Friday, September 03, 2010
Back In the Saddle - summer recap, Øya and Oslo Jazz
An eventfull summer, involving a long but lovely coastal drive, a couple of music festivals and involvement with the release of ENO, Norway's first music mag proper for quite some time (who said printed arts journalism was dead?) is (mostly) behind me. Hopefully, this space will be updated on a more regular basis from now on. I have, however, in addition to having seen quite a bit of live music, been able to catch up on some recent album releases, both jazz and non-jazz, meaning the 2010 list may see a facelift in the upcoming days.
Øya 2010 was one thing (many good to great gigs - none mentioned, none forgotten), but two of the most anticipated concerts of the summer were Ornette Coleman and Mostly Other People Do the Killing, who both played during this year's Oslo Jazz Festival (as did Charles Gayle and Archie Shepp, both of whom I missed).
Ornette Coleman brought long time associate Tony Falanga on double bass, and son Denardo Coleman on drums, together with Al McDowell on electric bass. Playing on the main stage of Oslo's (fairly new) Opera, the sound was impeccable, as one would hope from any new opera house. This meant that Falanga's arco work was more clear and audiable than I've experienced before (this was the fourth time I've seen Falanga with Coleman). Since the group have recently dropped the second double bass player, Falanga played more riffs and walks than he has done previously, and locks into grooves more often than Gerg Cohen and Charnett Moffett - who played on previous tours - used to do. McDowell's bass playing almost doubles as an electric guitar, tending to stay up on the register, but he also brings in the feel of Ornette's 70s electrified groups. Denardo bashed on the drums, in contrast to many of his father's often quiet if forceful melodic bursts, much to the annoyance of some I've since talked to. Though I remind them that Ornette have often had juxtaposed elements in his music. Of the tunes they played, many of which were culled from Ornette's late 50s early 60s records, another new rendition of "Sleep Talk(ing)", a cracking "Blues Connotation", and the closing "Lonely Woman" were just a few of the highlights.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing played their rip-roaring fireball of über jazz to a much smaller, but no less enthusiastic audience the following Saturday. Their ability to both channel, deconstruct and reinterpret the jazz canon in their own idiosyncratic way is made even more clear as they take exactly the same route with their own material -- they quoted some five or six of their own tunes during their first piece of the night, without losing track of where they were headed. MOPDtK sure are a bundle of energy and humor, and drmmer Kevin Shea in particular is bringing back jazz shtick -- at one point a "tussle" with one of his cymbals during an imrpovisation ended with him using it as a stearing wheel behind his drum kit. You know, Monk used to get up and dance during gigs. A great band, both live and on record.