If you pick up a copy of AlbaTrio‘s eponymously titled new recording at Sunday’s release party at Bop Stop—and you should—you’ll hear an impressive showcase for trumpeter Tommy Lehman, bassist Tim Lekan and percussionist Anthony Taddeo. But listen closely and you might sense the presence of an uncredited fourth voice: the spacious yet intimate ambience of Strong Cabin in Lake Metroparks near Madison, Ohio.
In Eastern philosophical systems, time isn’t linear as we think of it in the West. It’s an endlessly looping circle. Musicians can appreciate this concept better than most of us, on and off the bandstand.
Consider guitarist Dan Bruce, who will celebrate the release of Time to Mind the Mystics, the new recording by his ensemble :beta collective with a free concert at Negative Space on Thursday.
If you’re reading this page, it’s fair to assume that for you, creative music is life. It certainly is for me, yet sometimes life intervenes. That happened last week when a veterinary emergency demanded what little energy I had after a mad dash to the April 15 tax finish line. I was whupped, and not even the crash-cart energy of a New Ghosts double bill of Dave Rempis’ Ballister band and the trio of Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley and Paul Lytton could rouse me to leave the house.
Fortunately, my colleague and fellow western Pennsylvanian Mike Shanley is made of sterner stuff. Not only did he make the drive from Pittsburgh, he blogged about it on his shanleyonmusic site. Mike and I have similar tastes, and if you like what you read here, his blog is well worth a follow (bless you, Mike, for enabling RSS).
Among the many souvenirs of his half century as a music producer, manager, writer and activist, Marty Khan also has a collection of sculptures carved in ebony by the Makonde people of Tanzania, among them, one that resembled both Rodin’s “The Thinker” and his longtime friend and client Makanda Ken McIntyre. One bright and sunny day in June 2001, Khan picked up the phone to call McIntyre, when he heard a rumble in the mountains near his Tucson home. “It was this really deep rumble like thunder,” Khan remembered. “All of a sudden, a wind picks up that sculpture and smashes it on the floor, and the head breaks off. A half hour later we get a call from [producer] Steve Rowland, his brother-in-law, to tell us that Makanda just passed.”
It was a characteristic move for McIntyre, the composer and instrumentalist who shunned the spotlight but still projected his formidable intellect and influence on the jazz seen as an educator and mentor. Yet like the thunder in the Arizona mountains, McIntyre’s presence continues to be felt, as it will be in Cleveland Thursday when the 13-piece Makanda Project big band roars into Bop Stop playing a book of his unpublished compositions.
Listening to music has increasingly become a solitary, disembodied experience, these days. Yet an opposite if so far unequal reaction is rising: a new interest in music that serves a social purpose.
In the dim past, all music was social. It was used for celebration and worship, to lull children to sleep and to blunt the drudgery of hard, repetitive labor. The social music that Chris Dingman will bring to his solo concert at Cleveland’s Bop Stop on Thursday is similarly intentional yet with a somewhat different purpose: healing.