Back on the horse, my friends and (like we talked about last week, emotionally if not by the hands of the clock or the pages of the calendar) my favorite season, Fall, is upon us. Going to Raleigh the week of this entry for the Hopscotch Music Festival and to see one of my oldest and dearest friends who had a profound influence on me over the years, both of which I’m incredibly excited about, but there’s lots I’m gutted to miss – get out and see some shit, mes amies.
September 8: New Works Lab: Cold Read – Baltimore by Kirsten Greenidge.
Since I do so much writing about theatre in other, more widely-distributed venues I’m going to cover less of it in “Hey Fred” and what I do write about here will be things that wouldn’t fit the manifest of other places. Mainly, one-offs or things I couldn’t see until the last shows. While OSU’s always had a strong theatre school, it’s really come into its own the last few years and one of my favorite parts is their New Works Lab. The Lab series is a combination of student work given a shot in front of an audience for the first time and a chance to delve into professionally produced plays from elsewhere that might never have a full production in Columbus. As a friend said, “It’s surprising how much value you can get just reading a great play out loud in front of people. If you strip away sets, lights, etc, you can get 85% of the charge with 20% of the cost.”
Kirsten Greenidge, based in Boston, is one of the brightest lights in the US right now with an incisive, distinctive voice. Baltimore, the work being read here, was developed with assistance by Michigan State University in the Big Ten New Plays Initiative and looks at loss of innocence and the still-fractious subject of race viewed through the prism of an incident on a college campus.
Starts at 7:00pm. Free.
September 9-13: Kate Schulte Tribute featuring Hamiet Bluiett and Kidd Jordan with the Jazz Poetry Ensemble. Various locations.
Michael Vander Does has long been one of Columbus’s shining lights as a booker, a writer, and a musician (leading his Jazz Poetry Ensemble). Since his wife – known civil rights attorney and advocate for good in the world, Kate Schulte – passed away in 2011, through a fund in her memory, he’s been bringing the great Kidd Jordan (as artist-in-residence) and usually at least one other legendary jazz musician into town for a concert at Hot Times Festival and satellite shows. These are always fantastic but this year looks extra special because the additional act is the great Hamiet Bluiett.
The baritone sax – Bluiett’s principal axe – is the lifeblood of rock and roll and R&B. From Heywood Henry and Paul Williams through Floyd Newman and Red Tyler and Mike Terry all the way up to Dana Colley from Morphine and Steve Berlin from The Blasters and Los Lobos, the sweet growl of a bari adds a depth of field and a propulsion to anything blessed by it. In jazz, Harry Carney’s bari defined the sound of those classic early Duke Ellington records and Gerry Mulligan helped shape the West Coast “cool” sound in the ’60s. But, and with all due respect to the great Peter Brotzmann and Ken Vandermark, no one’s done a better job of fusing the different strains of the bari – the snarl, the sadness, and the sweetness – and putting it into an avant-garde context than Hamiet Bluiett.
Coming out of St. Louis’ still-under-recognized Black Artists’ Group, along with Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Bobo Shaw, and Joseph Bowie, Bluiett’s unmistakable tone can crack your chest open from a hundred yards away. Arguably, his run in the ’70s was better than any other reed player working, From his work with Mingus at the beginning of the decade, through the phenomenal World Saxophone Quartet records on Black Saint, and his solo albums (I’m particularly fond of Resolution, maybe the best free jazz record of all time) you can’t find a bum note or an ill-conceived move. As a sideman he held down Julius Hemphill’s two best records – Dogon AD and Coon Bid’ness – and lent key color to classics by Abdullah Ibrahim, Don Cherry, and Anthony Braxton. I think Bluiett’s last appearance in Columbus was with the World Saxophone Quartet backed by the Promusica Orchestra, and before that was with David Murray I think when I was still in college.
Kidd Jordan’s no slouch either – massive understatement alert. A eminence grise of American music, one of the few people who can say they played with Big Joe Turner, Larry Williams, Clifton Chenier, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and REM (on Out of Time). I still remember the first time I heard his collaborative record with Fred Anderson, Two Days in April, and the way it cracked my mind open. Jordan’s still playing at the top of his game by accounts and video from his 80th birthday celebration at this year’s New Orleans Jazzfest this spring. There aren’t many chances to see two people who shaped the vocabulary of American music, especially in intimate venues with a crack rhythm section (Vander Does, Brett Burleson, Roger Myers, and Roger Hines). This is the thing I’m sorriest to miss this week.
For a better writeup and details on the three shows happening this week, see Andrew Patton’s article in JazzColumbus.
September 9: Tigue. Garden Theater, 1187 N High St.
New Amsterdam is one of my favorite record labels right now – documenting and influencing the new breed of chamber music composers and their give and take with interesting rock and roll. They’re one of a handful of labels right now I’m checking for anything they put out and I’ve never been disappointed.
NYC’s Tigue is a percussion trio comprised of OSU alums Matt Evans, Amy Garapic, and Carson Moody. They work in long forms with looping, overlapping cells, that don’t neglect that frisson that’s supposed to shoot up your spine. It’s a physical, body music, with lots of thematic complexity and intellectual weight. There’s plenty to chew on – I’d recommend this to fans of Steve Reich, Man Forever, So Percussion, and even the Boredoms’ multi-drum days. This show, in advance of their first record on New Amsterdam, is highly, highly recommended.
Starts at 7:00pm. Free.
September 10: Tyondai Braxton with Clark. Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N High St.
There are very few composers working today more exciting and surprising than Tyondai Braxton. First coming to my attention with his solo cut-up and processed guitar work and exploding onto the national scene in the first iteration of math-rock groove specialsts Battles, his frenzied post-Battles creativity has consistently sated me and left me hungry for more. His first solo record for Warp, Central Market (2009), is my favorite chamber music record of the last 10 years and getting to see him play that live with Wordless Music Orchestra in 2011 at Lincoln Center poured me out onto Broadway floating but unable to speak. And I wasn’t alone there, looking down from the balcony I saw no less than David Byrne lead a standing ovation.
Braxton said, in a terrific interview with Ben Vida for BOMB Magazine, that “The artist’s role is to be in dialogue with their times, whatever that means, and to translate complicated ideas simply.” He achieves that in spades – he’s writing music that makes me look at the world differently. I was blessed to see his new piece, HIVE, at Big Ears Festival in March (so taking the sting out of missing this a little) – on a handmade installation of pods and colored lights Braxton and four classical percussionists wove exploding webs of sticky synthesizer through shifting tectonic plates of rhythm. It was the first thing I saw that last day and I had that same just-stuck-my-finger-in-a-light-socket feeling. The record based on that piece – originally commissioned for the Guggenheim – HIVE1 came out this year on Nonesuch and I’m still finding my way into and learning more about the stuttering, cracked, wrigglingly alive forms. But this rare – these days and not in NYC or London – solo show should not be missed by anyone who misses the days the Wexner’s music booking was as adventurous as their film and visual art.
Clark (full name Chris Clark), Braxton’s Warp labelmate, also played Big Ears but I couldn’t make that set – hoping to catch him at Hopscotch. His electronic dance work is informed by a sensuality of stopping – the way sounds degrade and beats that don’t continue to their logical point – and his new EP Flame Rave is an intoxicating listen. These two on the best soundsystem in town will be a massive treat.
Starts at 8:00pm. For more info and $18 tickets, visit http://wexarts.org/performing-arts/tyondai-braxton-clark
September 12-13: Aaron Diehl and Cecile McLorin Salvant. King Arts Complex, 867 Mt Vernon Avenue.
At all of 29, Aaron Diehl is one of Columbus’ proudest exports to the jazz world. Since going to Julliard he’s played with Wynton Marsalis, music directed series at Jazz at Lincoln Center, premiered Philip Glass etudes, and has made two fantastic studio albums as a leader – Bespoke Man’s Narrative, a polished tribute to the Modern Jazz Quartet, and this year’s Space, Time, Continuum, which features legendary tenor player Benny Golson.
Any time Diehl has a homecoming show, it’s an event and this two-night stand at the King Arts Complex is doubly special because it’s a duo performance with vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant one of the rising stars in jazz singing. Salvant also has a new record out which includes fresh takes on standards like “The Trolley Song” and the West Side Story classic “Something’s Coming,” and co-wrote a song on the Diehl record.
Saturday at 7:00pm and Sunday at 4:00pm. $25 tickets available at https://aarondiehl-cecilemclorinsalvant-912.eventbrite.com/