Banda Elástica — Aquí, Allá y Acullá
(Azafrán Media CDLN-50, 2008/2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-10-28
It’s always good to hear something new, or even old as it may be, from this long running Mexican band who got their start in the early 80s, and were last heard from on their 2003 release Ai Tencargo. This is in fact a 30th anniversary archival live collection featuring excerpts of performances spanning from 1994 through 2008. For those unfamiliar, their sound has evolved over the years from a more composed jazz-rock eventually encompassing more elements of improvisation, eschewing what might be considered fusion in favor of more acoustic sound with ethnic coloration and, due to the strong presence of mallet percussion (mostly marimba), a perceived influence of Frank Zappa might be detected in their grooves. When in improvisational mode, some influence from Henry Cow and other RIO ensembles can be detected as well. Membership has varied over the years, usually numbering six or seven, including bass, drums, guitar, usually two woodwind players (flute and saxes), one or two marimbas, and additional percussion. This set begins with a six song set from 1994 at the Knitting Factory in NYC, in more composed mode similar to what might be heard on the band’s studio albums from that period, Los Awakates de Nepantla and Maquizocoatl. This leads into an improvisation recorded at a festival in Trondheim in 2006, followed by a shorter piece, “Fierabras,” that starts out composed but quickly morphs into a wild blowing session, then finds its way back after a mere four minutes. The remainder of the disc features three improvisations with various guests players, not unlike the material on the band's 1997 album Catalogo de Tiradores; the first is a leaner five-piece Banda Elástica with guest sax player David Barret from 1999; the second, from 2006 features a six-piece BE with guest Alejandro Sanchez on violin. The third improvisation from 2008 is by far the most intense and engaging of the three, featuring the same six-piece with second drummer Chris Cutler guesting, the dual drum solo being one of the high points of the entire disc. All taken, this set is an outstanding cross-section of the band’s live persona through the years.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more