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Live at Joan’s is the terrific new CD by DDYGG, a New York-based quintet that describes itself as “a band, an ensemble, an event or an experiment.” Recorded live in July 2001 at a giant industrial space in Brooklyn, Live at Joan’s introduces a group of strong players with rich ideas and 21st century sounds.
The recording offers several first rate songs, and the various styles reflect the group’s wide range. “Rhound Things III” starts off with subdued solo guitar work by the excellent Khabu Doug Young, and then bursts into a buoyant melody reminiscent of Weather Report. On “The Princess” the group reveals their straight ahead chops. The front line—Michael McGinnis on clarinet and saxophones, Brian Drye on trombone, and Matt Glassmeyer on the unusual amplified contra-alto clarinet—repeat the melody line, with Young deftly weaving his guitar around them. Then McGinnis takes a long, joyful solo, followed by drummer Mark Dodge, who plays with power and incision. The song wraps up with the melody, and altogether it’s a lovely piece. “Thanks, James” is a wild blowfest where McGinnis cuts loose and goes completely out, showing that the musicians are just as comfortable in the realm of free.
And then there’s the very interesting “Good Guys, Bad Guys,” a ten-minute song that wraps up the CD. The song begins with the musicians slowly building into an urgent, chaotic energy. Then they fade back from what they’ve created, and the song dissolves into silence. The music eventually returns, along with a remix of background voices. The song’s construction is highly evolved and very original, and the mix of voices at the end is in the spirit of Beatle songs such as “I Am the Walrus.” In fact the entire CD is a tribute to the way a creative mix—in this case, by Zeke Zima—can take already excellent music to a higher ground.
The amazing thing about the new generation of musicians is that having been exposed to so many styles, they are able to switch so easily between them, as well as form an inclusive synthesis that creates something entirely original. DDYGG is an inspiring example of this new wave; watch them if you want to see where jazz—and indeed, music—is heading.
Track Listing: 1. Preyland (7:29)
2. Rhound Things III (3:33)
3. The Shepherd and (5:18)
4. The Princess (7:07)
5. 63 Million Light Years is a Long Way (7:33)
6. Thanks, James (3:46)
7. Dodge's Drye Young Glass of Ginnis (10:34)
8. Good Guys, Bad Guys (10:19)
Personnel: Khabu Doug Young, guitar;
Mark Dodge, drums;
Michael McGinnis, clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophone, pennywhistle;
Brian Drye, trombone;
Matt Glassmeyer, amplified contra-alto clarinet and misc. sounds.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.