Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hated Music

Paul Flahetry / Chris Corsano Duo
Metropolis Book Shoppe - North Syracuse, NY
Wednesday, September 21st

The sax and drums duo could be considered the string quartet of free jazz. Like the string quartet, the sax and drums duo focuses on the most important instruments in the genre. I'll admit that I am biased in favor of reed instruments, but I think it's fairly obvious that the saxophone is the most important instrument in free jazz. The sax can really tap into a range of sounds, colors, and emotions that can only be topped by the human voice, in my opinion. Free jazz appeals to listeners on such a visceral level that it only makes sense that the saxophone is its sharpest tool.

Flaherty definitely draws his inspiration from the first generation of free jazz saxophonists. He alternated between the alto and tenor horns tonight. He played both with a big sound and a lot of vibrato, but not a lot of resonance. His notes didn't hang around. He played most of the night at full steam, but showed an impressive amount of lyricsm the few times that he explored more placid sonic terrain.

Corsano's drumming was even more aggressive than Flaherty's playing. He too showed his softer side with some really interesting effects, including a lot of bowed cymbals and something similar to the metal "bowls" that I've seen guys like Tatsuya Nakatani use, which brought some eastern influence into some of the music.

While I enjoyed the show, I wouldn't rate it as one of the better concerts I've ever seen. The free improv sax and drums duo is probably one of the more challenging musical contexts you can work in. If the players are not on the same page, it's going to be pretty obvious. To make matters worse, everyone in the audience is going to be comparing your stuff to the classics of the genre while they listen. These guys put on a great show, but the music was a little bit too one-dimensional and the communication between them wasn't always as strong as it could have been.

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