No, I haven't forsaken the wily ways of rock & roll for improv avant garde jazz YET, but gosh-all-darn if there's a whole lotta this NEW (translation: stuff happening in the here-and-now, and not faded memories of past high-energy accomplishment) and totally zoned-in music out there in "buy me!" land that actually SPEAKS TO ME w/o me having to make any sacrifices or concessions w/regards to my, er, acquired tastes. Avant garde jazz/improv/what-have-you is (at least in my universe) perhaps the only currently-functioning music to really take my inner-psyche (to get hippie about it!) for a challenging ride, and with "underground rock" having long turned into an overground sham (with the exceptions of a slew of groups you will read about on my blog and perhaps ONLY on my blog!) having branched out into a hundred or so weak tributaries from a once-mighty roaring Mississippi, and with other strains of aural vibration sounding just as tiddlywink as you always suspected they did (folk etc.), maybe the freestyle thing is the only trip there is for high-energy jamz these days, at least until enough rock & roll groups get their acts together and create a new generation of punkisms that will equal or even surpass the hard-drive root of it all!
Anyway, besides tuning into the CBGB Lounge on Sunday evenings for some of this stuff as it's live and happening, another place to get an avant fix is through aboptv.com, a neato new site where you can actually download and watch some fantastic archived performances by some of the best of the new (and old) improvisers out there in jazzland, and for a guy who's been perusing these sounds for nigh on twenny-five years it's a real gas to actually see these legendary (and not-so, at least for now) big-names in a little pond more or less performing rather'n hafta imagine what it looks like in your bean, and imagine it all wrong for that matter. Aboptv's the brainkiddie of Albey Balgochian, not only a member of the fantastic Noistet but the current bassist for none other than Cecil Taylor himself, and the man oughta be commended for his toil in bringing you these rarities that...I dunno about you, but I'm sure glad are easily enough available and with a few mere clicks of a mouse to boot!
It may take awhile for the program to eventually download (I suggest that you start downloading, then take a long bath, or perhaps talk on the phone for a few hours or go shopping then come back), but when it does you not only get a clear picture w/o any of the usual buffering stops, but an exciting piece of performance that's not only aurally, but visually stimulating. So far I've watched two of 'em, the first being a trio version of Noisetet featuring Donny Silverman not only playing some great post-bop on sax and flute but twiddling with something called "bent electronics" (and they do sound "bent," eliciting strange whirrs and piano-like sounds with the mere twist of knobs!), David Phelps on sub-stratum guitar and Brian Sebastian playing free drums and gongs that look like pots and pans strung up and rattled with mallets! Amazing stuff. (BTW, a review of their CD is forthcoming, as soon as I properly digest the thing so's I can give the platter its proper dues and not just rush out some idiotic hackspew in order to "be the first on my block.") Fine, as was the quartet led by reknown pianist Burton Greene (who has been making appearances at the CBGB Lounge which is cool given his legendary status of the utmost importance!) and flugelhornist Roy Campbell. This one was a hoot to watch, not only because of the fantastic seventies loft-styled whirr they mixed up, but it's wild watching Greene playing all over the keys throwing in a bitta the French Natl. Anthem amongst other hoary old melodic and atonal treats, making comments and crazed facial expressions at the audience, and swiveling around on his piano stool and kicking up his feet just like another audience member as Campbell did his thing...wow! Believe me, even if you're not that much of a fan of this jazzstream (or any jazzstream for that matter) you'll enjoy watching this 'un!
With kicks getting even harder to find these days than they were after the great post-punk collapse of the early-eighties, it's grand to have a site like aboptv.com available and for FREE (at least for now...who knows what the future holds!) which suits a po' boy like me just fine considering just how all this high-energy, soul-pounding music has had such a hard time funnelling down to me all these years! C'mon, you know that there's much more to life than the latest "KBD" sampler and CD retrospective of some icky group you didn't even bother to pay attention to back when they were alive and kicking!
Sunday, March 13, 2005