Thursday, March 2, 2017
USA: Lisa Mezzacappa-avantNOIR(CleanFeed 2017)
Aaron Bennett tenor saxophone | John Finkbeiner electric guitar | William Winant vibraphone, percussion, Foley | Lisa Mezzacappa acoustic bass, samples | Tim Perkis electronics | Jordan Glenn drums
San Francisco Bay Area bassist and composer Lisa Mezzacappa draws inspiration from a wide range of sources in her music, from film to visual art to science. Her newest release, avantNOIR, is a suite of compositions for jazz sextet based on noir crime fiction—classic works by Dashiell Hammett set in San Francisco, and later works by Paul Auster that are part of his New York Trilogy. Mezzacappa probes the psychological depths of these stories, creating musical profiles of characters like Big Flora from Hammett’s The Big Knockover, and Daniel Quinn from Auster’s City of Glass. She also uses clues from detective’s cases—addresses, aliases, phone numbers, hotel rooms—and translates them into musical structures, melodies and rhythms, in a kind of postmodern jazz serialism. The result is a contemporary jazz gem influenced as much by Charles Ives and Pierre Boulez as by Eric Dolphy and Henry Threadgill.
Mezzacappa’s partners in crime couldn’t be better suited to the challenge of navigating her sometimes gnarly, sometimes spacious but always imaginative music. Guitarist John Finkbeiner and tenor saxophonist Aaron Bennett were regulars in the California edition of Adam Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra, and have been part of Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch quartet for nine years. Jordan Glenn, of Fred Frith’s current trio, is one of the Bay Area’s most in-demand and versatile drummers. Tim Perkis is a pioneer of laptop improvisation, and adds a supremely sensitive layer of sound to the compositions. And veteran percussionist William Winant, well known in contemporary music circles and a longtime associate of avant-jazz heroes John Zorn, Fred Frith, Roscoe Mitchell and others, plays vibraphone and Foley sound effects—rotary phone, typewriter, hotel desk bells—as part of the record’s rich and mysterious sonic landscape.