Orr-Allen-Guarino Trio at The Stork

So I’m a bit behind with my recap of Art Murmur, which (hopefully) will continue on Thursday and Friday.  But in the meantime, I’m throwing up a video I took at last night’s show at the Stork Club.  I mentioned it in my post yesterday… an experimental improv jazz trio informally known as the Orr – Allen – Guarino Trio, consisting of two drummers and one very loud sax player.  My friend who is one of the drummers said they need two, just to keep up with the sax, if that gives you any idea…

Now I know this isn’t for everyone… but I happen to think it’s quite excellent.  And one of the things I love, and have always loved, about the Stork Club is that they provide a home to all kinds of music.  They like to rock it, but that’s not all they do, and some of the most interesting avant-garde bands I’ve seen, were at the humble Stork.

The video clip below is approximately 12 minutes long, and this isn’t even the full song… I started the video a bit late.   This is no KCSM, no bee bop, no smooth jazz, and certainly nothing your mother would like. But the thing that makes it so cool, is that it’s completely free-form.  There’s very little structure they conform to… no verse, chorus, verse, chorus, refrain, verse chorus playbook.

That playbook’s all well and good… it gives the listener something to hold on to… or resolve as Orr refers to it.  My concept of resolve, and please keep in mind I am not an experimental jazz musician, is that it’s what one expects to come next in the song… what you can predict because you’ve already heard the first two minutes and understand the structure that’s been set up.  Like the blues, for example.  Almost anyone can sing a blues song, can even make up the lyrics as they go, because it’s so damn predictable.  That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being predictable, but what makes the blues interesting, is not that predictability, but rather the feeling imparted to the song within the confines of that expected chorus-verse structure.

What this trio performs is something else entirely… it’s wide open.  It’s unexpected.  It’s experiential because there’s no possible way of predicting what will come next, so you give up even trying and just experience each combination of notes and beats as they come.  As Orr explains it, “The trio will be improvising non-idiomatic free music. For those not familiar with that term, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_improvisation.”

And what’s more is that they play their instruments in unexpected ways… extracting every possible sound imaginable.  From throwing cymbals into the audience to bowing cymbals to scratching fingernails on the snare head… this is one wild ride!

For those as dorky as me, there’s another performance though slightly different on February 23rd at the Stork.  That show will feature Orr on drums, Allen on saxophone, and Ava Mendosa on guitar.  If you have an open mind, or don’t but want to have yours blown wide open, go check them out.

Here’s part 1 (about 9 minutes long)… part 2 to come later…

Here’s part 2…

3 thoughts on “Orr-Allen-Guarino Trio at The Stork

  1. Pamela Espeland

    I would have been right there with you, a happy little listener enjoying the ride. Nice work writing about something that’s famously difficult to put into words. Larry Ochs also performs with two drummers–is that a Bay thing?

  2. rattlebox333

    Interesting. Not exactly what I would pop into my CD player on the way to the office but it’s intriguing in a live environment. Cool video, but I found I kept closing my eyes while it was playing. There is so much going on sonically I had to block out the visual to take it all in.

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