Friday, May 16, 2008

2 days, 2 gigs

Better late than never I guess.

I had two gigs on 4/4 and 4/5 that pretty much represented the range of my music and guitar playing right now. 4/4 was with the Dead Air Trio (written about in my last post), 4/5 was Monte Carlo 76.

4/4 brought me back to a familiar venue, the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, hosted by Alex Cline and the Open Gate Theater. Mr. Cline has always been an advocate for Dead Air and we were honored when he suggested that we do a 10th anniversary show there. We were doubly honored when we found out who was on the bill with us: Michael Vlatkovich and William Roper, two guys that I have seen play as long as I've been into improvised music. These two obviously have a natural affinity and it came out in their playing. As far as I could tell this was all music that was composed by Mr. Vlatkovich. Exploring the lower frequencies of the brass section, this music exhibited moments of lyricism, swing, density, and sparsity. Being music that I call extreme in the sense of number of participants and in register (low in this case), this may not have worked in lesser hands.

Dead Air's set was extreme in the sense of volume and texture. This one was particularly difficult for me in that we all decided to go beyond what we usually do and get even quieter and exploit repetition, most notably toward the end of the set. Dan's whispered squeaks mixed with my fingers rubbing against the strings. I remember the room seemed particularly big and quiet to me at that point. Other parts of the set covered (for Dead Air) more familiar territory, with some nice melodic parts, more density, and Dan and Brian on their various other instruments.

The next night was another thing entirely. In Cisco Huete's absence Monte Carlo 76 was joined by drummer Mark Scaggs, who I play with at Pasadena Foursquare Church. The venue this night was the Old Towne Pub in Pasadena, with DJ Sloepoke and Mouthpeace Mondays hosting. This is a cool, small spot that we've played at twice now. After some technical difficulties we saw a solo set of hip-hop by a performer whose name I didn't get. Playing what I assume were his original beats and loops, he accompanied himself on guitar, Rhodes, and flute. This set the stage for MC76's set and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was this only about the fourth time that we had played with Mark, this was our first gig with bass player Paul Perez. We made it through our 8 or so tunes and had what I thought was a good set, no highlights but no train wrecks either.

I highly recommend that people catch Buyepongo when they have a chance. Gomez Comes Alive! wrote a good review here, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, but this is a great cumbia group that will make you dance for sure. The bass clarinet really stood out for me and added a nice color to the music. Made me wonder what would happen if Eric Dolphy had played dance music. Maybe he did, depending on what you like to dance to.

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