Masada/Cat Power show reports?
grady at ibiblio.org
Mon Nov 20 10:27:53 EST 2006
Well, the mix started out kinda sucking (you'd think that 4 guys who've
played together that much wouldn't *need* a "mix" per se, and they
wouldn't have if they'd been playing a venue more suited to the size of
the crowd & the style of the music), inasmuch as I could barely hear the
sax, and the trumpet was way-too-loud, but gradually over the course of
the evening it got better.
MVP of the evening for me was bassist Greg Cohen, who was totally
in-the-pocket the whole time. Just really first-rate.
I'd never seen any version of Masada before, though I've listened to a
variety of the different ensembles on CD, and what struck me the most
was how well the "project" worked, in the sense that they were all able
to flow from the scripted bits into more free playing & back into the
scripted bits. Sure, that's a commonplace of jazz, but with many groups,
the seams between melodic intro/outtro and the solos are a bit more
apparent, even jarring. Not so here. And what made this more interesting
for me was the fact that sections of the pieces are *heavily* composed
(there was sheet music onstage), plus the fact that Zorn was clearly
conducting the band via hand-signals the whole time. And yet the stuff
flowed beautifully & the energy-level was extraordinarily high the
Since the Masada music is designed to be sorta infinitely-recombinable,
it all sounded *really* familiar -- in several places I was convinced
they'd played one of the shorter, spazzier pieces *note-for-note* from
the recording, but it's just as likely that it was parts of several
others that I'd heard & recognized. The downside of this aspect of the
project could be that after a while, it all starts to run together.
"Luckily" they only played for maybe an hour, so we were nowhere near
reaching that point.
In any case, I was far *more* blown-away by the Dex Romweber/Cat Power
show at the Cradle last night. Easily one of the best shows I've ever
seen, period. In case you didn't hear ahead of time, the Dex Romweber
Duo currently consists of Dexter and his sister Sara, and their set last
night was just fucking brilliant start-to-finish, Dex's music as it was
meant to be played, with Sara channeling Crow where appropriate, but
*swinging* a lot harder.
I don't even think I can go into suitable detail about the Cat Power
set; it was 2 hours long (if you count 10 minutes at the front of the
Memphis Rhythm Band warming up themselves & the crowd before Chan took
the stage, plus 5 minutes in the middle for Teeny Hodges to sing one
song (and he may be a minor Memphis legend, but that cat *cannot* sing)
while Chan took a break), and it was about evenly split between
incredibly gorgeous hard soul with full 10-piece band (2 gtrs, organ,
bass, drums, trumpet, sax, violin, 2 backing vocalists), and Chan
playing solo on either piano and guitar.
I guess I'd just say this: She's still batshit crazy, but in a way that
does *not* impede her talent one iota. She's developed quite the
repertoire of weird hand gestures & chicken-walk dance steps, and
between songs she's fond of pointing out imaginary celebrities in the
crowd, but either the sobriety or the meds or the discipline of touring
with this huge band of people, who obviously love her, have fired her up
to the point that she seems to truly love performing. She'd be scooting
around the stage during the intro to a song, but when her cue came, she
was *on the spot* at the mic, and her voice was every bit as rich &
strange and beautiful as it is on record, if not moreso.
So it was like seeing the Cat Power you've always hoped/wished/dreamed
to see, but without losing the personality that presumably makes it
possible for her to continue to create her music. (And I suppose I
should mention that the same seems very true, lately, of Dexter). I'm
lousy with song titles or even with remembering which songs come from
which albums, but they did most of The Greatest, some stuff from You Are
Free, "Cross Bones Style" from Moon Pix (she said "I don't like playing
this, but I do it for the band, I mean the fans"). At that moment I had
a brief flash of hope that they'd medley into "Nude as the News" but in
reality there was clearly no chance.
The solo stuff on piano/guitar was every bit as weird as it probably
would've been back in the old days, had she ever been able to get it
together enough to play the songs all the way through. I *think* she
covered Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long to Stop Now," but
I can't be sure because the only part I recognized was the line "My love
is growing stronger, as you become a habit to me." But that's kind of
par for the course for her covers.
Other covers included "Rambling Man," Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (with the
full band, which, regardless of how you feel about the song, was
genius), her version of "Satisfaction" reworked, with the full band
vamping on the riff behind her, but still the withholding/omission of
the chorus, which still worked, maybe even better than the solo version,
umm, what else? Well, at the close of the main set, just before the
encore, there were seemingly impromptu covers of "I Can't Give You
Anything But Love, Baby" and "Tears of a Clown" as the members of the
band were milling around centerstage.
Then she encored solo again, and then seemed either unwilling, or to
have forgotten how, to leave the stage, so she stood there smoking a
cigarette & kind of rambling about Bob Dylan (she'd do him without a
condom) & I couldn't entirely follow what else. People didn't know
whether to clap or stay quiet, and it was unclear initially whether she
intended to play more, but then it slowly dawned that she just seemed to
be doing a little post-show winding down, only onstage instead of off.
Todd Morman wrote:
> Couldn't make it due to sudden unforseen interruption.
> todd wah morman
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