words by Hal Rammel
Alternating Currents Live kicks off its Spring 2012 season with a return visit from vocalist/improviser Jaap Blonk on Sunday, March 18th. Jaap Blonk has been the premier performer of sound poetry for many decades and his first visit here back in 1996 offered a history of sound poetry as it must have sounded in the Dada cabarets in Europe after WWI. Sound poetry is poetry often without words, written to be performed and not necessarily read. A lot of sound poetry is written with the incentive and extravagant typography so that becomes the score that the performer interprets. Jaap Blonk is also an exceptional improviser with his voice and his 2011 appearance at Woodland Pattern Book Center featured him with such improvising luminaries as saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and percussionist Michael Zerang. For his visit in March, Japp will be mixing up his program with new experiments using live electronics with his voice and also some sound poetry “classics” that may include anything from the absurdities of Hugo Ball’s Dada poems to the visceral drama of Antonin Artaud.
Our second concert this season features the great Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos (Sunday, April 15th). Wolter was here a couple years ago with the trio Longrun Development of the Universe and he is one of the great improvising trombonists in music today who has been described as “a phenomenon, both a humorous importer of every style into his template-free, fat-backed sound, and a tireless spy in the house of brass.” If you enjoy the work of trombonists like Jeb Bishop or George Lewis or know of Wolter’s recorded work with Han Bennink, the ICP Orchestra, or other new music heavyweights, then you’ll agree this concert is not to be missed.
The third and final concert this season brings Chicago’s bass clarinet virtuoso Jason Stein to Woodland Pattern’s gallery for the third solo performance in this season (Sunday, May 27th). Jason’s recent quartet CD The Story This Time (on Delmark) was on may ‘Best of 2011’ lists and many jazz writers have declared him to be the most important young voice on this instrument in many years. He works regularly in the groups Wrack and Locksmith Isidore and has played with Tim Daisy, Keefe Jackson, Mike Reed and many others. Solo bass clarinet sounds fantastic in the gallery at Woodland Pattern and in view of Jason’s considerable talent, this should be a great evening.The gallery at Woodland Pattern is the perfect setting to hear intimate, solo concerts by some of the great musical voices of our time. I’m particularly proud of this set of three concerts this year, and I think any one of these concerts may turn out to be of 2012’s unforgettable musical experiences.
Alternating Currents Live concerts take place on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. at Woodland Pattern Book Center (720 E. Locust) in Milwaukee. You can find further information and make reservations by calling 414.263.5001. Hal Rammel hosts Alternating Currents on 91.7 FM WMSE every Sunday night from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.