Gigs, dance, art

January 22nd, 2010: Xavier Charles – Jean-Philippe Gross – Franz Hautzinger – Lionel Marchetti

@instants chavirés

Back to my favorite venue, thankfully, even though they had to scale back their programming because of funding cuts. And even that is conditional on their funding not being cut further, which remains a very real possibility. I might as well enjoy the place while it’s here.

The lineup was appealing, with two people I like quite a lot — Xavier Charles and Jean-Philippe Gross — and two with who my experience has been more mixed, but with valuable highs — Franz Hautzinger and Lionel Marchetti. Also a mix of acoustic and electronics, so it looked promising. I don’t think it really lived up to that potential, but it wasn’t bad either. I think Charles and Hautzinger tended to dominate the quiet parts, with Gross and Marchetti taking the lead when it got loud. The latter did push the others to play louder and get away from what sounded too familiar to me, but the most balanced moments where just too short. So that there was a lot that I had heard before, and also a lot of common sounds along the sets. Though the second half of the second set did mix that up a little more.

I guess these guys are not that far apart to begin with, so maybe I was expecting too much. Still, it was a little too much the usual stuff, and I’ve seen better performances from each of them. It wasn’t bad at all, but nothing special either, in my opinion.


January 25, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

November 4th, 2008: Dans les arbres

@instants chavirés

Dans les arbres was arguably not the biggest event of the day, but good enough. The only one I had heard of — let alone heard — before is Xavier Charles, but his involvement was enough to get me in there. I didn’t hear a lot of what Ivar Grydeland was doing on guitar and banjo, or maybe I should say what I hear didn’t hold my attention. Ingar Zach‘s drones on bass drum were far more successful in that respect. And of course I liked what Christian Wallumrød did, but playing prepared piano made that an almost foregone conclusion. He also played harmonium a little, but my favorites parts were those when he combined regular piano sounds with gamelanish ones. Still, Xavier Charles was my favorite performer, despite some routine moments, especially at the beginning. Those were totally wiped out by some very inspired others, when he would go through a quick pattern while overlaying very different bursts. The high pitched buzz on harmonica was more of a novelty.

Two things made the set quite satisfying for me. First, they worked pretty well as a unit, and developped a cohesive sound the more the set went on. Second, they were not afraid to let actual regular notes slip through in there, and that made the quieter times more interesting. Maybe not a groundbreaking performance, but that was good, and such concerts are doing a lot to keep me interested in improvised music.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

October 4th, 2008: CCAM Benefit

@instants chavires

That evening was a benefit for CCAM, who need help after seeing part of their funding cut despite having made the Musique Action festival a reference. Many musicians showed up, but I was a bit disappointed at not seeing more people in the audience.

Eleven short sets, quite diverse yet definitely showing a common spirit. In a sense it was a gathering of a musical family. I can’t say I liked it all, but I did like most of it, and probably didn’t expect to be that fond of the evening. I guess the cause played a part, and I got a good feeling out of it. I had my favorites, but that seems to be besides the point now. I’ll just list those who played, because showing up is meaningful to me, enough to make me want to check out even those whose performance passed me by on this particular occasion.

Dominique Petitgand

Xavier Charles / Bertrand Denzler

Martine Altenburger

Jérôme Game / Carole Rieussec / Jean-Christophe Camps / Didier Aschour

Lê Quan Ninh

Michel Doneda / Pascal Battus

Jean-François Pauvros

Bertrand Gauguet / eRikm / Hervé Birolini

Thierry Madiot

Dominique Répécaud / Bruno Fleurence / Daunik Lazro / Heidi Brouzeng

Sophie Agnel / (someone I couldn’t get the name of from my internet searches)

Any further information and links to the websites of people I didn’t link to would be much appreciated.

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September 12th, 2008: The Ex & Getatchew Mekuria

@cabaret sauvage

Before the gig itself, there was a stationary marching band — if that makes sense — in front of the venue, the final performance after a master class by the Surnatural Orchestra. The conducting in itself was quite interesting, both from the gestures and from the fact that a musician would at times leave his or her instrument behind for a while to conduct. The music was better than I would have expected from such a project, with my favorite moment when there were some voices involved. I guess I would have been getting more impatient if I hadn’t seen Terrie Ex, Colin McLean, Getatchew Mekuria and Melaku Belay still hanging out outside nearby.

I know it’s my fourth time seeing The Ex this year, and I saw them with Getatchew less than one year ago. But it just doesn’t get old. And even though I usually sulk in the back of any venue, I again ended up right next to the stage. That was deliberate, and for the most part because of Melaku Belay and my being vertically challenged. For the most part, it was pretty close to last year’s performance, and thus to the most excellent record they cut together. In my opinion, it was even better.

There were many reasons for that. Xavier Charles was a factor, especially a rousing solo that Getatchew seemed to enjoy. Speaking of which, he again seemed so happy to be here, enjoying his and the others playing, his interactions with each of the others was a heartwarming sight. And anyway, Getatchew Mekuria alone is well worth hearing, as he proved when he performed a solo, and another time with just Katherina. But the best was when all were involved, with different elements just working so amazingly well together, from the Terrie/Andy sonic fights to Jos’ commanding voice to the warm brass sound.

And then there was Melaku Belay. His first appearance was all about shoulder shaking, and he even brought a guy from the audience on stage, possibly from Ethiopia as well from the shoulder moves. His second involved an amazing display of balance while throwing his legs up and front, and of humor when he grabbed his outstretched leg and air guitared with it while Terrie and Andy were in full swing. He’s great as a dancer, but what made his performance so special for me was his interacting with the others. And that reached a climax with his next appearance, with a stick and a curved knife. What he did with those was good enough, but when he handed the stick to G.W. Sok and they spent some time moving in synch that image was a perfect summary of what made this performance special.

Nothing at all like the arranged weddings world music stuff can be made of, this was a real meeting of real people who are both open and confident enough to be themselves and interact in a way that enriches everyone, including lucky bystanders like me. The only regret I have is of not having been convincing enough to have people I care about come and see this. Maybe some did, but I don’t think so.

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September 28th, 2007: Andy Moor, Tony Buck, Xavier Charles / John Wiese

@instants chavirés

I didn’t know anything about John Wiese, I had heard some praise but nothing specific. I can’t say his set lived up to the hype. A lot of clicks and rustling, some bell and metal sounds. But I couldn’t find my way within the whole. There were changes in pace and density, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I felt on the outside looking in, which is kinda frustrating if familiar usually, but not even that here. It just went over my head sight unseen. I just struck out on that one.

The main act was more like my usual playground. The clarinet of Xavier Charles was the most exotic element, as I had already seen Tony Buck a few times before. Of course I had seen Andy Moor many times, but never outside my beloved The Ex. What I really loved about this set is that they went through a quite diverse range of sounds and pace. Of course there was the usual spells of micro-sounds with quote-unquote unconventional handling of instruments — actually really common in that kind of music. But from time to time Andy Moor would play for while like he does in the freeform parts of Ex shows, and the others followed suit. My only regret was that I could not hear the clarinet clearly enough most of the time, especially when the volume went up. But there was some interesting interplay within that group, without any one dominating the proceedings. A good balance overall, and probably my favorite Tony Buck performance so far, as I felt the others prevented him from settling in any familiar routine. I believe they kept keeping each other from getting complacent, and that’s when improvised music is at its best for me.

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment