Avant-Garde, um, Explosion
Fort Worth isn’t normally thought of as a progressive arts town. Yes, there are a few folks here who do some amazing, edgy stuff. But most Cowtowners, artists and fans alike, would instinctively opt for classical or popular over outré.
Secondly, if we were to guess a place where some really edgy music could happen, we’d probably say the Metrognome Collective or Firehouse Art Studios and Gallery, definitely not a family restaurant, probably not Sardines Italian Ristorante. Yet the Cultural District staple, where long-time jazz pianist Jhon Kahsen has been holding court on an almost nightly basis for about 20 years, has begun hosting a semi-monthly avant-garde jazz jam. On the second Tuesday of alternating months, Case and his Anarchestra, an informal group of some of the area’s best jazzbos, including percussionist Joey Carter, multi-instrumentalist Chris White, and drummer Joshua Manchester (from Chicago), throw time signatures and traditional tunings to the wind and really go far out, man.
The first event was held in early August and featured Case along with Manchester, White, and bassist Daniel Stone. Based on a live recording, the proceedings more closely resemble late-period Coltrane than Sun Ra. Nothing’s too in-your-face or aggressive, yet nothing’s too pretty and calculated. The performances could benefit from a tad more listening among the musicians. As Coltrane did with his trio, Kahsen appears to be solely responsible for changing the Anarchestra’s moods and tempos – some of the other players need to step up. All of the band members also seem to share some sort of compulsion to play continuously. Sometimes silence (other than during bass solos) can speak as loudly as dissonance. As with a lot of free jazz, the only variations here come from the addition or subtraction of instruments. The playing pretty much remains the same in every song – tasteful, skillful, and mid-tempo.
How about some cymbal washes? On some of the Coltrane Trio’s free jazz numbers, drummer Elvin Jones played nothing but the cymbals. Or some wordless vocals or swinging moments or occasionally harmonizing or playing in unison? You can bet, though, that the Anarchestra players will soon get comfortable opening up to one another in Sardines’ admittedly imposingly quiet setting. By the end of the recording, when Carter and his vibraphone take center stage, you can sense that the group is already three-fourths of the way there. The next event is Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. For more visit Sardines at 509 University Dr., in Fort Worth, or call 817-332-9937.
… Speaking of outré artists, one of Fort Worth’s most legendary, original performers returns to his native land to play a series of shows. Starting Thursday at The Wreck Room, Little Rock’s Browningham (né Nathan Brown) will play a three-day stand that will also take him to Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on Friday and Double Wide on Saturday. He’s still working his last record, Gotta Get It Out, whose title track was inspired by a scatological accident involving Nathan, his new slacks, 7-Eleven, and a locked restroom door. Check out MySpace.com/browningham or contact The Wreck (3208 W. 7th St.; 817-348-8303), Rubber Gloves, in Denton (411 E. Sycamore St.; 940-387-7781), or Double Wide, in Dallas (3510 Commerce St.; 214-887-6510).
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