My itinerary (after being up until 7 AM last
night morning blogging and getting ready for today's yesterday's Pulse hit):
11:30 AM -- subway into Manhattan. I was practicing my conducting on train, which reliably freaks out fellow passengers and, I'm fairly confident, makes me the biggest geek in the history of geekdom. Upon exit, I run into my friend elizabeth!, who is playing the late set with Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts on Friday night. Matt's IAJE hits are always incredibly fun. A few years ago, Matt's bandmate, Andrew D'Angelo, destroyed his alto saxophone (seriously, we're talking Pete Townshend-style smashing and everything) at the end of the show. While this maneuver might have seemed a bit odd at, say, Fat Cat, at IAJE it was fucking brilliant.
12:20 PM -- slip into Industrial Jazz Group show, already underway. And a good time was had by all, especially during "The Job Song" (chorus: "Get a real job!"), which could be the IAJE theme song. Sunday's gonna be fun.
1:00 PM -- try to psych myself up to stand by the exit and force fliers for Sunday's IJG+Secret Society double-bill into the hands of all attendees. Fail miserably. Instead, end up shooting the shit with All About Jazz critic/editor/man-about-town Andrey Henkin, IJG mastermind Andrew Durkin and IJG trumpeter Kris Tiner. Am still mulling over the best way to describe what IJG do. Perhaps this way: Slavic Soul Party are to Balkan brass band music as Industrial Jazz Group are to big band.
2:00 PM -- obtain and consume much-needed coffee, then head up to the Hiton's Grand Ballroom to catch the premiere of Sherisse Rogers's Gil Evans commission, "Crossing Paths (3 Tales)." Beautiful performance of a killing piece, which contains occasional nods to Guillermo Klein and Pedro Giraudo (of Mr. Vivo), but is executed with Sherisse's incredibly sophisticated command of large-scale musical narrative. This is probably my favorite Sherisse chart yet. Her band also did Rufus Reid's IAJE/ASCAP commission, "Hues of a Different Blue," a McNeely-influenced post-Thad romp that featured a (literally) showstopping solo by altoist Jon Irabagon. I'd never heard Jon before but he's the kind of cat who can slay the room with a single note.
3:00 PM -- hang out, offer congrats to Sherisse & co, shoot more shit, plug Pulse hit. We're playing at the other hotel (the conference consumes both the Hilton and the Sheraton), and I should head over there soon to get set up.
4:00 PM -- Pulse prep. Berate John McNeil for taking home the wrong part from Monday's rehearsal, insert Secret Society propaganda into Pulse programs, set up our totally unsanctioned recording device, attempt brief soundcheck. And we're off...
5:00 PM -- Pulse IAJE hit Things go really well -- this is honestly the best this music has ever sounded. Also, photo projections are actually visible this time. I'm told the sound in the room was decent, if maybe a bit on the loud side up front. John McNeil slays everyone with his playing on Josh Shneider's chart. Photos and audio from this should be up soon on the Pulse blog.
6:00 PM -- post-hit schmooze. I meet D.D. Jackson in person for the first time -- thanks for coming to check us out, D.D! People seem generally positive about what we just did, which is nice. One of my stand lights goes AWOL, which is less nice. Oh well -- an inevitable casualty of war, I suppose.
6:40 PM -- post-hit food at the not-very-good-but-conveniently-located 53rd Street Deli. Other Pulsketeers lobby for real food, but I just want to get a quick bite and then catch Ingrid's 7 PM hit.
7:00 PM -- I'm biased, clearly, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it -- Ingrid Jensen, Geoff Keezer, Matt Clohesy and Jon Wikan owned this thing so far. Never mind the incredible playing, their pacing was a thing of beauty -- like Ingrid conceived of the set as a single cohesive piece. Her use of pedal-based electronic effects keeps getting deeper and deeper, I think party because of her uncanny ability to be in the moment without losing sight of the big picture, and partly because she's able to combine the electronics with complimentary acoustic-based extended techniques. The transition out of this skewed delay-drenched dream-world into Keezer's hard-driving "Captain John" was transfixing. Juilliard student Sharel Cassity joined in on flute, soprano, and alto for the title track from Ingrid's recent At Sea.
9:00 PM -- down to the Jazz Gallery for Sherisse's big band set. I'm sitting in the audience with Erica vonKleist. It must feel odd to her to hear this music from the other side of the stage -- Erica normally plays Reed 1 in Project Uprising (as well as Secret Society), but as more people start to realize what a bad motherfucker she is, it's become increasingly difficult for us to get our respective schedules in line. Tonight was a "I'm free for the gig but I can't make the rehearsals"-type situation, but it's a testament to just how devoted Erica is to Sherisse's music that despite her insane schedule this week, she came down to hear the band from out front.
In a (much less dramatic) parallel situation: I normally conduct Sherisse's "A Slippery Slope" while she holds down the bass chair -- this time, she entrusted the incredibly involved bass part to Ike Sturm's capable hands, and assumed traffic cop duties herself -- which left me free to actually enjoy the chart without stressing about all those frickin' meter changes and subtle tempo transitions.
11:00 PM -- up to the Ginger Man for Ingrid's birthday celebrations. Catchphrase of the evening: "Harden the fuck up" -- which has been embedded into black Lance Armstrong-style plastic wristbands that everyone's wearing.
12:30 AM -- we return to The Madness for John Hollenbeck's Large Ensemble set. They played a relatively "jazzy" set (for them) that began with "Folkmoot" (Marian McPartland meets Jimmy Giuffre) and continued with Hollenbeck's minimalist/maximalist arrangement of Monk's "Four In One," the contemplative-but-invigorating "Guarana," the hypnotic "Long Swing Dream" (AKA "LSD" -- quoth John: "I myself have never tried LSD, but Cary Grant did"), and "A Blessing," Hollenbeck's 2001 IAJE commission. I confess I often can't hang with Hollenbeck's aggressively naive text settings -- "A Blessing" is based on the Irish Blessing ("May the road rise to meet you," etc) and is a conscious attempt to reclaim those words from cliché. When Theo Bleckmann sings them I almost buy it -- that's how good Theo is. It helps that the instrumental portions of the piece are phenomenal.
I took lots of photos of the course of the day -- in fact, I completely filled my 2 GB SD card -- but I see it's once again 6 AM and I'd really like to make Jim McNeely's talk about his Paul Klee-inspired works
tomorrow today at noon. So the gallery will have to wait... watch this space.