Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 3/11 & Tues 3/15


First things first: Kenny Barron’s got a new trio album out; that’s an event, and about half of it leads off this week’s show for your listening pleasure—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, One-Hour-East-of-Chicago Time. After that the plot thickens, with some showstoppingly brilliant Sidney Bechet and large excerpts from saxophonist Rob Reddy’s brilliant Bechet Our Contemporary, in which echoes of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra arise amid primary colors old and new. And then? Then there’s the recurrent question as springtime surfaces: do I play Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps this year, and if so which performance of the ones I love: Gergiev or Bernstein or Stravinsky’s own again, or Dorati, or maybe one of the early implacable juggernauts by Boulez? Good news, Taintradions: I found a live Bernstein Sacre with the LSO in 1966, and it is the rompinest stompinest shoutinest Dionysiest eruption of ‘em all. Stravinsky famously reviewed another Bernstein Sacre with a simple “Wow!”, which was not an unalloyed compliment exactly. What would he have said to this one, “Gaah!?” Lenny starts it off as if he’s going to ride and bounce atop the tempo and not give it a heavy pelvic push, but in the runup to the drums’ entrance he forces this already not-very-English-sounding orchestra into an accelerando worthy of Wilhelm Furtwängler, and the rest of it will either make your hair stand on end or set it on fire (batteries not included). The speed may work less well in Part Two—one of Gergiev’s triumphs was his trenchant slowdown of the second half—but the sound of an orchestra pushed to its limits, then going for broke way the hell across the line is plenty-nuff to augur springtime in or for that matter prophesy, in 1913, the savagery to come and the savagery to continue. Of course nowadays we’re living groovily on a planet of peace and happy bunnies, so there’s no need to fear or worry. The show ends with the searing solo shakuhachi piece Kogarashi, composed by Nakao Tozan in the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake and fire that devastated Tokyo and environs and killed about 150,000 people. OMG what have I done?

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