Week in the knees

By JON GARELICK  |  April 28, 2008

Feldman and Courvoisier, playing a half-hour of short pieces from Zorn’s book, made the case for his writing at the same time that they dazzled with their virtuosity. Here was Zorn the great pomo collagist — fractured, frenetic riffs, delicate melodies, bits of minor-keyed folk tunes, snatches of Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Feldman and Courvoisier deployed “extended” techniques — skittering bow slaps, fist-pummeled keys, Courvoisier playing the piano’s strings with her hands or “preparing” them. Each piece — rich in color and lyricism — held together, and Feldman especially dazzled with his hairpin control.

Zorn himself was tame by comparison. This was straight post-bop, attractive enough with its Ornette-inspired folk themes, swing rhythms, and minor-keyed “Jewish” melodies. Zorn muted his alto saxophone a couple of times by lifting his leg and playing a few notes against the inside of his thigh. Occasionally he took off into extended altissimo shrieks. And he broke up one tune by “conducting” the other players — cuing stop-times and actual rhythmic phrases with his hand. But he’s not an especially dazzling saxophonist. The fireworks didn’t resume until Feldman came back for a couple of encores.

CREATIVE NATION MUSIC | Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St, Cambridge | April 30–May 2 | 617.395.1393 | MIGUEL ZENÓN | Jorge Hernández Cultural Center, 85 West Newton St, Boston | May 1 at 8 pm | 617.927.1739 | JAZZ WEEK info at jazzboston.org

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