Sunday, July 15, 2012
Review: Music for Owen/Cox Dance Group, Vol. 1
The People's Liberation Big Band is arguably the best musical ensemble in Kansas City. Although it's substantially less popular than Hearts of Darkness, Tech N9ne or the Kansas City Symphony, the band invests an incomparable level of sonic creativity and reckless joy into each of its frequent performances. That's why a new album with only one track featuring PLBB is noteworthy to fans of adventurous jazz.
"12 Miniature Blues," the first of three selections on the 2012 release Music for Owen/Cox Dance Group, Vol. 1, contains most of the elements that make PLBB so appealing. The freewheeling composition is filled with surprises, humor and wondrous waves of sound. It manages to be entirely original even as it references Thelonious Monk.
Accordion and drums are the sole instruments on PLBB bandleader Brad Cox's "Shenker's Last Stand." The rendering resembles jazz accordionist Richard Galliano less than it does the artier works of Astor Piazzola.
To paraphrase a vulgar saying, "Hong Kong Audio Diary" is a 25-minute mind-mess. Loud, abrasive and freaky, the sound collage includes contributions from a a few members of PLBB along with prominent Kansas City musicians including Beau Bledsoe and Gregory Sandomirsky. As if Cox is using a remote control rather than a conductor's wand, the piece wobbles from blasts of feedback to Chinese folk to lounge music to Mars Volta-style prog-rock. The disorienting piece might be too extreme for even the most open-minded fans of experimental film composers like Ennio Morricone.
Music for Owen/Cox Dance Group, Vol. 1 may not have much of a beat, but the members of the Owen/Cox collective can dance to it.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)