Friday, November 05, 2010

Ethereal sounds

After a heavy Wednesday, I was disposed to 'be good' and have a recovery night at home last night.  However, my friend KP, who has a long-standing talent-crush on the Kazakh folk musician Mamer, alerted me to the fact that he was to be playing a gig at Jianghu, and urged me to accompany her in order to help restrain her infatuate enthusiasm within decorous parameters.  What else can a gentleman do when presented with such a request?

It turned out that on this occasion Mamer was not the main focus of the evening.  In fact, the show was Li Tieqiao & Friends - the awesome saxophonist being joined by Mamer strumming an acoustic guitar (and indulging in one brief spot of experimental percussion on an electric bass) and veteran Mexican muso Tato Ramirez on his tabla.  And it was mesmerising stuff.  Li can do just about anything that damn well takes his fancy on the sax (and he threw in a bamboo flute at one point as well), and I can't help wishing that just once in a while he'd play a straightforward tune.... rather than teasing all manner of other-worldly noises out of the instrument.  I'm sure he would be absolutely awesome playing some of the jazz standards of Lester Young or Gerry Mulligan - and he probably has been at some point in his career; but presumably got bored of it.  Now, he's Mr Experimental all the way - but, by god, he makes you believe in whatever he's doing.  And this new lineup - playing what appeared to be prepared improvisations with a couple of other extremely talented musicians - added welcome new dimensions to Li's saxophone weirdness.  If we're not going to see the mind-blowing Glorious Pharmacy get together again (Li's long-time on-off-on collaboration with fellow eccentric geniuses Xiao He on guitar and Guo Long on percussion), then these guys could provide a very acceptable substitute.  More, please.

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