Gigs, dance, art

April 20th, 2008: Science Friction


I was more nervous than excited about this: I’ve hearing about Tom Rainey and Tim Berne for about a year, especially with Science Friction, so I guessed I was ripe for a fall. That also my first time in that place, even though I’ve been upstairs a few times. It all started bad enough: the place was packed and very hot, and the tiny seats had me feeling hemmed in, and I’m pretty much a gnome. No wonder many people left during the break. When the first set actually started, the unbridled velocity of the guitar and sax made me fear the worst, but that was short lived, and it went uphill from there, as soon as the drummer joined them. To conclude with the bitching section, I was too close to the guitar amp, and the sound was not that good: the saxophone was drowned out at times, and I could barely make out the rhodes. I did think there was some problem with it, by the way, and they confirmed that later.

Science Friction is Tim Berne on saxophone, Tom Rainey on drums, Craig Taborn on rhodes and Marc Ducret on guitar. I warmed up to Marc Ducret’s playing as the evening went on, slowly getting a clue about the finer points I had missed in his initial outburst. I’m glad I could hear Craig Taborn better during the second set, because he did pull of some very good tricks despite the technical problems. Tim Berne was impressive in many different ways, leaving me unable to pin down anything like a specific style yet with a voice of his own; he proved able to slow down or speed up at will, and didn’t seem like an overbearing leader — hopefully it’s not just my not hearing him all that much. And even though I had heard a lot of praise for Tom Rainey, he proved even better. As in completely amazing. He did so many different things, often at the same time. It really took a conscious effort for me to take my attention of his playing enough to notice the others. But that was very worthwhile because they went through moments of grace where the intricacy turned from daunting to evident, and they just sounded as one entity. Of course there were some times where it didn’t jell as well, but the peaks were so high.

I was taken aback when the first set ended, and the second was just as great. The few times when I was not that interested felt like breathers actually, before another steep climb. And anyway there was always Tom Rainey. I know I’m repeating myself, but I was in awe; he’s clearly my favorite drummer ever right now — that could change, but the few that I think even compare just don’t have his range, and I never heard any that comes close mix it all this way. Speaking of range, the performance was amazingly diverse, it even went into some dirtier experimentalish noise that made me feel right at home. Not for long, but that was a lighter moment for me. I’m not familiar enough with this kind of music to feel at home, and I’m grateful for that. It’s as close as I’m likely to come to a vacation, and it’s just exhilarating being swept in this way.

Either I’ve been very lucky, or maybe I should take more chances on jazz gigs. I mean these have made of lot of the strongest impressions on me lately. It’s not always that way, but another pattern is that the ones that really blew my mind were based in New York. My east cost bias is nothing new or surprising, but that might be a worthwhile lead to guide me later on.

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment