Post epic-show comedown, again...

Many of the times I've said the title of this blog post, it is in reference to a house/basement/DIY show, something a little more ragged around the edges but overflowing with heart, soul, and all that goodness. Last night was very different, but a complete success on pretty much every part (which is good because a lot of people put a LOT of work into it, which I witnessed over the course of the past week.)

I'm of course referring to the Big Room/Uncertainty Music collaboration that occurred last night, showcasing dance/movement by Rachel Bernsen, music by Carl Testa, Taylor Ho Bynum, Matthew Welch and Broadcloth, my trio with Anne Rhodes and Nathan Bontrager. Broadcloth performed Elastic, Carl Testa's interactive electronic environment for improvising musicians, which was basically like improvising on a really, really tricked out sonic playground, and was loads of fun to perform. As an improviser doing my own work and working with others, I've found it difficult in the past to interact with electronics in a meaningful way; thankfully, Carl has the background as both an improviser and an electronic composer to make such a thing work (and we triggered/recorded our sounds with Wii-motes, which Nintendo should be paying Carl tons of money for.) Broadcloth also performed a short improvisation which took us in a different direction than we had gone in the past, partially due to the fact that we had a bigger room and different spacing than our normal semi-circle setup for the small rooms and stages we've played before. I'll be curious to see if that direction persists the next time we get together.

I also had the chance to perform Taylor Ho Bynum's "Three Fables from Borgel," based on a text by Daniel Pinkwater. These were some really bizarre, tremendously entertaining (to perform, and judging from what I could see of the audience's reactions, to listen to) songs that really captured the spirit of the absurdist/surrealist children's book they came from, which I'm now determined to check out. Working on these over this past week with Anne and Taylor was really a treat, and I hope opportunities to play compositions like this aren't so few and far between in the future.

Matthew Welch accompanied one dance piece by Rachel, and performed a solo improvisation on his own. Suffice to say he's a monster, the bagpipes have never ever seemed cooler and I'm further building my case to eliminate electric guitars after hearing the extended techniques bagpipes are capable of, and the good old-fashioned shredding when necessary too.

Rachel presented four pieces, one accompanied by Welch, one with electronic sound and light by Carl, one accompanied by a really impressive cornet score by Taylor and the last featuring live bass guitar by Carl, voice by Anne, and a choreography that incorporated them both. I've started to develop an appreciation for dance after spending the last two years accompanying for modern dance classes (albeit for much younger dancers, at Neighborhood Music School), but I'm far from being a connoisseur; I did really appreciate Rachel's choreography in each of those contexts, recognizing some aspects of improvisation in them that I can immediately relate to as a musician. The fact that so many of these pieces were interdisciplinary at heart was part of what made them so engaging to me and to some of the folks I spoke to during the intermission and afterward. There was a nice turnout, especially for an event of this nature, and it seems as though there were a lot of people who were in my shoes as of two + years ago, surprised to see such a strong avant-garde art scene in New Haven surviving and, dare I say, flourishing.

And on top of all that, I met Anthony Braxton. Like I said, biiiiig comedown...

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