Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Go Left, Young Person

Aidan and I checked out the Go Left Fest 2 at Yoshi's SF last night. The three acts were well-chosen to represent the range of what is happening in improvised music that might very loosely be called the jazz avant garde.

Lisa Mezzacappa's Bait and Switch quartet opened the show. Mezzacappa is an excellent jazz bassist and a fantastic composer. The pieces here were inspired by some of the free jazz greats of the 60s and 70s: Art Ensemble of Chicago, Henry Threadgill, etc. Special kudos to saxophonist Aaron Bennett, whose nerdy appearance belies the raucous energy revealed in his compressed but well-conceived solos.

Next up, Andy Milne and Dapp Theory provided an updated take on some of the looser versions of 70s fusion, replete with spoken word vocalist and cheesy synth sounds. Tight drums, excellent pianism.

The headliners were Fred Frith's new band, Dream On, featuring Beth Custer on clarinets and Pavel Fajt on percussion. Frith, who is a guitar god a la Clapton or Page in some very twisted alternate universe, introduced their set by mumbling, "We're going to make a filthy racket for 50 minutes and then go home." True enough. Nobody can torture a guitar like Frith. Last time I heard him live he took a power drill to his instrument. Aidan and I had to drive home to get up early for work this morning, so we couldn't stay on for the full assault, thus missing out on any power tools. Too bad.

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