Friday News and Notes

Friday Cheers

Happy Friday Cheers, y’all! A few News and Notes items to celebrate the start of my favorite 1/6 of the year:

  • An article I wrote about Friday Cheers and Lucy Dacus for River City Magazine just hit the interweb yesterday. Stephen Lecky and Lucy Dacus are such tremendous people and tremendous contributors to this musical community (who happen to have the same birthday, which happened to happen this week), and getting to meet and interview them meant fulfilling two huge #rvamusic bucket list items. I hope you’ll click here to check the article out or grab a print copy, which has a really snazzy “Cheers to Cheers” cover. Speaking of Friday Cheers…
  • The season kicks off tonight with The Soul Rebels and Mighty Joshua & the Zion #5. Wanna hear something crazy? Mighty Joshua has that same birthday! As Stephen Lecky pointed out on Twitter, this calls for a party on Brown’s Island. How does tonight sound? It may be a little wet, but some of my absolute favorite Friday Cheers experiences have been in the rain. Charles Bradley, the Funky Meters… I’m sure this week will follow suit.
  • Lots of great new music this week. Radiohead’s new songs are instant classics, James Blake has a new album out today (I’ve yet to hear it the whole thing, but what I’ve heard I love), and I’m really digging this new Red Hot Chili Peppers song.
  • CD Monday update: What a wild ride. Sunrise can feel disconnected, and my lasting impression of it will be as a collection of individual moments, but one endearing constant glued the whole thing together for me: Masabumi Kikuchi scratchily singing along with his piano parts. His voice borders on a growl, and while it’s quiet, it’s almost always there, so it’s something of a reassurance amid the chaos. NPR described his voice this way: “His hazy voice is like a walkie-talkie transmission from the moon. It’s too weird to dislike.” Well put.
  • The Broadberry is the place to be this weekend. Clair Morgan’s release party tonight, People’s Blues of Richmond’s release party Saturday night. If you find a good enough overnight hiding place, you might not have to leave all weekend! Speaking of show recommendations, I highly recommend following along with Drew Necci’s RVA Must-See Shows. Great advice from one of Richmond’s most thoughtful and knowledgeable music journalists (she’s also one of the contributors to Off Your Radar).

Have a great weekend, y’all. Don’t forget Mother’s Day!

CD Monday

Masabumi Kikuchi Trio

My mom sent me this a few years back (I’d guess she heard this NPR story) and my daughter grabbed it on the way out this morning. The outer sleeve made it hard to pull out of the tower, but she was resolute.

So often, when I think of free jazz, I think of chaos. Screeching saxes and dissonance. The feeling of being overwhelmed. (Side note: I read this article about Albert Ayler over the weekend and would recommend it.) By contrast, Sunrise is slight and delicate, like you could break it if you looked at it wrong. Yet these performances are built on the sturdy connection between drummer Paul Motian and pianist Masabumi Kikuchi — two jazz outsiders nearing the ends of their lives. Given how sparse these tracks are, and how close to the end these two men were, tones and sounds carry so much more weight than they would in other settings. When I’m listening to more upbeat jazz, single tones can seem cheap, because the big, impressionistic picture is really what matters. Here, every note is impressionistic. The whole is almost irrelevant.

Funny story — my daughter just started trying to sing actual songs (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is taking shape nicely), but for a while, I’ve been repeating random tones she blurts out to see if she’ll respond with the same note and how long we can go back and forth when she does. She gets a kick out of it and I like to think I’m planting musical instinct seeds here and there. That’s just what we ended up doing on this morning’s drive to daycare, and I bet Kikuchi and Motian would have approved.

Masabumi Kikuchi Trio — “Short Stuff” [Soundcloud/iTunes]