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flag US - New York - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 22 - 08/08/98

John Zorn, Marc Ribot,
John Medeski and Kenny Wollesen

Tonic, New York, July 5th 1998

Sax icon John Zorn is the curator of Tonic, a hair salon in the day and an ascetic and intimate bar scene at night, located in downtown New York City. The sax-guitar-organ-drums lineup played two sets of tight improv avant-something. Well, it's not Jazz. And certainly not anything else. Four musicians who each in their own way have developed a unique and personal way to play their instrument. "No Wave" guitar master Marc Ribot is probably best known to the average Lunar Kafé ist for being the "deux ex machina" of Tom Waits' Rain Dogs et al.

Presented in a context of effortless ease and a twisted sense of humor (if that is possible without uttering one word), their collective musical effort came out as a persistent stream of style and mood changes, constantly intense.

From what might start out as straight tunes, the musicians went via cascades of Zorninan saxual orgasms and brute force, to pure minimalism with Wollesen and Ribot pickin', pluckin' and scratchin'. That's right, the rhythm department at times became more of an instrument for creating soundscapes in the hands of Kenny Wollesen. And through inventive free form syncopated drumming, with sudden press-rolls here and a quick swish of a cymbal there, even the potentially "straight" parts in the set sounded fresh.

The two Johns, Medeski and Zorn, did their part all right, but in the long run it was Wollesens drumming and Ribots idiosyncratic quitar angles that carried the boat. And what a boat. The world looked unintelligible unshaken afterwards, but it was a hot night at the hair salon.

Copyright © 1998 Per Fikse e-mail address

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