Thursday, November 18, 2010

Barry Guy New Orchestra day 2 - small groups at Alchemia

Trevor Watts - photo by Krzysztof Penarski
set 1
Maya Homburger - solo
Maya would begin each set with a solo performance of a piece belonging to a cycle composed by Barry Guy and named (as he had asked to) after Butterflies. I found myself completely incapable of judging contemporary music of this kind. The playing was impeccable, the music was light and mesmerizing. All three pieces created a wonderful kind of diversion and, being strictly composed,  created interesting contrast with the completely improvised parts of the sets.
Trevor Watts, Johannes Bauer
You could expect something very much abstract from a duo of this kind but Johannes has a knack for some very structured lines. He puts out a very melodic line that serves as stairs on which Trevor can jump and run down & up all over with his tenor. At certain point to get to much more rhythm-counterpoint playing and end the first piece on single note. The 2nd piece finds Trevor on soprano and  and Johannes putting on the line some vibrato and distorted notes (two at once) and they build up the tension, till the notes are getting longer and the pauses shorter and the structure much more dense. After a stop Trevor engages in some polyphonic exploration and Johannes joins him rambling through the bone and creating some very strange musical effects, which in the end resemble some kind of ancient beat-box with a lot of hissing and basically the simply function of breathing in and out being utilized as a rhythm machine. Completing it with 3rd short improv they close the set that would be a nice intro to another great evening.

2nd set
Maya Homburger - solo
Hans Koch, Per-Ake Holmlander, Paul Lytton, Raymond Strid
What could pretty much a regular free-jazz ensemble turned to be yet again the most abstract playing of the night (could be the rule of the 2nd set?).  Both drummers (Paul having just the snare and one tom drum, and the whole table of different objects at his disposal, Raymond behind the full drums set and many toys of his own) would and front-line would immediately engage in sonic explorations with little regard for rhythm or melody or even a single note or getting a sound that one 'should' play on their particular instruments. Yet they did take great care of tension and the structure of the first piece. Slowly building up the dynamics, The drummers doing their research like in some alchemy workshop (since we are in 'Alchemia') till they get to point of real madness, Raymond trashing plates with a chain, Paul rubbing a dozen of different objects on the snare, while Hans and Per-Ake create a a 2 r 3 note basis for them (yes - 2 drummers are soloing and clarinet and tuba play the rhythmic structure!). The Volcano stop s its act suddenly with a gesture by Per-Ake. The 2nd piece (can't decipher my notes right now) has the eerie mood, with lot of gongs and drones and bows on the plates from Raymond. And similarly backed-off playing from the reed and brass, very much ensemble sound and great interplay.

3rd set

Maya Homburger - solo
Trevor Watts, Barry Guy, Raymond Strid
Another sax-drums-trio 3rd set and another great ending to the fine music of this evening. They play one extended improvisation. With moods and tensions flowing in and out and infinitely. Abstract yet with some clear jazz-tinges to it. Some bluesy soulful lines from Trevor at times, at one point even some syncopated almost swinging drumming with a lot of rimshots from Raymond (this time sticking mostly to the regular drums set) and great bottom lines by Barry (whom i find most impressive when using his bow, he does play with drumsticks at some point but today, very much in a caring way, no box fighting with the bass). A wonderful interplay with a piece often changing its direction in a never-ending search for a music adventure. Pretty much the same words as yesterday could be used, even though the music was quite different. Which only shows the weakness of the language, or at least my language horizons (polish or english) to not put the blame on the verbal communication itself. They cap the set with a short, but very pleasing encore.

additional notes
- Birthday of Don Cherry!
- Introducing the 3rd set Barry told the short story about how, few decades ago, Trevor was the guy who introduced him to the improvised music. It was great to see the sheer joy of them playing together at stage after so many years of musical friendship. After the concert Barry and the whole group would get back to that saying "It's all your fault Trevor" :)  . Thank You for that Trevor.

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