Monday, October 6, 2008
Ah, Sunday. The day of rest. Well ... not this weekend. Instead, Sunday was the day of family lunch, driving down to Chicago in the rain while the Brewers earned their season's final loss, watching a bunch of DeGrassi High with Sam and Sooz, eating roast chicken at Feed, and winding up at the Hungry Brain for a late night of improvisation from Jim Baker, Nels Cline, Glenn Kotche, and Fred Lonberg-Holm.
The Hungry Brain hosts the Emerging Improvisers' Sunday Transmission series every weekend. For a donation of $10 or so, you can pull up an easy chair, settle into an absurdly deep red plush couch, or belly up to the bar and watch musicians create something that wasn't there before.
This Sunday's performance was broken into three sets. Set 1 was Fred and Glenn, Set 2 was Jim and Nels, and Set 3 was the quartet. It was fascinating to watch these guys react to each other, responding to the music and coaxing loud, soft, dissonant and lovely sounds from a great variety of instruments and implements. The final set, with all four musicians on stage, was intense. One of my favorite parts was Fred Lonberg-Holm somehow making his cello sound just like a heavy metal guitar solo. I know there's an art to improvisation - a method behind the madness - and I'd like to learn more about it. I would imagine it's as much about listening as it is about playing.
Most of all, I felt fortunate to see four musicians of this caliber in such a cozy venue. The atmosphere was relaxed and low key. I watched the last set from a couch, for goodness sakes.