Absurdity marks Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, a cornerstone title by the surrealist master from ’62, so there’s usually a chuckle of three as the film unpacks its mysterious tale. But I don’t ever remember the viewing process being as engaging – or maybe as flat-out charming – as it was with Gary Lucas’ real-time score bolstering Buñuel’s send-up of a passive bourgeoisie on Friday at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. The guitarist improvised on a series of sketches that gave a buoyancy to the on-screen confinement of guests at an upper-crust dinner party trapped in a sitting room post-feast. They’re able to physically move – and certainly bemoan their fate with a bevy of existential quips – but psychologically unable to make the leap back to their daily lives. Despite Buñuel’s wit, it can get a tad claustrophobic.
That’s where Lucas’ music assists. With his finger-picking on acoustic and electric instruments setting up an external rhythm, and the echo effects of his strings enhancing the narrative’s eerier aspects, the guitarist ups the ante on the director’s art. Lucas has been refining his approach to film accompaniment for decades – don’t miss his pas de deux with The Golem it the opportunity arises – and the nuanced way he wiggles his strings into the on-screen emotions is pretty damn impressive. He stands outside the piece as an observer, formally commenting on the action, but the real trick is how well the music is embedded into the scenes. By the time the group’s desperation reaches its provocative peak, it feels like Lucas’ insights have helped them turn the key. This was the US premiere (Cuban fans heard it in 2011); fingers crossed that there are many more performances.
PLUS: Don’t miss GL’s new CD of music from Max Fleischer toons
Posted in film, jazz, music
Kisses to everyone who keeps it going. Thanks to everyone who bolsters the vibe. Hats off to everyone who appreciates art music. Here is some of the music that’s gone down on stage. Bet Joe and company have a blast tonight.
Ever heard Uri Caine gilde through “Hazy Lazy Crazy” with bassist John Hébert and drummer Ben Perowsky? You need to, and the chance arrives as the virtuoso pianist unpacks his multiplicity during this six-night run. With two discrete shows an evening, The Stone stints allow artists to get kaleidoscopic and underscore variety. Caine, heralded for bringing an improviser’s vision to the classical canon, is never lacking for novel ideas. From the chamber refinement of cello and violin to the “chamber refinement” of sax and drums, he’s an expert at both following and flouting rules. His Wintereise duo with Theo Bleckmann should be as evocative as his Dragnet trio with cellist Eric Friedlander and drummer Clarence Penn – what kind of swing will they concoct? Options abound, and don’t forget the solo night. When the stars align he’s a one-man orchestra.
Sometimes ruckus carries the day. It certainly juices the action on percussionist Drury‘s mildly ornery and occasionally overwhelming new album, Content Provider. Using everything from trance motifs to prog patterns, the drummer drives his two-sax and guitar outfit into frenzied elation. Reed players Ingrid Laubrock and Briggan Krauss lock horns with a nail-biting fervor and Brandon Seabrook’s six-string hubbub sparks all sorts of explosions. This is a visceral bunch, and their instinctual chemistry should be obvious on stage. The gig will also feature a set of solo floor tom pieces (divorced from the instrument’s trad sound to say the least) from Drury‘s other new disc, The Drum, as well as a visit by special guests.
It should be wearing thin by now. But the shtick is so comfy and the muscianship is so deep that David Johansen’s Buster Poindexter character just keeps getting more and more engaging. Charisma has poured from the iconic rocker ever since he fronted the New York Dolls. A flick of the wrist, a hand on a hip, an exaggerated roll of the eye – the minor details add up to big fun with Poindexter, a natty veteran of lounges and bars with the savvy and skills to bond rumba nuggets, English music hall ditties and doo-wop jewels into one of the most entertaining rock ‘n’ roll shows around. “We play allll the genres,” he said in a sweetly ironic voice at the Cafe Carlyle on Tuesday night. Diverse on paper, they all sound related in Buster’s hands.
The kick-off show for his current Carlyle run was a typical hoot, loaded with swing, guided by mischief and driven by the storm of a voice Johansen still has at the age of 65 (looks pretty damn sharp in that six-inch pompadour and those tailored threads, too). Summoning the vitality of H-Bomb Ferguson’s R&B growl and Illinois Jacquet’s sax roar, the singer bounced through Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88” and anticipated next week’s Fat Tuesday parties with Prof. Longhair’s “Her Mind Is Gone.” The band cooked without getting overly rowdy and the music brimmed with an addictive verve.
The between-song patter and jokes have always been a Poindexter forte, and both were sublime thanks to Johansen’s natural theatricality. The show had a little Valentine’s Day resonance as well, and after a several tunes about heartbreak and lust, he dropped into “Don’t Mess With Cupid” and quipped “the last time I played that I was wearing a dress.” Mercer Street ain’t exactly next door to the Carlyle, but Johansen’s a longstanding musical polyglot whose varied interests always seem part of a rather profound whole. And, hey, anyone who drops “South American Joe” on a Tuesday night knows what life’s all about.
He’s there through Feb 21. You need to be there, too.
Wynton’s reverence for the past is so passionate a case could be made that his greatest achievement may be the ardor he’s brought to the repertory movement. It’s rather simple, really: when a great band plays great tunes, something impressive emerges. This time out deep cuts from Ellington’s Latin American Suite, Coltrane’s Olé and Mingus’ Tijuana Moods are in the mix, along with a few of Gillespie’s Afro-Cuban nuggets. You see the through-line, right? Rhythm will be front and center, guiding Marsalis’ squad of soloists and getting Rose Theater rockin’ in a clave kind of way. A free pre-show discussion of the music starts each night at 7 pm. Watch out ticket buyers – these gigs get packed quickly.
Jazz At Lincoln Center, Rose Theater, 60th Street at Broadway. 212-721-6500
Here’s my ballot below. Here’s the results. Not sure about Sturgill as a singer, but I’ll take Angeleena as the New Act, sure.
TOP TEN COUNTRY ALBUMS OF 2014
1. Miranda Lambert – Platinum
2. Angeleena Presley – American Middle Class
3. Hurray For the Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
4. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
5. Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time
6. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
7. Eric Church – The Outsiders
8. Lori McKenna – Numbered Doors
9. Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else
10. Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans
TOP TEN COUNTRY SINGLES OF 2014
1.Eric Church – Talladega
2.Lee Ann Womack – Chances Are
3.Willie Nelson – Sad Songs and Waltzes
4.Sunny Sweeny – You Don’t Know Your Husband
5.Maddie & Tae – Girl In a Country Song
6.First Aid Kit – Master Pretender
7.Nikki Lane – Man Up
8.Brantley Gilbert – Bottoms Up
9.Sturgill Simpson – Turtles All The Way Down
10. John Fullbright – Write A Song
TOP FIVE COUNTRY REISSUES OF 2014
1.Bob Dylan & The Band: The Basement Tapes Complete (Legacy)
2.Various Artists – Country Funk II 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic)
3.Lucinda Williams – Lucinda Williams (LW Music)
4.Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner Just Between You & Me: The Complete Recordings 1967-1976 (Bear Family)
COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST MALE VOCALISTS
1. Eric Church
2. Jason Aldean
3. Sturgill Simpson
COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST FEMALE VOCALISTS
1. Lori McKenna
2. Miranda Lambert
3. Lydia Loveless
COUNTRY MUSIC’S THREE BEST SONGWRITERS
1. Willie Nelson
2. Sturgill Simpson
3. Lori McKenna