J.D. Allen, Joel Harrison, Mats Gustafsson/Thurston Moore, Steve Reid, Joey Calderazzo & Eddie Palmieri
Rehab is the re-named Club Midway, in Alphabet City, but it still looks exactly the same. The music happens down in the basement, which has become an occasional home for wonked jazz sounds. Well, principally Dutch drummer Han Bennink, on his regular Stateside visits. The promoter is Tom Surgal, and he's equally attuned to the spheres of blizzard-feedback rock'n'roll and blizzard-squall improvised jazz. Who better to book, then, than the Swedish saxophone behemoth Mats Gustafsson and the local New Yorker, Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, himself a sympathizer with, nay, avid follower, of free music.
Surgal is the drumming half of White Out, with electronicist Lin Culbertson, and this combo gets to open the show, playing with guest violinist Samara Lubelski, who's a member of Moore's current solo group. The women tend to reel out great swathes of textured drone, or spangled cascades, leaving Surgal freer to putter around his resonantly tuned kit, maintaining an ongoing detail of suspended time. Perhaps White Out is heard in its jazziest form on this particular evening, setting up an incrementally building 'scape for the headliner arrival, tumbling and crashing onto the shore. When Gustafsson and Moore take to the stage (with Thurston's brother Gene on second guitar), the edges are very much more serrated. They're still operating in the layering-up area, but the quality of noise is ripped-up, scarred and flayed. The guitars emit gigantic gloops of distorted glue, whilst Gustafsson can easily compete, not needing an amplifier, just happy with his massive lung capacity. He's lugging baritone, barking roughly, hacking up thick leathery clumps, as all three extremists dedicate themselves to a united wall of sound. Eventually, Gustafsson crouches forward, addressing his tiny table of primitive electronic boxes, now emitting his own grumbling thunder. There's little separation desired here, as the trio set about the manufacture of a co-owned thunder. They manage to keep this up on a sustained level, ensnaring the interest without any flagging of energy or invention in the realms of texture-evolution. There's always a new variant, a fresh relationship within the hurling barrage.
The Steve Reid Ensemble
February 3, 2009
One of Steve Reid's greatest achievements will go down as his drumming job on "Dancing In The Street" for Martha & The Vandellas. He's also famed for stints with Fela Kuti and Sun Ra, but in recent years Reid has been exposed to a younger audience as a result of his rediscovery by Soul Jazz Records and DJ Gilles Peterson in the UK, leading to a regular partnership with double-barrelled laptopper Four Tet. Now, Reid is shifting focus to leading his own Ensemble, shedding the electronic elements and returning to the hardcore spiritual jazz groove. The Russian keyboardist Boris Netsvetaev has become a regular core of Reid's band, a musical director whose own crunchily percussive organ is pivotal to the leader's signature sound. Reid's Ensemble needs some organization, as its various elements sometimes swirl and pulsate so much that they're near to breaking out of orbit. It's Netsvetaev and English bassman Dominic Lash who are entrusted with the funked-up backbone, while percussionist Mamadou Sars is responsible for a greater weight of the beat-patterns than would normally be the case. Indeed, it's Reid who's mostly left free to embellish, almost too much so when it feels like he's not latching on to the pulse of his bandmates. His skins don't seem to be struck with anywhere near the same emphasis as his cymbals, and Reid lacks the tight snap of, say, Tony Allen (the Nigerian Afrobeat master), not to mention failing to suggest the implied accents of a Paul Motian.
This reviewer is seated close to the congas, possibly missing out on some of the drumkit detail, but nevertheless Reid frequently sounded too unmoored. Aside from this particular problem, when the Ensemble does knit together, particularly as the set neared its climax, there's a unique feeling of free-groove excitement, a quality that few outfits aim for nowadays.
The Joey Calderazzo Trio
February 4, 2009