May 5, 2014

First visit at Jazzclub Unterfahrt

I'm living in Munich for six years now, quite exactly, and have never been to a concert at Jazzclub Unterfahrt, the one and only regular jazz club here with a regular program (7 days per week!). Well, I have no other excuse for my slackness than: I like to sit around at home. Very much so.

Well, but recently I attended the inaugural meeting of an IT group that I have a professional interest in. And there I met a woman who is considering Jazzclub Unterfahrt to be her second living-room. Long story short: She got an idea of my musical taste and kept informing me not only about our mutual professional interest, but also about our mutual cultural interests. Showered with mouthwatering information I couldn't keep resisting forever, so informed Grace that we'll have to go to a concert of Ches Smith & These Arches. That's Ches Smith, Mary Halvorson, Tim Berne, Tony Malaby and Andrea Parkins. Sounds like a dream-team, and it was.

Tim Berne doesn't take side-man jobs too often, and if he does, he probably requires enough space for his own aesthetics. He did get that with Ches Smith & These Arches, so much that Ches Smith's compositions often sounded as if they were Berne's. However, we should not let ourselves be tricked by stardom - and if we must, then at least we should acknowledge that this group is an all-star band. But we don't have to follow this track. Let's abandon the stardom concept altogether. This group is more about crafting interesting sound-scapes together as a group, propulsed with interesting, intricate rhythms. The two sax-players perfectly blended when creating such sound-scapes, with especially Malaby occasionally throwing in some extended technique playing (like over- or microtonal). The melodious duties were shared between the saxophonists and guitarist Mary Halvorson, while Halvorson together with Smith also was responsible for the rhythms. Andrea Parkins was mostly present when she was triggering some live electronics from her laptop; when she was on accordion her sounds mostly got lost in the mix.

A day after the show I heard from a person who was working at the club that Berne and Malaby had some serious quarrels before the gig. If that was the case, then they were very professional in hiding their disagreements during the concert. Or were they even sublimating them and thus being driven to higher aesthetic achievement? I don't know any details, it's vain to speculate about what was going on between them. If it leads them to higher peaks, well, so be it. If it would lead to bring those musicians apart, this were a pity.

A very recommendable group, interesting persons playing interesting music, music harmony, melody and motion. (No, no, they certainly don't sound after harmolodics... but the words just fit to describe These Arches as well.)

(all photos (c) by Grace Fu)

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