Paul Dunmall at Living Theatre
Paul Dunmall took full advantage of the city during a brief stay, playing the Vision Festival with Andrew Cyrille and Henry Grimes and then three nights later, on Jun. 17th, playing the Living Theater with Mark Helias, Tony Malaby and Kevin Norton. And after a rainy week, his second show seemed well saturated. Dunmall had crossed an ocean to get there and Malaby and Norton a river and the skies had been wet for days. The vibes and bowed bass, the players drenched in blue and green lights in the basement spaceit could have been jazz from Atlantis. Norton started on vibes, then switched to the kit with brushes, but when he picked up the sticks the band finally breached the water's surface, the two tenors leaping in independent arcsif only momentarily. Norton's bowed cymbals (he later applied the bow to the vibe keys for an even more haunting call) and Malaby's slippery soprano had the sound swimming again as Dunmall switched from saxophone to bagpipes. He played the Northumbrian smallpipes, a smaller version of the instrument than the common Scottish variety, quieter and without the fan of droning chanters. At Vision it was easily drowned out by Grimes' amplified violin, but Malaby held back on the soprano, letting the thin reedy sound of the pipes come through. But much of the show was given to the twin tenors, with the whole band circling, rising and sinking like a school of fishappropriately ending with long tones like ship horns and a sudden stop.
Dance for Music at Judson Church
Music and dance have an inextricable history, but in some circles the siblings don't get equal treatment. Music is often treated as incidental in dance, like potpourri in an art gallery. That relationship was turned upside-down at Judson Church Jun. 3rd, as a part of Movement Research's 2008 Festival. The evening, dubbed "Dance for Music," put sound artists in the drivers' seats, letting them choose the dancers and call the shots. Bryan Eubanks played a solo electronics piece, leaving Jessica Ray moving through his nervous tension, circling the room and eventually seeming to be knocked around by the swelling pulses. Jessica Pavone played solo viola with effect pedals, creating repeating and decaying forms that seemed to pin Rachel Bernsen to the wall or leave her chasing little eddies of sound across the floor. Nate Wooley and Newton Armstrong created the most inventive staging (or lack thereof), playing from behind a closed door to the side of the stage. Jennifer Mesch seemed literally to be blown out of the stairwell and into the room by their explosions of trumpet and electronics, then using the door as an enlarged mute, occasionally closing herself in to be blasted out again. The final piece was a prolonged vaudeville routine and perhaps if you hand enough dancers over to enough musicians, it's inevitable someone will call for a striptease. It was uneven and out of context, although David Luther's King Curtis chops were impressive enough to carry the show.
Jane Ira Bloom, Mark Dresser, Min Xiao-Fen at Rubin Museum
It was a multicultural, mixed media affair when Jane Ira Bloom (soprano sax), Mark Dresser (bass) and Min Xiao-Fen (pipa) performed at the Rubin Museum of Art Jun. 6th. A slideshow of Himalayan paintings and ink drawings was visible behind the stage, an electric tambura droned meditatively under the opening and closing pieces and the pentatonic melodies of "White Bird," "Dark Knowledge" and "Two Mays," rendered in tandem by Xiao-Fen's pipa (a Chinese upright lute) and Bloom's soprano, evoked Far Eastern tone poetry. Each performer 'spoke' his or her own body language: Dresser pinwheeled his arm dramatically and hammered the fretboard with both hands; Xiao-Fen swayed with fluid grace and, during "Many Landscapes," sang with unearthly gasps and growled vowels and Bloom was a bundle of motion, perching on one leg, tilting, kicking, lurching forwards and even coiling and releasing her torso in the twisting movement of a discus thrower. Above all, it was the seamless fusion and fission of musical personas that riveted attention. Dresser's room- booming 'wolf-notes,' percussive slaps and sky- scraping overtones intermingled with Bloom's lyrical flights and Xiao-Fen's athletic imagination. Bloom often punctuated her soaring lines with siren-like glissandos, while Xiao-Fen employed a variety of techniquesa metal slide on "Mental Weather," finger-tapped 'raindrops' on "Vanishing Hat"to complete the conversation.
New Languages Festival at Living Theatre