With the onset of fall comes the beginning of new artistic seasons, and several strong line-ups will kick off over the next month or two. That includes an especially thrilling Lively Arts series at Montgomery County Community College, a run of heavy-hitters at the Kimmel and Annenberg Centers, and a typically exciting run of boundary-stretching artists from Ars Nova Workshop, including a slew of AACM-related shows in conjunction with the ICA’s must-see exhibition “The Freedom Principle.”
But whether summer travels have locals settling back at home or just sheer coincidence, September is a particularly strong month for local artists and projects with local roots. Of course there’s the 90th birthday celebrations for former Strawberry Mansion resident John Coltrane, which I’ll cover at length in a later piece, but also the following string of Philly-centric shows.
Guitarist Tim Motzer was trying to make his way offstage at a club in Zurich, Switzerland, weaving through a crowd of people after a 2008 gig with hip-hop and spoken word artist Ursula Rucker, when a persistent voice kept calling his name. “Finally, somebody grabbed the back of my shirt,” Motzer recalls.
Motzer turned and found an enthusiastic audience member whom he didn’t immediately recognize, still intent on relaxing backstage. As it turned out, the man complimenting his guitar playing was not just any fan, but jazz guitar great Kurt Rosenwinkel. The two axemen quickly formed a friendship and spent the next several years discussing the possibility of a project together.
Those conversations eventually took them into a Brooklyn studio, where they recorded the self-titled debut of Bandit 65, their new trio with drummer Gintas Janusonis (who was also on that gig in Switzerland). The three will reform for their first ever live show on tonight at Underground Arts with visuals by Motzer’s longtime collaborator, multi-media artist Dejha Ti.
Writing via email, Rosenwinkel calls Bandit 65 “a free improvisational experimental soundscape multidimensional textural psychedelic groove monster… with soul!” That about captures the range of mesmerizing sonic territory covered by the album’s half-dozen lengthy excursions, culled from nearly six hours of music recorded in that one day’s session. The music varies from the album’s most jazz-like track, the fusion haze of opener “Ever the Horizon,” to the dub-accented psychedelic haze of “The Cycle,” through the evocative, sinuous 17-minute “Lost Temple” and the wall of sheer noise that envelopes “Racing the Precipice.”
The trio may come as a surprise to fans of Rosenwinkel’s sleeker, tighter jazz playing. (He’ll be in more familiar territory the following night, when he guests with Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band at World Café Live. According to Motzer, “Kurt has a massive jazz audience and we’ll certainly be getting into that kind of thing, but I think we’ll be exploring some other realms as well.”
Exploring multiple realms is familiar territory for Motzer, whose restless imagination and inventive guitar playing takes him from electronic soundscapes to sharp-edged hip-hop and raucous jazz-funk, among various others. He also regularly collaborates with dancers and choreographers at the University of the Arts. Continue reading →