Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hijinx

Back in Tempe after a scattered and scattering week in Santa Fe for the High Mayhem Festival. I pulled out of the driveway in AZ at 9:30 in the morning and arrived on the dot for the 6:30 rehearsal with Chris Jonas' Rrake ensemble (Paul Brown, Jeremy Bleich, Milton Villarrubia III, Josh Smith, Mike Gamble and CJ) which went until about 11:30. Immediately afterwards drove up the mountain road and pitched a tent at the Black Canyon campground in Santa Fe National Forest, where I spent two nights. The second night, buckets of rain fell, of course. Just fine, really, and still exactly the edge of the wilderness I needed to shake out the endless stripmalls of central AZ. Besides, a few nights housesitting for JG and taking care of the sweetest dog in the history of the entire known quadruped universe took the only slightly rough edges off the camping experience.

The High Mayhem Festival itself seemed a huge success. Carlos Santistevan, the "curator" of the annual event, chose a new format for this year, with groups of similar performers clustered on each of the three days. Friday was "acoustic day," including the Cleveland Trio with Bleich, Smith and beautifully intense yet musical Cleveland drummer Carmen Castaldi. Rrake went on at about 12:30 am and played for a packed house until about 1:30.

The Traps event, originally planned for 6 drummers on 6 drumsets, benefited from the addition of Quinn Kirchner (who, as usual for a drummer these days, is involved in a billion projects, including Grilly Biggs). The performance was one of those oddly vanishing experiences: I remember going onstage, and leaving. What does Vijay Iyer call it at Destination Out...autoscopy. Al Faaet, Quinn, Mike Rowland, Dave Wayne, Joe Sabella and Milton Villarrubia III all played with extraordinary and deep listening. The array of 7 drumsets was a wonder to behold, especially in the load in area.

Great to be there, great to be a part of two wonderful performances. Some of my other highlight shows: CK Barlow and David Felberg doing Boulez' Anthemes 2, Mute Socialite from San Francisco (the buzz was all about Moe Staiano, quite rightly, but the other drummer, Shayna Dunkelman, completely tore it up as well. And what's not to love about guitarist Ava Mendoza?) The Late Severa Wires with JA Deane and Molly Sturges was also mind blowing.

There were, as usual, so many performances that grabbed me by the short hairs, packed into a measly three days, that I was definitely feeling overwhelmed by the time I hit the highway to return here.

4 comments:

Massimo Magee said...

any recordings of 'the traps event'?

sounds like one of those mysterious phenomena in history like the Tunguska Event or something....

Hey, maybe it was...that many drums probably registered something on the Richter scale...

peter breslin said...

Hey Massimo- Traps was indeed recorded, both audio and video. High Mayhem's turn around time is usually about a year, though. The entire festival is documented audio/video, which is excellent, but makes for a lot of work for an all-volunteer organization. It's about 30 hours of performances.

The Tunguska Event is what we should call the 37-piece sax/drums/bassoon orchestra we eventually put together...

PB

Massimo Magee said...

37-piece sax/drums/bassoon orchestra


............you're on

david_grundy said...

Hello, excellent blog, always interesting to read your views. Just a quick post with a request: I'm starting up a new jazz/improv magazine, and hoping to get a first issue out in the next few weeks. Anyway, I feel it would be a good idea to get some bloggers on board - the jazz and improvised music blogworld is a large and thriving area, filled with relevant and intriguing debates and well-argued pieces of writing that would in all likelihood work in the more formalised written environment of a magazine as in the more informal world of blogs...

One feature I'd like to include is something on jazz/improv-focussed blogs. Issues like the availability of music on blogs, piracy, access, choice, attitudes to the music that its easy availability might foster, commercial attitudes to this type of art, and so on, strike me that as not just minor debates relating only to the 'online community' or the people that use blogs - they have a relevance to the discussion of free music (in both senses!) as a whole. So it would be interesting to have the opinions of several bloggers on this - you being two of them. I'd leave the parameters fairly open - basically, just spout! but it would nice if you could touch on the sort of things you I mentioned above, as well as opening it up to analyse the position you think blogs occupy in relation to the state of jazz/improv today.

Finally, another possible topic was jazz and radio today - touching on the UK's radio 3, internet stations, european stations (france musique etc) and american stations such as WFMU and WNUR. Are the standards for jazz radio higher in some countries than others, and why? Does it matter even if jazz radio itself is not that great - - do blogs/cds/live gigs, etc, replace this? Or does radio offer the opportunity to hear a wider range of artists and explore the music to a far greater extent than other means?

That's about it I think - I don't how much you know about the second topic, though clearly you know about the first; anyway, I would very much value any contribution you could make, but if you don't want to, then that's fine. Anyway, it would be nice to hear back from you. Keep up the good work with your blog!

David Grundy