Sunday, November 23, 1980
RONALD SHANNON JA CKSON
Funk is the clue to
Be an angel ...
Read IT C I !
rthe ann arbor
Aud. A. Angell Hall
OUT OF THE PAST
THE FRIENDS OF
By MARK COLEMAN
Ronald Shannon Jackson., a jazz
drummer who earned his reputation
playing with avant pianist extrodinaire
Cecil Taylor, brought his electric "new
music "band, the Decoding Society; to
Ann Arbor for a surprising pair of shows
at the University Club Friday night.,,
Jackson, along with one Ornette
Coleman and James "Blood" Ulmer is
at the forefront of what is being
heralded as a new movement in jazz, an
unlikely union of the electric rhythms of
the street and the intricacy and
discipline of free jazz-"avant funk",
some call it.
FROM THE START of the second set,
Jackson's leadership and awesome
natural ability were overpowering. His
thick, variegated attack provided not
just, rhythmic thrust but at times
carried the melodic flow also. Jackson
and bassist Melvin Gibbs combined for
a rich, but never random-sounding
rhythm section while saxophonist
Byard Lancaster and guitarist Vernon
Reid contrasted sparse three and four
'noft statements in tandem, then split
off; in snaking, disjointed solos. For the
fir$t couple of numbers these disparate
approaches didn't quite gel, playing
two duo's next to each other uncomfor-
Things seemed to fall together as
Lancaster left the stand temporarily,
allowing Reid to lead the band in a
chunky, rockish number. The guitarist
built a series of fragmented, scalar
liber and abrupt chordal changes into a
coherent progression through sheer
nervous energy, pushed to the limit by
Jackson's supportive percussion work.
Jackson reinforced his image as one of
the most intriguing ensemble players
around, complimenting his fellow
players but never imitating or echoing
their lines on his drums.
picking up his soprano sax for emphatic
bursts. Later, Jackson joined Lan-
caster on stage for a soothing flute duet,
that bore a vaguely African flavor.
building and building. The Decoding
Society isn't a "funky dance band" in
any sense of the word, but they do bring
a new sense of immediacy and elec-
tricity (both physical and spiritual) to
the rigors of free-flowing im-
At the insistence of the audience,
Ronald Shannon Jackson returned to
the stage for a brief but thrilling solo
piece on the drums. Quoting
Shakespeare's Richard III (!), he laun-
ched into a stringently concise, rhyth-
mically intense drum solo that was both
starkly emotional and sonically rich.
"You had to be there", goes the old
cliche, but Jackson's solo was .easily
the most expressive (and evocative)
performance I've seen in my two years
as a music critic. If you missed this,
better luck next time.
Monday nights two are admitted
for the price of one.
%=- - -IV
Daily Photo by DAVID HARRIS
Drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson brought his-intensely electric jazz band the Decoding
Society (guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and reedman Byard Lancaster) to the
University Club in the Michigan Union Friday as part of the Eclipse Jazz Bright Moments series
of small concerts. _ , _
I - I
One of Ann Arbor's most cherished
traditions is the University Choral
Union's performance of "The Mes-
siah." Once again, under the direction
of Donald Bryant, the 300-voice Choral
Union and soloists present Handel's
great oratorio to begin a joyous
Christmas season. Soloists are
Elizabeth Parcells, soprano; Victoria
Grof, contralto; Leonard Johnson,
tenor; Edward Pierson, bass; Bejun
Mehta, boy soprano. Fri. and Sat. at
8:30; un. at 2:30.
For their Christmas 1980 recital pro-
gram in Ann Arbor, these eight re-
markably well-trained and versatile
singers will present traditional carols,
old favorites like Irving Berlin's
"White Christmas" and new arrange-
ments of some popular Jerome Kern
and Cole Porter nusic, as well as
works by Scarlatti, Debussy, Rimsky-
Korsakov, Benjamin Britten, their
unique singing of music by Bach, and
their own version of Mozart's "Ein
Kleine Nachtmusik." Friday, 8:00.
Monday, Dec. IS
One of the most persistently admired,
beloved and influential musicians in
the world, Rudolf Serkin has received
critical praise for his solo recitals and
his performances with the world's
greatest orchestras. His recital this
season will be the eighteenth time
Musical Society concertgoers will have
the special opportunity to hear "this
titan among pianists." Monday, 8:30.
A delightful and memorable Christmas
ritual for Ann Arbor families and for
all who love beautiful music, shimmer-
ing costumes and graceful dancing.
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre pre-
sents the wonderment of Christmas
seen through the eyes of a little girl,
Clara. Four performances of this favor-
ite to the (taped) music of Tchaikovsky.
Thurs., Fri. at 8:00; Sat. at 3:00 and 8:00.
I ~ ' 7 ~jGift Certificates for concerts available.
Hill Auditorium, Power Center and Rackham Auditorium
are on the main campus of The University of Michigan.
Ample concert parking.
1:45 3:15 4:45 Tickets at Burton Tower, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109
6:15 8:00 9:45 Weekdays 9-4:30, Sat 9-12. Phone (313) 665-3717
The University of Michigan
Women's Glee Club
conducted by ROSALEE EDWARDS
Monday, November 24, 8:00 p.m.
A French Christmas