I just started walking in hopes of running into music.  It didn't take too long to see the sign out front saying there's live jazz tonight.  The bar was back in a courtyard area off from the street which may be why they didn't have a curfew.  I liked what I heard as I walked back.  The musicians and patrons were young 20-somethings.  It was a trio with a 4th rotating pianist.  I saw 3 pianists in the time I was there, about 40 minutes or so.  They came up with the standards they were playing on the spot.  It was very enjoyable and they were good.  I especially liked the sax, but they were all good.

It was a good first day.

Der Zock - jeden Dienstag ab 21.00 Uhr Konzert und Session,
hosted by 
Christian Ugurel (sax) and....
Tim Kleinsorge (b)
Moritz Baumgärtner (dr)

There's some videos on the site from back in May:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Minatur Orchestre @ b-Flat, Berlin 9/25/12

I came to Berlin first when I saw it was cheaper to fly there and knew it would be a good place to de-jetlag.  There's always music options and it's a fun place to explore.

I wanted to stay in a different area this time, but next time I should just stay close to b-flat again.  It's a great fallback can't miss place.

I think this band is Czech.  The instrumentation definitely appeals to me:  2 drumkits, tenor sax, trombone, trumpet/flugelhorn, clarinet and bass clarinet.  The quartet at A-Trane looked good, too, I just felt more of a pull for this show.  I knew why when I saw the lineup.  I enjoyed it a lot, especially the tune with the long bass clarinet solo and the drum solo.  It was all so good.

There was another piece that featured the trumpet in the 2nd set that I enjoyed a lot. He mainly played flugelhorn when I was there and I kept wondering if I was going to hear the trumpet.

Actually, I enjoyed all of it a lot.  I got there in the middle of the first set and table front and center was one of the few open, just for me.

The drummers often played the same thing together and it was very powerful.  They also played different things at times.  There was one part where they were playing the same thing with different tools - one had sticks while the other had brushes.  Gotta love a band with 2 drummers.

Here's an a google translate of the listing:

Modern Jazz
Araxi Karnusian...Tenorsaxophon / composition / / Simon Fankhäuser...Schlagzeug / composition / / Lukas Bitterlin ... drums / composition / / Domenic Landolf ... clarinet / / Lukas Roos ... bass clarinet / / Matthias Spillmann ...Trompete / flugelhorn / / Silvio Cadotsch trombone ...
The pattern is a miniature orchestra musicians collective to Araxi Karnusian & Simon Fankhäuser. The art of interpreting musical styles from Latin means Balkan Groove to dixie-swing-like blues ballads manage the group to twinkle in his eye stroke of genius! The music is full of innuendo and irritation of classical, jazz and world music, and just fun to listen to. Rhythmic patterns, melodic metaphors, collages and harmonious collective home-feelings of all parties to form the primordial soup in which has developed a highly explosive mixture. It does not stand on it jazz, but it's a lot of jazz in it in this bottle. Plop! We should let the genie just the Schaffhausen stage.
"It's a brilliant debut album of the formation. Composed "The miniatures of the saxophonist / composer Araxi Karnusian on the created by the two stroke machine operators Simon Fankhauser and Dominic Egli beats, tie a colorful bouquet of rare Stilabsurditäten and lyrical collective plants: Shrill clarinets meet inclined plate, a quirky saxophone and two rumbling drums to ignite a colorful, full of percussive fireworks rapid mood changes. "It says in the liner notes, and simultaneously hear you should, even if it your truth. it meets my" Concerto
"" Dixie Balkans Impro World Beat "called the miniature orchestra his own concept. Whoever thought behind it but another hip, but musically rather schmalbrüstiges project, is quite wrong. On the 17 miniatures" Pro Specie Rara "are rather demanding, highly intelligent and musically mature compositions at the interface of contemporary improvised music and classical music tradition. Araxi Karnusian, saxophonist and "guiding spirit" of the two drums and five horns quite exotic occupied formation has developed from beats of the drummers rhythmically, melodically and harmonically complex pieces where jazz changes, swing, Latin and chorale-like passages as on and start a new dive as folklore set pieces, in the impressionist or strawinskyeske sounds. An exciting, varied and remarkably mature album with great solo performances. Hopefully this new species is rapidly spread beyond Switzerland. "Jazz Thing