Rafi Zabor’s Updoc: 3 Genies: 1/25/13

Listening to Igor Stravinsky’s Agon, written in his 70s, you hear the same scrawny little guy filled with brilliant fire who wrote Petrushka and the Sacre forty-some years earlier, though wintered down to an old man’s final sense of things. This week’s Updoc—8PM Friday, then noon next Tuesday, NY winter time—starts off with this spare, sere, sometimes twelve-tone masterwork before meeting up with Cecil Taylor in 1978 for 3 Phasis. His nearly lifelong collaborator Jimmy Lyons is along with his touch of Bird, I kind of wish Raphé Malik’s trumpet weren’t there to dominate the group improvs, but behind it all the mighty Ronald Shannon Jackson provides enormous architectonic lift on drums, and down the line shoulders the whole free-form assemblage into the strongest shuffle since at least Art Blakey, while Taylor’s succinct rhythmic-thematic clusters memorably chapter up the improvs. Stravinsky’s back with Les Noces, from about 1920, his last big savage-Russian score before departing for the pleasantry of his neoclassical period. Stravinsky said that music couldn’t mean anything, it was just an arrangement of notes in time—he also said there were no Russian folk motifs in the Sacre: ha!—but John Coltrane is our own great riposte to that. We’ve just been through a great re-inauguration with many invocations of the Reverend Martin Luther King, and Trane’s Alabama echoes King’s cadences in memory of four young girls murdered in an American church for being black. Bring your ears wide open.

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