Monday, July 25, 2005

SUNDAY, JULY 24TH --- $10:
7:00 Dan DeChellis, Reuban Radding, Dee Pop
8:00 Amanda Monaco Quartet
9:00 Daniel Carter, Francois Grillot, Matt Lavelle, Federico Ughi
10:00 Ehran Elisha's EYECORE w/ Steve Swell, Ken Filiano & Mike Gamble

It's sure hard to cram down the gullet the fact that the above night of avant garde jazz at the CBGB Lounge was the last "real time" gig in that long-running series (next week's finale will feature some of the bigger stars of the series like Dom Minasi and Susan Alcorn playing in various groupings) before CBGB commits all three of its stages to a month-long all-star attempt to renew its lease. And I dunno about you, but it was perhaps this series of freeform wherewithall that kept me tuned into the entire CBGB shebang, especially since alternative wieners, hardcore waterdowns and folkie introverts usually don't make it with my musical parameters. However, the free jazz playing at the Lounge that has continued to roar with an impressing ferocity is what kept my ears and eyes attuned to the fabled club over these last few years because, once you put your thinking caps on, wouldn't you ponder that this free jazz has more in common with what "underground rock" of the seventies doth wrought than the usual penny ante musics that claim punk personification this far down the rock & roll line? Well, it sure has a lot more of the down and gutter-like scrunch that no wave exuded than any other "form" you can dare think of, and if you ask me wasn't this series more or less the end result of punkisms using free jazz forms that led to the likes of Sonny Sharrock, Phillip Wilson and Rashied Ali playing CBGB in the first place way back during those closing moments of the seventies???

After a long wait featuring some of the tinkliest gnu age muzak to grace these ears in an eon, the first act, an impromptu quartet featuring Dan DeChellis, Reuban Radding, Dee Pop (series curator) and another member whose name I didn't catch took to the stage. The three on-screen players have been common faces here at the Freestyle Series ever since it began almost three years back, and the quartet (sax, piano, drums and off-screen guitar) performed a fairly decent albeit toned-down avant scronk that at times reminded me more of the fifties/early-sixties style of jazz that the likes of Paul Bley became fairly well-known for. The foursome laid down a few brilliant snatches, though I felt there was a bitta "oomph" missing from the set, perhaps because I've become pampered by the reams of atonal frenzy that has become associated with the new thing after about 28+ years of modest perusal.

Following even more of that sappoid gnu age tinkle came the Amanda Monaco Quartet (or, as the website says, the Amanda Monaco 4) led by noneother'n Monaco, some gal with glasses who kinda reminds me of the type of gals in high school who thought they were sooo hot and used to spit the gooiest hawkers on me you can imagine. You'd think something like this would deter me from writing objectively about the woman but it won't, but anyway this grouping's yet another quartet of young and popping fresh fellows who'd look more fitting in some alternospew self-pity ensemble (not that I hate self-pity...I like my own naturally, but I can't stand when others do it!) than a free jazz aggregate. Don't let looks deceive, because Monaco and band can lay down some pretty interesting experimental gunch, maybe not as encompassing as the AACM or BAG stuff, but interesting enough to keep you from seeing some singer/songwriter mewling about his hard life over at the CB's Gallery next door. Monaco plays an electric guitar that sounds kinda choppy but in an electric 1956 jazz way...sorta like Jim Hall giving aid and comfort to Ornette Coleman on that Gunther Schuller Third Stream album but way more primitive to the point where I like her playing even if it isn't Sharrockian or Minasian, but because it's maybe a step up from what Lydia Lunch used to do! The rest of the group seemed able enough, but steered clear of the freeplay honkspew that this music is known for. Did I hate it? Well, I actually ordered their CD online while the band was still playing so let that answer your question!

After even MORE acoustic guitar and harp mellowness came yet another impromptu bunch, this time featuring sixties survivor Francois Grillot, Daniel Carter (Freedomland, Storm, Other Dimensions in Music...), Francesco Ughi and Matt Lavelle. All of 'em ('cept maybe Ughi) have played the series in one grouping or another so you could say that this may or may not have been the last night at the old folk's home, and (perhaps because they are vets) this batch sure cooked up an avant wail that seemed to put the earlier efforts that night in the shade so to speak. Still, there wasn't anything totally forceful about their set, which seemed on the verge of some eruptive breakthrough at times yet never quite pushed itself enough to transcend itself, if you want me to get hippie about it.

Didn't catch Eyecore due to sleep restraints. Anybody out there record it for me?

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