Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

WXXV: Sonny Simmons and Tight Meat

Posted November 22, 2007

Sonny Simmons and Tight Meat

Sonny Simmons & Tight Meat Trio, at the Red Rose, 19/11/07 « Sonny Simmons (alto sax), David Keenan (alto sax), Alex Neilson (drums), George Lyle (double bass) »

My second and last Wire magazine WXXV event, this time at free-improv bastion, the Red Rose… Kicking off: a set by, support act, Italian Jooklo Duo (their website). Virginia Genta on fiery, tumbling tenor sax, and David Vanzan on free, astral, scattering drums; a really crude outlook, but cool sound. Vanzan with that beautiful floating shimmering hi-hat like Rashied Ali off Isis and Osiris. Genta more noisy but perfect, with deep roots to the avant-garde of the 1960s.

Jooklo Duo

After a break, Sonny Simmons with Glaswegian Tight Meat. They kicked off with TM’s Keenan dominating with up-tempered rolling overdriven blasts, Sonny Simmons meeting him with more-clearly jazz-inspired fast-paced lines. Lyle played naive sounding scrabbling and scratching bass, while Neilson blasted real free rocking, punkish drum lines. I mean, the drums were fantastic, and with Keenan’s screeching, grinding alto it came out like some cool punk breaking away from the jazz sphere (“punk-primitive post-noise mindset” is how The Wire puts it), Simmons’ Actual Jazz touching up with more melodic detail. Pretty great. This was an excursion from a series of London Jazz Festival events, for me; this years festival proper has been slightly coma-inducing all round. Why wasn’t this hooked up?…

Some more bad photos, on flickr:

Jookla Duo Jookla Duo Sonny Simmons + Tight Meat Trio

You should probably also check out David Grundy’s post, with pictures and sound.

(Sorry this is a bit late in posting, time to check spelling mistakes has been scarce…)

WXXV: Han Bennink, John Tchicai, Sunny Murray, with Spring Heel Jack & friends…

Posted November 15, 2007

Han Bennink and John Coxon

Wire WXXV festival, at Conway Hall, 12/11/07 » Han Bennink (drums), John Tchicai (saxes), Sunny Murray (drums), Spring Heel Jack (electronics), John Edwards (bass), Orphy Robinson (marimba), Tony Marsh (drums) «

Wire magazine’s WXXV festival (that is: 25th birthday festival, for all the square cats) has been in motion for a couple of weeks. Plans to go to more have disintigrated into a start with this night, at Conway Hall. (A new venue for me; pretty nice ;) ) Three sets with three groupings, each a different drummer, Spring Heel Jack (Ashley Wales, John Coxon) providing continuity throughout (the pair also presumably providing much of the organisation as an extension of their Back in Your Town club nights).

Ashley Wales and Han Bennink

Their Han Bennink-backed trio started the night. Bennink is someone I’ve heard having fun on disc, a little bit, with Br ötzmann, Nerve Beats, and the like… But seeing him before me, I was knocked clean over ;) A slightly manic figure, with rolled up trouser legs, a grin that looks just a little bit too crooked… But he sat down behind the kit and started belting out grooving free rhythms that were like nothing else. John Coxon’s top-form broken electronic guitar-playing, pushing in glitches, Wales’ electronics pushing bass-line grooves on an obvious dance music tip. Fantastically moving, jiving, honest, fun… Bennink a true inspiration. When his cymbals fell over and crashed to the floor it was still perfect. His immense grasp of playing space, moving out front to sit behind a single snare drum but flailing his arms (and legs) behind himself to hit that odd beat that he’d left behind, was such a clean, open pleasure to watch. Should probably have bought their CD! The mixture of driving free drums, and the pounding electronic beats made this… Free Improv that you can dance to? Not quite, but still very cool.

John Tchicai, John Edwards, et al

The second act saw Han Bennink replaced with Tony Marsh, and Orphy Robinson and John Edwards added, along side the great figure of John Tchicai; he of Coltrane’s Ascension… A bit disappointing seeing him assume a slightly marginal role, playing brief sax (and bass clarinet!) passages alongside the colossal (but easy tempered) sound-scapes of SHJ, bass, drums and marimba. The piece was cool, and the playing was great, but it wasn’t quite as killer as Bennink et al, mainly because it seemed a bit too pre-meditated. John Edwards played some cool and interesting textural passages, and Tchicai was nice and vocal on bass clarinet, but didn’t quite grab me as much as the other music.

John Tchicai

The evening finished with the same ensemble, but with Tony Marsh replaced by the great bear-figure of (free jazz legend) Sunny Murray. He launched off with a mesmerising and satisfyingly jazzy solo opener, catching most slightly off-guard, with Edwards, some minutes later, catching a drift and pulling the group in with a deep funk bass line. Maybe I’m just not subtle enough, but this was a lot more exciting. Unfortunately, maybe due to pressures of time—or perhaps because Murray had just had enough—as soon as the thing quietened into a lull, the drummer took it upon himself to bring the piece to an abrupt halt, finishing the proceedings as Coxon was still plucking out from his guitar. Watching him dance up from his kit and across the stage, taking his applause, I just wished that they could have played on longer…

Some more photos on flickr:

John Coxon Han Bennink at Conway Hall John Coxon John Edwards, Tony Marsh John Edwards at Conway Hall