RSSRaw posts and updates from our writers with info too timely or uncategorizable for print. What, we said something stupid? Chime in, buddy.

Dark Dark Dark’s Nona Marie Invie and dogs
Cameron Wittig

Music

Acoustic Time Wizards

They don’t have fireworks, a giant inflatable penis or any of the other spectacular bullshit of a major-label tour. Albuquerque’s A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Minneapolis’ Dark Dark Dark, and Chicago’s Pillars and Tongues don’t even have a name for their tour. They do have an unusual collection of instruments, two vans and the ability to reshape time, although they accomplish that in different ways. The three groups will be altering perceptions at the South Broadway Cultural Center tonight in an all-ages concert produced by AH&AH accordionist Jeremy Barnes. Find out more here.

Play Youtube Video

Music

Beirut’s Zach Condon distills himself

Trumpeter/ukulelist/singer Zach Condon, native Santa Fean and frontman for Beirut, has garnered a world of attention for music that draws heavily on his serial “flirtations,” as he calls them, with various genres. French chanson, Balkan brass, Mexican church bands, electronica—each has provided the inspiration and stylistic setting for a Beirut album.

The constants in those recordings, though, are Condon’s love affair with melody and his ear for the right sound in the right place. For the latest Beirut release, The Rip Tide, Condon focused on those elements, hoping to distill his own sound from the multigenre cocktail. He’s succeeded in creating his most personal and arguably his most beautiful and mature work to date. Beirut plays in Santa Fe tonight. Find out more about the new album and the show here.

Horace Silver

Music

A Jazz Tribute (x 12)

Cal Haines’ Tribute Trio—John Rangel (piano), Michael Glynn (bass) and Cal Haines (drums)—will honor Horace Silver on the inaugural night of a 12-concert series to be performed once a month. The series will be staged at different places in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, from jazz clubs to colleges to guerrilla performing arts venues. Each concert will explore the work of a single jazz pianist, among them Chick Corea, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Bobby Timmons, Lennie Tristano and McCoy Tyner. “The trio is interested in keeping this music alive,” says concert coordinator Victoria Rogers, and it has a special interest in drawing the attention of young fans to these composers. For more information on what promises to be an entertaining and informative survey course in modern jazz piano, visit tributetrio.com.

Cooper-Moore

Freedom of Expression

Cooper-Moore vigorously exercises his right to free expression, whether he's storytelling, pushing the jazz envelope at the piano, or expanding the realm of the folkloric by inventing, building and playing his own musical instruments. He and Albuquerque's own Jeremy Barnes—one-half of A Hawk & A Hacksaw—first met a few years ago in Chicago, and ever since, they've been plotting to explore their musical universes together. They'll do it tonight at 7:30 p.m. at UNM's ARTS Lab with Cooper-Moore on piano and his own original instruments and Barnes on drums and other instruments—"It's going to be accordion-free," Barnes says. The show reprises outside of Albuquerque on Saturday at the Santa Fe Complex (8 p.m.) and Sunday at the El Rito Library (3 p.m.). Donations will be accepted for the Albuquerque show. Call 730-3814. (Mel Minter)

Miguel Zenón

Saxophonist Miguel Zenón Finds a New Balance between the Ordered and the Unexpected

Acclaimed quartet takes new roads to great jazz

The young alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón brings the mathematical rigor and certainty of an engineer, which he nearly was, to his jazz compositions and performances, which are also informed with searing emotional intensity, technical mastery, and a Caribbean spice that recalls his native Puerto Rico. The winner of numerous accolades—including both a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and a MacArthur Grant in 2008—Zenón has been in great demand, playing with a jazz Who’s Who (David Sanchez, Danilo Perez, Charlie Haden, Steve Coleman, and Branford Marsalis, among others), composing and performing as a founding member of the SF Jazz Collective, and leading his own accomplished quartet.

In the midst of this success, which in a lesser artist might encourage complacency, Zenón undertook an examination of his artistic identity, “looking in to what I was doing as a musician and what I was creating,” he says.

His latest, acclaimed release, Awake (his third for Marsalis Music), reflects Zenón’s personal discoveries, and his quartet—with Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Henry Cole on drums—will share that music at the Outpost on Thursday.

The Systematic and the Random

Though he had a full scholarship to study engineering, Zenón instead chose to pursue a less certain musical path, studying at both Berklee and the Manhattan School of Music. While the ordered mind of an engineer has served him well as a musician, Zenón began to feel “very dissatisfied with certain things,” he says. “I was getting stuck basically, using the same kind of ideas and the same kind of approaches, specifically as a composer. I wanted to find other roads.

“I’ve always been a very systematic thinking kind of guy,” he says, “and of course, that has translated into the music that I’ve made. I try to avoid randomness or stuff that’s unplanned.”

He felt that his “disregard for the random” was limiting, and he searched for ways to change that.

The search coincided with the production of Awake. “By the time it was finished, I had come to peace with a lot of things.” He found that he could strike a balance between his systematic approach and “things that come out of the blue.”

Complex and Moving

Zenón’s systematic mind has devised some compelling structures on the Awake, like “Penta,” which is based on a 15/8 time signature, which is further subdivided among the quartet into threes and fives.

One thing that keeps such complex structures accessible is Zenón’s compositional emphasis on rhythm. “I almost always think of rhythm first,” he says. Caribbean breezes blow through most of his compositions, and Zenón’s cat-and-mouse games with rhythm—now pushing, now pulling at the flow—constitute an integral part of his musical personality.

His newfound openness to out-of-the-blue elements is demonstrated on the incantatory “Santo,” which developed from a call-and-response melody Zenón heard when he surfed into a Catholic mass on a hotel room TV.

“They were singing like this Gregorian chant over and over again,” he says. “I really liked that melody, so I wrote it down, and I was thinking about ways of using it. Basically, that melody kind of just developed into this tune, kind of organically. . . . I was really trying to capture that feeling I got when I heard it first—almost like a sacred [thing].”

Some of that feeling comes straight from Zenón’s tonal quality, which alone carries an extraordinary amount of information. Warm, open, and tender one moment, his tone can turn dense and piercing, as the moment demands.

A player who demands much of himself, Zenón offers listeners deeply personal music that draws from intellect, heart, and a healthy respect for the unexpected.