February Live Music Reviews

winter tree

I saw a number of friends’ bands over the last couple of weeks and thought I’d give them all reviews and plugs.

Spanglish Fly, Feb 19, Rose, Brooklyn — I’ve known the leader of Spanglish Fly, trumpeter Jonathan Goldman, for about eight years as he played on the corporate softball team I coached. He led a New Orleans style jazz band for a few years, then lived in New Orleans for a few years and came back and formed this band. These guys are bringing back the boogaloo sounds of Spanish Harlem in the 1960s and 70s mixing mambo, soul, latin jazz, and funk typified by supergroups like the Fania All-Stars. They’re playing live a lot and are highly recommended! See link above for schedule.
Continue reading “February Live Music Reviews”

Las Palmas

Palm trees at the World Financial Center Winter Garden

I had a great time downtown at the Bang on a Can Marathon on Sunday with a caveat. Like some people, my problem with some new music is that it becomes a big bore and letdown if it takes itself too seriously. I’m not talking about the abandonment of popular music structure which some people can’t get around. Having mostly fallen in love with music through pop and rock, very serious performances that obviously take a lot of training and work to achieve fall flat if the performers don’t make it look effortless and joyful. The fun disappears and where’s the fun in that? Maybe I’ll write more about this soon.

Bang on Cans, Pots, and Pans

Here’s where I encourage all new music enthusiasts to come down to the World Financial Center tomorrow, May 31st, for the Bang on a Can marathon. Among the opening acts will be Dither shown below playing at the New Music Bakesale and Andy Akiho who I saw perform at the beginning of the month at the Manhattan School of Music. I thought I had shots of Terry Riley performing with the Bang on a Can Allstars but I can’t find them. Here’s a handy YouTube library of many of the acts performing.

Dither Quartet

R. Stevie Moore
This is R. Stevie Moore performing in Brooklyn.
He won’t be performing at the marathon but he should be.

Still Life, Jia Zhangke
And finally, a still life from the movie, Still Life by Jia Zhangke — could be my brain on new music.

Eyes Closed, Head Tilted Just So

Free image for a neo-KrautrockĀ  or goth band.

I caught the Bang on a Can Allstars with Terry Riley at Le Poisson Rouge the other night. The ways of Mr. Riley are mysterious and hippieful. That stuff usually makes me cringe but when it’s mixed up with blues for maharaja played by the Allstars, it commands respect.

For more enjoyable for me was the Tuesday show at the same venue which featured the music of David Lang. Closing the show was Maya Beiser, who performed the piece “World to Come.” The piece featured Ms. Beiser playing against loops of herself and vocal bits. Something about a cellist playing in ecstasy… it oddly reminded me of Meg White playing drums although Ms. White sometimes looks bored but it’s that sublime tilt of the head when they’re playing.

Music Is a Fuzzy Cathedral

Riverside Church
Riverside Church – fuzzy mode

I lost my camera a couple days ago but I’ll post some rejects.

Eighth Blackbird performed at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall last night. Playing a piece written for them called “Double Sextet” — hence written for 12 musicians — 8bb actually play against a recording of themselves playing the other half of the piece. Neat. All the naysayers who don’t like new music should really see a Steve Reich piece performed live. This rehearsal video of Music for 18 Musicians only begins to convey what it’s like.

The other half of the program, also a New York premiere, was a piece by Bang on a Can. Not as satisfying as the Reich piece and difficult to digest in its variety, it’s still a blast seeing serious musicians having some serious fun, even making their choreographed moves look completely unpremeditated. Ouch, using too many big words.

For an interesting flipside, my friend and I snuck into the main hall to hear Asha Bhosle perform for the Indian glitterati and other fans. Believed to have recorded / sung some 12,000 songs, you could say she’s the Sinatra of India although I don’t think ol Blue Eyes, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett combined could touch that number. Anyway, hearing the Bollywood twist on the pop music form after 8bb was like going to hear Olivia Newton-John after a Slayer show. Sugar cookies after jalapeno poppers. I could go on…

It’s a long way to the top

long way to the top
water tower
The view from almost everywhere in Madhattan

I’m trying out taking pairs (or more) of pictures with the camera in the same spot but a changed angle. The top one is all about the negative space.

Holy cow, it is so nice to be off of myspace. I can link to whatever the hell I want! I can put a few ads up! Yes, they’re probably coming as soon as I can figure it out. I need another column in the blog design… I don’t know if I like how links are capped. Hmm. Hmm. Anyway, if you’re a new reader, thanks for checking me out and you should be aware my topics can jump around sometimes in a serious way and sometimes in a half-assed way.

Very excited that some of the Bang on a Can Marathon program has been released. Now, I understand that this kind of music isn’t for everyone. But please don’t tell us you’d rather “chew on shit” than listen to it. I’ll bet you’d happily stew to Steve Reich’s “Daniel Variations” rather than masticate on shit. If I’m wrong, you’re probably not going to live very long.

So General Betray UsĀ® is coming to testify again. What’s missing from this debate is the usual reality check. Via Digby and Spencer Ackerman, ajunior officer in Iraq puts it like this:

In my opinion, what everyone fails to realize is that this is not a counterinsurgency. If we wanted to stay in Iraq, then it would be a counterinsurgency. But it is clear that our goal is to turn over power and pull out. So, in building our strategic endstate, it’s pointless to set goals that relate to our presence in Iraq. If the “insurgency” is a function of our being there, then it is not an insurgency in terms of our endstate. For example, if one of our goals is to stop IED attacks on US forces, that is pointless. When we leave, there will be no more IED attacks on us forces. So our endstate needs to be different. We need to ask “if we left tomorrow, what would happen in Iraq?” and from there, we need to determine which of those anticipated results are unacceptable to us. Then we must aim our efforts on making sure those unacceptable results do not occur.

When I look at the problem that way, it becomes almost impossible to find a purpose in what we do. Regardless of what we do, the Shia are going to take control. They have completely infiltrated all the security forces. The only kind of leader who could keep them in check was a tyrant like Saddam. And when the Shia take control, as soon as we leave, they are going to be as brutal as they like against the Sunni and there will be little we can do about it. That is what will happen whether we leave tomorrow or in ten years. As far as the foreign fighters, they will leave Iraq when we do. So what are we trying to accomplish here? Train the Iraqi forces? History shows that training forces in the Middle East can backfire. Any training we offer these people will find its way to our terrorist enemies.

Does everyone forget Osama Bin Laden probably received training and guns from the U.S. in Afghanistan?