McCoy lyner at Baker 's, Nov. 4 - 9 AlthoUgh McCoy Tyner wás al Baker's Keyboard lounge, something vital was missing. Cali it excíteaient r nostalgie memories oí Elvin Jones sitting bchind tïie skins, it just wasn't there. McCoy himsclf is a complex and seri'Hjs player and a+w&y.intejcsting to hear. lt is the focus oí the musk that changad, lli conception has shifted in the last few ) trom a compositional and arranged imisic to a rliythmic thing. From texture and line to energy and slrcngth. Nothipg wrong with this approach inherently if evorybody's always there and capable of sustaining it througli songs that are as long as half an hour. Though no oíd man, to be surc, McCoy's gxoup is comprised of virtual youngsters and the edges are still a litile rougfi. Junk Booth seeined asleep at the bass and the drummer, I .W. Waiowright, was probably awake though a trille diffuse with the rhythm. Now, when your rhyihm section's gone, you'te in trouble, especiaHy vyhen you've gol a percussionist ü; steaming likes of lami Franco, who accompaaied McCoy energetically, Xhe 'i the everüng was tlie group v-:siiMi ol I heloni us Wonk's "Huby, My Di-ar." Ki ■ s conïbïned the ricli: tonorities Ihat i ; ith hls en tinctive I it hand in.:i beautiful and leamed renditiiü. of this standard. Azar Lawrence took a sok-. 1 him a very capa'nle linear pla,, mik times loses deflnitictn. And god dama if 1 didn't hear the depth md expressiveness óf John Coltrane from this young man's tenoi and there. W ing tj hear from Azai. Ml ,. , slill a giant and will never bedemed. U his giöüp row and Stese for a few years and wc 'II really hear something. David Weiss louíiiana Bed atRavenGallery,Oct.23 Turn where you will, synthesizers are the thing in niusic nowadays. Fiddles, guitars and cryinj! sqiiirrels can be conjured up while sitting at a keyboard. But 1 don't care ifEjnsteiri and Ike Newton come back with their tool-kits from Ihe grave, ain't nobody ever gonna synthesize the blues. Why wait, anyways'.' There are still artists like Louisiana Red gracing our midst. Red was in town a few weeks ago at Ihe Raven Gallen in Southfield, beloved bastion of the real tliing. llis music was as relaxedas the atmosphere 1 tfté R.iven, where a faithftjl clientelè shows up regularly for an selectie menu of folk, blues and whatever moves. "You might notice I don't like talkin' 'bout ïnysclf," Red said with a grin. He doesn't have lo. His songs are moslly his own and retel] his experietices with warmth and wisdom. He accompanies himself on an amplffied acoustic ir with a slyie lic says he learned trom his grandfather. Á purreht jouree of joy to Red is his harp rrtayei and good tri end, Sugar Blue. His playing ís clean and snulful and very mueh his own. i ogethei iheyare hand in glove, without a wrinkle. His own material runs the gamut trom a cookin' boogie called "All Night Long" with the t'iery harp of Sugar Blue, to the contemplative and wocful "Dead Stray Dog." Red also did a greal versión of Slim Harpo's "King Bee," a .;!ji can be lound on his new album, "Sweêl Blood Cali," on Blue Labor Records. It would be worth your while to find this record and to come to the Raven when Red returns in February. -David Weiss Art Ensemble Off Chicago at Wondere Kiva, East Lansing, Nov. 15 As the jazz-rock fusión continúes to lure more and more creative musicians into the commercïal-success sweepstakes, the need for innovative, rhythmically diverse, truly improvisatory music grows ever greater-and thealwaysexciting Art Ensemble of Chicago (Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors and Don Moye) continúes to work in the absolute forefront of the free-music vanhard, creating space for complex thought and feeüng to take form in the beings of the musicians and the audience alike. These musical space cadets remain some of the most open composers and players "out there"-the only "formula" they follow from performance to performance, or even from piece to piece, is to let the music move as fast or slow, and in as many directions, as the musicians' minds and feelings actually move, so that the Iistenerparticipant has as much to do, and finds as much pleasure, in digging the music as the players do, making it. Now 1 would be the last person to suggest a war.or even a real-life contradiction, between tree multi-rhythmic improvisa tienal music and structured, repetitive, pounding over-and-over again music-my point is simply that both are necessary to keep us moving these days, and if we need the popular music of the straight-out surge to carry us through the industrial grind, we sure enough need some sounds of pure human space to take us out beyond the limits and show us, yes, just where in creation we're hcaded. The Art Ensemble does this, dear friends, and what's more, they do it a different way, every time they play! Now at the very top of their exquisite form, and equipped with as many reed, brass, and percussion instrumcnts as it takes to flesh out their musico-dramatic visions, the fearsome fivesome from the Windy City did it again in East Lansing the middle of November at the latest presentation in the Creative Music Collective's faJl concert series at MSU, where Roscoe Mitchell remains a driving musical and organizational force-inresidence. Two nights, four coherent units of music, and a few hundred eager students of the art of wide-open creation were left with a treasury of thrilling memories for when there's nothing on the scène but music that sounds like machines, grinding away at the nodes of feeling. If the Art Ensemble of Chicago were fïve white boys from, say, Germany or points west, and if their record company put as much bread behind their cuts as they do for, say, Roxy Music and all the rest, then you might have a better idea of what l'ra trying to say. But they aren't, and it won't, and it will be five or ten years before the music industry catches up with their stuff, which situation is just about as boring as it's always been. You don't have to wait that long, though-you can buy any of their many excellent sides, and you can watch V for them every time they stop by. We'U let you know when they show, and when you hear it-don't blow! Go! -John Sinclair Frank lappa Larry Coryell at Crisler Arena, Nov. 18 Frank "King Leer" Zappa and the latest incarnation of hts Mothers of Invention brought their advanced music and adolescent sexual lantasies to Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor and gave the students both what they want ("smut") and what Frank thinks they need (involved instrumental improvisaron). He was joined on this occasion by guitarist Larry Coryell and the 1 lth House who opened what was, all things considered, an imaginative, progressive booking from the UAC Concert Coopera tive at UM. Coryell and the jazz-rock hooligans who joined him have recently released an album on Arista Records, which usually means that they 're within striking distance of pop staidom. Unfortunately, 1 missed theii half of the show but reliable sources report that they turned the place out with an hour of furious fusión music, after which time they were unreservedly called back for an encoré. Now Frank Zappa is a popster whose original commercial genius was combine eclectic (popular and avant-garde) musical sources with lyrics that werc funny, satirical, and most importantly, proposed (and endorsed) an allcrnative "freak" lifestyle to white middleclass teenagers suffocating in the bosom of plastic America. That first Mothers' album, "Freak Out," released in 1966, remains an inspired, living, psychedelic artifact. Then, as now, Frank attracted superior musicians, and this evening's line-up performed in that stellar tradition. Roy Kstrada, a contributor to the "Freak Out" sessions, was back playing bass and singing deadpan falsetto vocals. Recent addition, singersaxophonist Napoleon Broek, exuded charm and fire. There was a very young-lookingandrogynous demon, whose name 1 didn't catch, smashing the drums with a fury and inventiveness that recalled Klvin Jones. Detroit's own Norma Bell, on loan from the Lyman Woodard Organization, played roughneck alto sax, sang, screamed and danced, while the Maestro himself, ever on guaní against spurious rock-star histrionics, led the. band through their paces in his usual impassive manner and played some good guitar aftel he warmed up as well. The songs themselves began with two or three choruses of vocals which, when dispenscd with, left everyone ampie time to solo. The Mothers went back and dusted off, among other gems, "Lonely Little Girl"; "What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body," during which Broek played tenor as if.on fire; and "Camarillo Brillo," which featured a breathtakingly energetic drum solo. Still, these far-out, strictly instrumental segments of the show left many people behind. Most seemed to be there to luugh at the abuse Frank dishes out to them in liberal quantities. Indeed, Zappa's (longstanding) contempi tor his audience left me pretty cold. And although his smug sexual vignettes, "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" and 'The Illinois Enema Bandit" might have been considered taboosmashing six years ago, they seem at best juvenile, at worst unnecessarily offensive, today. What is the instructional or satirical value, in "Illinois Enema Bandit," of the lines, "Should we let the bandit freeIt must be just what they [his woman victims] all need"? That's the same, tired shit Frank's been peddling for too long, and even if he's nol, I'm certainly ready to move on. Still, the folks at Crisler ate it up and Frank, back for an encoré and serious for the first time that evening, called Crisler "A very intímate kind of large hall" by way of appreciating his audience. The band then tore up "San Ber'dino" and said good night. -Bill Adler limmy Cliffff at the Michigan Theatre, Nov. 7 Jimmy Clilf, the man most responsible for bringing his country's best-loved export, reggae music, to Americaná,.auspicioüsly inaugurated, on November 7, the first in a continuing series of midnight concerts sponsored by The SUN and presented ?t the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. The slim Jamaican has captured himself a cult following in enlightened areas of the U.S., mostly via "The Harder They Come," the brilliant film documentary of the rise and fall of a reggae singer in corrupt Kingston, written by and starring Cliff himself. Over 1800 hungry Ann Arbor freaks jumped at the rare opportunity to dig Johnny Too Bad cutting up in the flesh. But first Ann Arbor's bad enough Mojo Boogie Band opened the show in theii customary raucous fashion. The Mojos have been honing their hard bar blues as a unit for several years now and rock along with the precisión, power and good humor of mentors the like of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Slim Harpo, and Jimmy Reed. The antic performance of pianistvocalist Donnie Backus was a particular treat that night, and on such origináis as "Sweet Susie B." and "Gone, Gone, Gone" his gravclly shouting recalled Mitch Ryder. Other highlights included Jim Tate's harp solo on "Listen to Me," J.C. Crawford's brutal drumming throughout, and the entire band's lovely rendition of "Rainin' In My Heart." Jimmy's part of the show was organized in a semi-revue fashion. His crack 7-man band preceded him onstage and commenced to lay down a rhythmie instrumental groove dense as a Jungle. Fellow reggae star Joe Higgs sang the Melodians' "Rivers Of Babyion" and The Slickers' "Johnny Too Bad." Folks were primed from before the bcginning and ready to move when Jinimy jumped out and began hís potent demonstraron of "Fundamental Reggae." He kept thins up with "l'ni Going to Live, l'm Going To Love," and his signature tune "You Can Get It If You Really Want." Still, Oiff is not a wildly energetic performer, and the weight of the tunes thcmselves plus the nii'inory of the movió siLinit ifan tly helped to pul his stuff across. In tact, there's little question but that Joe Higgs, the mystery man who sang "Rivers Ot' Babylon" and who wrole "Deai Mother." was mure exciting than the star of the show. Especially affecting was his "Freedoni" which asks, "Look at the riches in America, and the poorness in África. Why is so much money spent on space, instead of on the human race?" carne back and did an intcnsely soulful job on the gospel-ish "Many Rivers To Cross" before indulging Mis sanctimonious side with "Remake The World." People were up and dancing from the opening strains of "The Harder They Come" and canie flooding into the front of the theater to move to and help sing TIn.' Waüers' "No Woman, No Cry." Jimmy's first hit "Wonderful World, Bcautiful People" was the gracious encoré and most of lis walked on to the Ann Arboi. 4 a.m. streets feeling sanctified.