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SoundGround >> Fretless Fusioneer Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski & Gamak


3/3/13 3:24 AM
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Ali
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That's an amazing band. It's really knotty, difficult music -- they eat math rockers for breakfast. But lots of heavy rocking the way Fiuczynski plays guitar for them.

The drummer is mostly in a Tony Williams mode, a lot of just-head-of-the beat stuff and 16-note, chattering hi-hat pulse through the crazy polyrhythms. And of course the bassist could do all that crazy rhythmic stuff, too; he's kind of the anti-Haden in terms of both the notes and a tendency to live very high on the neck, in cello range, for long stretches (maybe like Eddie Gomez?)

Mostly, Fiuczynski is the star of the show, with endless surprises in tonal variation and melodic invention. I've heard a lot of fretless guitar players, and really... he's the only one I like. And I more than like him. I shook his hand at the end of the show, didn't really get to talk to him, but I heard him say to another guy who expressed admiration for the fretless playing "Yeah, out of tune with impunity!"

The compositions are really interesting, sometimes a bit "heady". All impressive, some more memorable than others for sure. There was a solo sax intro to the tune "Ballad for Troubled Times" that was breathtaking; I don't think it's on the record, I think that was just Rudresh improvising. It was like really intense birdsong.

Sometimes there's some really beautiful theme for the first half or third of a tune, then it shifts into something else that I thought was ... well, should have been a different tune. Like there's this transcendent beauty for a few minutes and then a bunch of egg-heady math-y stuff which is super impressive but kind of brought it back down to earth.

That's the worst thing I have to say about it, anyway, and that wasn't really too bad.
3/3/13 12:18 PM
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Ali
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Hugo, have seen this? Awesomeness. This is Rudresh and Fiuczynski, with guest keyboardist John Medeski in the front line. Not Gamak -- this was a Fiuczynski-led band. More funk/soul groove, with that wacky Fuzy fretless fing:

3/3/13 12:38 PM
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hugomma
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No I haven't heard that. That head was ridiculous. Man that twisted harmonization that Rudresh started 7:57 was nuts. I love the first few notes in Fuze's solo; that raw beginner sound he was going for. And his fretless solo sounded more like a demented slide that a sitar.

And Rudresh...for the first second of his solo, it almost sounds like he's going for that R&B/Saturday Night Live/Happy Sax sound. Then be becomes the guy I went to see two nights in a row, except in funk/groove setting.

Although I'm not a M, M,(S), & W fan, I enjoy John Medeski's tones & playing. I just wish he'd get further away from the hippie jam band thing & do more stuff like this. Or at least get Fuze in with M, M, & W for more punk jazz & less hippie T-Rex dance crap.
3/3/13 12:49 PM
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Ali
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Let it go Hugo... your one experience of MMW is not all-defining. Medeski plays in other contexts all the time. Lots and lots...
3/3/13 12:59 PM
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hugomma
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Ali - Let it go Hugo... your one experience of MMW is not all-defining. Medeski plays in other contexts all the time. Lots and lots...

Oh I know.  Unfortunatley those other contexts won't like make their way to Denver.

3/3/13 1:13 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 03/03/13 1:20 PM
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I just want you to take a breath on this, so you can hear him when he's not pissing you off ;-) Fuze kills me on that clip, more than anyone. Listen to anyone else play fretless guitar (say, from that Fretless Festival)... and they're just annoying after a minute or two. This guy has really figured out what he wants to do with that thing. And then this super cruncy rock rhythm guitar playing is so badass.
3/3/13 2:24 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 03/03/13 3:22 PM
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I actually get excited to here Medeski away from MM(S) & W.  I get pissed at them becasue of flashbacks from a show that was miserable on every level.

But yeah, Fuze is beast.  He's earned my ticket whenever he comes around.  And if it was ever M, M, Fuze, & W, I would have to go on pricipal alone.  Maybe his microtonal punk jazz beats the hippy jam band out of them.

3/8/13 11:58 AM
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hugomma
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Rudresh posted this review on his Facebook page:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-review-rudresh-mahanthappa-gamak-ucla-20130303,0,4682196.story

New fusion

Rudresh Mahanthappa, right, on alto saxophone as he plays with Gamak at UCLA's Royce Hall. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

 

"It's very rare," alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa said while back-introducing the song "Abhogi" at  Royce Hall on Saturday night, further describing the piece as a South Indian raga that was also performed in the Hindustani tradition. "And of course we played it in neither genre," he added with a smirk.

It was far from the first musical restriction disregarded on the night, which was presented by the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. Over more than two hours with two different bands, Mahanthappa expanded on the Indian music explorations of Miles DavisJohn McLaughlin and even the Beatles, further blurring the lines between global music traditions for an evening that often defied comparison.

The night began with Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition, which featured the Indian American saxophonist in a trio of Karachi-born (and Southern California raised) guitarist Rez Abbasi and drummer Dan Weiss.

With Weiss playing a sort of exploded drum set with tablas at his feet -- and sometimes switching from one to the other within a single song --  the group often left any familiar sounds of jazz and its fusion with Indian classical music behind. With Abbasi's fluid guitar as his shadow, Mahanthappa embarked on long, wildly inventive runs that spiraled into a seemingly limitless array of directions. In a fitting tribute, the group played a cover of Ravi Shankar's "Vandanaa Trayee" that set aside any fixed time signature or melody as Weiss' tablas drove the song's sprawling evolution.

It was intense, richly complicated stuff, but the results could be exhilarating. During the restless "I.I.T." (named after the Indian Institute of Technology, after all), Weiss unfolded from his tablas and returned to his kit, barely missing a beat as he accelerated into a drum-and-bass groove with Mahanthappa locked in a low, repeated churn behind him. As the rhythm gathered with intensity with Abbasi's serpentine guitar lines, the song's infectious drive underscored the connection between Goa, India, and electronic trance music.

3/8/13 11:59 AM
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hugomma
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(CONT'D)

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-review-rudresh-mahanthappa-gamak-ucla-20130303,0,4682196.story

 

Switching to his new band Gamak for the second set, Mahanthappa and Weiss were joined by Francois Moutin on acoustic bass and guitarist David Fiuczynski. A veteran of the unfettered, downtown New York City scene, Fiuczynski added a blend of prog-rock and funk to "Waiting Is Forbidden," which twisted through an array of tempos and changes behind Mahanthappa's coiled melodies.

Later, Fiuczynski snuck a knowing nod to "Tomorrow Never Knows" into his solo during the shape-shifting "Wrathful Wisdom," and his switch to fretless guitar on his double-necked instrument added a slippery, almost slack-key accent to "Abhogi." The song culminated in a playful face-off between Moutin and the ever-inventive Weiss, who at one point may have sprouted a third arm as the duel escalated.

Like fellow fusion explorer McLaughlin, Mahanthappa's mind-scrambling mix of speed and technique became almost oppressive at times, but the moving "Ballad for Troubled Times" found him reaching somewhere deeper. Dipping into a few raw, impassioned creaks as his solo weaved through the lower register and back again, Mahanthappa found a beautiful melancholy as his tone reached across the auditorium in a turn that earned a few yelps from the crowd.

Before things could become too settled, Weiss pounded into the burning rock drive of "Majesty of the Blues," a bracing closing shot that featured a metallic churn from Fiuczynski and a howling lead by Mahanthappa. It split the difference between Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Stooges and, of course, never entirely sounded like either.

3/8/13 12:25 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 03/08/13 12:26 PM
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That article certainly hit on most of the same high points I'd have pointed out (except Abbasi's greatest moment, his solo intro, with digital delay, to the Ravi Shankar piece was really stunning -- a very big high point). (And also, Rudresh's solo intro to "Ballad for Troubled Times" sounded like thousands of birds in counterpoint).

It was a tad over three hours including intermission, and Indo-Pak Coalition played roughly 30 minutes more than Gamak did. Also, Weiss was more different one band from the next than the article hints at.

I didn't find Mahanthappa's speed and technique "oppressive" at all, and it's standard rock critic blather to throw the dig at McLaughlin for playing fast just for no reason. (I don't know if this writer is a jazz critic, but it doesn't change anything about that bit of blather). Maybe the writer just felt like he had to come up with something negative to appear balanced. I have some different negatives I'd have picked out, but I'm not writing for a newspaper audience. Everybody understands speed. It's the lowest common denominator to talk about.

The picture is great. I was more dead center, so a somewhat different angle. But it shows how the stage was lit, and what the all black clothing, except Rudresh's shirt, looked like against that sea of black back curtain. Brings back the mood really well for those of us who were there!
3/8/13 2:44 PM
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hugomma
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Rudresh tore my head off, particularly the 2nd night. I only got to see about an hour & 20 min set of Gamak each night. To have seen him with Rez Abbasi and Dan Weiss on tabla...I'm excited about his presence in the jazz community. I think he's a unique, exciting voice with tons of potential.

I didn't fully appreciate Weiss till the 2nd night, but him & Moutin was just as bad as Fuze & Rudresh in their own right. I was so mesmerized the 1st night with Fuze, the compositions, & the sound of the band, I didn't even give Rudresh his due. That "Ballad..." solo got my eyes a bit dusty, the same Trane does sometimes.

Of course, when musicians go all out like Gamak & the Indo-Pak Coalition do, there are gonna be some lulls & low points. What what you have singled out, Ali?
3/8/13 3:03 PM
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Ali
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Singled out as low points or lulls? I didn't take notes on tune titles. Some of the head arrangements I wasn't into, some sounds like klezmer but not particularly good klezmer. I thought that was interesting -- a cross-cultural similarity -- but not particularly fun. And lots of it was just standard unison-heads followed by solos, be-bop only with some Indian scales. Sometimes that sounds forced to me. If you've got more of a love for Indian music than I do, maybe that'd be awesome.

I liked Weiss' range with Indo-Pak more, just because he did something like that Trilok Gurtu thing, on one knee with the tablas and other odd percussion pieces, moving to the trap set for the power parts. Gamak was much more sitting at the traps.... but the music was more rock-intense the whole way, too, than Indo-Pak.

I wasn't particularly into Abbasi, really, except for long improvs, the first of which was that solo with delays intro, which was as good as anything I heard all night.

Moutin is an animal. (I already wrote about him in my post above, didn't I? I'm too lazy to go see what I've already said). Weiss is an animal.

Rudresh has chops from hell, in terms of speed and articulation and volume and tone control on alto. He's ridiculous in all those ways. I love some of his composing and some I don't.... so that's one place lulls come from. And he's a brilliant improviser, with some of his long improvs being a bit brainy-mathy, too, so some lulls there.

I loved Fuze, and everything he did, just because he's so melodically inventive and plays with some real humor.

Yeah, the article pointed out his little quote of "Tomorrow Never Knows" which, in its place, was just really left field and brings some ecstatic laugher, just to recognize it and see how he left it (which he did quickly)...

It was a really good show. I wish the timing was split better between the two sets, because while I liked Indo-Pak, I had more stretches of boredome for that set than I did for Gamak, too. In spite of particularly appreciating Weiss in that context.
3/8/13 4:57 PM
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hugomma
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Yeah, you compared Moutin to Eddie Gomez & talked about how he lived high on the neck/in cello range).

I agree with everything you wrote (except for the Indo-Pak Coalition, just because I haven't heard them - but you know how much I trust your opinion).

I also agree that there are clinical/mathy elements to Rudresh's playing & music that aren't always fun, but damn it is interesting, & I wanna hear him develop his ideas (as a player & composer) in the future.
3/8/13 5:06 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 03/08/13 5:08 PM
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Me too -- he was vaguely on my radar because of that "Miles to India" record and some press. He's very firmly on my radar now...

I have a very good (and sometimes brainy) recording of him with Steve Lehman, another really good, perhaps to be Important alto player, called "Dual Identity". Lehman grabs less immediately with his drier tone, but he's brilliant too, and the two-alto front line sounds amazing. Let me know if/when you wanna hear it.

Moutin, by the way, has a doctorate in physics. He got it at 24 years old. It's totally not fair.
3/8/13 5:19 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 03/08/13 5:29 PM
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Ali - Me too -- he was vaguely on my radar because of that "Miles to India" record and some press. He's very firmly on my radar now...

I have a very good (and sometimes brainy) recording of him with Steve Lehman, another really good, perhaps to be Important alto player, called "Dual Identity". Lehman grabs less immediately with his drier tone, but he's brilliant too, and the two-alto front line sounds amazing. Let me know if/when you wanna hear it.

Moutin, by the way, has a doctorate in physics. He got it at 24 years old. It's totally not fair.


Yeah, I'd love to hear Rudresh & Lehman very soon...but I see a 1 gig external hard drive in my very near future, if you know what I mean...

Moutin's another one of these Buckaroo Banzai mutherfuckers? According to Mile's bio, Red Garland went 15 rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson...& made music with Miles. Now this.

Where do these people come from?!?

3/8/13 5:30 PM
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Ali
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Here's some Rudresh with Lehman. On guitar is Liberty Ellman, another total original, who's been Henry Threadgill's guy for a while (Ellman has two very good solo records). Damion Reid, this drummer, I'm just getting hip to, also.

3/8/13 5:34 PM
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hugomma
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Ali - Here's some Rudresh with Lehman. On guitar is Liberty Ellman, another total original, who's been Henry Threadgill's guy for a while (Ellman has two very good solo records). Damion Reid, this drummer, I'm just getting hip to, also.


FRESH MEAT.

Thanks, as always Ali.

Seems like these great players are always just a few degrees removed from one another.

3/8/13 5:41 PM
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Ali
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... no Rudresh, no saxophones... but a few degrees. I said I was "just getting hip to" Damion Reid, who is in Robert Glasper's trio. (BTW, I did finally watch Icons Among Us -- really good call!)

Messing around on youtube, I found this duo of Damion Reid and guitarist Harvey Valdes. And I want to know more Valdes, too. He could be another "find", based on this promising bit:

3/8/13 6:14 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 03/08/13 6:17 PM
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Ali - ... no Rudresh, no saxophones... but a few degrees. I said I was "just getting hip to" Damion Reid, who is in Robert Glasper's trio. (BTW, I did finally watch Icons Among Us -- really good call!)

Messing around on youtube, I found this duo of Damion Reid and guitarist Harvey Valdes. And I want to know more Valdes, too. He could be another "find", based on this promising bit:

 

SWEET.

 

Sometimes it takes me a while, but you know I'll eventually get to it.

Glad you caught "Icons Among Us".  There's a 4 disc expanded version we need to check out:

http://www.amazon.com/Icons-Among-Four-Disc-Edition-CD-ROM/dp/B004P96X1W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1362784062&sr=8-2&keywords=Icons+Among+us 

Robert Glasper's the pianist I kept wanting to call "Robert Gillespie".  Any player with links to Glasper & Rudresh is worth checking out.  

3/12/13 4:55 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 03/12/13 4:58 PM
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Free 20 minute concert, two tunes. The first has what strikes me as a "klezmer like" head arrangement, which I find a bit distracting. The playing is great, though, and the improv solos are killing. Second tune I have no reservations about.

Set List:
"Killer"
"Playing With Stones"

Personnel:
Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto saxophone
Rez Abbasi, guitar
Rich Brown, bass
Rudy Royston, drums


3/12/13 4:57 PM
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hugomma
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Ali - Free 20 minute concert, two tunes. The first has what strikes me as a "klezmer like" head arrangement, which I find a bit distracting. The playing is great, though, and the improv solos are killing. Second tune I have no reservations about.

Set List:
"Killer"
"Playing With Stones"

Personnel:
Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto saxophone
Rez Abbasi, guitar
Rich Brown, bass
Rudy Royston, drums



Uh...my man...this is Hitler's reaction to Rebecca Black. And Hitler's not a fan of "klezmer like" head arrangements either.
3/12/13 4:59 PM
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Ali
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wha?

Nothing to see here.
3/12/13 5:01 PM
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hugomma
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Ali - wha?

Nothing to see here.

LOL...Not quite as funny as you putting your hands on Charlie Haden's lapels, or the butt-hurt humanity of Vince aka Dennis DeYoung & Styx, but pretty damn good none the less.

3/12/13 5:05 PM
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Ali
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My cache incompetence will be brought to my confessor next sabbath.

Now that it's fixed... (thanks)...

You were asking about Rudy Royston, whom until recently I don't think really left Colorado. He's been a regular for Ron Miles, recently toured with Frisell "Beautiful Dreamers", and now I see with Rudresh (from 2012). He's killing it. The more I hear of him the better he sounds.
3/12/13 5:09 PM
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hugomma
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You will smoke a turd in Purgatory over your cache incompetence.

Thanks for the post.  I never knew (or thought) CO produced musicians on the level of Frisell, Dale Bruning, Ron Miles, & now Rudy Royston.  Makes me love this place just a little more.  Look forward to checking this out.


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