Jesse Collins – Cafe Fixe – August 12

Jesse Collins

When I first saw Jesse’s trio Funny Money a few years ago I said these guys would be big, though I assured him they’d never make any money. The group is abandoned by now, but Jesse has taken a new direction. Tonight, at Cafe Fixe, he uses two reel-to-reels, a harmonica, and a trumpet. The sounds are more muted than Funny Money’s, which could be quite wild. Jesse’s solo approach is calm and exploratory. He favors percussive sounds, with thuds and trickles and taps.

He sips his tea… On the floor, which I didn’t notice, a soprano saxophone, which he picks up. Slow humming as he vibrates the reed. Squeaky honks, almost with a harmonica quality. He’s muting the sax with what looks like a plastic coffee cup. There’s a plaintive feel, seagulls calling among beach refuse. Beautiful, long slow bell, Roscoe Mitchell style skronk but mellower. Clicking, as from a spinning pistol cartridge, summer cicada calls.

A small white ball ricochets in a black plastic woofer, vibrating to the harmonics on the sax. Microcosmic symphony of vibration. Laboratory whistles. Jesse’s work is multidimensional, as big as you want it to be.

The finale takes the soprano into uncharted territory. Free but somehow consonant baroque tangles of overtones, with a fruit-syrupy, viscous timbre. It evolves like a ritual chant, with a crescendo of ascending intervals. Then the cries of a lament.

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