Sunday, September 16, 2012

Guelph Colloquium Day 2

The morning started out with a keynote address on ethics and jazz pedagogy by David Ake from the University of Nevada, Reno.  After that I caught panels on Jazz Activism, Curating Diversity and Inclusiveness and Improvised Spacemaking.  My new Italian-in-Canada friend Sara Villa gave a good talk on women Beat poets and jazz poetry, a topic much in need of such attention. David Jackson offered a presentation on Bill Dixon (one of my favorite trumpet playes of the Free Jazz era) and his "17 Musicians in Search of a Sound: Darfur."

The noon hour was given over to a workshop on the topic of one man bands,  Easy enough for a percussionist, perhaps; maybe even easy enough for a hurdy gurdy player (though who ever expected to find that instrument at a jazz festival -- rather like Rufus Harley's adoption of the bagpipes to play things like an amazing jazz version of "Eight Miles High") -- but the prize for most surprisingly fulfilling the concept of the one man band goes to Colin Stetson, who brought his bass sax from Quebec.  Rahsaan Roland Kirk had pioneered the sax player as one man band, appearing on stage wearing a whole music store hanging from his neck. Kirk would play three horns at once, in harmony, than top it with a note blown on a nose flute.  Stetson does it all with one horn and his body.  He has the entire horn miced so that he can produce a plethora of percussion effects along with making use of the sound of his breath, and he appears to be expert at circular breathing, as was Kirk. And, still in the Kirk mode, as Rahsaan would hum harmony lines over his own flute lines, Stetson mics his throat and sings along with his sax.  This would all just be show if it weren't for his remarkable musicianship and composition skills.

The second day closed with a performance by Muskox, who I would tell you reminded me of early seveties Happy The Man, if more of you outside D.C. and New York had ever heard Happy the Man.

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