Singleton, Dillon, and Freilich

Dragon's Den

December 03, 2006

This was Johnny Woodstock's first gig back out and about since he made friends with a car windshield a couple of weeks ago. Woodstock was determined to not miss this gig, and he had good reason. It was great, and sure, Skerik was advertised in the place of guitarist Jonathan Freilich, but in the end it didn't matter. Freilich was more than competent and revelatory in his own way. Just like percussionist Mike Dillon and double bassist James Singleton, Freilich's most important strength, despite his virtuosity, is his ability to switch between genres on a whim. As a result I'm kind of wary of even calling this a jazz gig. That's so rote and boring. Just because a music is free and undefinable in genre, we have to call it jazz? I'd rather called it The Next Step, because that's what it is. Not for the general public but at least for fans of difficult music. The interspersion of genres like Mr. Bungle mixed meters is an exciting thing.

One second the group was playing blues and the next they were onto some avant jazz and the next they sounded like Creedence. There were no boundaries. Freilich seems to shy away from playing straight, so the Creedence stuff was that much cooler. On the other hand, his angular puzzle piece juggle of notes that sounds complete to the ear made his talent more noticeable in a trio setting. I had a feeling the Dillon fans in the house might never have seen him before.

For no reason I want to say that I love it when Singleton uses his fuzz or distortion pedal. What sounds nastier or cooler?

I hadn't had the chance to see Dillon up close for a featured concert until Sunday at The Dragon's Den. He's such a talented percussionist. He played his drum kit or he played his xylophone or vibraphone or tabla or shakers. He had such focus in such a lazy way. He seemed loose, but he musta just been relaxed, because there was a second there when he went nuts on the vibraphone in a flurry of notes. I can't imagine how it all coulda sounded good to my ear, but it did. It still amazes me how vibraphone players choose notes like that. It seems so difficult, and I guess that's why I always get the feeling they're just hoping the note they're gonna hit is gonna sound right. "You see how many bars are on this vibraphone?"

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