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September 30, 1980 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-30

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ARTS

Page 6 Tuesday, September 30, 1980 The Michigan Daily

Jazz history reconsidered

Arthur Blythe looks
in from the outside

By MARK COLEMAN
Arthur Blythe's initial Ann Arbor ap-
pearance lent solid support to his
growing reputation as one of the most
exciting new voices in jazz. Opening the
final show of Eclipse's third annual
festival, the alto saxophonist displayed
a distinctive, commanding style as he
combined a variety of modern influence
with a unique historical approach.

B1 ythe performed on Sunday with his
"In The Tradition" quartet-pianist
John Hicks and the rhythm section
from Air, bassist Fred Hopkins and
drummer Steve McCall-who
specialize in bold re-workings of jazz
standards from Ellington to Coltrane.
Their approach is brash and irreverent
but surprisingly satisfying; no matter
how far outside they may take the ac-

tual playing, the group stays in con-
stant touch with the spirit of the orig-
inal.
INTRODUCING "Miss Nancy" as
"Alias for Fats," Blythe led the group
in a boisterous "tribute" to Fats
Waller, thickening Fats' self-assured
swing and polyrhythmic density. From
his first solo onward Blythe showed an
unerring sense of melody, guiding the
wildest excursions and "special effec-
ts" with fluidity and taste. Blythe's tone
is unique: warm and emotional, but at
the same time asserive and crisp. His
solos reflect the quality of his ideas
rather than the quantity, savoring a
melody and expanding it rather than
running roughshod over it.
Blythe's improvising style was best
illustrated on a slow blues mid-way
through the - set. Staying remarkably
close to the actual melody, he
manipulated dynamics and phrasing
expertly, taking this blues riff a few
places it had never been. Hopkins and
McCall, meanwhile, churned out a

chunky stew of rhythm that became
backbreakingly complex without for-
saking the original progression. These
two achieve a loose dexterity that per-
mits them to skip lightly where any
other rhythm section would tread on
toes.
The "in the tradition" concept
was put to the ultimate test on the quar-
tet's rendition of "Naima" and it
definitely passed. While remaining
faithful to the original version, Blythe's
distinctive tone replaces the open-
ended spiritualism of Coltrane with a
stylized abandon that gives this
already-realized composition a new
vibrancy.
Arthur-Blythe and In The Tradition
are at the forefront of an important rein-
vestigation of the roots of jazz. They
may never bridge the gap between post-
Coltrane experimentalism and the
history that preceeds it, but they have
found a vital link, a musical perspec-
tive both innovative and accessible.
And that's a tradition with a future.

1

-THIS WEEK OTt
MOND6Y
PIZZA NIGHT

" TUESDRY
JAM SESSION
live music, no cover

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BOAT NIGH'

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no cover
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Vaughn glows

FRI t
SECTIK
live music,r

By JOSHUA PECK
When an average vocalist sings a
descending run, one merely hears a
descending run. When Sarah Vaughn
sings one, it's an invitation. It comes as
something of a surprise to sit in a hall
with 100-plus people and yet to feel in-
dividually attended to, butthat,
perhaps, is the core of Sarah's long-
lasting charm.
KEEP AHEAD
OF YOUR HAIRI
0 4 Barbers
* No Waiting
e Men & Women
THE DASCOLA
STYLISTS
" E. Univ. at S. Univ.
*" Liberty off State

rfi
1140S
66884

Sarah is fascinating. That's the first
word out of her mouth when she laun-
ches her act with Gershwin's
"Fascinatin' Rhythm," and it sums up
her technique quite nicely. In the Ger-
shwin tune, for example, she breaks in-
to scat singing after a couple-of verses
and vocally dances circles around the
already complicated meter of the song.
Sarah is soulful. She's not a soul
singer, mind you, but her vocalization
belies a spirit as deep and multi-colored
as a religious revelation. Her second
tune shows off her versatility, as she
jumps from the throatiest, most com-
manding notes of her lower register to
the most vulnerable, girlish tones of her
arch-soprano, and makes them both
sound sincere.
SARAH IS PRECISE. When she sings
scat, it doesn't matter how fast she's
going; you can watch her pick her
every note with her mind's eye, and
sing just that one. Her trills alone are
a national treasure.
Sarah is funny. She finishes one num-
ber, and an overeager clown in the
crowd shouts, "Hi, Sarah." Without
batting an eyelash, she gives him a
casual wave and coos, "Hi,}baby." Late
in the show, she asks for requests,
pretends to listen carefully to each and
every one, and then goes on with the
number she was planning in the first
place. And when she sits at the piano
and discovers its Steinway shine, she
starts musing, as if to herself, "I'm
gonna steal this piano." She hums a few
bars and then sings introspectively

Braxton: So alone
By MARK COLEMAN
The frontiers of solo performance in jazz are extending to other musical
instruments besides the piano, but so far it's been musical ground where
only the bravest of musicians and listeners have dared to tread
The exploration of unaccompanied reeds and percussion was begun by the
Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Music in the
sixties, boldly talented avant-gardists who turned to the solo context out of
aesthetic, economic, and political necessity. In the past decade Anthony
Braxton and the individual members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago have
pursued this format to the point of near-perfection, but some critical qualms
and objections remain. Crudely stated, it comes down to this: can free jzz
stand on its own?
In the case of Anthony Braxton's Sunday performance in the tiny RC
Auditorium, the answer is a resounding yes. This alto saxophonist asserted
himself as the current master of the solo performance, not merely through
his considerable virtuosity and intensity, but by the originality of his total
approach to music. Freed from the rhythmic and melodic requirements of
Daily Photo by DAVID HARRIS
Anthony Braxton put on a pair of solo recitals in the RC auditorium Sunday
to kick off Eclipse's Bright Moments series of smaller shows. Armed with
only his alto sax, Braxton performed a series of free-ranging improvisations
that simply had to be heard to be believed.
accompaniment, Braxton is able to develop his singularly unique concept of
structure unhindered, and the listener can sit back and absorb the architec-
tual grandeur of it all, unobstructed.
BRAXTON TAKES an empirical approach to soloing, constructing in-
terlocking patterns of scalar symmetry, imposing order and logic to the
most sonically diverse elements imagineable. Braxton uses every sound
available through an alto saxophone in concise compositions that range from
the cacophonic to the catatonic at once, in an angular, maze-like intricacy.
None oil this would be possible if Braxton wasn't a superlatively gifted per
former. He can turn a neo-bop progression into emotional barb-wire, twist
that into sharp lyricism, then incorporate the sound of his breathing and
hand-movements into the music-all during one five-minute piece! And
though he's improvising much of the time, there's never a random-sounding
or misplaced note-even when he's playing what sounds like 4000 notes a
minute.
The subtle discipline in Braxton's approach works as structure, but never
as stricture. Despite his stoic reserve on stage, Braxton becomes vividly
expressive and emotionally wide-ranging as soon as he puts reed to lips. One
can't help wondering again and again: what it going through this man's
head? "The "answer" to that question lies in each individual's inter-
pretation of the music, as does the clue to its accessibility. Successful solo
jazz performances, like Anthony Braxton's, produce music that may be more
fun to think about than they are to listen to.

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Discover public radio
89.1 fm

See "SARAH," Page 7

.1 -

f,
All

is coming through .. .

Tiny perfs around a perfectly proper
Pappagallo pump prove that perfection
is truly a Pappagallo trait.
Snob .$64
Shop for Pappagallo
241 E. Liberty
Ann Arbor, MI
663-2637
Master tharge- Visa-American Express
Open 10-5:30; 10-7 Fri.

RUTH'S [HOME RUN !
COOPERISTOWN, -N.Y. (AF)-',
Here's the latest on the long-ago
episode in the 1932 World Series in-
volving Babe Ruth of the Yankees and
the home run he allegedly called again-
st the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field:
Eric Painter, then the trainer of the.
Yankees, detailed this account for the
Baseball Hall of Fame: "When Ruth
came up in the fifth inning of the third
game, the crowd and the Cubs were on
him. The first pitch from Charley Root,@
was a strike. The crowd roared in ap-
proval. Ruth turned toward the standsĀ°
and held up one finger.
"Root put over another strike and the
Babe held up two fingers. Then, before
digging in, he swept his arm full length
toward the center field fence. The next
pitch landed over that fence for a home
run.,,

"WE NEED YOU"-for WEMU WEEK
10 Fun Filled Days-October 4th thru 13th
*SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4th-MIDNIGHT FUN RUN
Registration: McKenny Union-Eastern Michigan University
10:00 p.m.-$5.40 per person. Includes
"T" Shirt, Prizes, After Party
*SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5th-JAZZ CABARET
Gabriel Brother's New Orleans Jazz Band
Washtenaw Country Club
$5.00 per person-4:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Listen to WEMU 89.1 fm for details on
the Monday thru Thursday activities
FUN-D RAISER
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10th till MONDAY, OCTOBER 13th
Special Programs-Live Entertainment-Prizes & Surprises
The Best of Public Radio, But Only With Your Support
Mall to: WEMU, 426 King Hall, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
-- A- - - Y _ _ _ _

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COUNSELING SERVICES IS NOW
OFFERING THE FOLLOWING COUNSELING GROUPS:
SOCIAL SKILLS: This therapy'group for men and women will focus on
difficulties in initiating and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Such tech-
niques as relaxation, assertiveness training and communication skill building
will be used.
WOMEN WITH WEIGHT PROBLEMS: This group combines discussion, insight,
support and some behavior modification to help women deal with weight
problems.
GENERAL THERAPY: Personal problems, particularly those that appear in
interpersonal dilemmas, will be addressed in a coed setting.
MINORITY ISSUES: This counseling-therapy group is designed for black men
and women to deal with minority concerns such as self-concept, procrostina-

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