Friday, May 30, 2008

The Necks at the Sydney Opera House

One of the great fringe benefits of setting up our outpost in Australia was to see one of my favorite groups live for the first time. We caught the first night of a four-day run at the Studio Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. For those not familiar with them, the trio stems from a combination of jazz with an organic inclination toward minimal forms of gradual development over extended time periods. Most of their CDs feature single pieces exploring that length. These in turn vary from more traditional harmonic/melodic constructs to pure excursions into color and texture. They never fail to bring something new to wherever their interests are at the moment. There are no traces of systems though, being guided by their musical intuition
This performance definitely drew more upon their adventuresome explorations expanding more into texture and color than any conventional scheme. Yet these elements were there. From an almost Feldmanesque beginning, as it they were defining some environment we are all in, they quickly shifted to their own language and vision and built a series of waves that would slowly build and transform. There was a section of some kind of 5 beat feeling ‘ expanding out where I found myself counting a 17 in the bass. The music was not intellectually focusing on such details; these were more the outcome of a more driving force into a highly melodic texture lead from the piano. While the piano would possibly ‘lead’, it was not so much that the others followed, more like a whole wave together with maybe foam being pushed along on the top. Here cascades of weaving lines sometime blurred yet holding concise shape. The video paralleled the structure of the music, likewise coming from three locales, and like the playing, one was constantly surprised by where the next development would come from. In the second even more abstract set the video went from an individual in a pool toward more prominence of the bubbled turbulence they would create

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