Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jaki Liebeziet & Burnt Friedman, A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Nijdrop 15/05/09

A Hawk & A Hacksaw is a band from New Mexico. The poor dudes must have been confused arriving here in the middle of nowhere (of Flanders in fact) playing in an nearly empty old warehouse. Nevertheless, they have the right attitude and can't be bothered. 'We're here now anyway, so we play what we've got' is the attitude for this sort of occasions. With accordion, mandolin (or is that a bouzouki?), accordion (this guy also sings and has a sort of floor tom at his foot), violin, trumpet and tuba they play the sort of folk music that's heavily influenced by Balkan music with perhaps some hints of mariachi here and there. They manage to create a good atmosphere, automatically I think of some Kusturica movie scenes: weddings, drunk funerals, family parties etc... throw in a dog with three legs, cats eating from the table, a lost goat and you know what I mean. All in all, I liked the set and it made me thirsty. One advantage of a low turn-out at concerts is that you seem to own the place: no waiting at the bar, no endless trying to get the bartender/bastard's attention, no pushing your way through the audience and spilling beer etc...

Fortunately a bit more people have arrived when Jaki Liebezeit & Burnt Friedman kick of their set but the turn-out is still very disappointing. Where is everybody? Seeing Liebezeit drumming is some experience. Seated before (and a bit higher than) his four toms and three cymbals (and some well placed mics) - no footwork - he starts without hesitation hitting rhythms that he changes slowly, but never is there one hit out of place or out of rhythm. If you follow his hands and sticks it becomes mesmerising, he's like a human beat box. Sometimes in the beginning of each track you think that it mustn't be that difficult to follow him but his timing, attack and volume is perfect and damn, he subtly adds quite some variation. Liebezeit is in the music business since the middle of the sixties, starting in the German free jazz scene (see Manfred Schoof and even Brotzmann) before he played with Can and now, forty years later he's still going strong. Respect! Burnt Friedman is very complementary to what Liebezeit does. He contributes to the rhythms with lots of nice bleeping sounds (lots of lovely steel drum-like sounds) while at the same time weaving very beautiful sound blankets through the rhythmic patterns. Sometimes hints of melodies shine through, some dubby bas feelings show up and at one time he even used some acid house sounds in the mix. The duo works nicely towards some impressive climaxes to which the audience reacts very enthusiastic. They even come back to do an encore. I already saw them a couple of years ago (with a guitar player who wasn't that good) but this time I experienced it as much better. I must admit that at that time the beer flow had been going goddamn fast for a while, so maybe that element had something to do with it.

When experiencing the duo's high quality & highly recommendable chill out studio Cd's at home (first two Secret Rhythms volumes are wonderful, haven't heard third installment yet) I wouldn't recommend beer in plastic cups like I digested that night but I would suggest some nice dry white wine. And before the thousands of readers of this blog start to regard me as some sort of wine snob: I don't mean sipping on a glass like some sort of upper class idiot, while you most probably don't know anything about it but just swallow the stuff like a big boy and at least empty the goddamn bottle would ya?

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