Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jooklo Duo in Pittsburgh

Playing right now: Knives from Heaven (Matt Shipp, Wm Parker, Beans & HPRIZM) (Thirsty Ear)

My R. Stevie Moore article hit the street today. Read it online right here. Then this week, I wrote a Trotsky Icepick article for Blurt, only to find out that the first reunion show is happening as we speak and that the second one is tomorrow. I thought they were playing this weekend, so I don't think the site will post the article in time. Then I discovered that Blurt ran my Kid Congo piece on May 24. Check it out. Finally this morning I gave them two more CD reviews. Oh yeah - I also wrote something about Jeremiah Clark for City Paper, which will run next week.

In between all that, I made it out to a show at Garfield Artworks on Monday night. Manny brings in a lot of avant jazz folks that I've never heard of and don't get a chance to see. So when I saw the flyer for the Jooklo Duo - a man and woman from Italy - I made a mental note to check this show out. I had no idea if they were the free jazz type of improv or noisy electronics kind of improv. Regardless I was going to be there.

The opening act was a local fella who performs under the name Burnout Warcry. He had a table full of instruments: a small keyboard, a chain that looked like line used when fishing; a kazoo, bells, metal plates. He also had a suitcase that he routinely kicked to fill the space that a kick drum would typically handle.

He played for about 20 minutes, all told: one longer piece, one shorter one. And he used all the instruments to fill the space. Sometimes he looked like he wasn't sure what to grab next, or how to continue the sound, but most of the time, he seemed pretty assured. Most people would've thought he was just messing around and that it was pointless, but he kept the sound going. The length of his set was just enough.

Jooklo Duo were actually a trio that night because guitarist Bill Nace had joined Virginia Genta (reeds and things) and David Vanzan (drums) for this tour. Nace's guitar added a level of consistant drone to the set, but it could've come down in the mix a little bit. As the set started, he was bowing the guitar and Vanzan was gentle playing his kit. For the longest time, he didn't pound the drums, which gave the drums a nice muted effect. It helped put the spotlight on Genta, who began by blowing the double-reed horn the zorna, on which she used circular breathing to keep her tone flowing. She picked up the clarinet, but some of the nuances got lost in the swirl of guitar drone (he had it in his lap the whole time) and drums, which by now were getting kind of loud.

When Genta picked up her tenor saxophone and started to blow, I wrote "Oh yeah, now you're talking" in my notebook. The band was now firing on all four cylinders. Her tenor playing was reminiscent of early Gato Barbieri, with a gush of wild overtones. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was coming from her and what was coming from Nace due to the volume and the echo from the room and instruments.

As the set moved on, the sound swelled more and more. Genta pulled out the jew's harp, the one instrument that was hard to hear over everything else. But that boing was in there somewhere. Vanzan, whose past-the-shoulders length hair and full beard, together with his lanky frame made him look like some '70s prog rock dude, whipped out a flute and started playing it into one of the drum mikes without batting an eye. I don't think he looked at his trap kit once while he was playing. Nace creating the sound of a beehive and later a leaky faucet, while Genta moved to melodica, then cowbell and police whistle, to which she added some vocal yells. Then after about 45 minutes, things died down and Vanzan let fly a final thump across his drums. The kind that says "the end," and mean it. I wasn't about to argue.

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