Old Customs Hall
November 1, 2003
DJs have been playing more and more with live bands during the past decade and by now the novelty effect has worn off. Now bands must make creative use of the DJ for it to be effective. At the Tampere Jazz Happening, Uri Caine’s Bedrock3 doesn't. DJ Olive, who makes exciting turntable music on his own, never meshes with keyboardist Uri Caine, bassist Tim Lefebrve and drummer Zach Danzinger. Excpet for a few inspired moments, Olive’s beats and samples never add more than superficial texure to the trio’s funk-fusion tunes.
Actually, calling them tunes might be a stretch - loose structures built for jamming fits better. During the set the trio tries their hand at most of the dance rhythms of the past 30 years. James Brown funk, salsa and disco all rear their heads, but the trio plays them with without dynamics or space, meaning the whole mix comes up flat.
The players, including Olive, have good ideas and tight execution, but they can’t put the parts together. Caine’s fluid Rhodes work features crisp chords and spiraling runs, Danzinger keeps rock-solid beats and Lefebvre lays down clear, intelligent bass lines, but a lack of breaks and a tendency to let Caine wander freely make the music shapeless.
Olive tries at times to give the music that shape, as on their third tune when he supplies a snare-pooping, head-nodding beat. But then he either dominates and his beat gets mind-numbing or the group dominates and washes out any tension they could build. At other times Olive tries to inspire with a vocal sample, but what inspiration comes from a sample that says, “When does a man start shaving regularly?”
The DJ has become a posterboy of post-modernism, what with their ability and desire to juxtapose any element of sound and any genre of music within the space of a few bars; maybe it's time to begin thinking about what different directions those juxtapositions can take. Sure, it’s fun to hear “Spinning Wheel” samples thrown together with opera snatches, but why not let the opera shape the subsequent performance? Why does the jam have to turn into a funk run-through of the Blood, Sweat and Tears hit?
The Bedrock3 hints at the possibilities when Olive starts spinning a Louis Armstrong version of “Cheek to Cheek” which prompts the band to move to a lighter swing with Caine shifting to acoustic piano. Here Olive changes the dynamics of the group entirely, refreshing the groups sound and providing the unexpected. With the entire catalogue of recorded sound at their disposal, the DJ should always be able to surprise.
Complete coverage of the 2003 Tampere Jazz Festival...
Tampere Jazz Happening: Speaking a Universal Language
Wibutee in Tampere: Club Music and Jazz Collide
Erik Truffaz in Tampere: Fusion for the 21st Century
The Bad Plus in Tampere: Cinematic Trio Images
The Electrics in Tampere: All-Acoustic Electricity
Kornstad Trio in Tampere: Improvisation as Negotiation
Scorch Trio in Tampere: If Hendrix and Coltrane had a Love Child...
Uri Caine's Bedrock 3 in Tampere: Too Many DJs
Gnomus & Jukka Gustavsson in Tampere: The Wit of the Improviser
William Parker's Healing Song in Tampere
Samuli Mikkonen in Tampere: Composed Moods and Spontaneous Energy
Louis Sclavis in Tampre: Memories of a Naples that Never Was