Oliver Lake Big Band, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Lee Konitz, Lock 10, Jason Miles & DJ Logic, Dave Douglas & Keystone...
Lock 10 with The Ken Vandermark Trio
April 7, 2008
Not only does Joe's Pub present music from a multitude of genres, but it's also an occasional host of completely different art-forms. Thus, Lock 10 is a dramatic piece, presented by the New York-based Exhibit A Performance Group, with a live musical score courtesy of The Ken Vandermark Trio. Folks in the audience arrived from across both borders. Some were theatrically inclined, not knowing what a ruckus the Chicagoan reedsman Vandermark might kick up; others were dragged in by the jazz vortex, myself having missed this very trio at The Stone, a few nights earlier. Fortunately, both camps must surely have departed with a pleasured smile, the kind that can only exist when the needs of innovation and nostalgia are simultaneously satisfied. The piece, written by Exhibit A's co-founder Kathy Hendrickson, is an evocation of a 1930s radio drama, with its cast crowded onto a relatively small stage, scripts in hand, microphones strategically dangled. This is an intriguing device: the players are directing their efforts towards the audio realms, but the audience is also given a highly theatrical visual element that exaggerates the narrative's unreal shaping of archetypes. The content of the dialogue is old-fashioned, yet the staging is a mixture of experimental and traditional, as if in the midst of a workshop exercise. The characters hang between the conventional life of a family fishing business and the after-hours existence of jazz bars, with the central storyline concerning the conflict between these two sides, the spiritual lure of music doing battle with the responsibilities of inherited work. The action has the displaced sense of artificiality that comes with the work of Harold Pinter and David Mamet, but the content could indeed have arrived directly from a 1930s radio drama.
Vandermark's music is carefully placed in the background for most of the duration, subtly shading the action, and only exploding into free-form screaming at one midway point. Such restraint makes this outburst all the more shocking. Drummer John Herndon (from post-rockers Tortoise) spends most of his time barely brushing his kit, but the German laptopper Christof Kurzmann makes a constant contribution to the atmosphere with his subliminal hums and drones setting up an exceedingly sinister vibration, particularly when aligned with the cast's penchant for starkly frozen tableaux. And when the trio do break out into their brief bout of jazz thundering, Kurzmann's harsh electronic screech is gloriously melded with Vandermark's rutting honk.
Jason Miles & DJ Logic's Global Noize
April 7, 2008