mercredi 4 août 2010

Power Tools : "Strange meeting"

(Island/Antilles, 1987)

What do Power Tools sound like ? Jazz ? Rock ? Maybe like Tipper Gore on acid inside yo momma's microwave. Or like a thinking person' metal band. A polyrhythmic mélange of modern electronic soul that sorts out and supercharges the multitudinous musical sign-posts and insights of the past 25 years. The way guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Melvin Gibbs & drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson improvise collectively recalls the more innocent, inquisitive days of the late 60's, when fledgling bands like the Tony Williams Lifetime tried (artistically) and failed (commercially) to suggest that John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix could hear ear to ear-were talking the same language. « Well, there's all this music in the air », Bill Frisell opines softly. « It's not even a question of trying to play in a style anymore- I'd like to play them all at once. With Melvin & Shannon, They have a way of modulating through rhythms where all this tonality and movement comes right out of the drum-I can play anything next to that. Some people seem to think I only play in one style based on a lot of the records I've been involved with : « you're an ECM guitarist ». You know, like is that supposed to be an insult or something ? » he giggles. « Power Tools is the first time I've experienced a sense of hearing the way I really play on record ».
Strange meeting contrasts Frisell's elusive, off-speed lyricism, gigantic echoing waves of chords, tolling bell tones, fervent blues cries, with the physicality of Gibbs's alligator-wrestling earth moans and Jackson's fisti-cuffian left-right combos. « Because Bill's sound and concept takes the edge off of a power-trio format, he puts the edge back on », Gibbs smiles. « He brings out the rhythm section, and returns the focus to the drum like in music from Chad and the Cameroon, where the melodicism comes directly out of the rhythm. We're a little like the africans, in that we try to modulate the rhythm, rather than simply modulating the strict meter. Playing like this you really have to listen in a holistic way, be conscious of the democracy of music, It's not about majority rules.
« We're trying to extend phrases rhythmically », Jackson emphasizes, « so, it's not about a 4/4 beat or a ¾ beat, but a compound beat. The Power Tools are orchestrating each other continuously ; if you play rhythms you don't have to be so concerned with strict time. People have told us we sound like Cream or Hendrix. I had to go back to find their music and discover what people were talking about, and I discovered that we all grew up listening to a lot of blues and jazz. But for me, coming from Texas like I do, and having had the experience of working with musicians like Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and James Blood Ulmer, I developed in a different direction. The way melvin and I play together is forceful, but we stay out of your way ».
« It's funny how a lot of my ballad and pop compositions end up in a country mood », Gibbs notes. « Bill's too. But there's that country element in african music as well. That's where the banjo comes from. George Jones is really popular in Africa. « Wadmalaw island » is for my father and it's about where he grew up off the coast of south Carolina. He said it sounds just like home, and people used to listen Jimmie Rodgers there. The first cash-money gig I ever had was at O'Lunney's, a country bar on Second Avenue. I played all my Chuck Rainey and and Jerry Jemmott licks : there was this chick singing and playing autoharp, all fit », he laughs.
Gibbs pauses and reflects slowly on the contrasting intensity of feelings depicted cinematically in his composition « Howar Beach memoirs », the album's anthemic centerpiece.
There's a lot of things going on in New York city that people don't like to talk about, and the violence of that incident brought it to the surface. You're minding your own business and people choose to see you in a certain light which has nothing to do with who you are. And you don't want to react, but you either fight or run or die. « It shouldn't be about hatred. It's about truth. It works both ways on both sides because they're just trying to live their lives too. They haven't deciphered their feelings, though ; having this need to negate your nobility-maybe for no reason other than the nagging suspicion that maybe they haven't got any ».

Chip Stern (Spin magazine, nov-dec. 1987)


1 commentaire:

academic a dit…

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