|Photo by Ralph A. Miriello|
|Falcon Owner Tony Falco photo by Ralph A. Miriello|
With the ominous threat of hurricane Irene lingering in everyone's mind, the originally scheduled August 27 th show of drummer Eric Harland's group with guitarist Julian Lage and pianist Taylor Eigsti was cancelled because the train service from New York city was suspended and the musicians were unable to make the trek. Rather than disappoint, the Falcon deftly shifted Sunday's performance of the duo of pianist
Brad Mehldau, who lives in nearby Newburgh, NY and the drummer Mark Guiliana to Saturday night and suspended Sunday's performances in anticipation of the storm.
It was a rare chance to see the eclectic pianist and the frenetic drummer in an intimate setting. In speaking to Mr. Mehldau shortly before his set, I asked him what music he had planned for his upcoming set. He indicated that it was to be an evening of pure improvisation without any prearranged play list. The stage was set with an acoustic grand and a Hammond B3, but Mr. Mehldau was having none of that on this evening. It was a purely electronic set with an electric piano, two keyboards and a laptop computer providing the instruments Mr. Mehldau would be employing. The only acoustic instrument on the stage was Mr.Guiliana's drums set.
The evenings entertainment started off with a slam poet from Galway, Ireland named Stephen Murray. The comedian read aloud several of his humor drenched poems to the gathering crowd. He was well received especially when he requested Mr. Mehldau to accompany him on piano to the reading of one of his poems.
|Mark Guiliana photo by Ralph A. Miriello|
Lonnie Liston Smith's dablings from back in the seventies.
|Brad Mehldau Photo by Ralph A. Miriello|
The second number was started by Guiliana who played an odd, beat while a recording of what sounded like a political speech was played over an amplifier. Mehldau started off with a repeating line on electric piano while Guiliana maintained his multilayer-ed beat. The pianist expanded his right hand playing to include some dashing runs up and down the keyboard, that included some creative changes in the electronic sounds of his keyboard. Mehldau has a complete and masterful independent control of his two hands that allows him the ability to produce some wonderfully creative juxtaposed sounds.
|Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana photo by Ralph A. Miriello|
On the third song Mr. Mehldau starts off adjusting his computer to preset designations of the electronic sounds he wishes to use. Mr. Guiliana creates a frenzied beat pattern that lays the carpet out for Mr. Mehldau's combination of eerie organ-like sounds, mixed with runs on the electric piano and even a hint of harpsichord thrown in for good measure. This could easily be the soundtrack to a horror film. There are swells and lulls in the intensity of the music that add greatly to the experience. The recorded speech is re-introduced into the piece as Mehldau and Guiliana change tempo and start slowly building a dynamic that is hypnotic in its sway. The two musicians build the e tension back up into a frenzied well spring of ideas that overflow with spontaneity. Guiliana is especially intriguing to watch. The drummer seems to have internal battles within himself as his motion is both frantic and precisely controlled. Very intriguing stuff.
There were a total of six separate musical pieces punctuated by pauses and applause during the one hour and twenty-six minute set. The evening was an almost continuous experiment in free improvisation and interactivity. Despite the appreciative audience, this was not, for the most part, music that one would necessarily put on their cd player. It is, however, music that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. My words do little to convey the true effect that experimental music like this has on one who witnesses it first hand. It is to be present for the conception of an idea, to by privy to the creative process of a musician during moments of true spontaneity. It is a rare and powerful experience. As creative artists Mr. Mehldau and Mr.Guiliana leave themselves naked to their audience, as nothing is apparently rehearsed. They are like trapeze artists who are working without a net, fraught with danger, but open to limitless possibilities. It is precisely why such venues like the Falcon need to be supported and encouraged, so they can provide the forums that allow for such wonderful trips into the unknown.
It is hard to say what may become of this evening's musical explorations between Mr. Mehldau and Mr. Guiliana, but suffice it say that we are all enriched by them tinkering with the possibilities.
After hurricane Irene hit the next day, the Falcon experienced a washout of their lower level parking area as the adjacent waterfall reached flood levels. Fortunately the performance space was unscathed but the damage to the retaining walls and parking area will need to be repaired. A trip to the Falcon is sure to be a wonderful experience and will help support the "live" music we all love.