About a week ago I attended The Edge of Dark, a special Saturday-night performance in Outsound’s SIMM Series. This performance featured a live recording session of the Lords of Outland with special guest Vinny Golia, and an opening set by the Mutual Aid Project Trio.
On the Edge of Dark was a “series of new works inspired by the writings of Frank Herbert’s epic Dune series of books, Philip K. Dick’s ranting and H.P. Lovecraft’s darkest fears.” It was interesting to mix free jazz with allusions to classic science fiction (and I have actually read all six books in the Dune cycle). In addition to Vinny Golia on saxophones and other wind instruments, the performance featured CJ Borosque on no-input pedals and trumpet, Philip Everett on drums, Ray Schaeffer on electric bass, and Rent Romus on saxophones, voice and electronics.
The music itself moved back and forth between driving modern jazz rhythms and sections of atonal and arhythmic free movement, with very fast runs on the wind instruments supported by analog noise and strong drumming. The ensemble was very tight, and could stop on a single accented note together after various long runs and meanderings. Within the framework of the science-fiction inspired pieces, the music also did seem to have a narrative and dramatic feel to it.
Boroque’s electronics featured whistles and other longer slow-moving high-pitched tones that matched the saxophones quite well, where both the acoustic and electronic elements seemed to blend into a single horn trio. Another notable moment was a “double double-saxophone,” where both Romus and Golia each played two saxophones simultaneously.
As a bonus the third movement “Night Nova Into Dune” references Lovecraft’s Cats of Ulthar. (It is CatSynth, after all.) Indeed, in that particular piece, there was a section towards the end where the more intense ensemble music cut out briefly and a series of emotive horn and vocal squeaks and moans filled in the void.
This was a live recording session, so I would expect to see a version of it out sometime in the not-so-distant future.
The Lords of Outland were preceded by Mutual Aid Project Trio, a trio consisting of Trammel (drums), Tracy Hui (guitar/objects) and Nick Obando (tenor/alto saxophone). The set opened very quietly, with just tongue noises on the saxophone, moving flutter tonguing and whistle tones. Hui joined in with threaded metal bowls on top of his guitar. The overall effect was very computer-music like, even though no computers were involved, with the sound moving between very inharmonic metallic and major arpeggios. Gradually, the music moved to loud tonal notes on the saxophone and free sound picking on the guitar, and eventually the drums as well. There was a moment which reminded me a a lot of a version of Summertime from one an Elvin Jones CD that I have in my regular rotation (enough to mention it here). The music eventually become more active, moving into a more rhythmic jazz fell, even frenetic. Then back into a quiet section with just cymbals and saxophone.
The middle of the set featured a Haitian chant “for all families to come together”, a positive and supportive sentiment, particular for a country that has been through so much tragedy this year.