Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Trio Grande w/ Matthew Bourne - 26/10/2007@Beursschouwburg, Bruxelles

Laurent Dehors - b cl, contrabass cl, two more straight clarinets I don't know the keys of, ts, ss, hca, jew's harp, bagpipes
Matthew Bourne - p (website)
Michel Massot - tba, tb, euphonium
Michel Debrulle - d

Bagpipes over the slow funk of an African-tinged vamp in 7. Michel Massot and Matthew Bourne spastically dancing opposite each other during the first encore. Bourne letting his improvising be guided by a plastic water bottle cap springing across the piano's strings. A cartoonish take on dixieland abruptly catapulted into mid-20th century classical music, expressed through a series of short waltzes. Possibly the funniest impromptu explanation of how clarinets work ever given.

Those are a few of the things that made this yet another great Trio Grande (plus guest Bourne) gig. The pianist fit surprisingly well into the group's aesthetic, moving easily from doubling melodic lines to pounding out scattered free playing to lush romanticism. Whether it was his influence, or the general direction the band's music is taking, there was a loose, drifting feel to much of the repertoire, whereas I tend to think of Trio Grande as both more barn-storming and more melodic. While the group seems to focus more on melody and timbre (eg. Massot's nuanced use of multiphonics), the song structures they use - impressive without really calling attention to themselves because they sound so organic - sort of replace harmony's forward drive. In any case, the upcoming quartet CD should be a worthy heir to the fabulous Signé.

That I am elated by these kinds of concerts and am left somewhat indifferent to Mikkel Ploug or even Drew Gress has me slightly worried. Am I able to appreciate what Nate Chinen calls "the deeper subtleties of harmony and form," or am I merely attracted to "a lot of surface dazzle," like some sort of musical magpie? I'd like to get really excited by that subtle stuff, too...