Wednesday, Jun 21 2006


As nights get longer and hotter, best plan is to blow all your dough partying till you plotz, and Vernon Reid & Masque will help. You’ve known at least since Living Colour that Reid can shred on guitar; probably, though, you’ve never heard his ax chop in woodlands this congenial. On the band’s current Other True Self, dude stretches his joints on noise that blazes, reggae that relaxes, melody that flows, covering Radiohead and Tony Williams along the way to a personal transfiguration as supercharged as it is natural. Keyboardist Leon Gruenbaum gets his wig in a serious frizz trying to outgoof the bossman, while sweatoholic bassist Hank Schroy and drummer Don McKenzie nail down the floorboards so the whole thing doesn’t collapse into the boiler room. And all four crewmen are enlisted on this weekend’s posh cruise. Yo-ho!

If there’s any doubt that electric improv is retaking the city like Godzilla, note s’il vous plaît the psychotic new live disc by local guitar maximizer Mike Keneally, the July 18 release of a concert CD/DVD by revamped L.A. jam hams Particle, and the August 1 gusher by Studio City keyboard maniac Derek Sherinian, Blood of the Snake (featuring Zakk, Yngwie, Slash and Billy Idol). Gonna be a hot summer. Vernon Reid & Masque play Catalina’s ­nightly through Sunday.

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Some monumental live stuff lately, you bet.

Three Saturdays ago at Electric Lodge: GO: Organic Orchestra. Conductor Adam Rudolph leaped around cuing stings and transitions; Munyungo Jackson and the percussion section grinned like fools during the rhythmic convergences of ?Big Black’s opus; Buzzy Jones menaced Big’s congas with his sax; Dwight Trible’s voice roared in soul pain; Jeremy Drake plotted guitar textures behind Superman specs; Ronit Kirchman vibrated earth-goddess violin. It was like a time-lapse movie of jungle growth. Little sleep lately, Rudolph said afterward. This was the ninth of 10 nights, and he was flying.

Two Thursdays ago at Club Tropical: Cosmologic. More knowers should know about this San Diego quartet, been around for years. Avant yet sexy, with a rumba in the rumble seat, bassist Scott Walton and drummer Nathan Hubbard generated a relaxed ensemble kick while trombonist Michael Dessen and tenorman Jason Robinson proved the Chet and Gerry of modern music. Feet twitchin’? Check, double check.

Two Sundays ago at Central Library: David Ornette Cherry’s Ensemble for Improvisors. The electronic twitters of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s viola balanced the Third Millennium superfunk of bassist Ollie Elder Jr.; Cherry sowed galactic piano clusters; Justo Almario’s tenor soared like Trane; Charles Owens’ hyped-up alto nearly squirmed out of his hands; Roberto Miranda conjured waterfalls from his upright bass; cellist Peter Jacobson hugged melody till it screamed; drummer Don Littleton squatted on a rattle crate and slapped us all silly. DOC, man, writes like a major.

Leimert Park. Club Tropical. Café Metropol. Electric Lodge. Schindler House. REDCAT. The old Baked Potato, even. I’ve been in L.A. since 1974, and the atmosphere for live improvised music never crackled like this. Not even close.?

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