Tales from Valparaiso (and beyond) No. 12

The evening before last I went to a concert out at the University of Playa Ancha, about a mile out on the edge of town. It took me a while to find the (excellent) venue – an open gate in the otherwise impenetrable high surrounding fence (a feature of universities here, liable as they are to be occupied by demonstrating students) gave me a clue – then a poster – then an obvious jazz person loitering – and finally a door and a desk. A few people were waiting there, including Lucax, the percussionist I met at the time of the Tsonami festival. He greeted me and told me he had been trying to get in touch with me – some sort of dance event at the end of this month. Ironic if the only thing I got asked to play in was after I left Valparaiso! But it might have come to nothing anyway.

Lucax, it turned out, was playing in the concert – given by Tarabus Ensámble, a group of eight free improvisers with a guest drummer from Japan called Sabu Toyozumi. The line-up was, if I remember rightly:

1) trumpet
2) baritone sax/ bass flute
3) oboe/ violin/ certain amount of giggling
4) electronics – a table-top of little boxes
5) record scratching (but on an old 78 player)/ mic exposed to various body parts/ cymbals
6) double bass/ feedback [annoying – frequent “do stop doing that” glances from other band members]
7) electric guitar played mostly with scratchy objects
8) Lucax with his rug covered in toys, percussion, kitchen implements etc
9) and, of course, Sabu Toyozumi on drum kit – but often played with his hands

An hour and a half of frantic noise with no element of music (well, Sabu suddenly went into a hard driving rock rhythm at one point towards the end, which was like an oasis in a desert of chaos – albeit a fairly modest oasis) had me dozing – as so often in concerts generally. Does anyone else have this experience? Probably about a hundred times during the evening I lapsed into little dreams, each of which probably lasted half a second. I remember, for example, in one of them the trumpet virtuosic scrambling was liquid going into a bucket; in another the concert was happening in our back garden in Morningside and I was worried for the neighbours; in a third I was trying to notate the flurries of notes into a bar – but working backwards from the end of the bar (I had been writing arrangements on my computer all day). And so on. Does this sound familiar? Or is it just me?

After the concert I took the bus back into town to meet Ann, who had been preparing classes all evening, and kept singing to myself an old work-song from a Leadbelly record I used to listen to but haven't heard for many many years:

Take this hammer and take it to the captain
Take this hammer and take it to the captain
Take this hammer and take it to the captain
Tell him I'm going - tell him I'm going

If he ask you was I running
If he ask you was I running
If he ask you was I running
Tell him I was flying - tell him I was flying...

Again, this is a frequent experience of mine – coming away from one musical event singing something totally unrelated – again, is this familiar? I'd love to know (do email me if you want to!). Was there a subconscious connection? Just that I wanted to escape the concert, maybe.

Cheese and mushroom tortilla and strawberry wine at El Pimenton then the steep walk up the hill with a full moon. Life is good.

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