Eugene Weekly : Music : 8.20.09

Beyond Jazz
Music without boundaries
by Brett Campbell

Petrojvic Blasting Company

The Eugene and Oregon music scenes are constantly refreshed and recharged by UO music school grads. In the past few years, composer/trumpeter Douglas Detrick has emerged from his UO master’s degree studies and gigged around town and the region in a number of ensembles, including the Detrick/Swigart Jazz Orchestra. On Sunday, Aug. 30, Detrick temporarily forsakes the jazz clubs and brings his AnyWhen Ensemble to the university’s Beall Concert Hall. 

Anyone accustomed to hearing Detrick’s jazz groups may be a little surprised by what they hear from AnyWhen. Like fellow intrepid Northwest musicians Wayne Horvitz and Bill Frisell, who also perform different kinds of music in various ensembles, Detrick’s vision extends beyond cramped categories such as jazz. He’s won awards for his compositional and arranging skills, and while AnyWhen boasts his long-time jazz partner Hashem Assadullahi on saxophones and drummer/percussionist Ryan Biesack, it also includes UO bassoon prof Steve Vacchi and cellist Shirley Hunt — hardly your standard jazz combo. The group’s music, too, has a bit of a postclassical feel. Even Detrick’s jazz sound has often, though not always, tended more toward the Benny Golson/Art Farmer range than in hard-blowing postbop, and AnyWhen’s music reflects his classical and non-jazz improv experience as well as jazz. But then, using more “composed” elements is hardly new to jazz, going back to the Miles Davis/John Lewis/Gil Evans/Gerry Mulligan/Gunther Schuller “birth of the cool” nonet more than half a century ago and extending through various tributaries of Schuller’s Third Stream ideas and on down to today’s pioneers such as Frisell et al., who’ve proved that jazz-tinged music can be thoughtful and venturesome without succumbing to cerebral sterility. Judging by its upcoming debut album, AnyWhen manages that balance adeptly, and this concert should be absorbing for fans of jazz, classical and other music without boundaries. 

Another adventurous Northwest jazzer, Seattle’s Skerik, has a project that also looks beyond jazz, but as you can tell by their name, the Dead Kenny Gs draw inspiration from the Dead Kennedys and other proto punkers. No one who’s seen Skerik’s other projects such as Critters Buggin will be surprised at this trio’s brash humor or solid chops. They’ll be wielding saxes, keyboards, lots of percussion, bass and vocals and fun when they play Sam Bond’s on Aug. 21.

Of course, Eugene’s own Mood Area 52 has been busting the alleged boundaries between the hopelessly inadequate categories of jazz, classical and world music for years now, and they seem to attract likeminded trespassers. On Aug. 22, the always engaging tango/Eastern European/cabaret/whatever aggregation performs at Cozmic Pizza with LA’s Petrojvic Blasting Company, a vocals, horn and accordion inebriated band of buskers whose loopy songs sound like they were written by old European street musicians, or maybe actors portraying same in a Jim Jarmusch flick. And on Aug. 28, MA52 shares a squeezy bill at the WOW Hall with Monsters of Accordion, featuring Mood Area’s Michael Roderick, Vagabond Opera bandleader/divo Eric Stern, Vancouver kelzmaniac Geoff Berner, Tokyo’s Stevhen Koji Iancu (from the Dolomites and Gogol Bordello) and Seattle’s Jason Webley

Finally, classical music fans who are lamenting the annual summer break when our local players head off to various festivals, workshops and sabbaticals will welcome the Eugene Symphonic Band’s free alfresco concert in Washburne Park on Aug. 23, starring music for movies by great film composers Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Henry Mancini and more.