Thursday, September 27, 2012
LOU REED, JOHN ZORN, LAURIE ANDERSON - Live At Middelheim Park (2009)
Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson - Live At Middelheim Park
Venue: Middelheim Park; City: Wilrijk (Antwerpen); Country: Belgium
Style: avant-garde, free improvisation, jazz, modern rock
Original Design by ART&JAZZ Studio SALVARICA
Artwork and Complete Design by Vitko Salvarica - 2012
Jazz Middelheim 2009
Park Den Brandt
The Jazz Middelheim festival is nearing its fortieth anniversary, but it's a weekender that hasn't relinquished a fondness for adventure. Nuzzling up against its stellar bookings are acts, Belgian and otherwise, who seek to jolt the expectations of many audience members. The entertaining middle way is subverted by the sideways thrust of jazz extremity. This, too, can often be entertaining. 2009 is the second year that Bertrand Flamang has been in charge of organization and programming. He's already known for nearly a decade's sterling work running the nearby Gent Jazz Festival, and has rapidly established a house style at Jazz Middelheim.
There's a similar format, in terms of stylistic contrasts, timing structure, food vendors and Belgian beer range. The main practical difference to the Gentfest is that the marquee stage is more integrated with the landscape of its park setting; all of the bars, stalls and food outlets ranged in a roughly circular fashion around the festival's musical heart. It's possible to sprawl on the lawn and still enjoy a (distant) view of the performers, should such a casual engagement be desired. If choosing to sit up close, an early arrival is advised, as attendance is gratifyingly swollen, even in these hard times.
Lou Reed and John Zorn played their first gig at The Stone, a New York experimental joint operated by the saxophonist. This was in January of 2008, severely stretching the capacity of a space that can just about contain 73 punters. Laurie Anderson was their special guest on that night, and here that threesome was reunited, this time performing in front of a thousands- strong throng, seemingly a one-off festival exclusive for Jazz Middelheim. Reed and Anderson are to play subsequent European dates, but without Zorn. When Reed and Zorn met again at New York's Poisson Rouge club in November 2008, the target was eardrum destruction, with the pair in a highly aggressive state that didn't waver all night. Reed churned and Zorn caterwauled, to ripping effect. The addition of Anderson might be a factor in this gig's greater lyrical content, as she's fond of crafting layered electro-violin washes, often disguising her output by making sonic processing tweaks.
For the first thirty minutes or so, the trio flailed around, attempting to locate the sometimes elusive coalescence of improvisational magic. It was Zorn who primarily took the lead, frequently turning up a new direction as he graduated from compressed squawking to open bebop grace, then reverting that same flow. Reed appeared the most unfulfilled, riffing sluggishly and failing to connect. This is the big risk of free improvisation, particularly when taken in front of a huge (and hugely expectant) festival audience. Around halfway through the set, all three suddenly intersected, catching onto a simultaneous energy. The hypno-riffing locked, built and burst, with Reed even singing primitivist fragments at one stage, before ditching his guitar and triggering grimy samples on his mixing desk/keyboard. Zorn was both technician (gloriously precise shrieks) and hysterical intuitive (gloriously throttling bell-into- inner-thigh glottalisms).
This was a divisive performance. Even punters who have obviously turned out on the strength of these star names (either one, two or maybe even all three) were drifting off impatiently into the night, presumably displeased by such experimental antics. What did they expect? The majority, though, were transfixed, and ultimately enthusiastic, rewarding this now-laughing sternoid three for their extremely involved noise-sculpting session. Yes, Zorn and Reed were looking remarkably cheerful, a demeanor that was already expected from Anderson.
By MARTIN LONGLEY, Published: September 28, 2009 (AAJ)
Comment underneath was for the record in "The Stone", New York, 2008:
If you haven ’ t heard of John Zorn, Lou Reed, or Laurie Anderson , you probably don ’ t follow progressive rock or experimental music all that closely.
The three are what seem to be the “ three musketeers ” of experimental music and have been playing it since the heyday of Andy Warhol ’ s Factory.
You'll find plenty of over-blowing saxophone, electric violin, screeching, and singing throughout this recording.
If you are in the mood for a relaxing, calming sound, this is not for you.
If you are in the mood for a musical performance that will get you thinking, you have found the right catalyst.
The Stone: Issue Three is filled with plenty of arresting, cinematic, and sonic textures that will have you on the edge of your seat – if this is your sort of thing. If not, you ’ ll be heading for the door.
The record is a performance of freedom run wild with three iconic New York City Downtowners put to the test to collaborate and come up with something meaningful, sonic, and interesting.
They do not fail, though many critics would rather pan this work than see it for what it is – a truly innovative and worthy experience.
The album is one without structure, which is everything and nothing these three musicians are about. Reed, Anderson, and Zorn hail from making music with a strong narrative, rock sound, jazzy influence, and lyrical influence and this is what we get a glimpse of on The Stone: Issue Three though it seems that they do move away from their norm in each performance. There is no specific parameter nor is there a specific structure.
There are three tracks on the album aptly titled Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. There is no use for a name on this record.
John Zorn plays an awesome saxophone, Laurie Anderson provides her cool, disembodied voice, and Lou Reed offers up his guitar genius.
This is a truly avant-garde record if there ever was one.
Since this is a performance album, it is worthy to note the venue at which it was recorded. The Stone is a non-profit performance space strictly dedicated to experimental and avant- garde works.
There is no sale of merchandise or refreshments here, and everyone is always welcome.
The Stone is located in New York City ’ s Lower East Side.
The Stone: Issue Three was recorded during a performance by the three artists, who are legendary in and of themselves. The venue itself books performances only on a curatorial basis and never accepts a demo.
It is a place where artists may come, perform, and feel free in their freedom of expression.
Even if you are not completely interested in experimental music, The Stone: Issue Three is worth a few minutes of your time.
When listening to this record, you will be allowed to experience the genius of three truly modern rock geniuses.
This is a legendary record, even for those who were not at the actual performance.
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