The Michigan Daily - Friday, Novemberr 12,1993-9
Quartet will bring
improv style to Hill
By KEREN SCHWEITZER
"Jazz musicians are unique individuals in the world of sound. Along with
the improvisatory aspect, the jazz musician also composes, orchestrates and
transcribes music." (Max Roach, New York City,May 1989) Max Roach, the
legendary jazz drummer, was referring to the Uptown String Quartet, a group
he assembled as a direct outgrowth of the Max Roach Double Quartet. This
group performs contemporary American music consisting exclusively of
works from the African American genre, as well as new improvisatory works
by the members of the string quartet. Their success in introducing new sounds
and compositions into the concert hall is what makes their Ann Arbor debut
this weekend such a special treat.
All four members of the group were classically trained in some of the
country's leading music conservatories. The quartet consists of violinists
Diane Monroe and Lesa Terry, cellist Eileen M. Folson and violist Maxine
Roach. Cellist Eileen M. Folson is an aluhna of the University of Michigan
School of Music, where she received her Bachelor and Master of Music
Maxine Roach, daughter of Max Roach explained, "the concept of the
string quartet was conceived of by my father twelve years ago, he wanted four
Black female musicians, and this particular personnel has been together for
Roach spoke of the ensemble's longstanding commitment to expanding the
traditional image of the string quartet. "The string quartet is a unit taken from
the Western European classical tradition,"she said. "We have taken that form,
and we have added our creative part, which is improvisation. The tradition of
improvisation in this country is not new, but the idea of incorporating it into
a string quartet is."
Roach acknowledged and applauded the existence of other ensembles that
have also been successful in expanding the concert hall repertoire, particularly
for string quartets. "There are other groups breaking out of the mold like the
Kronos Quartet to namejust one, that are creating their own repertorie outside
of the classics," she said.
TheUptown String Quartethas mostnotably enriched theirrepertoire from
performing improvisations and arrangements to composing original works for
the group. Each member of the quartet composes and arranges works that they
regularly perform. Nevertheless,this expansion into composition has taken the
members time to develop and to perfect. Roach said, "We are all students, and
we are always learning. Our art is improvisation, and because we were all
classically trained it has taken time to move from improvisation to original
Roach spoke of the importance ofperforming "America's classical music,"
including composers such as Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, James Brown and
Charlie Parker. The group also loves to perform rags, gospels and spirituals all
of which will be heard this weekend. The Uptown String Quartet has already
recorded two albums, the mostrecententitled, "Wait A Minute." Roach spoke
of returning to the studio again in the near future.
The Uptown String Quartet will perform this Saturday night at Hill
Auditorium at 8:00 pm. Tickets are available from the UMS box office
(763-2458) for $14-$22. $8 Student Rush Tickets available at the Union
Ticket Office on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. UMS and North Campus
Commons are co-sponsoring North Campus Rush, from 11:30 a.m. to 2
p.m. on Friday, next to Little Caesar's.
Boy oh boy! The Cows are coming to the Michigan Union Ballroom (that's the U-Club to those of you in the know) on Saturday. Following in the footsteps of
rock gods MC5 and the Stooges, who are both rumored to have played the Union, this Amphetamine Reptile Records staple is using the U-Club to play the
Detroit area for the third time in nine months. Known for their whacky stage antics, such as wearing triple-breasted woman costumes, the Cows are
masters of loud and angry guitar music coupled with nifty twisted lyrics of a sexy and violent Flintstone bent. They're fun, fun, fun and they're here, here,
here. Doors open at 8 p.m., and you can Entree Plus a ticket to see the bovine boys, along with opening bands Vineland, Rodan and Don Cabellero.
Continued from page 8
The Afghan Whigs
While Sub Pop Records has been
the breeding ground for such "grunge"
bands as Nirvana, Mudhoney and Tad,
the king of independent labels also
started the rise of the Afghan Whigs,
a band with as much intensity as the
aforementioned bands but without the
abrasive guitars. The Whigs, from
Cincinnati, were also the first band
outside of the Seattle area to release
an album on Sub Pop.
The Afghan Whigs are fronted by
singer/guitarist Greg Dulli, whose
songwriting focuses on disillusion-
ment in life. Dulli has done some
brilliant work on "Gentlemen," the
bands major label debut on Elektra.
His writing delivers whole stories,
rather than scattered lines of poetry,
within the framework of the songs.
The finest example is "Fountain and
Fairfax" which tells of a man who
sobered up for his girlfriend only to
have her leave him, and he then turns
back to the bottle. The song contains
such stunning lines as "Angel, I'm
sober /Igot off that stuffj ust like you
asked me to / Angel, come closer / So
the stink of your lies sinks into my
Dulli's singing is powerful and
demands that attention be paid to the
lyrics. However, even though his voice
is the focal point, the Afghan Whigs'
music is just as good. Their music can
be subtle ("Be Sweet" and "When We
Two Parted") or more aggressive
("Debonair" and "Now You Know")
but is always intricate. The guitar
melodies are beautiful and the rhythm
is strong. The addition of piano on a
few tracks also adds some wonderful
melody to the mix.
Dulli has said before that the Af-
ghan Whigs are influenced by soul
music more than any other style. This
isn't very obvious by listening to the
album, but, in fact, this is music of the
soul, of the heart and of the mind.
"Gentlemen" is one of the best re-
leases of 1993.
- Matt Carlson
The Dead Milkmen
Not Richard, But Dick
Some of you may remember the
Dead Milkmen as the band that did
the hilarious "Bitchin' Camaro" in
the '80s. Well, the days Qf "Bitchin'
Camaro" and even "Punk Rock Girl"
are gone. The Dead Milkmen's latest
release, "Not Richard, But Dick,"'has
nothing that even comes remotely
close to the sharp, bratty wit of their
There are a few decent tracks on
the album including "I Dream of
Jesus" which is about a boy whose
mother finds Jesus in aMinneschevitz
bottle and starts her own religious
cult. As far as lyrics go, "I Dream of
Jesus" is the only song that can actu-
ally be called funny.
The Dead Milkmen venture away
from their usual lightweight rock /
punk rockabilly on acouple of tracks,
and the outcome is vaguely humor-
ous. "Not Crazy" is a trippy piece of
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"discofied" elevator music, and "The
Woman Who Was Also A Mongoose"
adds a little flute to the mix which
creates an Irish-folk sound. Unfortu-
nately, the words are not witty enough
to back up the music.
"Not Richard, But Dick" fails to
hold up to expectations created by
previous albums like "Big Lizard in
My Backyard" and "Beelzebubba."
Hopefully, The Dead Milkmen are in
a temporary rut and will eventually
return to the humor of prior efforts.
- Matt Carlson
Souls at Zero
Souls at Zero
The unfortunate consequence of
being preceded by a band with your
sound is that you are accused of rip-
ping them off. The first band that has
a release is not always the originator.
Take Stone Temple Pilots as an ex-
ample. They claim to have been play-
ing for years in the LA club scene
using a version of what is now the
Seattle sound. Do you believe them?
Whether you do or not, you probably
consider them worthy of blame none-
theless. Souls at Zero has a similar
Souls at Zero sounds so much like
Pantera, it's painful to listen to at
times. There are segments through-
out almost every song that can be
identified as staples of the Pantera
sound. Even the lyrics try to copycat
Phil Anselmo's isolation and anger.
The music is well executed, but the
compositions are unimaginative and
easily forgettable. They can't match
the power of Pantera.
Every band starts out consciously
or unconsciously emulating the sound
of their influences. The groups that
survive are the ones that add their
own elements to the style so as to
make it their own. Groups like Souls
at Zero, however, fade quickly into
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