April 2009

AAJ Staff By

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The music that Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke play is formal but strangely elusive. As the clarinet duo The International Nothing, they released mainstream on Ftarri in 2006, with some tracks augmented by guest vocals, guitar and bass. That project was extended in 2008 with the The Magic I.D. quartet's Erstwhile release, a set of unusual songs with the two clarinets at the center. But at Experimental Intermedia (Mar. 6th), the duo played alone, even announcing that one of their delicate compositions was written with lyrics which are to be mouthed, not sung. The six pieces they played were very measured, phrases seeming to last about as long as a lung's worth of breath and finding new variation with the next shared exhalation, creating a very pleasing regularity. Despite the dissonant harmonies and 'wrong' fingerings, there was a strong structure to the music. They weren't concerned about counterpoint—even pitch seemed, in an odd way, secondary; the Webern-esqe pieces were more about volume and duration and about projection and expansion. That quality, which makes them work so well as a foundation for working with other musicians, also was responsible for creating a Cage-ian sense field at Phill Niblock's Centre Street loft. The intense listening makes one intensely aware of the room: the light traffic outside, the stereoscope of clattering heating pipes. They didn't quite sound like a duo, nor quite like solo or trio; their unison lines and multiphonic accents were too fluid to count.

—Kurt Gottschalk

Dave Fiuczynski

Dave Fiuczynski

Blue Note

New York City

March 10, 2009

Guitarist Dave Fiuczynski's late night set at Blue Note (Mar. 10th) proved, if anything, that his influences are more eclectic than ever. His current trio, KiF Express, featuring bassist Steve Jenkins (with drummer Louis Cato subbing in), experiments with Asian and Middle-Eastern musics. Favoring a custom double-neck (seven-string and fretless) guitar, enhanced with an arsenal of effects processors and extended playing techniques, "Fuze" conjured up an uncanny array of aural exotica: on "Phoenix Rising," he aped a sitar through idiomatic shaking ornaments (gamaks) on the fretless neck; on "Sakura-Yin Hua," "Fung Wah Express" and "Sakalahachi" his trebly tone and whammy-bar inflections evoked a Japanese koto (zither) and on "Shiraz" and "Habibi Bounce" he recalled the sound of an Arabic oud (lute). For "Moonring Bacchanal" Fiuczynski used a second custom guitar with 24 frets per octave (twice the usual number), allowing him to play the half-flat intervals found in Middle Eastern maqams (modal structures). Underpinning all of this was Fiuczynski's fluency in blues, funk, punk and heavy metal, all of which elbowed their way into the musical mix. Jenkins' bass work, fast and flexible, was well suited to the leader's extroversion, producing many exciting exchanges between the two throughout the set. Cato played with a combination of humor and heart, working himself into a near-trance during his charismatic solo on "Moonring Bacchanal".

Jazz Guitars Play Hendrix

Vic Juris & Sheryl Bailey


New York City

March 9, 2009

Jimi Hendrix's music, a perennial inspiration to jazz musicians from Gil Evans to Toots Thielemans, was the template for an evening of vigorous jamming at the 55Bar (Mar. 9th). Guitarists Sheryl Bailey and Vic Juris tackled the maestro's catalogue with brio, beginning with a bit of electronic sound painting, then breaking into "Up from the Skies," a natural swinger with its plodding, four-to-the-bar vamp. Bailey really opened up on the second tune, "Gypsy Eyes," with her trip-hammer picking style and paint-peeling pyrotechnics, while Juris had his moment on "Third Stone From the Sun" when, beginning with a quote of "Down By the Riverside," he surged his solo to a soulfully rocking climax. Bailey demonstrated Hendrix-esque finesse on the Cry Baby wah-wah pedal over an edgy rendition of "Manic Depression" and played a sensitive interpretation of the ballad "Little Wing," paying tribute to the famous recording even as she introduced her own innovations. The final song, a loose reading of "Purple Haze," featured another fine solo from Juris, again beginning with a quote ("Jean Pierre") and building to hoarse-throated intensity, followed by equally fervid fretwork from Bailey, who finished off with a flourish of hyperactive tremolo picking. Organist/left-hand 'bassist' Brian Charette and drummer Anthony Pinciotti provided fine rhythmic and textural support, especially when the combo stretched out—as Hendrix often did—into freeform sonic psychedelia.

—Tom Greenland

David "Fathead" Newman Memorial

David "Fathead" Newman Memorial

Saint Peter's

New York City

March 9, 2009


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