Singleton and Landsnes
May 29, 2007
BY JASON SONGE
I wonder why drummer Endre Landnses isn't in demand around town. Syre, he's got his regular gigs with the Dry Bones Trio, The Bally Who, and Egg Yolk Jubilee, but I wonder why there hasn't been more of a call from the upper echelons for his talent. Maybe cause he's a little too modern or avant for Snug Harbor, but I really wish more of the established jazz community could see him play. Maybe, maybe, maybe...
Anyway, from the way I'm talking, you can tell I was impressed with Landsnes at d.b.a. Tuesday night, when he hooked up with bassist James Singleton for some mind-splitting avant jazz. The duo settled into a 4/4 groove every once a while(especially when Singleton hit his meaty fuzz pedal, which almost demands that the music become heavy and nasty on the spot), but during the first hour of the first set, they were more likely to play in offbeat meters. Like the two of them formed a DNA helix whose strands floated away from each other just far and long enough before joining back together. That's what I loved about Landsnes' drumming. He started these crazy multiple note rolls on his toms, and I'm thinking, "How is this gonna come back to what Singleton's playing?" But, it's all about faith and challenging and being challenged and stepping outside of your comfort zone. The payoff always came. There was a point where both were playing ambiguously, until Landsnes out of nowhere started playing a straight jazz beat, and it was great to see Singleton change gears just as quickly and start playing a standard jazz bass line. Cool that they were listening intently to one another, and funny that the change made it seem like Landsnes was operating Singleton.
This was the second Tuesday in a row that I got to see masters at d.b.a. And they may have actually been my second picks to Porter and Vidacovich. If you woulda seen Landsnes play on his larger kit(normal, not jazz, kick drum, one extra crash, two splashes, and an extra floor tom), you wouldn't think that was such a bold statement.
I can't tell you how rewarding it's been to see Singleton evolve as a pedal user. I remember when he was just starting to experiment with them, and Tuesday night he was surrounded by them. It makes sense, actually. Since the bass is always in front of him, and he's hunched over in a position that doesn't exactly allow for great feet positioning, he puts the pedals behind him, and when he wants to use one, he just takes a step backward. He had a looping pedal, so as usual, he was able to record a rhythm line and then solo(maybe play with a bow) over it.
As the night progressed the duo started to delve into the more recognizable songs they've played together before(Landsnes is a member of 3 Now 4). The highlight of the first set was a mellow hip hop song called "Black Sheep Squared." In it Singleton raps and lambasts Bush and the governments response to Katrina as his looped bass plays. It was a little creepy and scary, which probably is what makes it potent. Mean, mean, mean, but in a very good way.