Gigs, dance, art

September 13th, 2008: DJ Spooky, Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa

@ trabendo

Another of the performances that had me looking forward to this festival. Some personal reasons, but musical ones as well. I’ve been wanting to hear DJ Spooky live for years, but somehow never did. His play in a place I like during a jazz festival looked like the perfect opportunity. I saw Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa last year in my first time at the sunset club, one of the first jazz gigs I ever attended and the one that turned my curiosity into genuine appreciation. That made more sense later, when I first heard Steve Coleman and as my usual NY tendencies emerged. Anyway these are people I’d like to hear more, and by now I’m very curious about their other, separate projects.

The one thing I didn’t like about the gig was the footage from Debord’s usual saw, because I’m just tired of it after all these references over the years. But it didn’t matter. Again, I was uncharacteristically close to the stage, for no good reason because there was not much to see anyway, but that probably helped me to ignore the video. Later, there was another video, a sequence of flags fast enough to blur into each other. That struck a chord with me, because there are a bunch of countries that are close to my heart, and I like their separate identities; it’s nationalism I can’t stand, not nationalities. Interacting, evolving yet retaining their personality, it’s also what I like a lot in music, and that was fitting in this setting because that’s exactly what was going on.

But the music was what really mattered, and I liked it a lot. Spooky was better than I hoped he would be, I liked this performance better than anything I heard from him so far — then again, I do prefer gigs to recordings, so it’s no surprise — with a strong hip-hop element that kinda made complete my experience of the whole festival.

Iyer and Mahanthappa didn’t go pure acoustic like last year, so even on their own it was a completely different sound. Overall I liked their thing better than last year, especially Mahanthappa who generally avoided the fast stuff I didn’t like last year and just captured my attention several times. I liked Iyer’s moments in front less, but whenever he was more in the background or all three were more on equal footing, he pulled some amazing stuff.

The best was the way the ensemble just worked. Each had a personal, distinct sound and style, which didn’t disappear in the whole. The whole was better than the parts, but the parts were still there, giving me the best of both worlds, hearing all four at the same time, focusing on one aspect or another, making my way through the sound and enjoying every second of it despite the certainty that I was also missing a lot. This gig left me both happy and hungry for more later, at peace with the past and eager for the future, if only in that department. It doesn’t get any better than this.

September 14, 2008 - Posted by | Music | , , , ,

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