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January 29, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-29

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, January 29, 1980-Page 7

Jazz duet labors

into obscurity

A sweetheart of old Sigma Chi
Thought she'd switch to a Phi Iappa Phi.
So she worked out a plan
For herself and her man,
And they lunched at the League on the sly!

5:00-7: T5

The existence of an ongoing, active
jazz scene in Detroit probably isn't
readily apparent to the Ann Arbor
listener. Local appearances by Detroit
performers are sporadic at best, and
just don't seem to draw audiences or at-
tention, whether it be the slick fusion of
Lyman Woodard or the ultra-
progressive Griot Galaxy. So when two
of the area's most prominent and in-
novative musicians, guitarist Spencer
Barefield and saxophonist Anthony
Holland, finally make it to Ann Arbor,
it's something of an event. Even when,
as in the case of Friday's duets at the
RC auditorium, the performance is
somewhat uneven.
The absence of a rhythm section and
the almost total emphasis on im-
provisation presents a challenge to both
performers and audience. This
challenge is heightened by Barefield
and Holland's unusual pairing of
classical six string and twelve string
guitar with a variety of reeds. When
this combination works, the instrumen-
tal incongruity and divergence of ap-
proach add arresting impact. When it
doesn't, the music's effectiveness is ob-
scured by stylistic confusion.
FROM THE onset each performer
established a definitive stance that in-
dicating a great disparity of execution
and approach. Barefield assumed the
restrained role of the academican,his
prodigious reading of his classically-
trained chops is awesomely well
disciplined. But by consistently
ignoring melodic constraints, he turns a
show of skill into an isolated display of
The cool distance of Barefield's
guitar style usually reinforced the
exuberance of Anthony Holland's work
on tenor and soprano sax and bass
clarinet. Holland builds basic melodic
riffs into a cascade of sharp, caustic
statements that are violently ex-

pressive. At times he penetrated.
Barefield's icy barrage, at other times
he became absorbed in it.
ALTERNATING individual com-
positions that are largely joint im-
provisations (bearing interchangeable,
indecipherable titles) the duo seems so
absorbed in their musical quest that
they are oblivious to the demands of
their audience. Spencer Barefield,
especially, plays snue dextrous runs
and complex chord changes so.
melodically and emotionally unadorned
that they become indistinguishable
from each other. Certainly, his aOn-
plification of the six-string classical
guitar is unique but only adds a shrill
dissonance to the muted tone of the
nylon-stringed instrument. Leaving no
milestone unturned, Barefield
hesitatingly toys with an electronic
device and engages Holland in a
minimal percussion duet on discarded
oil drums that seems pointlessly sim-
But more often their ambition suc-
ceeds, most prominently in a tribute to
their mentor, Roscoe Mitchell. The
song's chorus is an exhaustive ex-
changeof simultaneous variations of a
one-line theme, in subtly varying suc-
cession. Listening is like climbing an
endless staircase, with occasional
pauses for increasingly intense solos;
the conclusion leaves one gasping for
BAREFIELD AND Holland com-
mand a good deal of respect simply for
attempting to be original, even if their
efforts aren't completely realized.
Purely aesthetic pursuits (especially
one this single minded) usually don't
qualify as being instantly accessible. So
Anthony Holland and Spencer Barefield
are fated to play to thirty-odd people
(and a dog) who consider themselves
lucky to get the chance. Meanwhile, life
continues as usual. Avant-garde
musicians play difficult music that no
one understands unless it gets
regurgitated as tomorrow's pop trend.
But even when it doesn't quite gel, the
music of this calibre certainly con-
stitutes a noble effort.

L&d J Next to Hill Auditorium
Located in the heart of the campus.
it is the heart of the campus.

" Send your League Limerick to:
Manager. Michigan League
227 South Ingalls
You will receive 2 free dinner
tickets if your limerick is used in
one of our ads.

Detroiters Spencer Barefield (guitar) and Anthony Holland (saxes) absor-
bed in a very ambitious duet F last Friday night in the RC auditorium in
East Quad.
U. Dance Company
prese'ntS Un1icor'

Gian Carolo Menotti's make-believe
creatures The Unicorn, the Gorgon,
and the Manticore were bright and
lively on the Power Center Stage Satur-
day in this madrigal fable presented in
celebration of the International Year of
,the Child (IYC).
In all of forty-five minutes, the
University Dance Company, co-
sponsored by the University Committee'
on IYC, enacted more than danced the
fable, and satisfied the adults and
,children present.
The narration, sung by the Ann Arbor
Cantata Singers and backed by light or-
chestration, accompanied the dancers
*and helped to clarify the plot. Begun
with three couples skipping onto the
stage arrayed in 'elaborate blue,
orange, and green costumes, the dance
itself could have told the story.
The fable iis about a poet, a man,
who, according to the townspeople,
"must be out of his mind." He shuns
parties, town-meetings, and church,
and one day, even brings a unicorn to
town. Everybody laughs at him until
one couple decides they want a unicorn.
Once they get one, the others follow.
The poet feigns to grow tired of his

unicorn and tells the townspeople that
he killed it. He then brings to town a
gorgan. The townspeople dispose of the
unicorns and get gorgans, When the
poet disposes of his gorgan in favor of a
manticore, everyone copies him again.
Finally the townspeople discover the
poet surrounded by the animals they
thought he had killed. He shows them
how foolish they have been in mur-
dering animals in exchange for the
latest in fashion. He will die surrounded
by his loyal pets.
The only subtle hint of symbolism in
the performance was in the creatures'
costumes. The animals symbolize the
poet's fancies, his dreams of youth,
manhood, and old age. The unicorns
appeared in bright white, the gorgans
in silver, and the manticores in dark
grey and whiskers.
The preformance was a reprise of a
production performed last spring to
mark the beginning of the second hun-
dred years of music at the University.
Chorepgraphed by Elizabeth Weil
Bergmann, chairperson of the Univer-
sity's Department of Dance, The
Unicorn showed that fanciful creatures
aren't just for kids.

. . .......... . .......

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