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September 26, 1978 - Image 6

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-26

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ge 6--Tuesday, September 26, 1978-The Michigan Daily

Sun Ra serves up a slice o'

the cosmos

By R. J. SMITH
If there is such a thing as jazz
eaven, then surely the gods roared in
st at the line-up for the Saturday
ening performance during the 1978
rn Arbor Jazz Festival. At the very
ast, some wry chuckles were heard
um those familiar with all the per-
rmers, and some dazed expressions
>uld be counted on from those who
ere not.
A more diverse, opposing line-up

could scarcely be imagined. First,
there was Kenny Burrell, a disciple of
Ellington if ever there was one, in-
terested in playing low-key,
melodiously swing music.
In the middle of the bill was Stanley
Turrentine, currently hanging-ten atop
the crests of commercial pop-jazzdom.
FINALLY, there was Sun Ra. To say
there is great subtlety in his playing or
that it carries much commercial poten-
tial would probably help you cop a plea

PREMIERE EDITION (1978-79 season)
The University of Michigan School of Music
presents the
Symphony Band and Wind Ensemble
IN CONCERT
AL Robed Reynoolds conducting
8:00 p.m. HILL AUDITORIUM
SEPTEMBER 29, 1978 Admission Complimentary
If you would like more information about upcoming concerts,
complete this form, clip, and mail4o:
BAND OFFICE (Attn: Mailings)
U. of M. School of Music
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

NAME

STREET, APT. NO.
CITY, STATE
ZIP

of insanity - and not just a temporary
one - in most any court of the land.
Insanity did prevail Saturday night at
Hill Auditorium in the performances
and in the crowd, which turned out to be
the most vocal group of the festival. It
was a bit of a shame, therefore, that one
of the finest performances of the entire
four days, that of Kenny Burrel and his
quartet, got a little lost in the shuffle of
noisy support for Ra and Turrentine.
If the overall scheme of the show was
a comic one, then it was mirrored
within the simple wit of Burrell's
playing. Introducing a foursome of
pianist Harold McKinney, drummer
James Brown and brother Billy Burrell
("one of my earliest influences") on
bass, the Detroit-born guitarist laun-
ched into a set totally given over to the
music of Duke Ellington.
MCKINNEY IS a wise veteran of the
Detroit-area jazz scene, and his ideas
are expressed brightly and attrac-
tively. The first tune of the evening, for
instance, was a long, often gorgeous
McKinney exploration of "In A Sen-
timental Mood," which changed times
and modalities inventively.
But if the ideas McKinney expressed
often seemed cemented together only
by a quick run or two up and down a
scale, Burrell's never were. Often star-
ting a song off with a solo lead-in,
Burrell's bluesy style flowed mar-
velously smoothly, with each musical
sentence ending in a firm period.
Working over the textures of a song
languidly, his solos swung like a kid on
monkey bars.
The group played a moving rendition
of "Mood Indigo," with a beautiful
opening by Burrell that bent only
slightly with the beat, like a strong tree
in the breeze. With a sparklingly played
melody and all-around sensitivity, it
was a highlight of Burrell's performan-
ce; and with a smooth transition to a
real work-out on "C Jam Blues," it was
a memorable part of the whole festival.
In the beginning of the show, as he in-
troduced his brother and said he would
be doing many Ellington tunes, Burrell
said, "what's happening up here is a lot
of love." By the end of the performance
he had repeated that statement many
times, without ever opening his mouth.
Where Kenny Burrell uses musical
form in jazz (time, chord patterns, song
structure) only when it suits him, and
bends the rules when the best point can
be made no other way, Stanley Turren-
tine seemed to elevate this formalist
viewpoint to being the most important
element in his playing.
At least that's the impression I got
watching him and his group. For
Turrentine, melody has pre-eminence
over any improvisation, and the main-
tenance of a strong, thick melodic line
is more important than tonal color. The
ensemble provided a well-received
snazzy set at Hill, mixing up band
originals, covers of popular tunes, ver-
sions of contemporary fusion songs,
and hits from his recent albums.
Turrentine's rendition of Weather
Report's "Birdland" had it all over
Weather Report's live version. Sans the
boring, endless repetition and pointless

Herzog Documentaries.
In his feature, Herzog finds humanity at the edge of human experience, creating
characters who exist on the fringes of society. His documentaries accent this
continuing search.
LAST WORDS, 1967, 12 min. Last words of a man who refuses to
speak, a Cretan hermit brought back to society....
LA SOUFRIERE, 1977, 30 min. Herzog and his crew land on an island
experts had predicted would explode. They interview the one man who refused
to be evacuated and observe the island without people-traffic lights and tele-
vision still pointlessly functioning... .
PRECAUTION$ AGAINST FANATICS, 1969, 11 min.
An elaborate on-camera practical joke involving German celebrities and a one-
armed self protector of race horses....
THE GREAT ECTASY OF THE SCULPTOR
STEINER, 1975, 45 min. A lyrical documentary about the lonely terrifying
ectosy of the world's greatest ski flyer. More than a sports film with incredible
slow motion photography and an outstanding score.
Fri: Sean Connery in Boorman's ZARDOZ
Sat: Herzog's EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL
So: D. H. Lawrence's VIRGIN & THE GYPSY

African instruments, until a woman
comes out and sings. She intones
something about the sky being "a sea of
darkness, when ther's no sun to light
the way," and then, suddenly,' there is
Ra: coming up hydraulically from
beneath the floor, attended to by a pair
of sci-fi courtesans. The woman is still
singing about "eternal darkness" and
the planets, as Ra struts uncaringly on
the stylized wire rainbow thathas risen
with him through the floor. Weird? The
show has only begun.
When he starts talking about outer
space and galaxies, or about some
aspect of Egyptian mythology, Ra is
both entrancing and hilarious. I have no
doubts that he has had visions - but I
know damn well he has tempered them
onstage with a gargantuan sense of the
theatric, and a keen eye for the funny
and the bizarre.
THE FIRST portion of Ra's set was,
if you'll excuse the expression here,
almost straighforward. Granting his
band a great deal of improvisatory
freedom, the Arkestra romped through
a group of big band songs in a whim-
sical, not-irreverent fashion. "King
Porter Stomp," "Take The A Train,"
"Sing, Sing, Sing," and others all soun-
ded almost like carnival caliope music:
there were a million conflicting edges
to the sound, all competing and adding
to it a beaming luminosity.
They were also pegged down by in-
credible solos; far from simply a
novelty, this band is a powerhouse of
talent. In these early tunes, saxophone
and trumpet solos often harkened back
to traditional swing-era solos, and then
rocketed off into the avante-garde.
Further on, the songs began in the
fardhest reaches of theravante-garde
and took off from there. There were
long passages of vacuum-machine-like
keyboard extrapolations, times when
Ra would spin around behind his syn-
thesizer and slap his hands at the keys,
or long stints when the band would play
at whatever, unattended.
THE SHOW also' featured three
singer-dancers, who came out several
times to vocalize to tunes or improvise
dances. It was during these singing por-
tions that the great words of Sun Ra
were revealed, words which extol the
virtues of otherworldliness. Jamming
to "Space Is The Place," for instance,
the dancers rapidly changed costumes
off stage and performed beautiful
monologue-dance patterns,nas one
singer seductively listed the names of
the planets and told us to join him in
space because "it's groovy out there."
Ra played on until 3:00 at Hill, madly
mixing sci-fi sounds and -i tjbes on
the benefits of rocket ships with out-of-
kilter versions of everything from
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to
"Misty," depending totally on his mood
and where his band took the songs.
One could perhaps criticize Ra and
his Arkestra for too much reliance on
show (the abundance of dancing and
singing, the band's parade on stage and
through the aisles of Hill), but one can-
not deny their superb talent. Ra has a
brilliant talent for seeing all jazz styles
as one style (much like another jazz
visionary, Rahsaan Roland Kirke) and
for making his admittedly bizarre,
sketchy philosophy seem like an ex-
citing possibility.
And when his messianic streak and
his sense of humor collide head-on, the
resplt is an entertaining environment
that conjures up a remarkable space all

Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
Sun Ra poses with headphones and cassesse before his intergalactic show
Saturday night, as part of the 1978 Ann Arbor Jazz Festival.

CINEMA 2

(Rescheduled
TONIGHT at 7 & 9)

NAT SCI AUD
- $1.50

percussion, it became a cheerful, dan-
ceable song.
A RICH, BALLADY "Pieces of
Dreams" was also a highlight,
providing the proper sentimental mood
for Turrentine's easy-going im-
provisitory work.
Backing up Turrentine was a youthful
ensemble that cracked the whip well
when it came to churning out the beat.
Keyboardman John Miller spun off
walls of synthesized string sounds to fill
out the backing sound lushly, and the
guitarist clipped out many clean, hard
solos.
But despite the genial atmosphere of
his whole performance, I have major

Ir

TEES WEEK

* *
STEVE'S LUNCH
We Serve Breakfast A ll Day
* Try Our Famous 3 Egg Omelet *
with your choice of fresh bean sprouts, mushrooms,
green peppers, onion, ham, bacon, and cheese.
See Us Also For Our Lunch & Dinner Menus *
1313 S. University Mon-Sat 8-7, Sun 9-7 769-2288 .

misgivings about it. Turrentine seemed
to be manipulating the audience from
the opening, when the band played a
funky tune without their leader to warm
up the crowd before "Mr. T." strolled'
in, to the end, when the worst crass,
least common-denominator song in the
evening's repertoire - a heavy-handed
disco number - was churned out, over
which Turrentine announced his exit,
all but asking for an ovation. Sadly, he
got it. And even sadder, it was resoun-
dingly larger than the one offered to
Burrell.
BUT AT LEAST in jazz, injustices
can be easily made up. In time all the
howling died down, and it was time for
the Sun to rise. And, quite frankly, no
matter who's heroes were on stage
Saturday night before the last act, Sun
Ra and his Solar Arkestra would have
stolen the show.
From the start, it was a shade beyond
bizarre for a jazz show: a 16-piece band
comes out and begins laying down a
multi-layered rhythmic pattern on
ThJe word's out on0 #1pus ..,
If you want to be in the know, you shoul
be reading The Daily
the latest in news, sports, les affaire
academiques, and entertainment...
CALL 764-0558 to order your subscription tod

ECLIPSE JAZZ presents:
October 2: ECLIPSE JAZZ JAM SESSION
University Club, 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
MEDIATRICS presents:
September 28: "ENTER THE DRAGON." One of Bruce
Lees finest. 7:00, 8:45 & 10:30 in Union Assembly Rm.
September 29: "KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE" TIME
Magazine called it "A sort of National Lampoon that
walks and talks." 7:00, 8:45, 10:30;
Natural Science Auditorium
September 30: "I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE
GARDEN." A moving film about an emotionally disturbed
young woman portrayed by Kathleen Quinlan. 7:00, 8:40, 10:20;
Nat. Sci. Aud.
UM ARTISTS AND CRAFTSMEN GUILD presents:
September 30-October 1: FALL ART FAIR AND
MICHIGAN UNION ARTS OPEN HOUSE-75 artists and
craftsmen including U-M student displays.
Michigan Union grounds and building;
Regents Plaza, Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
and Sunday, Oct. 1, 12 noon-6 p.m.
Admission is free.
October 2: COLLABORATIVE ARTS AND CRAFTS
CLASSES BEGIN-14 art and craft classes, 6 special
weekend workshops taught by active professionals in the
Arnn Arbor area. Open to students and non-students;
introductory and advanced. Register with U-M Artist and
Craftsmen Guild, 2nd floor Michigan Union-763-4430. Classes
are in the Michigan Union, $24.00 for 8 weeks and supplies.
UNION PROGRAMMING
COMMITTEE (UPC) presents:
September 27: DORM NITES, BURSLEY: 7:3011:30 p.m.
September 30: ALL-NIGHTER, 8 p.m.-8 a.m.
CIDER AND DONUTS, Union Lobby after the game.

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A P'-> SPECIAL ATTRACTION
The Qther Half
by Elinor Jones . directed by Amy Saltz

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