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April 19, 1985 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-04-19

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Friday, April 19, 1985 Page 5

DeJohnette and

Co. are

just plain fun

By Marc Taras
T he casual reader of my jazz reviews-the
jininitiated-might well marvel to themselves at how of-
ten I am privy to transcendental musical phenomena. In
point of fact, many of the recent programs sponsored by
Eclipse Jazz have had a visionary quality; artists like David
Murray, Abbey Lincoln, and Abdullah Ibrahim bring a par-
ticular heart and spirit to their music that touch the listener
in remarkably tangible and unexpected ways.
Well relax. I'm not going to tell you that you missed
another close encounter last Monday when drummer Jack
.DeJohnette brought his Special Edition group to the Ark. The
Aaxophones didn't change my life or yeild some vital new or
poetic understanding. Oh, DeJohnette and Co. played with
heart and spirit as well as fire. But you know what? Mostly, it
was fun. Just plain fun.
Special Edition's first set was a tour de force comprised
'of three long DeJohnette compositions and an homage to Or-
nette Coleman. The serious aspect of this music was
established as Jack introduced the band; a mixture of
neophytes and veterans teaming up to preserve the music. The
horn sections featured relative newcomers Greg Osby and
'John Purcell alongside heavyweight big bird of fun funk
'Howard Johnson. Bassist Rufus Reid has been around the
park with everybody at least once and is as fascinating as
ever. He stole the show. Rather quietly behind the horns, but
deliberate nevertheless. And in good humor.
"Tin Can Alley" showed each of the horn players on
saxophones in turn. It was like three great sax trios, see?
First Johnson blustered forth on baritone. Whoa! I am blown
laughing like a leaf on the wind. Some well oiled valves! Rich
black fluids. Non-synthetic. This is the real thing.
Lubricating. Greg Osby's thinking man's alto turned all flut-

tery buttery. DeJohnette's cymbals circles and sang. An
identity blues. Purcell blew haunting fleurs de lis tenor
trills. A windstorm of soaring squonk! With Reed's rapid fire
pluck making everything right. Some fun!
"Ebony" was just the one I'd been waiting for all day.
Satin wood clarinets; b-flat, bass, countrabass. DeJohnette
featured on a sampling device that chameleoned a grand
piano like nothing I have ever heard. Beatiful. Opening
statements on the clarinets yielding surprising alternatives
in soloing; Osby switched from b-flat to soprano sax to solo
tiptoe neo-classical with DeJohnette's piano-type rhapsodies.
Purcell climbed from bass clarinet to flute. Shimmering
golden patina. Johnson struck with the contrabass (doubly
deep) clarinet augmented by electrical reinforcements for
his stirring solo. Bassy Gumbo with Reed
bowing like a molasses covered ladle. Sweet syrup guys!
"Festival" was another tour de force in a South American
mood. One by one the horns spoke of serious partying. More
fun. Wild ensemble inventions with driving wind drums.
Sagebrush rolling before the stage. Howard Johnson smiling
in approval at his fellow reed men. Sharing high-key asides
with Rufus Reid. You could tell that these guys enjoy each
other. And they all know how bad Rufus Reid is.
The highlight of the first set was a rewarding warmhearted
rendering of Ornette C-olemen's beautiful composition "The
Blessing." And such a blessing it was! Three fine horn
players giving so much attention and energy. Insisting on so
much fun! O rhythm section more than rhythm section. Oh
Jack! Oh Rufus! Outbop joy! Outward bound saxophonics.
Dolphy's winged spirit playing in the corner to an old Charlie
Parker record. Through Osby's alto. Howard brings forth
the f-tuba for some basement jazz horning. Oompa-pa yeah!
The piece ended with the saxes trading fours with DeJohnet-
te; three or four glorious rounds. I say again what fun!
It still reads like a visionary experience? Hmmm...!

Daily photo by KATE O'LEARY
Drummer Jack DeJohnette, pictured above, and his Special Edition played with heart'and spirit last Monday at the
Ark. The concert was not necessarily a transcendental experience, but it sure was fun.

Dancers showcase

hard work

By Susanne Baum
" ance attracts people who like ad-
venture," exclaims Jessica
Fogel, a half-time assistant professor of
dance. "Dancers are constantly
meeting the moment," adds Susan
Creitz, a faculty member of the Dance
Department.
These two dynamic performers will
present "An Evening of Dance Theater
with Susan Creitz and Jessica Fogel "
tonight and tomorrow night in the Dan
ce Building Studio A Theater, beginning
at 8 p.m. Featured will be two
premieres, a solo by Creitz, set to
her own vocal score and a duet by both
dancers entitled, "Trio for Staircase
And Two Women." Creitz will direct an
ensemble of faculty and guest perfor-
mers in a concert entitled, "An After-
noon of Improvisational Dance
Theater," on Sunday in the Dance
Studio A Theater beginning at 3 p.m.
Fogel sees herself as a dan-
cer/choreographer without an
egotistical desire to make millions. "If
one person has beenhmoved by my
work," says Fogel, "Then I have been
successful."

Fogel has a gift for incorporating
special effects into her dances. In a
previous work entitled, "Engfield in
Winter," the audience could not resist
the dramatic, bold flavor of the
movement and the awesome special ef-
fects. Three blank slide projectors were
focused on the rear wall of the stage
and the dancers moved in and out of the
blank screens. It was breath-taking to
see movement in pairs-the actual
dancer's bodies and the highly
magnified bodies on the slide projec-
tions.
Susan Creitz says she has been "gyp-
sying around the country for the last
five years promoting improvisation as
a performance art." Creitz says she
simply, "Loves to dance," and handles
the sacrifices of a performance career
by "laughing about having no furniture
in my apartment."
In improvisation, dancers go on
stage without choreography, time and
stage space are the only fixed elements.
Movement is stimulated by the audien-
ce and other dancers, thus the audience
witnesses the construction of a dance
that they in part influenced.
Other featured performers include
the electrifying Gay DeLanghe and Bill
DeYoung of the University Dance
Department. Fogel and Creitz welcome
an "open-minded audience, eager for
images and people of any race, creed,
or color."

Now Showing
STATE THEATRE
FRIDAY: 5:00, 7:00, 9:00
SATURDAY: 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, 9:00

Dancers Susan Creitz, Jessica Fogel, and a staircase are pictured from their
"Trio for Staircase And Two Women," which will premiere tonight in the
Studio A Theatre of the Dance Building.

A

I

Records
The Bongos-Beat Hotel
x (RCA/Vicfor)
For some time now, the American
music scene has hosted a number of pop-
rock bands that have at times ap-
proached but never quite achieved,
national recognition or prominence.
The New York based Bongos exemplify
this musical subculture to which such
bands as the Db's and Let's Active
belong. The Bongos share another
element with these other bands-that of
their guitar-oriented, late sixties-ish
popmusic.
P Previous to their latest album, Beat
Hotel, the Bongos had released an EP,
Numbers with Wings, and another album
Drums along the Hudson. Their newest
{effort displays a slight departure from
a the formula of their earlier
releases-Beat Hotel is neither great
nor unbearable.
The album opens with "Space
Jungle" a very straight-forward, up-
beat rock tune ala the Monkees.
Melodically, it's probably the best tune
on the album and most similar to the
songs on earlier Bongos albums.

Other notable tunes include "Beat
Hotel," which is a blatant homage to
late '60s bands such as the Zombies.
Even the lyrics of the song recall a
major Zombies hit, with the line Hey
what's your name/won't you take
me to your room? Still, it has some
nice backing vocals and more energy
than other cuts on the album. "Totem
Pole," also displays more spark than
most cuts on the album.
The sources of inspiration are pain-
fully obvious. "Brave New World"
sounds like Duran Duran and the lyrics
are even more ridiculous. "She Starts
Shaking" conjures images of Echo and
the Bunnymen on valium and "Come
Back to Me" is a Flock of Seagulls song
without keyboards. Obviously the
Bongos have assimilated many dif-
ferent styles-not necessarily desirable
ones.
Even worse than the music, which
really isn't that bad, are the lyrics.
Songwriter' Rich Barone has
achieved some gut-wrenchingly blat-
tant cliches such as The Drum beats
in perfect time/ Your heart beats in-
to mine-hardly Dylan.
Even so, the Bongos bill themselves

as a pop band and most people don't
listen to pop music for lyrics anyway
(or R.E.M. would never have gotten a
recording contract.)
Beat Hotel lacks what other bands of
this genre, Any Trouble or Wiretrain,
for example, have been able to give
their music-spark. The songs are all
tight and neat but the band takes no
chances and rarely deviates from the
simplicity of their pop formula. There

are no. inspired guitar solos, clever
backing vocals, curious bass lines nor
any studio effects to maintain listener -
interest.
Even though the album contains no
really awful material, the overall effect
of the simplicity of the playing and
writing is to make the album boring,
and to stifle any compulsion one might
have to dig this album out for repeated
listenings. -David Altman

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