Life is short, jazz is eternal, and at the cabaret the show must go on. When the house band is the POW Ensemble, the scene could best be described as Dada Star Wars
meets Spike Jones in 1931 Berlin.
Actually, Homage to Hazard Live
was captured in Amsterdam at Bimhuis in June of 2008. Organizer, band member and composer/saxophonist Luc Houtkamp is keen on the experimentation of the New York Downtown scene of the 1990s, where improvising artists freely borrowed from theatre, poetry and jazz to create performance pieces that were something beyond music, and beyond category.
Houtkamp's twist upon this catholic music entails the introduction of his software, in the form of a computer-based interactive improvisation with three musicians who are also wielding electronics, making for some interesting new sounds, which take the form of squiggling, dancing electronic burps, pops and static as engineered cabaret. Coupled with poetry, song and scatting, the audience at the Bimhuis was certainly entertained.
POW Ensemble formed in 2001, then released The Thirteen Bar Blues (X-OR, 2003) and Birdsongs from Inside the Egg (X-OR, 2006). Houtkamp draws a varying cast of musicians, a tap dancer, a DJ and writers to create performances that mix music with theater as a kind of Monty Python-meets-serious improvisational artists. Children's songs are fair game, as are free jazz and some noir fiction.
The music is boisterous, entertaining, and quite satisfying.
Personnel: Han Buhrs: vocals, live electronics; Guy Harries: vocals, computer, flute, fife, keyboards; Nina Hitz: cello; Luc Houtkamp: tenor saxophone, computer, live electronics, computer-controlled percussion; Wolter Wierbos: trombone, vocals; Joseph Bowie: trombone, vocals.