Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Space Exchange in Pittsburgh

Last night was the first installment of Space Exchange, a new weekly series at the Thunderbird Cafe. Each week it's hosted by a different musician, all of which plays some strain of modern jazz, be it electric, acoustic, traditional or somewhere on the outs. Here's an article explaining it.

Last night Dave Throckmorton, drummer extraordinaire, sort of played host in a trio with guitarist Chris Parker (also one of the Space Exchange hosts) and bass guitarist Jeremy McDonald. Dave was his usual powerful self, throwing all sorts of accents in and strrrretching the tempo for just a few beats, like he was trying to slow it down, only to pull it back. Chris and Jeremy seemed to be playing with restrain at first. The tunes (no titles were mentioned) were chordally pretty simple and kind of repetitive. But Chris has two banks of pedals, and two amps too. He was playing a Silvertone which gave the music a great sharp sound. Plus he had some effect that made it sound like there was some keyboard backing up what they were playing.

Jeremy's playing really anchored the group. Occasionally he let loose a bit with some melodic lines, and I really envied both his tone and his bass - a Fender Precision. (I've never been one of those musicians who knows squat about different instruments and what different pickups do. But I love the sound of a Precision. I think Mike Watt had one the first time the Minutemen came to town. I also think that John Wetton played one in King Crimson, and a few years ago I realized that Wetton's attack and slightly distorted sound was something I tried to emulate in my playing.)

Anyhow, they played two sets. After the first I started getting a little restless. Might've been the hooch. They also seemed to be veering just a tad towards New Tony Williams Lifetime sounds, without dipping into something as badass as "Snake Oil." It was good but it didn't grab me as much. But I stayed the whole night and was glad I did.

On top of that, there was a really decent, attentive crowd there. That was really encouraging and I hope it'll sustain itself over the coming weeks.

There's actually a number of good shows coming up this month. In addition to all the Space Exchange shows, a Chicago jazz group called Herculaneum are coming to AVA next Wednesday, and a new Merge band called Hospitality are playing at the Brillobox on January 17, which wouldn't you know it, is the night Ben Opie's Flexure group is playing the Thunderbird.

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