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Gino Robair and Andrea Centazzo, with Trevor Dunn and Travis Laplante, Luggage Store Gallery

The first Thursday of this month featured an impressive performance by Andrea Centazzo together with Gino Robair at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco. I had missed an earlier performance of theirs at another Bay Area venue earlier the week, but glad I was able to make this one.

The evening opened with solo sets by Trevor Dunn on upright bass and Travis Laplante on saxophone. Dunn’s set unfolded as a single piece, which had just started when I arrived. It was a combination of long bowed notes that are part of traditional bass practice along with timbral effects and more percussive extended techniques. The low tones filled the room nicely and provided a more meditative start to the evening.

Laplante’s solo saxophone set was quite a contrast in terms of energy and dynamics. It was nearly all extended technique with fast runs of notes. And it was quite loud. Given the acoustically active nature of the Luggage Store Gallery, this made for some interesting effects. I think the combination of the two sets worked well. Dunn and Laplante were touring the west coast of the United States and Canada together, so I suspect their contrasting styles played into their other performances as well.

Afterwards, the audience shifted 90 degrees towards the front of the gallery, where two tables festooned with a variety of percussion and electronic gear awaited the start of the second set. Andrea Centazzo’s table was dominated by the MalletKAT, a marimba-like electronic controller.

He also had a variety of small acoustic percussion, as well as this toy that he said was from a previous visit to San Francisco in the 1980s.

Gino Robair had his usual assortment of percussion, noisemakers and electronics, including the Blippo Box and his signature broken cymbals.

The set began in either a dramatic fashion, nor in an especially subtle way. It was well timed and well balanced and drew one quickly into the music. As I have said on previous occasions, a masterly improvisation performance will balance rhythm, dynamics and timbres into a cohesive whole, and this performance was no exception. Even with the “noisy” source instrumentation, I felt like the interaction of the performers created a harmonic structure of sorts to go along with the rhythms. And the electronic and acoustic elements blended well in this context. You can hear a short excerpt in this video:

Overall, this was a great performance, and I sat quietly and intently in full absorption of the music, foregoing the note-taking I sometimes do during experimental-music concerts. And it was a perfect conclusion to what had been a long day of not only experimental music but art-gallery openings. But that is another story.

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