Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Prezens, at the Vortex 13/1/08

Posted January 15, 2008

David Torn and Tim Berne

Prezens at the Vortex, 13/1/08 « David Torn (guitar, effects), Tim Berne (alto sax), Craig Taborn (Fender Rhodes, electronics), Tom Rainey (drums) »

Prezens, the ECM CD, was released a little under a year ago, although originally recorded March 2005. I think this is their first performance in the UK as Prezens (is that the group name or the record?) although this is essentially Berne’s Hard Cell group, with the addition of (and leadership transfer to) David Torn. Torn, I suppose, is supposed to be a sort of background genius, but it’s only through Berne’s association that I’ve ever heard him (he previously performed with Science Friction—Hard Cell + Marc Ducret (or is that Big Satan + Craig Taborn?)—at the London Jazz Festival, I remember)… The thing about Prezens, the disc (which is brilliant and fresh) is that it seems so dense with editing and post-performance processing (in a Teo Macero cut-up and splice sense), that it’s hard to tell what’s live and what’s ‘artificial’. In fact, Prezens the live act seems pretty well removed from Prezens the record, with no obvious tunes/themes, just a continuously evolving improvisation (presumably based on something? It would be interesting to know how it’s all set up!). When I’ve seen Tim Berne in his own groups (Big Satan, Paraphrase) it’s all continuous weaving streams of invention, but they always seem to have some definite theme in their heads (playing around, playing towards, playing away from). This Prezens seemed to be much less pre-determined, and a little bit more dangerous; as the maelstrom revolved around the stage, it might have taken a bit longer for everyone to come down on something brilliant, a bit more of a struggle to tame everything, but the experience was quite fantastic for it.

This Sunday performance was day one of a two-night residence (I think they’re playing in Leeds, Tuesday night), with the Monday night Vortex performance being recorded for February transmission on Jazz on 3… I think that’s something you should look out for ;p

Also, this interview with Torn, on YouTube, is pretty interesting ;)

Tim Berne David Torn Craig Taborn Tim Berne at the Vortex Tom Rainey

Bohman Brothers’ New Year New Sounds Festival

Posted January 10, 2008

John Edwards

The Bohman Brothers’ New Year New Sounds Festival Day 1, at Battersea Arts Centre, 7/1/08 « I-C-E Quintet, and the Evan Parker / John Edwards / John Russell Trio »

A great first-gig start to 2008; the opening night of the Bohman Brothers’ New Year New Sounds Festival at the Battersea Arts Centre… This runs until Saturday, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it back there this week; the BAC site has a full programme listing.

Opening up were the I-C-E Quintet; five clarinets (of different types), sort of revolving around one another; four of them were Rick Gensen, Tara Stucky, Noel Taylor and Jerry Wigens; the programme doesn’t say who the fifth was (and alas I know not who was who)… Each player had a notably unique identity, but I can never clear my head enough to identify exactly what’s going on where… It comes together into a dense soundscape, that I try and work my way round, letting it mould together and then focus in on the odd burst of drive, but tending to remain pretty oblivious to all the technicalities… Captivating and beautiful, but also good that I had an intelligent friend who could explain to me, afterwards, how it all worked…

ICE Quintet

After that too-fleeting performance, Evan Parker’s trio with John Edwards and John Russell. I’ve seen Evan Parker a few times now (hmm, maybe only just on the fingers of two hands) but this was probably the most intimate of them all; the Vortex is ‘friendly’, but here ‘sold-out’ seemed to mean about forty people, and it seemed perhaps like Parker was playing less self-concious than when I had seen him before. John Russell’s scratching playing is fantastic and I should really try and find something where he’s on record. Edwards was dominating in his inspiration and transmogrifying inventiveness…

Evan Parker Trio

As they were packing up, John Russell stepped forward to make an announcement on the future of the Red Rose, and to announce its absolute demise as a live music venue, as the lease is sold on to make way for a pool club. Apparently his January 20th Mopomoso will be the last ever improv event at that venue… Just what exactly is going to happen now??? ;(

(Visit the flickr for more dodgy photos…)

Evan Parker Evan Parker John Russell (Evan Parker trio) Evan Parker / John Russell (Bass?) Clarinet