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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

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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 Instrumental Albums of 2011 *

31st Dec 11 (Sat) Leave a comment

As I start this post, I will say that this is all very subjective and really put together for my own purposes.  I’ll also state that, yes, some of the music below does have some vocals (i.e.- the Goddamn Electric Bill & Mike Patton CDs).  For the most part, it’s sequestered to a track or two on a long CD of mostly instrumental goodness.  My list, my rules, and/or my breaking of the rules.  With that being said, all of the artists below tend to be in the jazz and instrumental frame of reference anyway.

As said before… I’ve been buying less music… or, at least a lot less mainstream (major label) music. This is also my fourth year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, Facebox pages, yadda yadda yadda. Some of these also made it on to my 2011 Mix CD (free streaming/download).

OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Product Details Cyro Baptista’s Banquet of Spirits plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 17 (Caym) :: The Masada Book two series is some of my favorite music coming out of Tzadik.  Banquet of the Spirits is the touring band of Latin percussionist Cyro Baptista, a long time Zorn collaborator.  Each track touches upon a different world tradition, steeped in Zorn’s klez-jazz score.  Lyrical and moving and fun!

Artichaut OrkestraT For Teresa :: Featuring four young musicians  from Toulouse, Artichaut Orkestra mix jazz, klezmer and classical music, blending rock energy with improv.  This is their debut record, and I’m definitely looking forward to more coming from them in the near future.
Curtis MacdonaldCommunity Immunity :: To be honest, this was an impulse purchase.  One of my favorite record labels is Greenleaf Music – founded by my favorite living trumpet-player Dave Douglas.  I was picking up some new music from DD and figured, “eh, what the hell!”  I was impressed with Curtis’ melodic compositions and emotive alto sax playing.
MogwaiHardcore Will Never Die, But You Will :: Stunning double-disc set from post-rock’s Scottish kings.  I’ll still probably forgo seeing them live again (too loud, beyond their needs), but they put out some amazingly beautiful music.

(3 CDs)
John ZornNova Express / At the Gates of Paradise / A Dreamer Christmas :: Three discs made the cut of the six Zorn releases in 2011.  Nova Express combines quirky atonal classical lyricism with a touch of the cut up techniques of Naked City and virtuosity of the Masada songbook. Zorn scored this for Joey Baron (drums), Trevor Dunn (bass), John Medeski (piano), and Kenny Wollesen (vibes).  Paradise features the same band as Nova Express, brings some Medeski organ into the mix and adds more of Zorn’s “mystical” ambiance.  The Dreamer Christmas album was an oddity for me.  Why would a Jewish jazz musician put out a Christmas album?  Because he can!  The Dreamers is one of my favorite Zorn-assembled ensembles: Joey Baron (drums), Cyro Baptista (percussion), Trevor Dunn (bass), Marc Ribot (guitars), Jamie Saft (keys), and Kenny Wollesen (vibes).  Very accessible, but not smooth jazz!  Adventurous!  Mike Patton joins them on the final track for a croon-y “chestnut roasting.”  The holiday album was also put out as a 12″ vinyl and a 7″ single – both with gorgeous artwork and design by Chippy.
yMusicBeautiful Mechanical :: The yMusic Ensemble had a kickstarter earlier this year for their debut album – with songs composed by Son Lux, Annie Clark, Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond), Saraha Kirkland snider (who penned a favorite album Penelope last year), and Gabriel Kahane.  Their string-heavy, indie chamber rock approach excites me.  Being the musical backdrop for My Brightest Diamond’s All Things Will Unwind album (my #2 vocal album in 2011) doesn’t hurt.
Peter Mulvey & David GoodrichNine Days Wonder :: Peter Mulvey has toured all over the US and the world for about 2 decades.  Some of the first times I saw him in concert, he had “Goody” with him on backing guitar.  They don’t get a chance to tour together much lately, but they did find some time to hole-up inside a studio to write and record some instrumental guitar duets.  While I love Peter’s vocal storytelling, it’s nice to hear his and Goody’s instrumental interplay tell a different story.
Goddamn Electric BillJazz :: GdEB is the one-man brainchild of Jason Torbert.  He hits the spot for organic electronic meets post-rock for me.  Ambient at times, melodic other times.  His latest work has featured some vocals, but he’s primarily a groove-induced soundscape kind of guy.  Chirps and glitches, too.  Excellent stuff!
The Dead Kenny G’sOperation Long Leash :: The Dead Kenny Gs is a duo started by saxophonist Skerik and drummer/vibes Mike Dillon in 2004.  shortly thereafter, they started adding Brian Haas, keyboard genius, when he is able, as well as Brad Houser, bassist from another Skerik band – Critters Buggin.  They push through the jazz/rock minefield to fight “injustice, cheese, and dishonesty in music, and society.”
TalkdemonicRuins :: Portland-based chamber-indie-post-rock… goodness.  So much sound from two people.  If you’re in Portland, they’re playing a big NYE show tonight… if in Eugene, they’ll be through our way (at Sam Bond’s) on Feb 24th.  Not to be missed!
Mike PattonThe Solitude of Prime Numbers :: I had to put this album as #13.  This chiefly instrumental album is a tribute to the book (by Paolo Giordano) and film of the same name.  The score is 16 tunes spread out over a 53 tracks, with the only tracks with content being 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, and 53. *slow clap* Clever, Mr. Patton!  For people who bought the CD, you can thank me for entering in the info to CDDB (t’was a pain).  The score/album fits more with his prior score for A Perfect Place – more accessible when compared to Patton’s usual schizophrenic output.  The packaging design is also brilliant – a gorgeous die-cut leaf that fold outwards.  I’d always recommend getting physical releases from Ipecac versus the digital download version.

Garage A TroisAlways Be Happy, But Stay Evil :: Skerik, Stanton Moore, Marco Benevento (who replaced Charlie Hunter) and Mike Dillon make their way through Oregon quite a bit.  They are a sight to see – you don’t know exactly what kind of show you’ll get, but it’s definitely a fun time.  Fun, groove-oriented “new jazz.”
Explosions in the SkyTake Care, Take Care, Take Care :: If not jazz, this list is also overtaken by post-rock.  it’s a love of mine, and Explosions in the Sky are one of the best in that game.  Epic, sweeping guitars crashing over a hearty drum & bass end.  This is another album where I’d recommend the physical edition – the  case can be unfolded to form a model of a house, where if viewed from the inside, the view from the door of the house is overlooking a tornado across a plain.

Erik FriedlanderBonebridge :: I started 2011 seeing Erik perform his John Zorn-penned Volac album in its entirety… brilliant and moving.  Later in the year, he came out with Bonebridge – a new band/concept that takes his Broken Arm Trio (with Trevor Dunn & Mike Sarin) and adds slide guitar player Doug Wamble to the mix.  What you get is a perfect chamber-Americana-jazz album.  I hope there are more where this came from…
Kevin Moore – Shine (Küçük Kıyamet Soundtrack) :: Kevin Moore’s main projects are the trippy/sample-heavy Chroma Key & heavier prog collaboration band O.S.I. (with Jim Matheos). Shine is the soundtrack to the 2006 Turkish film Küçük Kiyamet (“Little Apocalypse“).  It came out in early 2011 after a successful Kickstarter in 2010.  The next album from O.S.I. comes out in February 2012 on Metal Blade.  I can almost guarantee it will be my Top album of 2012, and I haven’t heard a shred of it yet.
ReptetAt the Cabin :: This Seattle-based jazz sextet is fuuuuuuuuuun – both on record and in the live setting.  I wish the distance on I-5 between me and them wasn’t 5-6 hours, as I’d see them far more often if I could.

Matt Chamberlain, Viktor Krauss, Dan PhelpsModular: Sonic Explorations :: Gorgeous soundscapes from Matt Chamberlain, Viktor Krauss, and Dan Phelps.  The Modular Project is the collaboration of the aforementioned musicians working together to “discover what the spontaneous and organic manipulation of sound can yield. Inspired by the world around them, they set out to discover what it might sound like when continents shift, clouds form, and roots push through soil.”  The track, “Everest,” features one of my favorite cellists – Eyvind Kang (who has worked with Secret Chiefs 3, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Mike Patton).  It’s a great mix of cello, vibes and soaring atmosphere.  The album is only available digitally or on vinyl (it’s a luscious triple-gatefold!)…

(3 CDs)
Dave Douglas – Three Views: GPS Series – Rare Metals, Orange Afternoons & Bad Mango :: Originally released as the “Greenleaf Portable Series” (download only), these three different releases in 2011 finally got a proper physical (boxset) release.  Dave’s prolific writing comes out with different bands on each record: Rare Metals features Dave’s most recent band Brass Ecstasy; Orange Afternoons features a specially put together quintet with Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh, and Marcus Gilmore; and Bad Mango paired Dave’s trumpet with So Percussion’s marimba, drumset, glockenspiel, musical saw, toy bells, shruti box, crotales, and more.  Three very different records tied together with Dave’s fantastic playing.

Tides From NebulaEarthshine :: This Polish post-rock group won my heart in 2009 with their debut, Aura (in 2009).  They continue to tease me with emails or news that says “tour” until I open and can’t pronounce the names of the cities that they’re hitting.  Drat!  At least their music will keep me company!  Earthshine is perfect for those fans of Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and the like… and seeing as it beat out both those groups on my 2011 list, well, that should tell you something as well.

Michael KelseySubmerged :: Michael Kelsey is a HUGE amount of what I miss from the Midwest music scene.  He’s a musical genius – rarely paralleled on the frets.  Seeing him live (which I did any chance I could) was a site to behold.  His records do their best to capture his virtuosity, but they usually fail to capture his energy, too.  Catching fire in a bottle is tough.  Regardless, this one is a gem and also marks his first all instrumental affair.  Check him out, and if you live within a state or two from central Indiana, I count you a lucky one.  Go see him if he stops by your town.

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 :: More riff-oriented and melodic compared to the prior drone doom albums, Earth bring a cello into the mix for the first time and create an ominous soundscape that is both elegant and dreadful.  The follow-up, Angels & Demons 2, comes out in Feb 2012… and you can almost guarantee it’ll rise to the top of my list next year as well.

Note: Ric Hordinski’s Arthur’s Garden (which made it on my 2011 Mix) is technically a 2012 release, hence its absence above.

Where do I get most of these jazz and other instrumental releases?  My #1 favorite source for jazz is Downtown Music Gallery in New York.  Manny and Bruce and their great staff are superb… and being the official distributor for John Zorn’s Tzadik doesn’t hurt my affection for them.  I usually do a monthly Tzadik order (if the releases strike my fancy), and they have a ton of other non-Tzadik jazz and avant-garde releases as well.

And, no, I’m not affiliated, I don’t get a commission, and beyond my initial “big tax refund / gotta get caught up on Zorn order of 2005,” I haven’t gotten a discount with DMG.  I just love and support what they do.

Enjoy the New Years’ weekend!! Be safe! See you in 2012.

My Other Favorites of 2011 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Trent Reznor & Atticus RossThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

REVIEW: Erik Friedlander plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – 1/8/11)

9th Jan 11 (Sun) 5 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

NYC-based cellist Erik Friedlander is a favorite musician of mine.  I have only a handful of his solo works, but he shows up in the subtlest of places… I mean, if I do a quick search for “Friedlander” in my iTunes, I show 32 and a half hours of music (Tzadik Records & DMG are a key component of my monthly music budget).  He has worked with Courtney Love, Dar Williams, the Mountain Goats and many more… but I primarily know his work in the NYC jazz & avant-garde scene: Dave Douglas, Ikue Mori/Death Praxis, Jamie Saft, Yuka Honda, Wadada Leo Smith, Tim Sparks, Ned Rothenberg, and of course… John Zorn.

With John Zorn, Erik has been involved in several Masada incarnations, notably the Masada String Trio (with Greg Cohen & Mark Feldman) and the Bar Kokhba Sextet.  When John Zorn was done writing music for the original acoustic Masada Quartet, he sat down and penned over 300 songs that became the Masada Book Two: Book of Angels.  I’ve talked a lot about Masada Book Two on this blog… it is the most consistently amazing set of music out on Tzadik (John Zorn’s 503(c)3 record label).  MBT is essentially John Zorn’s Masada tunes, covered by those around him.  Some of my favorites are Secret Chiefs 3’s Xaphan, Bar Kokhba Sextet’s Lucifer, and Medeski Martin & Wood’s Zaebos… but quite honestly, all sixteen releases (to date) have been stunning and essential.

Erik was one of the early invites to the Masasa Book Two Club… releasing Volac (volume 8 in 2005).  The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene commissioned Erik Friedlander to come in a perform these Volac songs last night.  I had seen Erik in Portland in 2009 with his photography & music piece – Block Ice & Propane (his music set to his father Lee Friedlander’s photography); so I knew Erik would deliver a wonderful performance.  Set-up in the Shedd Recital Hall, just off the courtyard, Erik went on around 7:40 and entranced us with his playing…

He was playing his carbon-fiber “alien cello.”  I imagine that was his easiest axe to bring for a two-night Seattle & Eugene weekend before heading back home.  Its sound was quite similar to a wooden cello – at least to my untrained ears.  Per Erik, it’s not as ornery or sensitive as a wooden cello.

The Masada songs have a definitive Jewish klezmer feel in points of the melodies.  Erik’s arrangements and playing definitely bring in a chamber music and jazz improviser aspect to the Volac songs.  He played roughly half of the songs bowed, and the rest either plucked or strummed.  Switching between the styles for each song for the most part – as is one of John Zorn’s “rules” which Erik joked about.  Hush, don’t tell John, but Erik acknowledged that he broke a few “rules” during the night.

Setlist: about 70 minutes

  • Harhazial
  • Yeruel
  • Ylrng
  • Haseha
  • Sannul
  • Rachsiel
  • Kadal
  • Anahel (the 1st written by Zorn for MBT)
  • Zumiel
  • Ahaniel
  • Zawar
  • Encore: Sidriel

Essentially the entire Volac album, just in a different order. Erik doesn’t make it out to the Pacific Northwest as much as I’d like, but when he does make it out, I’m going.  If you love cello or other chamber music – you should go, too!  Nary a disappointment. Oh, also check out his free podcast First Light which features a weekly early morning improvisation.

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Reptet (jazz combo from Seattle) at Luckey’s in Eugene, Friday, January 14th!

~Dan – np: Nine Inch NailsGhosts I-IV

ERIK FRIEDLANDER PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Erik Friedlander to play John Zorn (1/8/2011 in Eugene, OR)

3rd Dec 10 (Fri) Leave a comment

New York cellist Erik Friedlander is coming back to Oregon.  I saw him last year in Portland performing his Block Ice and Propane songs.  This time, he’s coming to Eugene to play his songs from John Zorn‘s Masada Book Two: Volac.

The solo cello show will be Saturday, January 8, 2011 @ 7:30 at the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene, Oregon.

Tickets are on-sale now.  For more info:

http://theshedd.org/divP/series.aspx?event=1868

Check out the album, Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 8 (Volac)…

~Dan – np: My Brightest DiamondA Thousand Sharks Teeth

REVIEW: Erik Friedlander @ Winningstad Theatre (Portland, OR – 9/12/09)

13th Sep 09 (Sun) 3 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Erik Friedlander grew up spending many of his summers on the road with his family due to his photographer father, Lee Friedlander.  I knew his dad was a photographer with some notoriety, but I hadn’t known about the long, cross-country summer road trips – which were the basis for Erik’s 3-day run of Block Ice and Propane at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA)’s TBA Festival (aka T:BA:09).  More about T:BA:09 later…

I have been into Erik for a while… basically contemporaneously with my immersion into John Zorn, as Erik is a mainstay in the Downtown NYC jazz scene and finds his way on maaaaany of the Tzadik releases that I love.  He’s a part of the Masada String Trio & Bar Kokhba Sextet, and has played with Dave Douglas, Ikue Mori, Wadada Leo Smith, severalk of Zorn’s Filmworks series, et cetera.

When I showed up for the event, I was caught off guard by the vast amount of people milling about the lobby.  “Does Erik have this big of a draw in Portland?”

Well, the answer to that question is, now he does.” This was the third night of his three-night run as part of the T:BA:09 festival put on by PICA.  The entire 10-day festival was also coming to a crescendo on the 12th… needless to say, the program looked amazing, full of art of all kinds, not just music.  I’m definitely putting T:BA:10 on my radar for next year.

Erik’s solo chair, laptop stand, and microphone in front of a projector screen was nicely lit with a blue light as the herd of an audience entered the Dolores Winningstad Theatre.  I’d never been to the Winningstad Theatre, but it’s in the same complex as the Newmark Theatre (where I saw the SF Jazz Collective in ’08 and where I’ll see Patton Oswalt tonight), and it’s right next door to the Arlene Schnitzer Hall (where I’ve seen many shows).  “The Winny” was a great venue… small & intimate, but seemingly able to fit in a large amount of people, including 2 tiers of balcony seating.  Luckily I was solo; so I found a stray seat right up front-left.

As mentioned prior, the show was Erik playing solo cello in front of a backdrop of photos from his childhood, primarily taken by his father Lee Friedlander.  The performance, specifically the backdrop, had a very “Americana” feel set to non-“Americana music.”  Or perhaps it was Americana music set through the filter of the cello.  It wasn’t Woody Guthrie-esque, but it had that dirty, road weary, wow-look-at-this-wonderful-country feel to it.  Amongst the photos were also some videos shot by Bill Morrison.

Outside of photographing the country on big summer roadtrips, Erik’s father Lee also photographed many musicians… Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane… even up to the current era like a famous Madonna photo.  Lee’s love of music spilled over to Erik, who found a love for music early in his life.  He started on guitar and eventually moved to cello.  However, his basis in guitar drove much of the style of playing last night.  Only a few times did Erik pull out a bow – rather he plucked and strummed his cello like one would with a guitar… well, a guitar that you were holding like a cello. :)

Setlist:

  • Block Ice & Propane
  • Road Weary
  • King Rig
  • I’m Not Here
  • Cold Chicken
  • Yakima
  • Pressure Cooking
  • Winking at Highway 7
  • Rusting in Honeysuckle
  • Dream Song
  • Airstream Envy
  • Night White

Some of my favorite pieces were the lead-in, title track (to the 2007 CD of the same name), as well as “Pressure Cooking” and “Night White” (nice harmonics).  The story about “Cold Chicken” was great, about how at a diner they were served very slowly and Lee stormed into the kitchen to complain about “who wants to eat cold chicken!?” while the family scurried away.  The music, which I’ve heard several times before on the CD, totally made sense now.  Nice…

Block Ice and Propane (the 2007 CD) can be purchased directly from Erik HERE.

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Porcupine TreeThe Incident

ERIK FRIEDLANDER PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2009 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

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