counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

June 8th, 2010: Steve Noble – John Edwards – Alex Ward

@instants chavirés

That one just felt good. Far too often the European free improv scene rehashes the same things, but here local mores seemed to be the farthest thing from the performers’ mind. NEW is Steve Noble, John Edwards, and Alex Ward, and they do have something to say. I’m not that sure it was all that — lowercase — new, but they behaved like it was, and it does matter.

I don’t know anything really about Alex Ward, but he seemed to bring the push to let Edwards and Noble got into what had been there but they had been lacking the right partner to explore. Not anymore. They were fearless enough to get close enough to jazz-rock to show what went wrong with that experiment, and how it can be done. Maybe the guitar was enough, anyway they had the energy of rock with the knowledge of jazz made relevant flesh. One of those moments when it just works and that’s more than enough, when maybe reaching greatness requires letting go of such lofty aims.

I didn’t see anyone compromise, quite the opposite, but without pretense. I think they managed to play loud without sacrificing any of their creativity, just exploring another outlet. I don’t know if they were having fun, but I was, and the way they kept the intensity while changing things along the way certainly helped.

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June 14, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

February 10th, 2009: Lol Coxhill – John Edwards – Steve Noble

@instants chavirés

I was expecting some regular free improvisation gig, but it was surprisingly melodic and closer to jazz, and not even free jazz at that. Of course there were strong elements of free improv too, but they pretty much threw the labels out. Which is usually a good thing, especially when it’s backed up with such musical skills. A good natured vibe too, they seemed comfortable together and with what they were doing.

Quite often, Lol Coxhill would just stop and let the other two carry on for a while, and those moments were when the music went the most toward free improvisation in the usual way. At the end of the first set he even went with some seriously tongue in cheek singing. But throughout he was the most responsible for the standard jazz feel, even though it’s obviously relative because there were enough twists to take the music beyond such classifying. Steve Noble would usually establish a pattern just long enough for it to settle then change it, going through a huge amount of sounds and styles in the process. John Edwards went through a wide range too, but usually evolving longer within one before ditching it.

Overall, the immediately accessible music didn’t mean nothing much was going on. Paying attention would easily bring to the front the many interlocking changes underneath, I guess these were not hidden at all to begin with, but they made nothing to lay stress on those, just keeping the whole going. Which proves it’s not a question of choice between opposites, but really of moving withing a continuum. Anyway, their enjoyment was communicative and I enjoyed this unusual sets.

February 14, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

October 24th: Papajo

@instants chavirés

And now for something completely different, I turned down the volume and went for some quieter stuff. I turned out different, as “quiet” is definitely not what comes to mind now. That would give the wrong impression, as it was more like a burst of creativity.

Papajo is a trio featuring Paul Lovens on drums, Paul Hubweber on trombone and John Edwards on double bass. Trombone has been growing on me lately, but I didn’t pay that much attention tonight as I felt it was overshadowed. This drummer is just excellent.

As a whole it felt far more adventurous than what I’m used to in that kind of music, and I felt part of it was that they didn’t feel they had to make a point of straying far afield. They dared to play their instrument in the regular way — at times — and that was a relief; I mean, why do so many improvisers avoid that? There were moments where it sounded close to jazz. There were moments where it sounded like nothing I had heard before, but the constant is that it usually sounded great.

Paul Lovens is an utterly amazing drummer. He had such a complete mastery of his stuff that even when he was letting his partners take center stage, he kept finding a way to add little touches that made all the difference. On his own, he could just as well use a bunch of different elements or stick with one for a while yet make its sound evolve constantly. All with such apparent ease that I’m left convinced I only witnessed a limited sample of what he can do. And not once did I feel like he was showing off. I’m really impressed.

October 25, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment