03 May 2009

Smash a few tunes … have a cup of tea

So said Simon Milman when interviewed between the sets during the Fats Homicide live broadcast on ArtSound the other night. It was an interview with several quotes, including a key one from Cecil Taylor: “no matter what you do, make sure you have fun”. Jazz can be deadly serious and takes masses of hard work to develop the requisite skills, so I found the references to fun a bit strange. The chuckles in the studio at the end of the second set indicated this band was having fun, but the music certainly wasn’t lightweight. Two non-stop sets of 45 minutes apiece, with tunes well-known to the band morphing one into another, as they explored and played with interactions and improvisations and solos and fills. The relationships were mostly expressed by ear, although a few taps of Matt’s foot on the double bass were needed to catch Simon’s attention to end it all as the time ran down … another source of amusement.

The music was loose and open and searching. Sometimes a clean guitar, sometimes whatever form of effect, lots of bowed bass and sparse drumming. Periods of waiting as repeated figures sat in the air, anticipating contact with a new tonality or effect or a new tune. Drums appearing from the ether amongst digitally-enhanced guitar soundscapes or bouncing bass bows or strained, thin bow strokes. Then relief of the tension as a new melody appears amongst the mist. One melody a sharp country guitar twang, another a clean jazz guitar tonality. Frequent solo passages, again searching and open for thought. Then perhaps some atonal musings. And a few adventurous bass solos that particularly interested me.

I’m not sure who leads this band or if there’s a leader. I’ve heard Matt and Simon in various interesting, exploratory combinations of this nature. I’ve also been particularly interested in some of Simon’s previous outings, with music of Ornette and some interesting original charts for the Melds in this studio. Music of this style is not always successful, and it’s definitely not something you catch at the local bar, but I love the commitment and adventurousness and fun expressed in such a melange of sounds and rhythms and harmonies. So it was another intriguing live broadcast from this terrific Friday Night Live series at ArtSound. Well done Lauren and Isabelle for filling in the most unexpected of circumstances. And a dedication to engineer Kristen who was unable to be there for this session.

Fats Homicide are Matt Lustri (guitar), Simon Milman (bass) and Kay Chinnery (drums).

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