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November 15, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

by mike taylor
IT STARTED WITH a phone call from San Francisco.
"Captain Beefheart's going to be at the Punch and Judy Theatre in
Grosse Pointe November 8th. Would you like to go see him?"
My mind started racing - Beefheart ... sixties type. . . worked with
Zappa. .. freaky music . . Trout Mask Replica. I remembered hearing
some of Beefheart's music from the late sixties and vaguely liking it, and I
had iust heard his new album, Shiny Beast(Bat Chain Puller), the night
before, and loved it.
"SURE," I SAID. "How about an interview?"
"Perhaps," the voice from San Francisco answered. "There may be a
dinner in Detroit for the Captain, and you'll be invited to that. I'll let you
know more later."
Visions of an elegant feast in Detroit's best Frnch restaurant
immediately began to swirl about in my mind, but when my mysterious
benefactor, who was, of course, Beefheart's publicity agent, called back a
few days later, I was slightly disappointed. Dinner, I was told, wouldabe in a
Greektown spot called The Old Parthenon. Afterwards, I'd be able to
conduct my interview.
After four years without an album, Beefheart's career was obviously in
need of some pushing, and I was being given a nice dinner in return for some
support by me. I figured I'd enjoy myself, but under no circumstances would
I let my views be affected by the treatment I was receiving.
AFEW NIGHTS later, I drove into Detroit, and without much difficulty,
found the restaurant. Heeding the directions of a man at the door, I made my
way up to the second floor. A merry party already seemed in progress. I
recognized Captain Beefheart sitting just right of the door. A heavy-set man
with coarse black hair, a bushy mustache, and twinkling eyes, he was
sketching a man seated close to him in a massive black sketchbook.
A man from Warner Bros. came up to me and said, "I'd like you to meet
he Captain." Beefheart looked up from his drawing and mumbled, "Good to
see you." I sat down and he continued, "I love this cold weather - don't
you?" I said I liked warm weather myself.
My table, indeed the entire half of the room that made up the Beefheart
party, was filled with the men who make the music go around in Detoit, and
I say men because there were hardly any women in the crowd, save for a
couple of Laverne & Shirley types who do "merchandising." Record
company executives, disc jockeys, and record store owners were all out in
force, together with a few music critics. Needless to say, I felt out of my
natural element.
EVERYONE AT the table was curious to know why Beefheart was
sketching. "It's simple," he said. "I sketch because I can't paint while I'm
on the road." Beefheart lives in a caravan in a tiny town in Southern
California, where he paints, does sculpture, writes poetry, and occasionally
is inspired to make an album. So naturally, when someone asked him why he
took four years off, he shot back, "Can you imagine me taking a second off?"
Small salads, filled with a generous amount of feta cheese, arrived, and
as we began to explore them, our conversation continued.
I asked the Captain what kind of music he listens to these days. "I don't
listen to any music," he said matter-of-factly. Trying again, I pointed out
that many New Wave bands, including The Clash, Blondie, Devo, and
Johnny Rotten, have listed Beefheart as a prime influence on their music.
"Have you heard any of these folks?"
"I'M SURE I've influenced ievo," he remarked. How? "The drums for
sure. I consider them one of my main listeners. The only way to change the
beat is with percussion, and they've learned that.",
A flaming platter of sausage arrived, and we stopped talking to watch
the flames die down. "What is that stuff?" Beefheart asked. "Sausage, I
think," I answered. "Why don't you try a piece," he asked nervously. I did,
and told him it was delicious. "That's all right," he responded. "I'm usually
a vegetarian, so I don't think I'll have any."
Beefheart, who claims to have not attended "a day in school, not even
grammar school," is a voracious reader. "Right now, I'm reading The Life
and Times of Albert Einstein," he said, whipping out a paper-back copy. "A
good-looking guy," he noted, stabbing at a picture with his finger. "Smart,
SOMEONE MENTIONED John Coltrane, and the Captain's eyes light
up. "I knew that man," he said proudly, clearly wanting to show his respect
for that departed genius, a large influence on Beefheart's jarring blend of
blues, avant-garde jazz, and nightmares of the absurd, rather than drop
names. Beefheart is a quiet man, intensely respectful of artists he regards
as masters. In Beefheart's concerts this respect comes out in the wild
passion of his music. At the dinner table, it comes out in the soft words he
uses to describe his elders.
"I love Vincent Van Gogh," Beefheart beamed. "Don't you?" "Sure," I
answered. "I like his colors." "You know," he continued, "I'm convinced
Van Gogh was a very sane man. Society just didn't recognize that at
the time."
Admirers were constantly bringing copies of Shiny Beast(Bat
Chain Puller) to our table for the Captain to sign, but the laminated
cover was posing quite a problem. It

seemed that nothing would register
on the shiny surface. Finally,
Beefheart began to sign the inner
sleeve. One young man admitted he
was embarrassed to ask Beefheart
for his autograph. "Don't worry
about it," Beefheart laughed. "I
have Lenny Bruce's signature on a
dollar bill."
I drove home in good spirits,
passing the Uniroyal Tire and the
Goodyear 1978 Car Production sign,
smiling to myself when I realized
that while I was enjoying a leisurely
dinner with Captain Beefheart,
several thousand new cars were
being made.
Ther e.
A Play byt
Athol Fugard
Nov. 15 - 18B
Trueblood Theat re 1'TJTR 1:

The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, November 14, 1978-Page 5
Rhythm marks Tyner's A2 return

By now, McCoy Tyner's sound is
familiar to jazz fans: a poetic tender-
ness in ballads and a relentless per-
cussive uptempo sound. It was the
heavy percussive emphasis that
marked Tyner's first return to Ann Ar-
bor after last month's Hill Auditorium
concert with Sonny Rollins and Ron
Carter. Unlike the performance at Hill,
Monday night's show at the Earle
revealed the impact of African and
Latin music on Tyner's work.
Tyner has recently changed his group
from a quartet to a sextet, featuring the
ensemble on his latest album, The

Greeting. The ensemble includes
George Adams on flute and soprano and
tenor sax, Joe Ford doubling on flute
and alto sax, Charles Fambrough as
bassist, Woody Theus on drums, and
Guilherne Franco on percussion.
MONDAY, THE tune "Pictures" set
the evening's mood. Beginning with
congas, joined by drums and a bass
osinato, Tyner's magnificent piano en-
tered to signal the way for the horn
chorus. The percussive rhythm did ease
somewhat, but remained very intense.
During the hour and a half performance
it was clear that Tyner's piano was the
group's focus.

Adams' tenor was very exuberant.
Particularly on "Fly With the Wind,"
he transformed the melody with honks,
growls and shrieks. Ford was effective
on alto but his flute solo on "Hand in
Hand" was more enlightening. The

Pair o ' Irish laddies

everyone was playing percussion. In
fact, when Adams and Fords weren't
blowing their horns, they were shaking
THE PERCUSSIVE sound became
total with Athe' final number, "The
Greeting". From my seat directly
behind Tyner, I watched this giant in
sheer astonishment. Tyner's keyboard
approach is rich in tone and scales. He
makes use of every key on the board,
hitting them at lightning speed and ten-
On "The Greeting," Tyner took an
ordinary repetitive motive and changed
it into a multi-faceted melody in an un-
believably subtle way. Perhaps "The
Greeting" was the best example of the
evening's show. Tyner, who hardly
spoke to the audience and did no ego-
tripping, concentrated on blending his
instrument into the total sound of the
group. Maybe this is a clue to where
Tyner is going musically: experimen-
tation with an orchestra sound, not
unlike that of Duke Ellington. Although
some of Tyner's finest work was with
John Coltrane, Monday night's show
proved that Tyner has gone beyond that
Late 15th-century Italian architects
designed the huge, red brick walls of
Moscow's Kremlin to enclose the
palaces and churches built by the czars.
The enclosure, which measures 65
acres, now protects the seat of the
Russian government.

move Ark t
During the week, they can be found
working full time in Philadelphia, these
two middle-aged natives of Ireland. On
weekends, they pack their bags, kiss
their respective families good-bye, and
travel the country as touring
They are Eugene O'Donnell, fiddler,
and Mike Maloney, singer and player of
the guitar, mandolin, and banjo. And
ever the past weekend, they brought
their music to the Ark.
nothing but traditional Irish folk tunes,
they illustrate the historical and
geographical significance of each
piece. The stories that precede the
music, some humorous, some somber,
provide for a true understanding and
appreciation of what is heard.
For those who filled the Ark Saturday
night and who listened attentively to
Maloney as he put each piece into
perspective, the lessons were worth
learning. Scattered around the room,
mostly in affectionate pairs, the
audience seemed to enjoy both
Maloney's descriptions and his
music as well. A dark, bearded
man in his mid-thirties, Maloney
reflected his and his partner's Irish
heritage through his music.
Performing a combination of joyous
and energetically paced instrumentals,
as well as a variety of somber ballads,
this pair spun a series of emotions as
diverse as the regions of Ireland
themselvesa Maloney, in conversation
between sets, explained this regional
diversity, attributing it to the isolated,
separated nature of the country's
regions. "For all but the last century,
each region of Ireland has been
virtually cut off from the other.
important to them," Maloney
concluded, citing the importance that
Irish composers have stressed on their
regional and political background.
In "The Swallowtail Reel", the

players reflected a happy, excited facet
of Irish life; whereas in a ballad called
"The Town I Used to Love", a sad song
recalling the strife in Northern Ireland
and its impact on the songwriter's
hometown, the audience was virtually
driven to tears.
Maloney alternated between the
banjo, mandolin, and acoustic
guitar.. . depending on the mood
required by each piece. He performed
with a sense of dedication to his music;
a serious, sober dedication which was
reflected by his flawless instrumentals
and emotional vocals. O'Donnell,
thirteen years older than his 33-year-old
partner, treated his fiddle playing with
equally great sensitivity and devotion.
An Isaac sternesque glare of
concentration appeared on his face as
he performed even the simplest of
pieces. Any semblance of showmanship
seemed justifiably sacrificed.
One wonders why two men would
spend nearly all of their "free" time
riding in airplanes, sleeping in strange
hotels, and playing music to a diverse
conglomeration of American clubs and
coffeehouses. However, upon, seeing
Eugene O'Donnell and Mike Maloney
perform the answer is clear. They are
driven by fierce love and dedication for
their homeland, which they feel they
must express musically.
Presentation by People
from UAC, MSA, OSS.
See how Freshmen can get
involved in Student Govern-
WED., NOV. 15
8:00 P.M.
Markley Piano Lounge

McCoy Tyner

most interesting combination in the
group was the continual exchange bet-
ween Thesus on drums, Fambrough on
bass and percussionist Franco.
No matter what instrument Franco
played, whether it was congas, bells or
berimbau, Fambrough managed to
phrase bass lines in a nice counterpoint.
Thesus executed explosive rhythms
with painstaking precision, an-
ticipating then following Tyner's key
signatures. It began to sound as if


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