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REVIEW: John Zorn at 60 @ Walker Art Center & St. Mark’s (Minneapolis, MN – 4/6/13)

12th Apr 13 (Fri) Leave a comment

John Zorn - only pulled out his horn at the very end

John Zorn turns 60 this coming September, and Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center wanted to throw a Zorn Fest of sorts.  Since Zorn doesn’t like to travel, he wanted to keep it to a minimum: not a 3+ day fest, but hey, let’s do it all on one day!  And thus “Zorn @ 60” at Walker Art Center was born!

Check out what 60 of Zorn’s contemporaries have said about him… Part 1 & Part 2.

There have already been a  few great reviews already posted (Jazz Police / Walker Art / City Pages); so I’ll keep my write-up to my own personal reflections, and not as in-depth, per se.  Here’s who Zorn had with him for this fest, in different assemblies… Cyro Baptista, percussion; Joey Baron, drums; Greg Cohen, bass; Chris Cunningham, guitar; Marc Feldman, violin; Eric Friedlander, cello; Michelle Kinney, cello; John Medeski, piano, Hammond B3; Ikue Mori, electronics; Marc Ribot, guitar; Joey Schad, electric keyboards; Kenny Wollesen, vibraphone, percussion, and drums.

Well, first off, due to documentaries, I know what Zorn sounds like… and I was getting off the elevator at my hotel and I heard a familiar voice.  Then I looked up, and “whoa, John Zorn is getting on the elevator that I’m getting off of.”  I almost wanted to act like I forgot something in my room and ride up with him.  Alas, I wussed out.  Then in the lobby, Marc Ribot was futzing around on his phone, and Greg Cohen’s massive upright bass case was blocking the front desk.  It all added to my overall giddiness for the day…

John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither

The full day of Zorn @ 60 started at 3pm with a sit down with fest curator Philip Bither.  Zorn is a lively, humorous, acerbic character.  I kinda love him.  Probably more f-bombs and frivolity than most Q&A sessions, the near hourlong session was highly interesting.

The first part of the discussion talked about Zorn’s age… as the fest was all about his experience and what got him to where he is now in the scene at 60.  Zorn talked a little bit about other “60” celebrations he’s doing this year (of all things MySpace has the best list), and one that he’s doing at The Met (NYC) completely intrigued me… ten performances every hour on the hour in different galleries throughout the museum on September 1st (Facebook link).  if I can swing a way to be in NYC for most of September, I’d be happy.  Unlikely, though.

Some of the best quotes from the interview and Q&A (paraphrased from my scribbles):

[about turning 60]“You don’t have any more doubts.”

“They’ve been saying I’ve been playing ironically for decades… that’s bullshit. But they don’t believe me when I say that’s bullshit.”

“Ribot plays guitar like a mutha’fucka!”

“I live in a library [of books, LPs, CDs, DVDs]… I didn’t have a kitchen for over a decade, but I didn’t have cockroaches either!”

[on creativity] “There were probably Bach-types banging on logs [in the earliest times]. Creativity is mystical, spiritual, ineffable.”

[on his schedule for the day] “Eating is a drag… it’ll only slow you down.”

[on critics] “The secret to longevity is to stay away from negative people… all reviews are bad. We don’t need that bullshit.”

And while I write reviews (and perhaps this is one), I understand his take on the industry of critique.

Marc Ribot plays selections from The Book of Heads
(about 20 minutes)

Mark Ribot performs with Doveman at The Studio in Sydney Opera House for Vivid Live 5th June 2010. (photo by Daniel Boud)

John Zorn / Marc Ribot - The Book of HeadsFirst music of the day… Marc Ribot by himself with a guitar, some pedals, a violin bow, some balloons, and an intenseness in his eyes.  The Book of Heads, an album of solo Etudes composed by Zorn, is a very difficult listen.  It screeches, it hurtles into many different directions.  It’s hard to follow, it’s hard to even want to listen to at some times.  Seeing it live, though, was quite fascinating.  It’s highly composed, but seemingly improvised.  Just seeing Marc’s stern look at the sheet music showed the composition.  He was intently following the haphazard that was on the page.  When one of the greatest guitarists is using balloons as a key part of the music making process, you know things are weird.  Weird but gripping.

Ribot played the following Etudes (not necessarily in this order): 13, 23, 9, 24, 22, 27, 7, 2.

Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
(about 10 minutes)

John Zorn - Hockey

John Zorn - HockeyThe next piece was a trio game piece first created in 1978.  Zorn’s game pieces are a strict set of rules and is a structured, improvisational collaboration between the artists.  Hockey on record is OK to listen to, but like The Book of Heads and Cobra (below), it’s far more interesting in the live setting.

A game piece is…

As well as a sports game, a game piece may also be considered analogous to language: The performance is directed by a well defined set of rules (a grammar) but by no means fixed or predetermined (just as all sentences generated by the same grammar are not the same). The length of a piece may be arbitrary, just as a sentence can be of any imaginable length while still conforming to a strictly defined syntax.

This time is was Zorn on birdcalls, Kenny Wollesen on bird calls and percussion, and Erik Friedlander on cello.  With Kenny and Erik looking intently at Zorn for his verbal and hand motion directions.  The level of musicianship of these three players is amazing, and the game pieces are basically a way to stretch their creative musical muscles while making sounds that you’d never expect.  It’s not for the casual listener.

Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
(3 games; about 30 minutes total)

John Zorn - holding up cue card during the Northsea Jazz Fest

John Zorn heard off stage before Cobra started: “Just don’t make any mistakes!”

John Zorn - CobraCobra takes the game piece concept to whole new levels.  The rules are more complex, and John Zorn doesn’t play but directs at the front.  Based on the card he holds up and his verbal and non-verbal cues, the musicians go off on an adventure – never the same in any repeat performance.

With eleven players on stage (all listed at the top of this post), they played three games of Cobra.  This was my first time seeing Cobra.  It’s very interactive, starting with Zorn’s lead, but the players get room to lead things too.  It’s improv, but still with a structure.  Here’s a glimpse at the cue card structure:

John Zorn - Cobra cue cardsHighlight for me: Joey Baron’s smile.  I get such a kick out of watching him play.  He’s probably the musician having the most fun ever on stage every time I see him.

Cobra was the end of the first program, and the fest broke for a couple hours.

Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio, and
Bar Kokhba Sextet
(a little over an hour – total)

The second program was the chamber music segment (and also the part of the day where my notes have now gone missing).

Erik Friedlander plays Volac (John Zorn's Masada Book Two: Book of Angels)I’d seen Erik Friedlander before (both solo with his own stuff and playing Volac), and it was a great warm up for the increasingly larger groups playing music from John Zorn’s Masada Book Two set of music.  He played a gorgeous 20 minute selections from Volac.

Masada String TrioUp next was the Masada String Trio made up of the aforementioned Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, and Greg Cohen on upright bass.  While the music they played was composed (same with Bar Kokhba Sextet), John Zorn sat on the floor in front of them, conducting.  They played about 20 minutes from their Masada Book Two set.  Gorgeous players, gorgeous music!

Bar Kokhba SextetContinuing in the chamber music written & conducted by Zorn, the Bar Kokhba Sextet found the Masada String Trio joined by Joey Baron on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion, and Marc Ribot on guitar.  This was probably the best part of the night for me – outside of the experience of seeing Cobra played for the first time.  The group effortlessly brought Zorn’s Masada tunes some groove, and seeing both Baron and Baptista work together percussively was a delight.

John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
encore:

John Zorn playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph
with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
(about 75 minutes total)

At the beginning of the third program, someone yelled out from the audience, “where’s your horn!?” to which John Zorn yelled back, “at home mother fucker!”  Irreverent and hilarious.  Even though he was lying (he brought out his alto sax for the final piece).John Zorn in Minneapolis 2013  Photo by Bryan Aaker.

Nova Express and The Concealed songs were played by Joey Baron on drums, show-stealer Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, Greg Cohen on upright bass, and John Medeski on piano.  These are two of Zorn’s better albums in the recent three years’ output (of ~36 albums!!!!).  Partly classical takes on Masada tunes (Nova Express), and partly mystical (The Concealed).

Zorn Zorn - Nova Express John Zorn - The Concealed

As mentioned, the only time John Zorn brought out his sax was for the visual installation piece Aleph – set to Wallace Bergman’s short cut-up film of the same name. Iit was a ripping, avant-garde piece in the dark, backlit by the film, with Zorn wailing on sax, Kenny Wollesen moving off of vibes on to the drums, and Greg Cohen on bass.  Stellar!

John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

John Zorn - hermetic organ

John Zorn - The Hermetic OrganA special free midnight performance of John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ was across the street after the final third program of Zorn @ 60.  Most of the crowd piled over to St. Mark’s Cathedral to watch the contrasting and turgid organ piece.  I stayed for about half of the 30+ minute set and then slowly started my 2 mile, midnight walk back to my hotel – content at the day’s musical gifts.

A brilliant, music-packed day!  If you want to check out some videos of what went down, the French Zorn website le zornographe has linked to some performances posted from the Walker Art Center “Zorn @ 60” fest on YouTube:

Bar Kokhba Sextet “Sother”

Masada String Trio “Bethor”

John Zorn’s Cobra (piece 2)

Erik Friedlander ” Sannul”

The Concealed “Towards Kafiristan”

Nova Express “Between Two Worlds”

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Soul’d Out Festival’s Charlie Hunter with Booker T. Jones & Carlton Jackson (first time as a trio) @ Dante’s (Portland 4/14)..

~Dan – np: ElleryLying Awake
Ellery - Lying Awake

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WDSRVY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000WDSRVY&linkCode=as2&tag=essentialmusi-20

John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis (soon)

9th Apr 13 (Tue) Leave a comment

John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis was awesome… I’m still decompressing, but I should have a write-up posted this week sometime…

John Zorn

John Zorn @ 60 – McGuire Theater @ Walker Art Center :: Minneapolis, MN
John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither
Marc Ribot plays selections from Book of Heads
Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio
Bar Kokhba Sextet
John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
John Zorn’s playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

Favorite Concerts of 2012

31st Dec 12 (Mon) Leave a comment

Well, this year was once again good to the Pacific Northwest on the concert front… 366 days, 85 shows, 144 artists, many long nights driving home, and a lot of photos… my best albums lists will likely push off into mid-January (due to being busy & heading out on vacation), but here are my favorite concerts of 2012…

My favorite concerts of 2012:

  1. Secret Chiefs 3 :: WOW Hall :: Eugene, OR {6 Feb} [review with photos] – I saw them twice on this tour, and both shows were great. The Eugene show gets the nod mainly because it was first in the order. :)
  2. Roger Waters presents Pink Floyd’s The Wall:: Rose Garden :: Portland, OR {22 May} [review with photos] – Wow. I don’t even think The Wall is in my Top 5 of Pink Floyd albums, but holy cow, this was an amazing show.  Truly stunning.
  3. Radiohead :: Key Arena :: Seattle, WA {9 Apr} [review with photos] – A phenomenal band that keeps making me drive multiple hours anytime I want to see them!  I’ll gladly continue, though.
  4. Sufjan Stevens presents the Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice :: Aladdin Theater :: Portland, OR {6 Dec} [review with photos] – I hate Christmas music, but this spectacle of wonderment warmed me over.
  5. Puscifer :: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall :: Portland, OR {14 Mar} [review with photos] – A wine tasting and a concert from rock’s favorite frontman? Yes, please.
  6. Seun Kuti & the Egypt 80 :: WOW Hall :: Eugene, OR {18 Mar} [review with photos] – I love Nigerian music, and anyone with the last name of “Kuti” should come with a mandate that you go to the show.
  7. “Weird Al” Yankovic :: Lane County Fairgrounds :: Eugene, OR {18 Aug} [review with photos] – A long, many be-suited set of songs.  Saying it was a “fun time” would be an understatement.
  8. Over the Rhine :: The Triple Door :: Seattle, WA {17 Nov} [review with photos] – It had been too long since seeing Over the Rhine (a year).  I got spoiled when I lived in Cincinnati; so now Ive got to get my OTR fix when I can.  This was a gorgeous night.
  9. Levi Weaver :: my house :: Eugene, OR {16 Jul} [review with photos] – Going to an intimate house concert is great.  I recommend it.  Hosting an intimate house concert – doubly so!
  10. Peter Mulvey & Kris Delmhorst :: 3 venues :: 3 Oregon cities {17-19 Oct} [recap with photos] – Story time from two stupendous singer-songwriters.
  11. Dan Deacon :: Hawthorne Theatre :: Portland, OR {25 Oct} [recap with photos] – Dancing some asses off.
  12. Sigur Rós :: Edgefield :: Portland, OR {9 Aug} [review] – This was my first time at Edgefield and also my first time seeing Sigur Rós in an outdoor venue.  Plus side on a great venue, but a slight knock for loving how Sigur Rós works within a theater setting.  A great show regardless of venue, though.
  13. Fiona Apple :: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall :: Portland, OR {26 Jul} [review] – A bit spastic, but a phenomenal performer.  A mix of her new and old tunes, truly great show!
  14. Nellie McKay :: The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts :: Eugene, OR {2 Mar} [review with photos] – I saw her four times this year, and they all rank well.  I’ll see Nellie any time she comes through.  She’s always a delight!
  15. Portland Cello Project plays Radiohead’s OK Computer :: The Majestic Theatre :: Corvallis, OR {21 Sep} [setlist] – While I would have gone a different route than a men chorus for the vocal aspect (i.e. the one song with a regular vocalist was the best one), this was a very special night.

Runners-Up: My Brightest Diamond in Tacoma (Sep) – only because it was a short set, Penn & Teller in Vegas (Jan), Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity in Vegas (Jan), Trevor Dunn & Travis LaPlante at the Wandering Goat (Jan), and Skerik’s Bandalabra at Cozmic (Mar).

Disappointment: the absurd volume of Jack White at the Hult Center (May).

My favorite concert photos of 2012: (in chronological order)

 

(all images are free to use under a creative commons designation,
simply identify Daniel Temmesfeld with a
photo credit and link to pacificlectic.com.

Past Favorite Concerts Lists:

Favorite music of 2012 will be coming in a few weeks (unless I can squeak them out sooner)… EPs/DVDs/etc, vocal albums, instrumental albums

~Dan – np: George HrabCoelacanth
George Hrab - Coelacanth

PHOTOS: The Dead Kenny G’s @ Sam Bond’s Garage (Eugene, OR – 11/15/12)

16th Nov 12 (Fri) Leave a comment

The Dead Kenny G’s @ Sam Bond’s Garage (Eugene, OR – 11/15/12)
Skerik on sax & keys, Brad Houser on bass & sax, and
Mike Dillon on drums, vibes & other sounds

http://www.thedeadkennygs.com/

~Dan – np: Over the RhineThe Long Surrender

REVIEW: Sigur Rós @ Edgefield (Portland, OR – 8/9/12)

10th Aug 12 (Fri) 1 comment

PHOTOS below from Sigur Rós’ Tumblr
(unless otherwise noted)

Sigur Rós is magical.  This was my 6th time seeing them, and quite frankly, it doesn’t get any less magical each time I am graced with their presence.  They don’t really speak to me on a linguistic level, but they blow me away on a musical and emotive level.

The sweeping movements that scream, the melodies that bleed, the ambient passages that don’t go anywhere by going everywhere.  The playing with light and shadows, the simplest/minimalist way to make a huge f*cking point.  That is what Sigur Rós is to its fans.

Their latest album, Valtari, is… well, it seems more minimalist than their prior albums.  It came out in late May 2012, and I’m only a few dozen spins in.  I’m still trying to let it sink in.  It’s slower going than the first spin of Agaetis Byrjun and ( ) for me.  It’s not a hooky (bwahaha!) as Takk… or Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.

Is Valtari anything different than I’d expect from Sigur Rós?  No, not really.  It just hadn’t broken through to me, yet.

Despite Valtari not quite breaking through yet, the anticipation for this tour was killing me.  I had last seen Sigur Rós in October 2008 (review at my photo to the left), and I had last seen lead-singer Jónsi (solo) in April 2010 (review at my photo to the right).

The short trailer for the tour based on the Iceland rehearsals and the tour opening show in Philadelphia had me giddy…

After a delightful drive up and bite to eat at McMenamins’ Black Rabbit with a friend, we hit the venue right about 6 and found a nice shady spot on the lawn.  Opener Julia Holter went on at 6:30 as scheduled…

She played a mellow, 40-or-so-minute set with her 3-piece band (unless there was another member out of my sight).  We were far enough away and the crowd was a bit restless; so her set was more of a backdrop to discussions, people watching and decisions on pizza.  I’d have liked to get into her music more, but sadly things were not conducive to that.  Since she’s from Los Angeles, perhaps I’ll get another chance soon.

After a fairly short set-change, Sigur Rós hit the stage…

This was my first time seeing them in an outdoor venue.  No fancy lights bouncing Orri’s silhouette off the walls, no starting the show behind a white sheet, no cannons of confetti blasting.  Some of the “magic” was missing on the venue side of things, if you ask me – but I don’t think any magic was missing in the music.

Setlist: an hour & 45 min

  • Ekki Múkk
  • Svefn-g-englar
  • Olsen Olsen
  • Gong
  • Andvari
  • Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása
  • Í Gær
  • Vaka
  • Sæglópur
  • Hoppípolla
  • Með Blóðnasir
  • Festival
  • Varúð
  • Hafsól
  • Dauðalogn (on setlist, not played)
  • Encore: Popplagið

Many times throughout the set, within 2 or 3 notes, the crowd was clapping and hooting in anticipation for the song that was just started.  I love that I live in a day and age where I can escape and listen to good live music that sells out a large outdoor venue.  It’s not just the pop stars & starlets that draw a crowd, and it’s nice to see Sigur Rós’ progression and success over the years.

The lesser Valtari-focus made room for a great mix from their catalog, and I think songs from the different eras worked well together.  Some of my favorites from the night… “Svefn-g-englar” leading into “Olsen Olsen,” “Vaka,” “Sæglópur,” “Hoppípolla,” and the show-capper “Popplagið.”

Despite always knowing that they’ll end the show with an epic 10-15 minute “Popplagið,” I don’t think I could choose a better song to end a beautiful night on.

~Tumblr-Rós photos from Seattle 8/8~

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more Sigur Rós – North American tour dates below.

Next shows for me… Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier Live SModcast on 8/17 (Portland) and Weird Al Yankovic on 8/18 (Eugene / Lane County Fair).

~Dan – np: TestamentDark Roots of Earth

July 2012
29 & 30 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Skyline Stage at The Mann
31 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Prospect Park Bandshell

August 2012
1 – Toronto, Ontario @ Echo Beach at Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
3 – Montreal, Quebec @ Osheaga Festival Musique Et Arts
5 – Chicago, Ill. @ Lollapalooza
8 – Seattle, Wash. @ The Paramount Theater
9 – Portland/Troutdale, Ore. @ Edgefield Amphitheater
11 – San Francisco @ Outside Lands
12 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery

REVIEW: Radiohead @ Key Arena (Seattle, WA – 4/9/12)

10th Apr 12 (Tue) 1 comment

The last time I saw Radiohead was in a large outdoor amphitheatre (White River, Aug 2008), and I’ll say the move to indoors was much appreciated.  This was my first time to Key Arena.  Pretty basic arena… stage set up at end.  I arrived just as the opening band was wrapping up… the TicketMaster/Radiohead paperless ticketing was great from a no-scalpers perspective, but it took a bit longer to file everyone in timely.

Radiohead started off the set with “Bloom,” featuring the double drum set-up with both Phil Selway and touring member Clive Deamer (from Portishead) in addition to Jonny Greenwood on a small drum kit.  Jonny hit the mini-kit again (along with Ed O’Brien) for “There There” later in the set.

The light show was a LED wall behind the band with moving, suspended video screens (see photo above and slideshow below).  The moving video screens had been slowly coming down on the band until they were under an archway of lights by the time “Airbag” came around.  Ed make a half-hearted leap to hit the screen above him with his hand.

The band stuck to a lot of new stuff for this show, only digging into the first half of their catalogue a handful of times during their 23-song set.  Some highlights were the wall of Thom eyes during Thom’s piano close-up on “You And Whose Army?,” the grandeur of “Lucky,” the wild strobe and raucous “Idioteque,” the subtler / gentler piano-driven “Daily Mail,” and Jonny’s bowed guitar combined with the piano intro to “Pyramid Song.”  I’m still getting used to The King of Limbs, and while I don’t think the rockier songs worked (for me) live, the gentler stuff really hit the mark, especially “Give Up the Ghost” and the aforementioned “Daily Mail.”  “Little by Little” seemed a little off at the beginning, but other than that, no major disappointments…

Setlist: about 2 hours

  • Bloom
  • 15 Step
  • Airbag
  • Little by Little
  • Myxomatosis
  • The Gloaming
  • Morning Mr. Magpie
  • Pyramid Song
  • The Daily Mail
  • These Are My Twisted Words
  • Nude
  • Identikit
  • Lotus Flower
  • There There
  • Feral
  • Idioteque
  • Encore 1: How to Disappear Completely
  • Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  • You and Whose Army?
  • Lucky
  • Encore 2: Give Up the Ghost
  • Reckoner
  • Everything In Its Right Place

Soundcheck songs were Supercollider, 15 Step, Identikit and Meeting in the Aisle, but I was not in attendance for those…

A few iPhone shots from
Radiohead Seattle 4/9/12:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Matthew Lamb’s Pro-shot concert photos here on Key Arena’s FB page.:

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more RH tour dates below.

Next show for me… Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket) in Portland 4/12.

~Dan – np: Tyler FortierBang On Time

Radiohead North American Tour 2012

February 2012

Mon 27 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL, USA

Wed 29 St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL, USA

March 2012

Thu 1 Philips Arena Atlanta, GA, USA

Sat 3 Toyota Center Houston, TX, USA

Mon 5 American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX, USA

Wed 7 Frank Irwin Center Austin, TX USA

Fri 9 Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO USA

Sun 11 Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO USA

Tue 13 1st Bank Center, Broomfield, CO USA

Thu 15 Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, AZ USA

April 2012

Mon 9, Key Arena, Seattle, WA – USA

Wed 11, HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA – USA

Thu 12, Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, CA – USA

Sat 14 Coachella – Indio, CA – USA

Tue 17 Foro Sol, Mexico City, Mexico

Wed 18 Foro Sol, Mexico City, Mexico

Sat 21 Coachella – Indio, CA – USA

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