- ... m
Ihe Michigan Uaily Friday, March 22, 1991
Guess who's coming to wah-wah?
by Forrest Green I1
Attitude, influences, brains and
hair; for all the right reasons, Big
Chief is one of a tenuous number of
rock bands that matter today. The
group traces its irresistible grooves
from jazz saxophonist Pharoah
Sanders' Tauhid album, studied by
the quintessential rock influence
Iggy and the Stooges, who would in
turn be emulated by a struggling
"colored, freak rock band" helmed by
George Clinton. Big Chief's mem-
bers then noted the dark, erotic and
anguished frenzy of Funkadelic
guitarists Eddie Hazel and Tawl
Actually, Big Chief vocalist
Barry Henssler is quick to dismiss
what seems like a very timely influ-
ence to cite in all musical circles
nowadays. "It's like what Kristin
Palm said that... they talked way too
much about our hair," Henssler says.
"I also agree that that's true, but
they also talked too much about this
funk influence. Because it's there,
you know, you go through my
records and there they are. You
know, I listen to James Brown and
... blah blah blah, but I listen to
Black Flag and I listen to Alice
Cooper. Stuff that, to me, isn't even
One of Big Chief's strengths is
actually the way that it integrates its
influences. The band often renders
the Funkadelic classic "Friday Night,
August 14th" with passion and a
much-deserved reverence, but not
without some reinterpretation.
Rather than attempting to replicate
Hazel's and Ross' time-bound,
acerbic guitar tones, guitarists Phil
Durr and Mark Dancey reinterpret the
funk by displacing the structure of
their guitar playing in a way that is
in there sometimes, but it's not like
that at all... They were also asking
us, 'What do you think about all
these Manchester bands, influenced
by this-and-that?' We're like, look
man, this is like a Phil Durr generic
quote to those questions: 'Look,
there's no such thing as a funky
As well as noting that funk and
rap are, inherently, American stan-
dards, Henssler acknowledges that
the turntable and the sampler are cur-
rently the two greatest innovations
in popular music. Obscure samples
turned up in the first two singles,
"Get Down And Double Check" and
"Super Stupid." The latter song, a
Funkadelic cover about scoring dope
in Detroit, ends with a snippet of the
Last Poets' "Jones Comin' Down."
The former song exemplifies
Henssler's approach to lyrics -
ambiguity - with only six words
being repeated throughout: "Get
down and double check, ba-a-a-beee."
The metallic mettle of "Double
Check" is underlined by a
Stoogesque intricacy, and the band's
newer material promises to be even
more complicated and multifaceted
than the Drive It Off album.
I asked Henssler his personal
opinion of Big Chief's context in
rock; whether he feels as much as I
do that the bastard approach under-
mines the elitism of critics ignoring
the power of a tragically underrated
rock album like Free Your Mind
And Your Ass Will Follow.
"Yeah, my ego would like to
make me believe that, too," Henssler
said. "When I think about it, any
really good rock has that sort of
BIG CHIEF headlines at St. An-
drew's Hall on Saturday, with the
BUCK PETS opening. Tickets are
$5.50 at TicketMaster (plus the evil
Yeah, they share the name of a mescaline brand and a Professor Long-
hair song and a kind of sugar, but this Big Chief ain't too sweet, bobba.
rhythmic and urgent, but still their Like Primus?" says Henssler.
own. "'Cause over in Europe, the new
"Another weird thing is, in burgeoning thing was like, white
Europe, people would be like, you boys playing kind of funky music,"
'Look, there's no such thing as a funky Brit'
- Big Chief vocalist Barry Henssler, quoting
Big Chief guitarist Phil Durr, on the
Robin Holcomb, blender of
On her previous album, Larks, They Crazy, Robin Holcomb performed
her own experimental jazz compositions, backed by a killer band who
superbly complemented Holcomb's talent. On her newest, eponymous
album, Holcomb melds her sparsely-worded poetry to slightly more
accessible music, music that blends elements of avant-garde jazz,
rock and folk. Holcomb brings her somber music and her ace musician
friends (including bassist/tuba player Dave Hofstra and Naked City
keyboardist Wayne Horvitz) to Alvin's (5756 Cass in Detroit) at 8 p.m.
on Saturday. Tickets are $10.00 in advance, available at TicketMaster.
know, you're funk influenced and
you have long hair, and you're also a
rock band. Do you feel similar to,
like, Faith No More? You know
what I mean, like that kind of shit?
he continues. "We're like, look,
we're not a part of that at all. That's
definitely not our thing, out there:
'All right!' (imitates the sound of a
bass guitar being slapped silly). It's
* Holland mixes musical styles
by Peter Shapiro
A fter playing jazz of the most
experimental strain in the early '70s,
Dave Holland has settled down.
When he arrived in New York in
1968, Holland came under the sway
of alto saxophonist Anthony Brax-
ton and the Eric Dolphy-influenced
multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers.
His rhythm work, usually paired
with drummer Barry Altschul, re-in-
troduced a swinging sense of melodi-
cism into avant garde jazz. As com-
pared to the sparse and stark style of
Malachi Favors, Fred Hopkins or the
furious Bartokian intellectualism of
Buell Neidlinger, Holland's bass
playing on the 1972 album Confer-
ence of the Birds, for example,
sounded like the re-birth of Mingus'
gospel-funk period of the late '50s.
Since then, though, Holland has
gone mainstream, or maybe the
mainstream has caught up with him.
Holland doesn't indulge in the fash-
ionable neo-classicism of the
Marsalis', though, instead participat-
ing in the post-fusion experimenta-
tion of guitarist Kevin Eubanks and
M-BASErs Steve Coleman and Mar-
vin "Smitty" Smith. All of the mu-
sicians in the current Dave Holland
Quartet are concerned with linking
the age-old traditions of the blues
continuum with a distinctly modern
and accessible music.
This conscious effort can be most
obviously seen on Steve Coleman's
latest record, Rhythm People: The
Resurrection of Creative Black
Civilization, on which all the mem-
bers of Holland's group play. The
See HOLLAND, Page 8
Quality Dry Cleaning
and Shirt Service
332 Maynard St.
across from Nickels Arcade
He's vile, he's no-good,
and a thousand women
would love to spend the rest
of their lives with him.
Mozart's Classic opera
about the Don Juan myth
Mar 27 -30at 8 PM
Sung in Italian
with English supertitles
School of Music Opera Theatre
University Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Martin Katz
Directed by Travis Preston
Tickets are $12 and $9.
Student seating is $5 with ID
at the League Ticket Office.
At Columbia this summer, you can enjoy New York whileyou:
7: 'a U
Brand CLIP NOTES
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"fulfill distribution and departmental requirements in introductory, advanced,
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the human skeleton, Glasnost and Perestroika, the American presidency, the -
psychobiology of sleep, historical geology organism and environment, James Joyce,
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