In high school I was a band geek. OK, not quite: I was never cool enough to make it into the inner circle of the Blackbirds Marching Band, and so odd duck that I was I'd be left flapping around on the outer margins of the football stadium bleachers while all the hilarity and revelry that a pack of gangly teenagers in polyester and feathery headgear can muster would carry on without notice of me and my forlorn little trumpet. Read more »
Anat Cohen, an Israeli-born New Yorker often found working in Latin bands, seems intent on leaving no jazz style unexplored. Whether on tenor saxophone essaying the opening melody of Cuban drummer Francisco Mela's straight-ahead "John Ramsay" from his 2006 album Melao (Ayva) or soloing on clarinet with the Brazilian Choro Ensemble, Cohen seems to intuitively absorb the musical language she's engaged in. Read more »
Whatever happened to all the cyberpunks? Once upon a Blade Runner, it looked like neo-noirists and novelists from the early 1980s were finally getting turned on to George Orwell's vision, predicting a dystopian, nightmarish future in which humans were subject to conditioning and control. Even musicians were getting it: perhaps inspired by Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music (Buddah, 1975), such artists as Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, and Pere Ubu were dabbling in a postapocalyptic music world by the close of the '70s. Read more »
What's up with all these "fuck"-ing bands of late? I'm referencing the band name phenomenon: it used to be about being "pink" this or "black" that or "wolf" or "bear" something, but it looks like our favorite four-letter word is now reaping the benefits of name-gaming fun. Read more »
"Do you always have to offend everyone?" So ran a comment anonymous, of course on a piece I'd written for an undergrad creative writing class, a piss take on the Our Father titled "Our Father II." This was in the early '90s, when I was still planning my escape from junior college and the burbs. Read more »
The first clue that Gui Boratto's Chromophobia is an extraordinary Kompakt disc a song collection that places the German label back at the forefront of the best electronic music can be found on its cover art. Since its inception, Kompakt has had a signature clean design style for its releases. Developed by one of the label's three co-owners, Wolfgang Voigt, it's made great use of simple circles and basic color combinations. Read more »
One night last September, I hitch a ride with G-Stack of the Delinquents and Dotrix of Tha Mekanix to Dem Hoodstarz's album release party in San Francisco. As we park outside the club, Mistah FAB rolls up with a modest posse. In contrast to his usual iced-out Technicolor clubwear, the man also known as Fabby Davis Jr. is low-key, dressed all in black, a pair of designer stunna shades supplying the main clue to his identity. Read more »
Would you consider remixing Thelonious Monk? Pianist Jason Moran would, and he has.
He's not playing those remixes, though, when he comes to town this week to re-create the famed pianist-composer's Town Hall concert of 1959. This time through, Moran, along with Monk's son, drummer T.S. Monk, will play the large-band concert relatively straight. But the performance is a primer for Moran's newest musical exploration: a Monk-based multimedia performance titled In My Mind.
Moran says the idea stems from an SFJAZZ request that he replicate the Town Hall show. Read more »
Forty years ago Rufus Wanta sent lyrics to one of the song-poem studios that were popular at the time. The record he eventually received from the company was, with its tacky torch-song treatment, a big disappointment. Call it poetic justice, then, that keyboardist Nathan Wanta uses words penned by his grandfather in a song written by his band, Last of the Blacksmiths. Read more »
Iggy Pop spit in my face at one of the Stooges' sold-out shows at the Warfield last month. And I loved it. The crowning moment, however, came just before that, when he stared me down and mouthed the lyrics of "1970": "Beautiful baby, feed my love ... all night ... till I blow ... away," then slithered away from the seesawing mass in the pit. Read more »