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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)

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REVIEW: Nellie McKay @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – 10/29/10)

2nd Nov 10 (Tue) 2 comments

I wasn’t able to attend the Nellie McKay show at the Shedd in Eugene on Friday (due to Sufjan Stevens in Portland the same night).  I was completely torn, but I’ve had the opportunity to see Nellie several times since living here in the PacNW (four times in 3 years) and Sufjan far fewer times (i.e.- none).

I did send someone in my place… here are some lovely photos and a write-up of the show taken by guest blogger Margarita O’Brien from Emobie Photography

many more photos below

Margarita’s write-up of the show:

Let’s face it. I just love Nellie McKay. I am extremely grateful that The Shedd here in little ol’ Eugene, Oregon, keeps managing to bring her back. She has serious musical talent, diversity, and a quirky, silly sense of humor that I dig. That makes a great show when she’s solo, but holy cannoli, there was a five piece backup band! THAT makes for a phenomenal, knock-your-socks-off show.

The introductions for the band members were extremely silly (And just released on bail for jay walking…) and the crowd was enthusiastic so I will likely have the names completely wrong and I am seriously sorry about that, ‘cause these guys were the bomb diggity. It was seriously hard to hear with the laughing and cheering. Corrections greatly appreciated!

Guitar: Terry Park?
Bass: Willy Harvey
Sax: Mark Fischer?
Trumpet: Willy Mario?
Drums: Benjamin Barnum?
“That’s right! We have two willies!”

There are few things I tire of more quickly than a show with a “sound” that never changes.
Me-“Is this still the first song? Good Glory, it’s long.”
Dan-“This is the fifth song.”
Me-“*Giant Eye Roll*”

This exchange could not happen at a Nellie McKay show. She skillfully flutters her way through Big Band, Reggae, Jazz, Blues, Pop, sweet old Doris Day tunes (and a number of Ella Fitzgerald tunes this time).  The band was right there with her making everything fuller, brighter, grander, and making it difficult for some folks to stay put in their seats.

The crowd was fairly enthusiastic and really seemed to love “Mother of Pearl.”  This is Eugene after all. There were even a couple zombies dancing around at the end.

Go See Nellie! She’ll make you think. She’ll make you laugh. She might make you whistle.

Setlist:

  • Bruise on the Sky
  • Sentimental Journey [Doris Day]
  • Do Do Do [Doris Day]
  • Caribbean Time
  • Dispossessed
  • Meditation [Doris Day]
  • Georgy Girl [The Seekers] (dedicated to Barbara Billingsly)
  • Vote for Mr. Rhythm [Ella Fitzgerald]
  • Bluebird
  • No Equality
  • The Portal
  • Dig It [Doris Day]
  • It’s Alright With Me (with skat)
    <<intermission – costume change>>
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket [Ella Fitzgerald]
  • Beneath the Underdog
  • Crazy Rhythm [Doris Day]
  • Early Autumn [Ella Fitzgerald]
  • A Wonderful Guy [Doris Day]
  • Don’t Fence Me In [Ella Fitzgerald] (with group whistle)
  • Mother of Pearl (crowd favorite)
    “I’m Sarah Palin and I approve this message”
  • Adios
  • ¡Bodega!
    “Support the Arts, but sponsor a Bodega.”
  • Coosada Blues
  • I’ve Got Rhythm (impromptu instrumental as she ran to get her notes)
    “Don’t worry folks, they’re professionals!”
  • Broadway Melody
  • Really
  • Unknown Reggae (veggie anthem)
  • Encore: Zombie

Nellie’s 10/29 KLCC interview is here:
http://klcc.org/audio/NellieMckay102910.mp3

Nellie is out supporting her latest album, Home Sweet Mobile Home.  Check it out here:

More 2010 Tour Dates:
Oct. 30th SF Jazz Festival – San Francisco, CA
Nov. 1st Kuumbwa Jazz Center – Santa Cruz, CA
Nov. 4th The Roxy – West Hollywood, CA

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: William Ryan FritchLibrary Catalog Music Series: Music for Honey and Bile

NELLIE McKAY PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2010 Margaret O’Brien – emobie photography,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

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REVIEW: Bill Frisell Trio @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – 1/23/10)

24th Jan 10 (Sun) 1 comment

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

I saw Bill Frisell about a year and a half ago with Eyvind Kang & Rudy Royston… fantastic show, but more on the experimental, avant-garde edge (my review of that June 2008 show).  Last night’s show was a trio of guitarist Bill Frisell with bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen (Sex Mob, Electric Masada, etc):

They hit the Shedd stage around 7:30pm.  Differing from the retro live photo above, Tony Scherr was on electric bass.  Kenny Wollesen played a standard kit, and Bill Frisell had a few guitars, pedals, gear to loop his sounds… and a big screen above them to show the congruous films as they played.

At the beginning of the show, Bill explained the accompanying film pieces: four by Seattle animator Jim Woodring, one by Bill Morrison, and two Buster Keaton classics.  The band started out with a Jim Woodring computer animation – all black and white, but with many interesting, morphing shapes.  The music started off slow, had some interesting wandering scales with a nice build and finish.  The animation was quite enveloping, and the 10 minute piece seemed to fly by…

I was only allowed to take photos for the initial fifteen minutes, but the rest of the Woodring cartoons were somewhat related to the initial computer animations – many of the same morphing shapes show up, whether in a character, a beer tap, or a lamp.  The primary character in the animations was “Frank.”  We follow him around in his travels that either end in a big mess, a violent picnic, or death.

The second Woodring piece introduced us to the aforementioned “Frank.”  He tooled around his house and then went up into the hills to some odd looking palace, and when he returned, his house had been ransacked by some fat, troll-like human character.  The animation appeared to be paper-based stop-motion animation.  The music had a Floratone or possibly Disfarmer feel… I actually recognized the melody that Bill played midway through, but can’t place it now.

The third piece was another Woodring “Frank” animation, but this time with either colored paper or possibly fabric animation.  The setting was a picnic and got fairly violent near the end.  The piece was shorter (maybe 5 minutes), which led into the fourth and final Woodring piece… a claymation “Frank” with a devil-type character.  The music had a nice groove, and the animation ended with the beer tap looking piece of furniture tipping over to expose the phrase “And You Call Yourself a Gentleman.”

Up next were three silent films… and quite frankly, I lost the music in the viewing.  I think the music worked really well and enhanced the pieces, but it definitely fell to the background of what I was paying attention to …

The first was a short film called The Mesmerist by Bill Morrison featuring a re-worked 1926’s film The Bells which featured Boris Karloff.  It had been altered from the original, and I’m not sure what was part of the original and what was part of the re-imagining.  It started with a very old, sepia & scratchy feel and grew into more animated splotches.  The storyline is of an innkeeper who murders a rich visitor and is haunted by the murder he committed.

Up next were two Buster Keaton films… The High Sign (1921) and One Week (1920)…

Each film was in the 15-20 minute range.  I was quite amazed at Buster’s utterly ingenious physical comedy.  I was familiar with his work a little bit (trumpeter Dave Douglas and his Keystone band has used Buster Keaton in the past).  The first one was a gangster caper with a really basic (but stupendous) cross-section of a house with tons of trap doors and moving walls.  The second one was of a cheap home that was hurriedly built after a wedding with hilarity ensuing.  For the video (with non-Frisell music) check out YouTube of The High Sign and of One Week.

Seven songs, 90 minutes… the Trio took a bow and left the stage.  They hit the stage one last time for a short animation of Woodring’s Frank called Whim Grinder:

I enjoyed the film and animation accompanying Frisell’s music; though, I’ll say again that the music really dropped to the background on some of the wild imagery of the Frank cartoons and storylines & physical comedy going on in the films.  Upcoming tour dates of Frisell’s include Eyvind Kang/Rudy Royston dates, some Ron Carter/Paul Motion dates, some 858 Quartet dates, and these Scherr/Wollesen dates (which would presumably feature the films/animations as well)…

  • 1/24/2010 – Seattle, WA – Triple Door
  • 4/2/2010 – Savannah, GA – Savannah Music Festival at Charles Morris Center
  • 4/3/2010 – Savannah, GA – Savannah Music Festival at Charles Morris Center

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Flyleaf – Flyleaf

BILL FRISELL TRIO PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Limited to 1200 pixels wide or tall (10 pics)

REVIEW: Jeremy Pelt Quintet @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – – 1/16/09)

17th Jan 09 (Sat) Leave a comment

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Brilliant show last night at the John G. Shedd Institute… I literally walked in at 7:30pm, just as the Shedd was announcing the Jeremy Pelt Quintet to come out and play.  Whew… barely made it.  Jeremy Pelt and crew came out and played 7 pieces over 90 straight minutes with very few breaks to talk between the songs.

(click for larger)

I’d never seen Jeremy Pelt before, but I had gotten into him via Ken Laster’s great In the Groove and Beyond podcast a couple of years ago.  The band was Jeremy Pelt (bandleader, trumpet), JD Allen (tenor saxophone), Danny Grissett (piano), Dwayne Burno (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums).  They were hot… most of the songs were definitely extended jams over what’s put down on their latest record, November, which I picked up at the show.

Set list: (as called from the stage)

  • Avatar
  • Clairvoyant
  • Phoenix
  • Nephthys (based on the Egyptian goddess, not the Egpytian online movie rental store Netflix…)
  • Shirley Horn’s You Won’t Forget Me (dedicated to the recently passed trumpet great Freddie Hubbard)
  • (JPQ pianist) Danny Grissett’s Untitled
  • 466-64 (based on JP’s visit to Nelson Mandela’s jail cell)

Great show.  The hour and a half passed by too quickly.  Apparently Jeremy Pelt comes through Eugene often (every year or so); so I’m looking forward to seeing him again in the future.  He’ll be at the Shedd again in early March 2009 for the multi-day Jazz Fest / Party, but I don’t think I can make it.

The appropriate links:

Next show… Skerik’s McTuff at Sam Bond’s on Thursday.  I’m there if I’m not beaten down by busy season work…

~Dan – np: Jeremy PeltNovember

JEREMY PELT QUINTET PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2009 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

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