Sunday, April 12, 2020

Review and pondering: Jazz From Hell

In the days and nights leading up to the covid-19 lock down, many of we night people were convinced that the virus and resultant urgency would be captured: It has to be, this is New York; they can't just close down the damned city! But the reality set in all too soon. As one who is a music reviewer, a performer and event organizer, life without nightlife feels awfully hollow. One can count their blessings of health, but shuttered nightclubs, bars and halls remain a terrible sight. When I look back on the last show reviewed just before it all hit the fan, an event dubbed JAZZ FROM HELL, I realize how prescient that moment was.

Since the quarantine, I've been writing one hell of a lot and this includes an Apr 4 poem called "A Fallout Unspoken" which was just published in an international anthology (more on that in my next posting). But this last live review, completed on the cusp of corona chaos, somehow never made it into this blog. So, as I complete a bit of site clean-up, here it is:

NYC Jazz Record, NY@Night, April 2020 issue

“Jazz From Hell”: Kilter, ir, Titan to Tachyons
NuBlu 151, NYC, March 10

Performance review by John Pietaro

The tandem NuBlu performance spaces, favorites among the avant, boldly program improvisational new music with disparate strains of jazz and rock from the underground. Now with “Jazz From Hell” (March 10), Nublu 151 reached still deeper. Organizer Laurent David affirmed that the event title was an homage to the Frank Zappa album, but much of the music seemed inspired by…other forces. Opening was Titans to Trachyon led by composer-guitarist Sally Gates with drummer Kenny Grohowski (John Zorn, Brand X) and Matt Hollenberg all over a baritone electric guitar. The desired effects—surreal and sci-fi heavy—were evident over rhythmic accents and rapid shifts of meter and dynamics led from within by Growhowski. Next was the duo ir: 12-string banjo player Mick Barr and cajon player Erik Malave. Barr’s rolling melodic patterns against the rumbling cajon were wonderfully subject to phasing (a la Steve Reich), sashaying downbeats in this direction or that, to great effect. The final set belonged to Kilter, which included Growhowski, Ed Rosenberg III, whose bass saxophone was electronically armed, and bassist Laurent David. The trio erupted in thickets of sound with bass and bass sax unisons shredding the house. Rosenberg ignited visions of Adrian Rollini (Braxton too) as his horn painted the venue black, Growhowski drove mercilessly and by the time vocalist Andromeda Anarchia joined in, the sheer volume became an entity. Her howl recalled Diamanda Galas, dipping into Death Metal lows and ghostly highs, at once conjuring the evening’s necessary brimstone.

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