This was a glorious noise band, spontaneous free improvisations all the way — the first piece was an uninterrupted 47 minutes. But this quartet have played together a lot (last year they released Prezens on ECM), and they have their procedures. Torn, another diminutive genius, wore a big fur cap like a crown throughout the set. He would begin quietly, creating throbbing sustained chords on his guitar, or coaxing whooshing sounds from a giant effects box in front of him. Berne would float in on his alto sax with some fluttery free-bop figures while Taborn’s keyboards began to chirp and squeak. The velocity would begin to pick up, and then, BANG!, Rainey would kick in with a hard funk-rock beat laced with muscly cross-rhythms. The music would build and subside, build and subside, patterns emerging from the maelstrom, then disintegrating. At its peaks of velocity and volume, it was a beautiful squall, and you could hardly tell which sounds were emanating from which instruments. The music’s shifts seemed based not on chord patterns or tunes but on rhythmic and dynamic cues. At times, Rainey and Taborn created a hard, abstract funk that, together with the wails of Torn and Berne, suggested the outest of Miles Davis’s early-’70s electric bands. Then the smoke would clear, Rainey bringing it all down with his brushes to a whisper, and — in the space between noise and silence — Torn would look over at Berne with the beginnings of a smile.
LEO GENOVESE’S CHROMATIC GAUCHOS | Ryles, 212 Hampshire St, Cambridge | March 28 | 617.876.9330 | SEWER RATS, “Beehive-Art-Scope 1,” 541 Tremont St, Boston | April 1 | 617.423.0069
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