Saturday, May 9, 2009
Review: Eldar at Jardine's
During the first of Eldar's two sets Saturday, a friend likened the three men on the stage of Jardine's to caged lions at a zoo. They did, in fact, seem restless, agitated and unnaturally inhibited.
It's just idle speculation on my part, but I suspect that Eldar and his band were uncertain of how to best address the wildly different expectations held by the various factions of the near-capacity audience.
The older set probably longed for the polite swing music they heard Eldar play as a prodigy growing up in Prairie Village. Affiliates of the jam band crowd were also in the room. They were hoping for the adventurous grooves popularized by Medeski Martin & Wood. And a handful of curious jazz musicians were on hand; they wanted Eldar to bring the noise.
An unsatisfying compromise resulted. Eldar seems to be attempting to fuse classic Stanley Clarke with Thelonious Monk's ugly beauty. But by approaching it hesitantly, Eldar failed to make much headway toward his new direction.
At least it was loud. For the first time ever at Jardine's, I thought about retrieving the earplugs I keep stashed in my car. But the bracing volume brought to bear by Eldar, bassist Jose Armando Gola and drummer Ludwig Alfonso only masked the lack of focus. There were shockingly few moments of clarity.
It's entirely likely that the trio later locked in on the sort of sustained inspiration on display in the previous Plastic Sax post. Brilliant, forward-thinking musicians aren't likely to go on extended cold streaks.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)