The Michigan Daily Tuesday, October 1,1985
Page 5 .1
Chick Corea lacks inspiration
By Marc S. Taras
ATURDAY NIGHT'S Michigan
S Theatre date with Chick
Corea's new Elektric Trio had it's
moments. The playing was letter per-
Vect and yet somehow the keyboard
virtuoso's new group failed to deliver
what one might have hoped for in in-
spiration and warmth. It is a little dif-
ficult to pin down. Could it be that the
young princes have no heart?
O.K., whoa! Slow down. Back up.
I'll admit to my sins. In fairness to
these great players I must allow that
the audience was on their side. Won
over. There is no doubt that if you
came to the Michigan Theatre hungry
for fusion music you received an adult
portion. And I, alas, was late enough
to catch only the last half of the
longis'h set from the Elektric Band. I
heard tell of great acoustic bass work
from young John Patatucci. Well, I
missed it, and the big bass lay dor-
mant for the last hour or so as John
favored the electric version. Too bad.
That last hour was all this listener
needed - in terms of pleasure and in
measure of disappointment.
When I arrived the band was
booking along full tilt. This first piece
was probably the highlight for me. It
was a wonderful vamp held down to
the bottom by Patatucci and drum-
mer Dave Weckl, while leader/com-
poser Corea waltzed along joyfully.
The sound was amazing! The elec-
tronics were upfront in full force as
Chick tinkered with a bevy of com-
puterese keyboards before each song.
Fine tuning. The problem here is that
the listener tends to get swept along
with the technology and the sonic ef-
fects rather than the music. Is such a
distinction permissible? Especially
from someone like me who hears
voices in the wildest saxophone blort?
I don't know. Does that synthesizer
pick up UHF? The Turner Super-
erCan : the brothers Kaufman
N INETEEN-eighty-five. We
whisk about in compacted
automobiles, our lives a collective
froth of futuristic mayhem. I watched
Joe's Star Lounge being bulldozed. A
skyscraper, one of Lou Belcher's,
will appear. It is a sleek and terrible
progress. I race home as fast as I
can and wind up the gramaphone.
Through the frosty haze of surface
noise, the ancient Columbia 78 blasts
its song into the air, fragmented
echo of early 20th century popular
I would never have paid any atten-
tion to this stuff if it hadn't seemed
so relevant. And there is something
mysterious going on here. I'm a '57
model, and I'm getting nostalgia
rushes off of recordings waxed in
1919. Would someone please ex-
plain this phenomenon?
The Avon Comedy Four. Singing
"Yaaka Hila Hickey Dula," a
Hawaiian novelty number, done in
extended barbershop quartet
fashion. One-fourth of the Four was
Irving Kaufman, session man of the
'teens, '20s, and '30s. His tenor voice
harmonizes carefully with the others
in the execution of this hopelessly
outdated number, a standard topical
piece of America circa the First
Hawaii was still somewhat newly
annexed to our loudly self-
congratulatory puzzle of States.
Hawaii! Land of bronzed, scantily-
clad women, singing simple native
rhapsodies and beckoning to the
stiff-collared lads of the mainland.
Poor idiots. Well, here it is on record
and we've simply got to face it.
Irving Kaufman. I actually
located a photograph of this gent,
and he looked about the way you'd
expect him to. The jowls.and archly
boned schnozz merely add to the
mystique. How will we ever truly
understand Irving Kaufman, or his
brother Jack, for that matter.
Starting with the Avon Comedy
Four, and tracing him as a solo
novelty artist, Irving's career
follows the course of cheesy quack
through 1946, according to a
meticulously assembled reference
They compare him to Al Jolson.
The only resemblance between the
two is their both fronting a studio or-
chestra and singing fluffy popular
jazz in excessively loud tones.
You might just as well compare
Billy Murray, Eddie Cantor, Bert
Williams, and Tom Waring. Each
had his own schtick, with definite
trademarks and idiosyncracies, and
any attempt to compare styles must
be carried out with caution and
Irving Kaufman sounded more
like his brother than Jolson.
To be sure, there were Jolson
imitators, but Irving was not among
them. And as I assemble his recor-
dings, culled from some 10 years of
random 78 rpm record collecting, I
am struck by the different settings
in which both Kaufmans appeared.
Usually an artist would stick with
one or possibly two labels.
Irving can be heard on the Regal,
Diva, Conqueror, Domino, and
Columbia labels, as well as his Vic-
tor sessions with the Avons.
Jack appears in tandem with Ir-
ving and also with Arthur Fields
(great patriotic singer of the First
World War), both on the Columbia
label and the mysterious Harmony
label - this last a forgotten gold-
mine of antiquated Rinky Dink Fox
Irving's post-WWI debut, on the
Columbia label, was not doubt a
great hit when it appeared. For ob-
vious reasons, in the years 1918-1925
there were countless tunes emerging
which betrayed a fascination with
French women. After all, our boys
marched through Europe as suc-
cessful heroes, and heroes are often
given special treatment.
Irving's scandalously driven "Oui,
Oui, Marie," with its insistent "If I
do this for you, will you do that for
me?" has been baffling collectors
for decades. How filthy is the mind
of the Average American Fellow?
And do we want to know ourselves so
"Meet Me Tonight in
Dreamland," later to become a
favorite with Dixie Revivalists in the
late '40s, is sung with true Caucasian
waltz chutzpah. Irving Berlin's
"Always," the torch song of the cen-
tury, becomes rigid and as
disquietingly soothing as a
During prohibition, Irving Berlin
composed a cheerful ode to the
pleasures of Cuba, where one could
sail for alcoholic beverages and
relax out of reach of the arm of the
law. He wrote it on his honeymoon,
in fact. Jack Kaufman recorded a
swell version of it on Columbia
records, and to this day "I'll See You
In C-U-B-A" can still be heard, in
fact the Chenille Sisters do a heck of
a nice arrangement of it. Check
them out for happy hour at Old
Irving waxed plenty of entertain-
ment, hopping from label to label,
leaving us with hot versions of "St.
Louis Blues," 'Glad Rag Doll,'
"Some Of These Days," and the ex-
citing "Mr. Jazz Himself."
His rendition of "Tonight's My
Night With Baby," is at least as fun-
ny and thrilling as the cast-iron take
recorded around the same time by
Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians
(before they became a glee club).
This particular disc is much more
interesting to behold, as it's on
brown vinyl. You don't see very
many records around which are the
color of warm fudge.
The ultimate statement,- though,
was made by Jack Kaufman, on the
Harmony label. "You'll Never Be
Missed A Hundred Years From
Now" offers better advice than hor-
des of bible-thumpers, philan-
thropists, and rhetoriticians could
hope to conjure. Throw away that
herring, says Jack, and get yourself
a steak. And a good cigar. You'll
Never Be Missed A Hundred Years
From Now. Believe it.
Tune in this Thursday Night at
7, for an hour with Irving and
Jack Kaufman, Twin Pillars of
Vocalized Dink on arwulf ar-
wulf's radio clinic, "You've Got
To Be Modernistic" on WCBN
88.3 FM, Radio Free Ann Arbor.
Though the set was exceedingly
well rendered I would suggest that
Chick seems to have lost his com-
positional edge. The tunes were
repetitive, samey-like, and lacking in
heart, soul, and plain warmth. Before
playing a pair of pieces, "Bubble
Bop" and "India," Chick held up a
page of sheet music which expanded
four times in his hands before he laid
it out above his new prototype Fen-
der-Rhodes electric piano. It seemed
to be a metaphor of this new music.
Heavily charted. I mean almost
dangerously locked into place. Can
these guys move sideways within this
sort of framework?
"India" was another highlight. It's
hypnotic groove reminded me of
Philip Glass and his shifting-sands
rhythm music. Coreasquatsi. Eastern
electronic noodling with sympathetic
rhythm. Behind the band was a
shifting tapestry of urban scenes
projected on a triangular screen.
Time lapse exposures of city streets.
Automobile taillights extended to
fiery streaks. Dwee-dwee dwee-dwee,
dwee-dwee dwee-dwee, you are about
to enter a fourth dimension....
Was it fuzak? A friend made this
suggestion and I tend to agree. I was
surprised , as this was a term that I
coined (as well as others apparently)
years ago to describe program-
matic music that relies heavily on the
inspiration of the Mahavishnu Or-
chestra; the rhythms and com-
positions of Billy Cobham and John
Mclaughlin. To some extent the old
Return to Forever band fell under this
category. As far as the new band
Doily Photo by DARRIAN SMITH
Chick Corea delivered a lackluster performance at the Michigan Theater
Saturday night. Nevertheless, the audience was on his side.
goes, these limitations are even more sounds great...maybe I missed -the
apparent. However the jury will best in the first half.... Maybe I need
recess until the album is available for electronic ear filters...maybe a
review. Good luck Chick. saxophone could have made the dif-
I loved this music 12 years ago and ference...may I squonk for -you?
the Inner Mounting Flame LP still Heeeya-wonk-wonk-wonk! Oh well.
Concertgebouw thrills audience at Hill
By Rebecca Chung
THE CONCERTGEBOUW Or-
chestra of Amsterdam, Bernard
Haitink conducting, gave a wonderful,
performance, Saturday night. The or-
chestra brought the music alive with
beautiful contrasts in dynamics and
tempo, as well as highly expressive
The most memorable moments of
the concert included the oboist's
beautiful rendition of the long solo in
Bizet's Symphony in C Major, the in-
terplay of winds in Jeux, and the
finale of Beethoven's Seventh,nwhich
The only imperfections occurred in
the beginning of the second movement
of the Beethoven symphony, where
the opening chord was neither well-
placed nor expressively executed, and
in the opening of the Bizet, which
Haitink is an impressive conductor.
Every look and body movement coun-
ts for him; one could see the care and
concentration he was exerting as he
shaped single notes and dynamic con-
trasts. His handling of Jeux was
masterful - delicate, organized, and
well-communicated to the orchestra.
By far, the greatest success of the
evening was the Beethoven sym-
phony. Fiery, intense, beautiful,
haunting - the audience was en-
thusiastic as well. One heard com-
ments like "Wow, wasn't thatfun?,"
"Good job!," "They played a rouser
of a Beethoven, didn't they?" The
greatest compliment both composer
and performers received, however,
came from a young man who said, "It
was as if Beethoven had taken every
emotion I ever had and wrote it
After a nearly instantaneous stan-
ding ovation, the Concertgebouw Or-
chestra honored the audience by
playing two encores: "Turkish Mar-
ch" from Beethoven's The Ruins of
Athens, and the "Hungarian March"
from Hector Berlioz's Damnation of
Faust. Both were renderedi exuberan-
tly and joyfully. There was even a
female cello player in the orchestra
who simply could not refrain from-
smiling, perhaps indicating that she;
was enjoying herself as much as the;
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