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March 30, 1980 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-03-30

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The Michi

iigan Daily-Sunday, March 30, 1980-Page 5

Jazz Dreams'live: It's all in the name

A name has always seemed the least
nportant fact about a jazz group.
Apart from perfunctory asides like
"Messengers" or "Crusaders," it's
always been cooly appropriate to
indicate the size of the ensemble behind
the: leader or featured soloist's name
and let the music speak for itself. The
concept of a collective musical identity,
above individual definition, wasn't
expressed rubrically until the early,
seventies when baryds like Weather
Report and Oregon crystallized a
efinitive metaphor for their distinctive
sounds through expressive anonymity.
But not until now has a group adopted a

title that seems to reflect their unique
sound and spirit so succintly.
It's important to note that this group
is not named the Don Cherry or Dewey
Redman Quartet; Old and New Dreams
consists of four rigorously
individualistic musicians who unite in
an equable, if sometimes precarious
musical balance. Solo space is
naturally divided evenly amongthe
four, but it's in their ensemble playing
that an unprecedented equanamity
becomes resoundingly apparent. While
each member is afforded ample
opportunity to assert himself musically
(and then some) it's the totality of their
sound, the gestalt impression that

transcends most limitations and
dependencies and makes Old and New
Dreams one of the most satisfying
collaborative ventures this critic has
THE NAME itself gives a solid
indication of both where this group has
been and what they are looking ahead
to. Although all four are veterans of
Ornette Coleman's innovation forces of
the sixties, this band has been widely
misconstruced as an attempt to
"reunite" Ornette's landmark quartet
(Cherry on trumpet with bassist
Charlie Haden and drummer Ed
Blackwell, behind a sympathetic
saxophonist (the aforementioned
Redman).) These men are not
interested in cashing in on old dreams,
but instead employ their collective
background and frame of reference as
a focus for fresh innovations.
Opening with a pair of Coleman
compositions the quartet showed just
how far they can take their collective
influences. Redman and Cherry stayed
remarkably in synch issusing short,
near-stacatto melodic statements in
sharp unison or trading off variations in
contrapuntal harmony. Cherry, replete
with hand-size pocket trumpet, still
seems intent on laying any prescribed
notion or expectations regarding his
instrument to waste. Alternately shrilly
piercing, honkingly emphatic, and
breathlessly expressive . Cherry
displayed a remarkable facility only
hinted in his work as a sideman and
somewhat overstated in recent solo
BUT IT'S not only unfair to single out
any one member of Old and New
Dreams, it's also grossly inaccurate.
From the onset of Friday evening's
first performance the level of
interaction was so intense and
diversified that it became impossible to
entirely focus one's attention to a single
player, even during the extended solo
space alloted each. Haden and
Blackwell's approach to rhythm is
entrailing; they construct a densely
repetitious structure yet manage to
integrate wildly discursive variations
without losing the reassuring simplicity
of the beat. ,
This free-floating rhythmic
propulsion often seemed to anticipate,
rather than follow from, the impetus of
the horn players. The unexpected
rhythmic variations served to point up
Redman's understated precision as
well as dynamic verve. Stuck on a
single note, Cherry would bend and
twist it way out of proportion, his
cheeks so swelled up one wondered how

that tiny trumpet could withstand such
pressure. Then-thud, crash,
bang-Cherry slips back into blowing
three and four note riffs thanks to an
effortless (though dramatic) rhythmic
transition. Haden is an intuitive genius
on bass; at times a stuttering speed
freak seemingly oblivious to the rest of
the band, at others a sparse, stunningly
melodic minimalist. He posses an
interior sense of rhythm and melody
that would flagrantly violate all
established standards if it didn't fit the
context of the music so appropriately.

of a manic snake charmer, buoyed by
Cherry's brief, unpredicatable
intrusions. This combination of
contrasting influences (African,
Middle-and Far-Eastern) in a
workable, swinging structure is quite
an accomplishment, especially when
achieved with such unflagging
refinement and eminently tasteful
restraint.Old and New Dreams are a
group with a deep understanding of
their musical past and an eye and ear
attuned to future developments. They
do more than live up to their name.

is preserved on
36,M M OR LM .
The Michigan Daily
420 Maynard Street
Graduate Library

ED BLACKWELL supplies the
backbone of this sonic and spiritual
democracy; literally he released a
torrent of slyly intricate percussion
without doing much more than bending
his wrists and forearms. Living proof of
the adage "less is more," Blackwell
fashioned an exhaustive stream of
percussive improvisation withjout
deserting the bare bones of rhythmic
As intense and free-wheeling as their
music can be, Old and New Dreams
come across as remarkably relaxed
performers. For all their innovative
influences, there is an inherent
tunefullness, a casual continuity that
simultaneously puts listener at ease
while riveting one's attention to the
music. No doubt reinforced by the
pleasant intimacy of the University
Club (not to mention the availability of
alcohol) this attitude made for an
eagerly receptive audience. Though
there was some mumbled discontent
about the length of the first show (less
than an hour) it probably wasn't the
promoter's fault that it started late; if
anything Eclipse deserves praise for
making such a conducive atmosphere
available to that many more people by
scheduling a second show.
PERHAPS THE intent and purpose
of this group are summarized by their
theme song, Old and New Dreams.
After a spoken, chant-like introduction
by Cherry, Haden and Blackwell laid
down a steady, subtly shifting rhythm
while Redman blew a solo on a Chinese
musette (sic) with the deceptive ease


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Multi-instrumentalist and trumpeter extraordinaire Don Cherry performed
as part of the quartet Old and New Dreams on Friday night at the Uni-
versity Club in the Michigan Union.

Claudio Monteverdi unearthed

Claude Debussy, Richard Wagner,
Ludwig van Beethoven, Claudio Mon-
teverdi. The first three are probably
familiar, but the last name may not be.
Nevertheless, Claudio Monteverdi
ranks with these other composers as a
man who profoundly changed the cour-
se of musical history, and has in fact
been called the first modern composer.
Monteverdi, born in 1567, composed the
first real opera, and did more to swing
the tide of music away from the Church
and towards secular composition than
any other composer. In 1642, at the age
of 75, he created his last and greatest
opera, "The Coronation of Poppea,"
which also has the distinction of being
the first historical opera. On Thurday
"The Coronation of Poppea" received
its Michigan stage premiere in a
production by the School of Music at the
Power Center. The production, conduc-
ted by Gustav Meier, has some faults,
but is outstanding in several-respects.
The production of "The Coronation of
Poppea" presents some difficult
musical problems. When it was written,
opera was still in its infancy and there
was no standardization of opera or-.
chestras. For this reason Monteverdi
left only a bare bones sketch of the or-
chestral music, leaving it to the direc-

tor of the performance to compose and
arrange much of the instrumental
music. For this production, a perfor-
ming version by Raymond Leppard
was chosen, and the choice was a good
one. "Opppea" has been presented in
versions ranging from austere cham-
ber settings to big, romanticized or-
chestrations for full-sized modern or-
chestra. Leppard's realization is for a
small, string orchestra with har-
psichord, organ, harp and trumpets-a
sensible and beautiful middle course
between the extremes. Gustav Meier
lef members of the University
Philharmonia in an excellent perfor-
mance of Leppard's version that was
one of the high points of the production.
THE STORY of "The Coronation of
Pappea" is based upon an event which
happened in imperial Rome in 62 AD
when the emperor Nero renounced his
marriage with his wife and married his
mistress, Poppea. The opera is full of
the standard elements-love, lust,
-hatred, conspiracies-and all the even-
ts are guided by the god of Love, who
sets the plot in action to demonstrate
his superiority over the goddesses Vir-
tue and Fortune. Though Ldve conquers
all, he makes a real mess of things as
Nero and Poppea trample others under
in their mad desire to be united. It is in-

teresting to note that almost none of the
characters rank as true protagonists.
Only the noble senator Seneca attempts
to uphold dignity, virtue and the law,
and is killed half way through,
dramatizing the supremacy of Love
over Virtue.
The quality of the singing and acting
was variable in the performance
on Thursday. Claritha Buggs was
adequate in the title role, but her
singing was occassionally lacking in
accuracy. Unfortunately Jeff Allyn,
who played the part of Nero, was en-
tirely inadequate. Mr. Allyn spoke and
yelled much of his way through the
opera, and when he did'sing, he was of-
ten off-key. This is especially unfor-
tunate, since the part of Nero has some
of Monteverdi's most innovative and
vocal music. Outstanding were James
Patterson as Senaca and David Parks,
who played two minor roles. Mr. Pat-
terson's Seneca captured the austere
wisdom and gravity of the man, and his
resonant bass voice stood out from the
rest of the singers. Mr. Parks' singing
was quite good, and he consistently
projected a bubbly good humor in his
roles which made for a welcome con-

trast to the otherwise heavy nature of
the story.
SPECIAL praise must be given to the
set and lighting designer, Gary Smith.
Mr. Smith's set is a simple but effective
arrangement of steps and planes which
allows quick changes from scene to
scene, which is important if Montever-
di's opera is to flow. Even more im-
pressive was the lighting, which very
effectively set the mood in the absence
of a more elaborate set.
The School of Music deserves credit
for staging "The Coronation of Pop-
pea". Instead of presenting a well
known and loved work as they did
earlier this season with "La
Boheme", they have presented a rarity
from the dawn of opera with no built in
audience. That takes guts, but what's
more, they have turned it into a vital,
entertaining production with far more
than historical interest.
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