22 Nov 03 - Mojo club, Baltimore, Peelander-Z... zany, cabaret punk... It got pretty loud (I was glad that I wore earplugs), but oh, so entertaining!... costumes, signs, shtick, eliciting audience participation, [more to come]
29 Nov - UMBC, Albert Kunin library... sitting at one of the computers... just breezed through a fascinating art exhibit, in the library, here, of the Fluxus collection of Dick Higgins. He took music classes at Columbia taught by John Cage and Henry Cowell, and became a participant in the Fluxus movement. (There's a lot more to his background than I can relay, so bear with me...).
Anyhow, one of the items documented is Higgins' composition, "The Thousand Symphonies". This was "composed" in 1968 by an original process. Higgins got a New Jersey policeman to shoot holes in sheets of unmarked orchestral paper. (The cop used a 9mmm MP40 Schmeisser submachine gun, in case you were wondering.) Then paint was sprayed through the holes onto sheets of undamaged orchestral paper, and the results were photocopied for distribution to musicians. They had to interpret the fuzzy blotches.
11 Dec - Got back yesterday from a short trip to New Mexico. Admittedly, an odd time to take a vacation, but it was the best scheduling choice to squeeze in a self-guided tour before the Xmas holidays. (I had an offer to stay with an old friend before he moves away from Albuquerque in a few weeks, so I decided that it was something I couldn't pass up.)
I figure I drove about 1800 miles in a rental car for about 2¼ days, trying to see various sites around the state. Naturally, I listened to lots of radio. Some of the stations included: KYVA (103.7 FM / Grants / oldies), KANW (89.1 FM / Albuquerque / public), KUNM (89.9 FM / Alb. / NPR), and KHFM (95.5 FM / Alb. / classical).
I listened to KYVA as I was driving through or parallel to Navaho country on Route 371. The next day, I tuned into KANW as I drove up to Santa Fe. They played, what they called, "New Mexican music". I guess that's some sort of local Mexican-style stuff. It sounded fairly generic. I couldn't figure out if there was anything distinctive to it, aside from the fact that the musicians were from New Mexico.
15 Dec - Saw the Sabir Mateen Quintet (free jazz) last night at the Red Rm. in Baltimore. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the second half of the program, as it was pretty late on a Sunday night.
The musicians had arrived late (they'd played the night before in Lexington, KY), but that didn't seem to bother the audience (which numbered about 20-25). I think they were pleased to see a top-flight group perform. The members consisted of Sabir Mateen on saxes, bass clarinet, and flute, Raphe' Malik on trumpets, Raymond King on piano, Jane Wang on bass and cello, and Ravish Momin on drums and percussion. The music was fairly intense, with lotsa fierce blowing by Mateen and Malik. The spinet piano that King played sounded horrible (as spinets tend to be), and rendered his chords inaudible and tinkly. Wang kept things anchored in the low frequencies, although she started out a bit inaudible, and had to turn up the amp. Momin's nuanced drumming ebbed and flowed. He didn't use many percussive devices, sticking mainly to his drum kit.
I talked to Jane during the intermission, and she briefly explained the structure of the performance I'd just heard. Mateen had written out a wavy line of notes (expressed in letters, e.g., Ab, G, F#) on blank sheets of paper. These were the composed pieces. They were connected by free improvisation.
I introduced myself to Ravish Momin and was pleased to find out that he's quite mindful of contemporary music by those of Asian descent (not only in this country). He seems to dismiss the desi dj/dance club scene, which is understandable. Although I wonder if there's a way of getting such clubgoers to explore other types of music.
20 Dec - Arrived in LA a coupla days ago. Found an interview of, anime singer/songwriter, Mari Iijima in a Japanese community free monthly (Sushi & Tofu). There was also a meaty L.A. Times article about violence, past and present, in the Long Beach Cambodian community and how it is reflected in the rhymes of rapper, Prach Ly.
21 Dec - Having to crawl past chokepoints on the Harbor, Pasadena, and Golden State freeways delayed my arrival at Larissa Lam's Xmas show at the Tangier restaurant and lounge in L.A. The worst part was trying to exit the Golden State freeway (#5) at the Los Feliz offramp. There were long lines of cars converging on an intersection close by. Apparently, motorists were waiting to enter Griffith Park to see the D.W.P. Light Festival.
I'm guessing this was an energy-wasting Xmas display of lights sponsored by the L.A. Dept. of Water & Power. (Just call me an environmental scrooge. "Bah! Humbug!") And if you consider all the traffic gridlock and idling vehicles, the situation exemplified wasteful fuel consumption and air pollution... Obviously, the California energy crisis has become a distant memory.
So by the time, I got to the show, I missed the first act. I caught the last 2 songs by soloist, Peter K. Inbetween songs, he spoke of bringing the Gospel to prisons by performing there with his band. (Did I mention that there was a Christian emphasis shared by the acts?)... [more to come]
...Larissa Lam's vocal range fell short of the range of moves she displayed on stage. Her vivacious presence seemed constrained by the small stage size and sound level limits. I could imagine her act at another venue few sound and space limitations, where she could perform with a couple dancers and sronger-sounding musical backup (2 guitarists strumming amped acoustic instruments and a percussionist on dumbek (sp?) didn't cut it). If she could develop the ability to belt out high notes, I could see her playing Vegas (or the Christian equivalent -- would that be Branson, Missouri?)...