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REVIEW: Nels Cline Singers with Yuka Honda @ Doug Fir Lounge (Portland, OR – 1/30/11)

2nd Feb 11 (Wed) 3 comments

 FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

I had heard of Nels Cline like many people… via Wilco.  I had even seen Wilco at some point on the A Ghost is Born tour (Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, 2000-and-something).  While I dig Wilco enough, more adventurous music is where it’s at for me nowadays.  I had heard of Nels and knew of his free jazz group, but I had only actually heard a little bit of his music – which gets me to my interest even being piqued in this show… enter Yuka C. Honda.

I dig Yuka’s Japanese/American sugar-pop of Cibo Matto (with fellow Japanese ex-pat Miho Hatori), but I also dig her experimental acoustic-electronic albums on Tzadik.  My love of Yuka’s solo work led to her Portland tour date popping up on my radar…and I saw “oh, and with Nels Cline, I’ve heard some of his stuff.”

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

I found out about a week before the show that Yuka was actually playing with the Nels Cline Singers (the next generation of his NC Trio).  I found out later that they’re married ; so the joint tour totally made sense to me now.

Then I found out that one of my favorite bassists, Trevor Dunn, was playing in the group for this short West Coast tour.  Trevor played/plays with Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Moonchild, Trio Convulsant, Electric Masada, et-fucking-cetera (tons upon tons of groups).

Then I found out that Scott Amendola was drumming with them… he’s the drummer for Mike Patton‘s fantastic Mondo Cane big-band.  Then, after seeing the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger* on Friday 1/28 in Portland, I thought… “hey, GOASTT is wrapping up their tour in Seattle on the 29th, and Nels Cline is starting their tour on the 29th in Seattle.  Sean Lennon (of GOASTT) & Yuka used to be together as a couple and still work in bands together, Sean & Nels are on the same label, I bet something’s up.”  Well, yeah, something was up…

*GOASTT is Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl‘s band (to the R of Nels).

As evidenced above, Sean & Charlotte watched from side of the stage during the first set, until Sean disappeared only to come up on stage to tambourine with the group for the last song in the first set.

So, now that my mind was thoroughly blown with all of the players on stage – let’s get on with the music.

Despite the “Singers” namesake, it’s an instrumental band.  Actually, it’s an instrumental force with which to reckon.  The first set started off with just the trio of Nels’ guitars and the battery of Trevor & Scott.  The first song “Forge” swooned and swelled before crashing down on our ears.

The group seemed to me to be a great mix of what I love about both free jazz and post-rock.  You don’t know what to expect, and you don’t want to know what to expect.  The wave-like rise and fall is part of the enjoyment.  If the wave doesn’t take you to where you wanted to go, well, you have to give in… it’s not your wave to control.

After the first few songs, Yuka came on and joined them on keyboards and percussion.  I think she evened out the sound a bit… less chaotic, but still adventurous.

1st Set: 60-70 minutes

  • Forge
  • A Mug Like Mine
  • Dedication
  • Thurston County
  • B86 (Inkblot Nebula)
  • Thoughts on Caetano [with Sean Lennon]

Brilliant wall of sound and magic coming from the Singers.  Alas, I had to call it a night.  They took about a 30-40 minute break before I threw in the towel (around 11pm).  They were going to come back on and do a 2nd full set.  Sunday night, long drive ahead of me… I headed back to Eugene.  I sooo very much wanted to stick around for the second set.  The cards were stacked against me; so I scurried to my car and hit the road… if any readers caught the second set – how was it? what did they play?

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

Next shows for me… Sir Elton John in Eugene on 2/17 and then Godspeed! You Black Emperor the next day in Portland.

~Dan – np: OpethOrchid

NELS CLINE SINGERS PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Winter 2011 West Coast Tour Dates

  • Jan 29 – Seattle, WA – Is That Jazz? Festival
  • Jan 30 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
  • Feb 2 – Arcata, CA – Arcata Playhouse
  • Feb 3 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent
  • Feb 4 – Santa Cruz, CA – Don Quixote’s
  • Feb 5 – Los Angeles, CA – Getty Center
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Nels Cline Singers – Portland (photos on Wednesday)

31st Jan 11 (Mon) 1 comment

Last night’s show at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland with the Nels Cline Singers (Nels, Trevor Dunn & Scott Amendola) with Yuka Honda was rad.  Due to my schedule, I won’t be able to post the review until late Tuesday Wednesday (Go Here for the Review/Photos).  Here are some teaser shots… one with Sean Lennon







More to come… check back Tuesday night Wednesday morning!  Sorry, utterly swamped at work…

~Dan

REVIEW: Stebmo & Skerik’s Maelstrom Trio @ Sam Bond’s Garage (Eugene, OR – – 5/31/08)

1st Jun 08 (Sun) 8 comments

Well, last night started out with a stuffed helping of veg food from our mostly monthly Veggie Supper Club here in Eugene. No FBI agents were in attendance… or were they… hmmm… we made biscotti, sweet potato gnocchi with mondo bizarro sauce. They was also fine wine, eggplant tapenade, flatbread pizzas, a nice chard dish, polenta lasagna, and a freakin’ amazing chocolate dessert. Oh no, my stomach a’splode!

Anyway, I hobbled/waddled over to Sam Bond’s Garage for a night of jazz afterwards. Good thing I was full, too… Sam Bond’s got some killer veggie grub (surprisingly killer for bar food). Before the show I picked up Stebmo’s self-titled CD (with Eyvind Kang, Matt Chamberlain, Tucker Martine, Todd Sickafoose, etc) and one of Skerik’s CDs (with Eyvind Kang, Tim Young, etc). Skerik, running the merch at that time, noticed my Secret Chiefs 3 shirt. \m/

Stebmo (aka Steve Moore) started the night around 10pm. I had heard some of his samples from CDBaby; so I knew a little about his sound. Apparently he’s also played in recent live versions of Sunn O))) & worked with Sufjan Stevens & Bill Frisell… or so says his bio. Though he also plays trombone, his set was comprised of keyboards and electronics/loops. He played 40 minutes and had a good mix of experimental and groove-oriented pieces. Perhaps a bit like the organic/melodic elements of the Album Leaf mixed with the building nature of an Explosions in the Sky set mixed with a heaping handful of electronic jots & tittles like those that may have hit the Kid A cutting room floor. I found his set thoroughly enjoyable, as did most of the packed house (80-100 people is my guess).

Stebmo

Skerik’s Maelstrom Trio is Skerik on tenor sax (from Seattle), Brian Coogan on Hammond B-3 Organ & Simon Lott on drums/trumpet (both from Baton Rouge). I’ve heard of Skerik many times via various NYC downtown scene musicians. The Trio went on around 11pm… I stayed for over an hour of their set (12:15am or so). I wish I could have stayed, but I was BEAT.

Anyway, they started out in the experimental / free jazz realm, but didn’t stay there the whole night. Their set was a plethora of sounds… much of it very groove oriented (probably due to the Hammond B-3 throughout). They seemed to be having fun playing together, too – – which ain’t bad to see. :)

Simon (on drums) was fun to watch… he worked well in both the groove and grooveless/experimental compositions. He also pulled out a tiny trumpet for one of the songs which mixed well with Skerik’s sax. Skerik’s sax sound was nice a full (I guess I’m more familiar with alto sax), and he (again) played a good mix of groove and free jazz. On one of the songs he played what I think was a talk box through his sax which was unique to my concert going experiences thus far. Many a guitar talk box, but nary a sax talk box. Fun stuff…

(not from last night’s show)
Skerik's Maelstrom Trio

Great show! I’m glad they stopped by, and I hope they stop by again in some form or another.

Where they’re heading next?

Jun 3 2008 Lion’s Lair [Stebmo opens] Denver, Colorado
Jun 4 2008 Trilogy Wine Bar [Stebmo opens] Boulder, Colorado
Jun 5 2008 Aggie Theatre [Stebmo opens] Fort Collins, Colorado
Jun 6 2008 Telluride Jazz Festival (Fly Me to the Moon Saloon) Telluride, Colorado
Jun 7 2008 Telluride Jazz Festival (McCoy Tyner Stage) Telluride, Colorado
Jun 7 2008 Telluride Jazz Festival (Fly Me to the Moon Saloon) Telluride, Colorado
Jun 10 2008 The Mint [opening for Rebirth Brass Band] Los Angeles, California
Jun 11 2008 The Mint [opening for Rebirth Brass Band] Los Angeles, California
Jun 12 2008 Kuumbwa Jazz Center [Stebmo/Trey Spruance (Secret Chiefs 3) also on bill] Santa Cruz, California
Jun 13 2008 Boom Boom Room [Stebmo opens] San Francisco, California
Jun 14 2008 Hopmonk Brewery [Stebmo opens] Sebastopol, California
Jun 15 2008 Red Fox Tavern [Stebmo opens] Eureka, California

The appropriate linkage:

Upcoming shows: Or Not to Be (Hamlet Zombies), Jude Christodal in PDX, Bill Frisell/Eyvind Kang/Royston in Eugene… and maybe a JoFederigo jazz show (I’ve got a free dessert coupon; so why not?)…

~Dan – pp: The Book ShowEpisode 14 with Richard Dawkins
np: Bar Kokhba SextetMasada Book Two: Lucifer

PS- this was posted to Skerik’s MySpace:
Kickin it with Origami Barack Mandela!! from Tomo in Eugene!!

Ornette Coleman -and- Dave Douglas (YAY!)

11th Jan 08 (Fri) Leave a comment

I may have a rare opportunity to see both free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman and current compositional/improvisational personal favorite Dave Douglas (playing with the SF Jazz Collective) on the same day. The Portland Jazz Festival is next month. Woot! Now I gotta see if I can swing it with the wife. *crossing fingers*

Ornette Coleman is a revolutionary saxophonist and a major influence on one of my favorite musicians of all-time (John Zorn). Ornette’s 1959 release, The Shape of Jazz to Come, is remarkable.

Dave Douglas is a brilliant modern composer/horn player. My first exposure to him was with John Zorn’s composed, yet improvisational-driven, klez-jazz quartet Masada. I quick fell in love with his trumpet sounds. His solo work and groups as band leader (Keystone, DD Quintet, etc) are fantastic modern improvisation jazz.

Re: the PDX Jazz Fest… my wife and I are going to the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones show where they’re playing with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra near the end of the fest (Feb 23rd). That should be great (I saw a similar show in Columbus-OH with the BF&tF and the Promusica Chamber Orchestra). Jazz pianist Anat Cohen is playing that same day (but way earlier in the afternoon)… and I know I can’t work that into our schedule… sadly. She’s good…

~Dan – np: Ornette ColemanThe Shape of Jazz to Come

REVIEW: John Zorn’s Moonchild @ The Moore Theatre / Earshot Jazz (Seattle, WA – – 11/4/07)

6th Nov 07 (Tue) 6 comments

Two statements needed to be made prior to really starting this review… 1) caveat for the non-Moonchild enthusiast: “They’re like an audible Jackson Pollock,” and 2) I feel sorry for the ushers who obviously didn’t know what they were getting into when they signed up for this.

A little background / sidenote… I came into being a John Zorn fan through first being a Mike Patton fan. One of Mike Patton’s (and Trevor Dunn’s) early bands, Mr. Bungle, had a Zorn link early on (JZ produced their Warner debut in 1991). However, I didn’t really start getting into Zorn until about 2-3 years ago when I stumbled on his jazz-klez band Masada. I didn’t know that John Zorn did such melodic work; so Masada totally caught me off guard. Anyway, by that time in my musical meanderings, my interests had started getting into more experimental bands anyway. When I dug deeper into John Zorn’s back catalog I really dug most of his work – whether it be the melodic Masada incarnations, Bar Kohkba, FilmWorks, et cetera or the experimental, harder-edged Naked City, Painkiller, et cetera.

By the time the first mention of the upcoming album Moonchild: Songs Without Words (on his label Tzadik or an email from Downtown Music Gallery), I about flipped… as an experimental/avant-garde trio with Mike Patton (the aforementioned Mr Bungle, Fantômas, Tomahawk, Peeping Tom, Faith No More, many many more), Trevor Dunn (the aforementioned Mr Bungle, Fantômas, Trio Convulsant, many more), and Joey Baron (Masada, Barondown, many more) was right up my alley. After that initial album in early 2006, Moonchild: Songs Without Words, the trio has put out two more albums of John Zorn’s compositions… Astronome (late 2006) and Six Litanies for Heliogabalus (early 2007) which also includes a chorus and other players (Ikue Mori, Jamie Saft, and Zorn himself).

All beautifully packaged and musically brutal, I don’t know where composition from Zorn stops and improvising by the Trio begins, but it can be as breath-taking as it is ear-hurting (remember my line above about it being an “audible Jackson Pollock“…?).

OK, now on to the concert review… note: 6 video snippets and 14 pictures are linked at the bottom of this review.

I took this concert trip alone… While I ease my lovely wife into listening to some of Zorn’s music (like Masada), I know when to not even bother (like Moonchild). I’m sure she’ll check out the video below and think I’m even more crazy than she already thinks I am for all of the cross-country concerting. But I think she’ll at least be thankful that I didn’t try to drag her to it, too… :)

I really had no idea or expectations for this show. I mean, I knew what to expect musically, but I didn’t know what to expect of the venue or the crowd. The venue, the Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle, was um… OK. I’ve been in better places, but I’ve been in worse. I was surprised at how big it was (capacity of 1419) compared to what I was thinking (a small venue, maybe not as small as The Stone, but not much bigger than 100 people). By the time the start time rolled around, the theatre was fairly full (the main floor was sold out, and I know the balcony was also open, too). Great turnout maybe due to the Earshot Jazz Festival or maybe due to the potentially “handful of shows only” nature of this band.

The band came on around 8:15pm… and blistered through around a solid hour of compositions. All three of them had sheet music on stands; so I’m fully aware that it’s somewhat composed music. Again, where the composition stops and the improvisation begins… your guess is as good as mine. Due to the lack of other players (like Saft, Mori, Zorn), and my lack of identifying the Moonchild trio’s “song” names… let’s just say that they stuck to a good mix of Moonchild and Astronome tracks.

Mike Patton was fairly wild for most of the set: jumping, squat-walking, tying himself up in the mic cord, swallowing the mic while screaming into it, spitting and belting out noises that made my throat sore just listening. He left the stage maybe 30-40 minutes in to let Joey Baron and Trevor Dunn have their way with our ears. I’d only previously seen Dunn in Mr. Bungle and Baron in Masada. In this entirely different setting with Moonchild, they really put out a veritable wall of sound. Even without Mike Patton’s screeching and guttural belts, Dunn and Baron were menacing in their own right.

The sound in the room was brutal. Loud, loud, loud. I thank my local music store for Hearos(tm). And, again, bless those poor ushers who didn’t know what they were getting into. I bet they were equally stunned with this “music” and the overwhelming positive crowd response. I wonder what they told their loved ones after going home from this ushering gig. hmmm…

The capper for the show proper was when Joey and Trevor left the stage. Mike Patton ripped into a 12-minute vocal solo which to me had many elements of “Litany IV”… probably the only Six Litanies piece in the set.

After a short break, they all came back for an encore… with the man himself, John Zorn. I had hoped that he was there, but after the main set was half over, I had written that off. He came out and directed them through a rippin’ tune… it could’a been 10 minutes, it could be 20 minutes, it could’a been 2 minutes. All I know was that it was intense, and Mike/Joey/Trevor definitely fed off of his energy on stage with them. My only desire on this one would have been for John Zorn to come out with his alto sax and do some of the call-and-repeat sax vs. voice that he did with Patton on Six Litanies… alas, I’ll have to wait another lifetime, perhaps.

All in all… great show – probably an hour twenty or just shy of an hour thirty of Zorn/Patton/Dunn/Baron. Worth the 8 hour roundtrip from Eugene, Oregon. Worth losing a little bit of sleep and homework time reading accounting valuation doctoral papers (blah blah blah). The Earshot Jazz Festival, or at least the only piece I could attend, was fantastic!! Being one of a potential handful of Moonchild appearances ever, I was happy to be in attendance and happy to document some of it in words above and in {cheap/low quality} video/pictures below.

Enjoy! :)

VIDEO SNIPPETS (6 totaltoggle amongst them in lower section of YouTube screen)

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B84E0210411747E9

These are digital camera “movie file” snippets. Low quality? Sure. Posted mainly for “(blurry) fly on the (noisy) wall” add-on to this review. MOONCHILD is Mike Patton (voice), Trevor Dunn (bass), Joey Baron (drums), and John Zorn (director/composer). All music copyright John Zorn, 2006-2007.

PICTURES
(14 totalclick thumbnail for larger)

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~Dan – np: Hiromi’s SonicbloomTime Control

PS– to the guy who was handing out free CDs after the show… I got one… maybe you were trying to give them to Earshot Jazz “bigwigs,” but somehow I got one. I love it!!! Anyone interested in some great instrumental music, The Coma LiliesMemento Mori -EP- is GREAT!! The Coma Lilies‘ MySpace page is HERE. Listen to their stuff, it’s goooood.

PPS– other related MySpace & other Links (some fan sites, some official):

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