Rafi Zabor’s Updoc Fri. 7/17 & Tues. 7/21

BlytheLenox

While scanning for traces of thematic continuity in this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Lincoln Center time—I came upon strands of social consciousness intersecting flows of pure aesthetic pleasure, and that was, like, really okay with me. So opening with Jeff Tain Watts’ new version of Driva Man when we aired the classic Max Roach/Abbey Lincoln version last week, and chasing that with selections from Stanley Cowell’s impressive solo piano suite Juneteenth, then pursuing that with the jailhouse hopes and stresses making up the text of Frederic Rjewski’s classic Coming Together, did not seem at all discordant, except where appropriate, as was music from James P. Johnson, Bessie Smith, Artur Schnabel playing that Beethoven cat, Julius Hemphill, Arthur Blythe, a Bartok string quartet, or a pointillistic deconstruction of all the things Masabumi Kikuchi was and might still be after his lamented death the other day. Meanwhile, the saxophone-stream had been heading, unobserved, for a conclusion more radical than anything in the preceding proceedings. Roscoe Mitchell’s records for the Nessa label tend to be long-considered projects meticulously brought off—the epochal Nonaah is a good example—but this time Mitchell and his quartet played a memorial concert for Chicago’s own Fred Anderson and it seemed to hit the spot as is. A piece of it takes up the last quarter-hour of the show, and while it may send casual listeners reaching for the button, those who stay on and really listen may enjoy a revelatory ride.

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