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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music: Pak Yan Lau and Chris Corsano and Candlesnuffer @ Lit and Phil - Oct 6.

(Review by Steve T)
I wasn't sure I'd like this, the two support acts to the main event (Full Blast), but I was sure that the current Mrs T wouldn't, so a seat at the back for discreet nodding off, diversional therapy or a fuss-free escape route seemed the best option. This also meant that half of the time we couldn't see what was going on, so we knew how the judges on The Voice must feel. I thought it would sell out and it did, with lots of faces I didn't recognise from the usual haunts.

Candlesnuffer (prepared guitar).
Dave Brown was playing guitar - that much I knew - but not in any traditional sense. I could see some sort of device he was using, which looked a little like a fan. The sounds were at times akin to a sci-fi film, some eastern percussion sounds, some electronica, bird noises…
Is it Jazz? Is it music? Does it matter? As somebody who hates melodies that go on, go on, go on, go on, go on the radio, isn't there something in between? And does that make me a liberal?
One piece lasting approx. half an hour gradually built up in waves, coming further in each time, then receding; two steps forward - one back. A number of things happening simultaneously sounding like a factory shop. Some scratched vinyl sounds we apparently all want now and allegedly always did.

I had to take a look so stood by the sound chap to see a lovely natural arch-top on its side like a slide guitar. I saw Fred Frith (of prog/jazz/rock band Henry Cow) do something similar a few years back with a whole bunch of props and gadgets, but it was interspersed with more traditional musical stuff which was enhanced - Zappa like - by the doodling. It's the juxtaposition of plaisir and jouissance that enhances both. This was all doodling - clever and interesting, but doodling.

Back to where it began, then some guitar stuff - quite beautiful, the guitar now upright. An interesting half hour, though I wouldn't have wanted more, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
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Pak Yan Lau (prepared and toy pianos), Chris Corsano (drums, percussion, objects).
More of the same, this time from the Lit and Phil grand piano, giving a thicker sound, seemingly by pulling on its strings. Chris Corsano on drums was highly skilled, as much for moving various add-ons around a standard kit, as playing it. Noises coming from the vicinity of the piano periodically taking second place.

Around fifteen minutes in, a recognisable note from the piano before disappearing back into sound. Who was it that said all sound is music?
Some more than others.

Just as it appeared to end, some scraping noises followed by ferocious drumming reaching a climax. From then on it became like the Lord of the Rings trilogy which Jack Nicholson has said had too many endings, stretching the piece to another note at around fifty minutes: about twenty minutes too long. 

This type of thing requires an entirely new deconstruction from the listener, and is a once only, never to be repeated, one-off experience. But while it's never the same, for me it all just ends up sounding the same.
Steve T.

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