Monday, February 09, 2009

Finding Possible Musics with Maarifa Street

Jon Hassell + Maarifa Street @ World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jon Hassell: trumpet, keyboard
Peter Freeman: bass, laptop
Dino J.A. Deane: sampler, live sampling
Jan Bang: sampler, live sampling
Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche: violin

"Wait, wait," the unassuming Jon Hassell pled as applause met his arrival on stage.  "I was just looking for my cell phone."  Disappearing briefly he returns in a conversational mood.  "It was off," he confesses.  After sizing up the audience seated at tables below a stage filled with electronics he extends an introduction to the band.  "Pretend you just dropped into a loft, and we just happen to be assembled here."  

The long, uninterrupted set that followed defied conversation.  A delicate texture that requires amplification to become "possible" within a wash of sustained tones and decibel restraint. Electronics in the service of the softest, most liquid pastels.  Peter Freeman's ostinato bass patterns providing an anchor underneath the plaintive, vocal-like lines from Algerian violinist Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche.  Jon Hassell appeared to fall into deep thought, considering the texture, before adding his own layer of processed trumpet or a few chords on the keyboard. Hassell's collaboration with many of these performers extends back through the decades.  The sonic imprint of this music is identifiably his own and refined.

Dino J.A. Deane's live sampling, particularly the weaving in of violin and bass material heard just moments before was a virtuosic display of live electronics at its best.  While Jan Bang's dance-like DJ demeanor gave visual cues to the deep grooves present in a music with a light percussive touch.  

The oversized "loft" performance of friends with a deep history offered up an understated sound of overwhelming beauty.  A music of contrasts.  Soft, lush music bubbling with intricate details.  Music that fills every corner of a room with a thick, forceful delicacy that leaves the audience mindful of every scrape of the chair or fork finding a plate.  The large space of the downstairs stage of World Cafe Live taking on the intimacy of an artist's loft.  The sound carved out an open sea that washed over to the rhythm of its own tides.  Transportive and an overdue live experience of the sound so meticulously crafted by the septuagenarian trumpet player.


Bg Porter said...

Thsnks for this excellent review -- I've got seats at the show tonight in NY, and can't wait for the show...

Nathan Grigg said...

Eloquent review. Thanks for posting.

Making the essential trek to Vancouver on Valentine's Day weekend...

Online Tickets: check
Border-crossing ID: check
Hotel reservations: check
Overnight babysitting: check
Marry a Jon Hassell fan?: check

Whew! If he just added Seattle to this rare tour I wouldn't need to get so many planets to align. Ah well, mission accomplished.

Line-up's a bit different on the west coast. I'll miss J.A. Deane's mad electronic virtuosity (he provided enough insanity in a Wayne Horvitz/The President show back in 1992 to cover for Elliott Sharp's absence--no easy task), but we get Dhafer Youssef in his stead. This Chan Centre link has a video clip of Youssef's band. Looks like we can expect an opening act of prog oud antics before Jon hits the stage.


Bg Porter said...

FWIW, my thoughts on the 2/10/09 show by this band @ Zankel Hall in NYC: