HATS: If the name Carla Kihlstedt isn’t as well-known as it should be, you can’t fault her for not trying. The fluidly adventurous and genre-goosing Bay Area violinist has actually been sneaking around the back rooms and brain zones of the general public for a while now. She has played with Tom Waits and Mr. Bungle and has been the beguiling violin (and vocal) presence in the atmosphere-generating group Tin Hat Trio, which recently changed its name to just Tin Hat, to allow others into the club. Check out last year’s beauteous and somehow onomatopoeically titled The Sad Machinery of Spring (Hannibal) for a taste of Tin Hat’s cool brew.
But wait, there’s more: Kihlstedt has also been involved in tougher, more experimental provocations from the edge, in the projects Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, 2 Foot Yard, and a project with guitarist Fred Frith. We can assume Kihlstedt will be bringing out more of those hats when she performs a solo show at Contemporary Arts Forum this Friday and Saturday. The appearance is brought to you by Iridian Arts’ Strike series, designed to fall between the cracks of new exhibitions at CAF. This should be a hot, strange, and seductive evening.
DRUMS ALONG THE JAZZ PULSE: Some of us have a hard time getting our heads around the idea of Roy Haynes, 82, as a senior statesman in his musical world. Numbers tell us one thing; the vitality and subtlety of his playing tell us another. Or maybe he’s just living proof of jazz as a longevity enabler, and an argument against the fallacy of our ageist preconceptions regarding who should sound like what at this or that age.
Haynes, a masterful and long underrated member of the elite corps of great living jazz drummers, has a history wending its way back to the bebop ferment of the ‘40s. His vast resume includes collaborations with major players of successive generations, from Charlie Parker and Miles Davis to Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane, Pat Metheny, and the brigade of younger players in his own groups, including those on his broiling 2003 album Fountain of Youth. While Haynes has played in multiple jazz subgenres over the decades, his primary focus these days is on a malleable brand of post-hard bop, similar, come to think of it, to the last band led by another great jazz drummer, Tony Williams.
As part of an unusually rich roster of jazz in Santa Barbara this month, Haynes arrives at the Lobero Theatre on Friday with his own group, his debut as a leader in town. The last time we heard him live here was at the Victoria Hall in the ‘90s, as part of Chick Corea‘s Bud Powell tribute project. Haynes was the one musician on board with that group who had actually played with Powell.
Haynes’s concert is connected with two vital cultural concerns in town: the Jazz at the Lobero series and the Santa Barbara Symphony‘s citywide Percussion Festival, which reaches its apex this weekend with a percussion-minded orchestral program. British percussionist Colin Currie is the soloist in Jennifer Higdon‘s new Percussion Concerto, which will be given its West Coast premiere in Santa Barbara before heading down to the Long Beach Symphony the next weekend. Festival-making has thankfully now become a tradition with the Santa Barbara Symphony. Their record includes the memorable Silvestre Revueltas and Tango/Malambo festivals led by former music director Gisle Ben-Dor and last year’s tasty and diverse guitar festival.
TONIGHT, TONIGHT ALERT: As for an unofficial, presumably unintended “fringe festival” addendum to the Percussion Festival, the Experimental Music Night at Reds brings up the dynamic oddball percussionist/composer Brad Dutz and his group tonight. Apart from his day-gigging in studios and other “straight” musical settings, Dutz has long been one of the more notable mavericks on the Los Angeles scene. He has made numerous fine albums, full of both improvisational energy and his savvy quasi-chamber jazz compositions representing a post-Zappa zeitgeist. In other words, his music is free when it’s free, but not wanting intriguing, tautly navigated structures. It’s the best of both worlds. Or is it multiple worlds?