‘Jazz’ revealed 3 faces in performances at minicine? on Sat, July 23.
One was the roiling, modulated rhythms of tabla and bass topped by elegant trumpet melodies. That sound came from Ataraxia, which was esteemed trumpet player Dennis Gonzalez alongside bassist Drew Phelps and Sri Lankan master tabla player Jagath Lakpriya.
The second was the chaotic, spiky, loud, and almost obnoxious sound of drummer Stafan Gonzalez and the Humanization 4tet. Aaron Gonzalez performed on upright bass but played with unrelenting aggressiveness.
Guitarist Luis Lopes played angular, skronky guitar. Was it a surprise that the more challenging sounds of Humanization won the smaller audience?
The third came from silky performers Michael Futreal and Twang Darkly.
Using what might be called folk instruments such as electrified dulcimer and bamboo flute, Twang tends to play in a modal way. Compositions on the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue are modal. Drummer Lane Bayliss exhibits a jazz consciousness in Twang, hitting novel membranophones (like an auto brake drum) in response to the quiet textures produced by Futreal and guitarist-bassist Joel Boultinghouse.
All the performers on Sat night were improvisers. For many, that’s the essence of ‘jazz.’ When musicians talk to each other with their instruments and respond with texture and melody, the music is free and unpredictable. It is ‘jazz.’
Also jazzy was an unannounced theatrical explosion of shouts and dialogue from a group of black-clad actors.
From the Cherie Gray-directed troupe Lumpy Grits, the group boisterously presented lines from their production of Aristophanes’ comedy ‘Lysistrata’ (411 BC, Athens). Lumpy Grits will produce the play at Central Artstation on Fri, June 29, 6 pm.
Dennis Gonzalez, a veteran of recording sessions (he’s on more than 28 albums) and of world tours, raised his sons as musicians. They’ve traveled across the US and Europe as a jazz group called Yells with Eels. A decade ago in Lisbon, Portugal, they made a fateful appearance at a festival and met jazz-loving Lisboan musicians. They’ve been traveling back and forth to perform with each other for some 10 years. Saxophonist Rodrigo Amado is an anchor in the performances of Dennis Gonzalez and of his sons, Stefan and Aaron.
While the Gonzalez brothers play hard rock and other types of music, their minicine? performances harken to the traditional expression of modern jazz.
In Shreveport musicians readily sell mellow RnB as ‘jazz.’
To dig deeper into the defining traits of jazz performance one might want to watch the calendar at minicine?. The all-ages Texas Avenue room is devoted to the kinds of music and films that you are unlikely to find in this region. Including improv-based performances, some of which will be labeled ‘jazz.’
Photos by David C Young, Natchitoches-based documentarian.