Sirius pulls it all off with ease and style, making for an impressive cross-over from which many more ensembles dedicated to contemporary music could take a serious lesson (ahem, no pun intended). Uri Cain's compositions also made for some good listening, though I must say the summit of the evening was a ten-minute improvisation that emerged out of a subtle half-step dyad on the piano and expanded into a deeply satisfying spectrum of sounds and gestures.
So inspired by my first experience at The Stone, I ventured back a week later (on another particularly unaccommodating Polar Vortex of an evening) to hear the guitar stylings of Marc Ribot. Ribot was joined by poet-cum-saxophone Roy Nathanson for an evening of further improvisations, which emerged from the loosely framed structures of Nathanson's wonderful poetry. I couldn't help but chuckle every so often, partially as a result of the pure and joyful excitement the emerging sounds instilled in me, and partially out of the realization that what I was experiencing was the prima materia that is the stereotype of free jazz and experimental music. A squawk on the saxophone, tinny fumblings across the guitar strings, the sounds of a squeaking chair becoming a component of the music, nebulous chunking and apparently sloppy, halting solos void of tonal gravity.
These are not intended to be critical remarks. In fact, the fearlessness and genuine creative energy that formed the magnet between these two imaginative performers was so palpable as to be felt within the room, like a third, invisible band member.
The following evening, along my descent from this peak, I stopped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On any given evening, one can enjoy live chamber music at the Met's Balcony Bar from behind a moderately pricy cocktail. I have found that it makes for a nice warm-up or cool down from viewing the collection. This particular trip, however, ended up falling into a category more compatible with the aforementioned outings.
In connection with the ongoing exhibit, Silla: Korea's Golden Kingdom, Concerts and Lectures presented an interesting collaboration between composer, Guggenheim Fellow and komungo player Jin Hi Kim and American drummer and percussionist Gerry Hemingway entitled "Digital Buddha." The performance was a massive improvisatory jam lasting over an hour and set against a backdrop of psychedelic video projections.
I did feel that something about the amount of polish in the presentation and distance of the performers perched high up on the stage of the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium weakened the potential energy suggested by the concept. In contrast with the gritty realism of my previous adventures within the intimate, creaking belly of The Stone, it was difficult to be a part of the organic dialogue between these two, despite their incredible accomplishment as performers.
The presentation did offer some thought-provoking material to absorb, which was enhanced by the thread drawn through the ancient and modern, providing a unique and living context for each. It was really not so unlike a string quartet sawing through rock-inspired solos, or the avant-garde gyrations of the sax/guitar duo, exploring the clichés of free jazz to a unique and personal end, whether more or less successful an effort.
Ultimately, I guess, it's not so much in what you say as how you say it.