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March 19, 1978 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1978-03-19

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, March 19, 1978-Page t

Tenor sax puissant

By ALAN RUBENFELD

T HE POWER AND grace of the
tenor saxophone regaled the stage
of Rackham Auditorium Friday
evening as Archie Shepp performed the
first of four concerts as part of Eclipse
Jazz
Shepp, who has performed with
numerous jazz greats in a myriad of
styles over the past three decades,
brought a quartet to Ann Arbor that
emphasized a more mainstream style
of acoustic jazz. Pianist Art Matthews,
bassist Cameron Brown, and drummer
Clifford Jarvis provided apt back-up.
The tall Shepp struck an imposing
figure on the Rackham stage as he
leaned toward his receptive audience,
playing his tenor sax with drive and
resonance. Often, Shepp would blow
staccato runs up and down the in-
struments' fingerboard. His long solos
were filled with flavored riffs, always
devoid of repetition. Each im-
provisation explored a new aspect of
the song's melody, as his back-up unit
provided spirited accompaniment.

AFTER AN
allowed ample
Matthews. The
opted for short,

extended solo, Shepp
solo time for pianist
keyboard accompanist
melodic embellishmen-

ts while maintaining the propelling
rhythm with his left hand.
Shepp slowed down the concert's
tempo on "Lush Life" as he blew soft,
moody notes into his tenor. The audien-
ce felt the human tenderness the song
communicated. Then he continued this
affectionate ambience with his ex-
trapolation of Miles Davis' "Well You
Need It."

The concert's next few songs gave
bassist Brown opportunity to demot-.
strate his technical virtuosity as; -he
gave rapid-fire bass runs that -he
crowd visibly enjoyed. Drummer. Jar-
vis provided a consistent, energetc
pattern of percussion throughout,
while avoiding long, arduous solos.
SHEPP ALSO performedrtwo
delicate pieces on soprano sqx.
Although these pieces were enjoyable,
they seemed to lack the spark that- pei-
meated the performer's tenor work...
Opening the evening was the Barry
Harris Trio. Pianist Harris and his
group played soft, quiet pieces
reminiscent of cocktail music hours,
including original works as well as an
uptempo version of "I'm in the Modd
For Love."
Although the trio started slowly.t iy
warmed considerably as. their pd4rr-
mance continued and the rapport )-
ween musicians grew. Harris and
drummer Leroy Williams often hni-
med softly to their tranquil meloei es
and calm riffs.
The trio ended their portion of the
concert on a high note with a lively rij-
dition of Thelonius Monk s
"Epistrophy"; the audience loved it.
Harris seemed quite touched by the
crowd's warm appreciation.

Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
AC hie She p

West brings banjo

fever to Ark

By ERIC ZORN
H EDY WEST delayed her perform-
ance at the Ark Friday night until
someone supplied her with a fingernail
file. The fortyish, dark-haired perfor-
mer of old-time music was making sure
tlhat all was just right with her hands
before treating the audience to her
nimble, imaginative frailing and
picking.
West carried her long-necked Vega
five-string banjo on stage and opened
the St. Patrick's Day performance with
an uptempo "Irish Song from Georgia"
in which she demonstrated the wide
scope of her instrumental talents. She
started out with a free-strumming old-
time frail and smoothly switched over
to a three-finger picking reminiscent of
folk guitar rather than hard-driving
bluegrass banjo. Throughout the
evening, in the middle of bouncy im-
provisational breaks and fill-in licks,
she showed unusual combinations of
playing styles, including a one-finger
frailing which lent a softer tone to con-
trast the earlier thrashing of the
strings.
Indeed, the lively banjo work saved
the concert from being a rather
average performance of old folk songs.
West's singing is very good, but not in-
spiring and powerful enough t bring
out the strong, clear emotional
messages in her music. "The songs
readiest available to modern city folk
are pop songs," she says. "Sentimen-
tal, unreal songs that cheat, that don't
honestly describe life."
WEST ORGANIZED her performan-
ce of these straightforward and
realistic tunes loosely around their
thematic content. She began with a few
love-and-death ballads, then moved in-
to parodies of these songs including a
wry ballad called "The Rich Irish
Lady."
Stage presence was a bit of a problem
for West since she seemed unwilling to
pause between numbers for ex-
planatory chats. As the evening
progressed, she became increasingly
communicative, but the titles of many
of her songs were never mentioned;and
their historical significance was often
underplayed. When Ramblin' Jack'
Elliot appeared at the Ark last fall he
played half as many songs as West did,
but his performance was the finer one.
Elliot's lengthy discourses shed new
light on his songs and allowed the
audience to gain an intimacy with the
musician which is possible only in the
small and friendly environs of the Ark.
West sang some a capella gospel
numbers she had learned from her
grandmother Lillie Mulkey West back
in Georgia. She followed these with
some parodies with lyrics like:
Amazing Grace, to soothe the taste,
The polecat peed in the possum'sfac
"You get the idea," she quipped.
"These parodies come out of a
religious-schizophrenic culture."
WEST HERSELF has roots "all over
the South," and graduated from North
Carolina University in 1958. She has
BARRY
AVEDON
nn mAA/In r

classical training in both the flute and
piano and recently received a doctoral
degree in music from the State Univer-
sity of New York at Stony Brook on
Long Island, where she presently lives.
West spent seven years in London, but
currently restricts her traveling to four
month-long tours each year. She
doesn't have any definite plans for the
future, but claims she won't soon set
down her banjo.
The second set was devoted to songs
of work and freedom, with a timely em-
phasis on coal miners. "How Can A
Poor Man Stand Such Times and

Live?" opened the set with a generous
sampling of banjo playing. Later she
picked up the guitar to accompany a
long number describing the life of a
coal miner, questioning "Do you think
what they're asking is anything un-
fair?" She tried out a few English work
songs before coming back to a song
about steel mill working conditions
written by a mill hand named Dave.
"He wrote eleven songs, all told, but
five of them were to this tune."
West told a few more anecdotes
during this set, and the thematic unity
held things together well. "I think I'm

gonna quit soon, so if you wanna hear
something, be sure to shout it out," she
said while strumming a chord. Consen-
sus was for her to perform the only
really famous song she has written,
"Five Hundred Miles."
Her perky, upbeat rendition of this
depressing song was in refreshing con-
trast to the sombre version we learned
in school or hear on our Country Gen-
tlemen albums. West took a bow, and
came back for a cute but tragic little
ditty about the misadventures of a
mouse, a bird, and a sausage, all of
which did not live happily ever after.
* * *
AS PART OF their performance at
the Ark tonight, the Bread and
Puppet Theatre's Word of Mouth
Chorus will present three ten-minute
Bread and Puppet shows: "Hallelu-
jah"; "Chile", a powerful memorial to
murdered poet-singer Victor Jara; and
"The Story of a Young Man", In ad-
dition, there will be brass band music,
Sacred Harp singing, renditions of Ap-
palachian and British traditional songs,
some banjo-fiddle-concertina-recorder
tunes, and audience sing-alongs.

PEACE CORPS/ VISTA
RECRUITERS,
at Placement center
March 20-22
seeking volunteers in Education, Engineering,
Social Work, Health, Law, and Business. In Africa,
South America, and all over the U.S.A.
Drop by or sing up now
for interviews.

0. What does the master of
the acoustic bass do for
an encore?
A. He comes up with
the piccolo b ass!

4
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Daily Photo by JOHN KNOX
' Hedy West

GRADUA lON,
ANNOUNCEMENTS
First Floor Michigan Union
Check Cashing Window
Mon-Fri 9:00 am to 12 noon

Ron Carter,

the inevita-

ble poll-winner among jazz
bassists, has a genuinely
new sound. Piccolo is the
title of the first album by
Ron's quartet, and the pic-
colo bass is the smaller,
specially-tuned instru-
ment on which he leads
his brilliant group through
an exciting club perform-
ance too big for anything
less than a two-record set.

. .
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i.
*..
o- y_*,,
T i-
1 . .. .
W +w t
.. ".... .rt
11
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f 1.
/
1
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MS. MARY PENCE,
S leading AnnArbor
Feminist Goes To
Washington, D.C.!
. the elf gives you a good-bye interview by margareth miller-dial 663-5366 U
* In her years in Ann Arbor Mary Pence has given community leadership in an incredible

0

Piccolo (M-55004) -a worthy successor to his
first Milestone LP, the highly-acclaimed, string-
studded Pastels (M-9073).

_~'N_
a

Miestone

On Milestone Records and Tapes

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