The Jonathan Freilich Sextet

The Dragon's Den

February 10, 2004

The poets overstayed their welcome on a rainy Tuesday night. It was ridiculous that The Jonathan Freilich Sextet had to wait until midnight to start their set at The Dragon’s Den. It was no surprise that as an audience of ten dwindled down to three, the band decided to call it quits after five songs.

The sextet was a rare chance to see guitarist Freilich, drummer Kevin O’Day, and saxophonist Robert Wagner play together, and along with two other saxophonists and a bassist, the group didn’t disappoint. The songs were a chance for Freilich to put his chaotic modern jazz stamp on traditional Chinese music and an Irish jig, among other things. All the songs were scripted, so it can’t be defined as free jazz, but it sure sounded like it. Structured disjunction. A tense, anxious testosterone filled beautiful mess. The songs started with an accessible melodic chorus, only to slowly go offbeat and leave the saxes to play a couple keys higher or lower than each other, creating a disorienting effect.

The first song was a swinging number, and the second was the aforementioned jig. The sax hooks made the song danceable, and it smelled of high mountain fresh air and mysticism. The third piece was slower, soothing and swaying. It sounded like ‘30’s Los Angeles coming down from its prestige. Next was the swingin’ Chinese number. The last song was more familiar territory for Freilich—it was a Klezmer freak-out. The song had a loony circus vibe. O’Day played a quick marching beat and used his rims for increased insane effect.

The band was very tight. Too bad there weren’t more people around to see it.

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