Sunday, April 02, 2006

Kenny Barron - Jazz

A good benefit of living in Central Minnesota is actually that there isn't as MUCH live music as there was in Washington DC, so when bigger name acts come through, I'm usually free enough to see them. I got a free ticket to see jazz pianist Kenny Barron and his quartet perform.

Musically, they favored a "less is more" approach, which I absolutely appreciated. I'm not a very big fan of Jazz, but I can get into a group that knows that you don't have to cram a lot of notes into a short space. The biggest surprise for me was drummer Ben Riley, who was endlessly inventive on the set. At times playing only hi-hat, or only cymbals, or using timpani mallets, the guy had a great knack and feel, and was a big reason why I had such a good time. A few of his solos were truly minimal, an early one had probably 8 notes in 4 bars, and a notable one at the end had NO notes in 4 bars!

But the reason that I'm blogging about this on a "new arts" blog is that there was the most curious sonic image in the space. I sat about 4 rows from the front, to stage left. The sound of the piano, bass and drums all seemed to originate from thier locations - in other words, they were all slightly amplified, but each had a monitor that helped center the sound near to where the performers were.

The flautist, however, had a very strong sonic image coming from high up on stage left.

The result was a very strong visual/aural dissonance between seeing her, to my right and pretty much at eye level, and hearing her from my left and very high. I unfortunatly have no final explanation for this - it could have been that she was most heavily amplified and that was rerouted through the house sound, or it could be that hers was the only stage monitor turned backwards and therefore I was hearing a reflection.

At any rate, this was a little odd, and distracting as well. But nonetheless interesting! I'm not sure if a casual listener would have been as bothered by this, but it was striking to me.

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