Tag Archives: Aaron Bennett

Village Voice’s Jazz Consumers Guide by Tom Hull

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch – What Is Known (CF 192)
The leader’s bass brackets the sonic range where Aaron Bennett’s tenor sax and John Finkbeiner’s guitar rumble and roil—deep, dense, with a steady charge and a tendency to get noisy. Two covers: one from Air drummer Steve McCall, the other from Don Van Vliet, a/k/a Captain Beefheart, who knew a thing or two about getting down and dirty. A MINUS
http://www.villagevoice.com/2011-05-11/music/jazz-consumer-guide-pure-joy-and-hard-work/

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All About Jazz Italy by Vincenzo Roggero

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch – What Is Known (CF 192)
Valutazione: 4 stelle
“Baith & Switch è il mio garage jazz quartet che suona musica da me composta, ispirata ai miei eroi musicali, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, A.E.O.C., Roloand Kirk, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra”. Sono le parole di Lisa Mezzacappa, bassista e compositrice molto attiva nella Bay Area, e forniscono le coordinate per orientarsi e addentrarsi nel suo mondo musicale.

Ma sono solo riferimenti, perché What Is Known è molto più che un compitino ben svolto e dai chiari punti di riferimento. Semmai, è un labirinto sonoro pieno di anfratti che rimandano suggestioni le più diverse, che richiedono orecchie ben aperte per poter cogliere quegli indizi che permetteranno di trovare la via d’uscita.

Perché è innegabile l’incontro con il suono scuro, a tratti ruvido, del rock suonato nelle cantine e nei locali alternativi, come il manifestarsi quasi pressante della libertà improvvisativa del free storico e quella più sofisticata della scena di Chicago. Ma, in mezzo, troviamo una serie di situazioni ibride, che prendono forma da piccoli frammenti sonori i più disparati e connotano la musica in maniera sorprendente.

I musicisti si muovono con grande confidenza e altrettanto controllo sui continui spostamenti metrici, sulle improvvise variazioni dinamiche e timbriche, sui cambi di direzione, creando una tensione continua che funge da necessario collante. Non ci sono primedonne in What Is Known, nonostante Baith & Switch sia formato da quattro forti personalità oltre che da strumentisti eccezionali, perché ogni musicista mette la propria arte al servizio del collettivo e delle composizioni di Mezzacappa.

Che sono intriganti, dalle maglie aperte ma dall’architettura millimetrica, ideali per raggiungere un prezioso equilibrio tra scrittura e improvvisazione. E, ciliegina sulla torta, Mezzacappa vi inserisce, quasi per caso, una versione mozzafiato di “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” di un certo Captain Beefheart, che da sola vale l’acquisto del CD.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=5734

El Intruso review by Sergio Piccirilli

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch – What is Known (CF 192)
Calificación: Dame dos
La compositora y contrabajista Lisa Mezzacappa es una de las principales animadoras de la escena musical de la bahía de San Francisco. Sus múltiples actividades artísticas se distribuyen entre su rol como líder del cuarteto Bait & Switch y el quinteto Nightshade y los roles protagónicos que ocupa en el cuarteto Cylinder, el Permanent Wave Ensemble, la Oakland ActiveOrchestra y en la alianza musical que integra con el baterista Jason Levis en Duo B. La versatilidad que la distingue como instrumentista le ha permitido atravesar el umbral de diferentes géneros musicales con similar idoneidad, abarcando rangos que van desde el metal-jazz con Go-Go Fightmaster hasta la libre improvisación con el Vijay Anderson’s Touch and Go Sextet, pasando por el jazz de cámara junto al Randy McKean’s Bristle, el pop alternativo con el sexteto de Beth Custer, música inspirada en la obra cinematográfica de Michelangelo Antonioni en el Phillip Greenlief’s Citta di Vitti y reggae junto a la banda Joseph’s Bones.

Los intereses artísticos manifestados por Lisa Mezzacappa incluyen también a su prolífica labor como organizadora y promotora del ciclo anual de conciertos JazzPop llevados a cabo en el Hammer Museum de Los Angeles, el ciclo mensual de jazz The Monday Makeout que produce en sociedad con el trompetista canadiense Darren Johnston y la serie trimestral de cine y música Mission Eye and Ear realizada en el afamado Red Poppy Art House de San Francisco. Todo esto sin dejar de mencionar sus frecuentes trabajos multidisciplinarios entre los que podemos citar a Earworms y Nostalgia for the Future junto a la artista plástica Deborah Aschheim y Month Drink the Tears en alianza con el poeta Oni Buchanan.

A pesar de la dilatada trayectoria musical de Lisa Mezzacappa, el álbum What is Known no sólo marca el debut de su banda Bait & Switch sino que también se constituye en el primer registro discográfico que la muestra como líder de banda. Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch entrecruza con asombrosa autoridad el espíritu setentista y la crudeza que caracteriza a una banda de garage rock con un inabarcable y laberíntico universo sonoro en el que convergen influencias heredadas de auténticos popes de la improvisación jazzística como Ornette Coleman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eric Dolphy, el Art Ensemble of Chcago y Henry Threadgill. No obstante, aun cuando esas influencias resultan palpables desde la primera aproximación auditiva a What is Known, la banda logra insuflarle a su propuesta estética un innegable signo de individualidad, potencia expositiva, una envidiable cohesión estilística y un incontrastable sentido de originalidad.

Ese juego de contrastes entre lo que uno puede esperar de una banda de garage rock (estilo que por lo general se asoció a intérpretes que compensaban su escasa preparación musical con energía y pasión) y el profundo conocimiento técnico que requiere comprender y aceptar influencias provenientes de íconos del free jazz como los ya mencionados, parece tener un irónico correlato en la denominación elegida por Lisa Mezzacappa para su banda. En el idioma inglés, la frase “bait & switch” tiene un significado similar al que se le otorga en el lenguaje castellano al dicho popular “dar gato por liebre”. Esta frase tiene origen en la dudosa fama de la que gozaban los antiguos hospedajes, sobre todo en materia de comidas. Uno de los fraudes más comunes, justamente, era dar carne de gato por la de liebre. Así fue que, a partir de ese entonces, “dar gato por liebre” empezó a usarse para describir cualquier intento de engañar en la calidad de una cosa por medio de otra inferior que se le asemeja.

De todas maneras, no descartaría la posibilidad de que también sea un engaño “dar liebre por gato”. De hecho, una vez adquirí como mascota un gato pero fui víctima de un fraude y pasé cinco años de mi vida tratando infructuosamente que ronroneara y maullara… una liebre. Esta trágica historia me recuerda el caso de un amigo que quiso comprar un gran danés y mediante engaños le vendieron a un musculoso marinero nacido en Dinamarca. No sé qué habrá sido de ellos, pero la última vez que los vi iban tomados de la mano y haciéndose arrumacos a la luz de la Luna.

Lo cierto es que si buscamos en el Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch una propuesta musical con excluyentes influencias asociadas al free jazz, también encontraremos en ella características ligadas al concepto de banda de rock-garage y viceversa. En ese sentido queda claro que el alegato de la banda no es un “intento de engañar en la calidad de una cosa por medio de otra inferior que se le asemeja” ni una pretensión de “dar gato por liebre”, sino una sabrosa e infrecuente combinación de  “gato” y “liebre” apta para paladares aventureros e inquietos.

El inicio, con Richard’s House of Blues, suministra suficiente material armónico para ratificar la intersección entre la acritud del garage rock y el libertario alegato del free jazz que caracteriza a la banda, propiciando fugaces e impecables soliloquios instrumentales deliberadamente ajenos a convencionalismos. La trama estética se nutre con la imperturbable solidez del contrabajo de Lisa Mezzacappa, los minuciosos aportes de la batería de Vijay Anderson, el emotivo despliegue idiomático del saxo de Aaron Bennett y la temeraria sonoridad de la guitarra de John Finkbeiner.

El abrasivo ZZLLZZPP despliega un viraje estructural hacia el swing pero interceptado por estratégicas fracturas y figuras en contraste que no eluden transitorias referencias al rock y a la libre improvisación. Todo realzado por un efusivo solo de saxo a cargo de Aaron Bennett y el inquietante espectro sonoro que dibuja la guitarra de John Finkbeiner.

The Aquarist configura una oblicua aproximación a la música antillana desde la perspectiva del hard-bop, ornamentada por texturas espaciales en guitarra, precisos acentos percusivos, una agreste exposición en saxo tenor y la variedad de recursos que exhibe el contrabajo de Lisa Mezzacappa.

A continuación siguen dos covers: primero, a través de una inmejorable recreación grupal del clásico de Captain Beefheart Lick my Decals off, Baby y luego con una cálida relectura en solo de contrabajo del tema de Steve McCall I’ll be Right Here Waiting. La opresiva atmósfera de The Cause & Effect of Emotion & Distance transita un abstracto territorio motívico; Ponzi incorpora, a la prédica central de la banda, elementos de reggae con incitante naturalidad, mientras que el evocativo inicio de Catalypsoclysmic evoluciona hasta alcanzar su clímax dramático con una notable intervención de Vijay Anderson en batería. Las agitaciones armónicas y el despliegue contrapuntístico de What is Known desembocan en el lúdico y electrizante cierre ofrecido por Push/Pull.

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch, con el álbum What is Known, se constituye en un paso firme hacia el futuro del jazz, con la autoridad y el convencimiento devenido de una cabal comprensión del pasado.
http://www.elintruso.com/article.php?id=1941

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch – What Is Known (CF 192)
****
“Bait-and-switch” é uma expressão para uma falcatrua em que um produto é publicitado como sendo uma pechincha imbatível ou tendo uma série de predicados fabulosos, para depois o anunciante revelar que o preço real não é aquele ou as qualidades são bem mais modestas. O CD de estreia do quarteto de San Francisco Bait & Switch não pode ser acusado de publicidade fraudulenta, pois não promete nada que não cumpra. O produto tem aspecto tosco, mas é genuíno e robusto e proporcionará audições repetidas sem perda de qualidade ou atenuação do prazer.

O jazz e o rock já foram casados, durante os anos 70, mas a relação foi desastrosa. Foi preciso esperar que uma nova geração de músicos descobrisse forma de combinar elementos das duas linguagens sem cair no exibicionismo gratuito. A contrabaixista Lisa Mezzacappa foi buscar inspiração a um génio esquecido da aliança entre rock, jazz, ácido e tresvario, o Sr. Don Van Vliet, mais conhecido pelo nome de guerra Captain Beefheart, de quem se revisita “Lick My Decals Off, Baby”, e aos Air, de cujo “I’ll Be Right Here Waiting” Mezzacappa oferece versão em contrabaixo solo. Também não será estranho à crueza deste What is Known o facto de Mezzacappa ter passado parte da juventude em bandas de death metal, uma experiência de vida que talvez pudesse ter salvo muitos jazzmen do vício em edulcorantes.

“Zzllzzpp”, com riff endiabrado a alternar com swing elástico, “The Aquarist”, uma dança desconjuntada e rude incendiada por sax apopléctico que se extingue em calma ominosa, e o já citado “Lick My Decals Off, Baby”, são os pontos altos do CD. Aaron Bennett (sax), John Finkbeiner (guitarra) e Vijay Anderson (bateria) dão decisivo contributo para o triunfo do garage jazz.

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch – What Is Known (CF192)
One could count on one hand the number of high-profile female bassists currently working in jazz and improvised music; Joëlle Léandre and Esperanza Spaulding come to mind, but very few others. Adding Lisa Mezzacappa to the short list in the near future is a good bet; the Bay Area bassist’s CV is as varied as her talents are impressive. A former student of Henry Threadgill and Myra Melford, Mezzacappa has worked with Meredith Monk and the Sun Ra Arkestra in addition to leading and co-leading a number of bands, including the chamber-esque electro-acoustic quintet Nightshade, metal jazz band Go-Go Fightmaster and the film noir trio Citta di Vitti. What Is Known is the debut recording of Bait & Switch, a reconfiguration of Go-Go Fightmaster that plays what Mezzacappa affectionately terms garage jazz.

Basing her thorny compositions on transcriptions of fragments culled from the improvisations of such seventies-era avant-garde heavyweights as Air, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Sun Ra, Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch delivers a raw, unfettered dose of primal expressionism that also works as sophisticated modern jazz. The album’s only covers are a beautifully understated bass solo interpretation of Air drummer Steve McCall’s “I’ll Be Right Here Waiting” and a riotous tear through Captain Beefheart’s “Lick My Decals Off, Baby,” with Mezzacappa’s labyrinthine originals drawing inspiration from similarly divergent sources.

Throughout these convoluted episodes, John Finkbeiner’s grimy electric guitar salvos, Aaron Bennett’s woolly tenor saxophone eruptions and Vijay Anderson’s percussive maelstroms drive the music with a visceral blend of focus and frenzy. Eschewing conventional forms in favor of oblique narratives, Mezzacappa’s episodic tunes follow their own twisted logic, balancing the spectral impressionism of “The Cause & Effect of Emotion & Distance” with the withering volume of the title track. Encapsulating an array of expressive instrumental sonorities, the quartet’s cogent interplay is a compelling feature of this dynamic session, exemplified by the drummer-less trio interlude of “Richard’s House of Blues” and a pair of pithy duets on “Ponzi” – first between Anderson and Mezzacappa, followed by Bennett and Finkbeiner. The quartet’s headlong approach towards collective and individual improvisation is balanced by their contrapuntal precision during pre-written sections, providing dramatic contrast and expansive detail to Mezzacappa’s vibrant compositions.

Regularly overshadowed by the East Coast, the West Coast jazz scene has been responsible for fostering the careers of a number of key avant-garde innovators over the decades, from Bobby Bradford, John Carter and Horace Tapscott in the ‘60s to present-day luminaries like Nels Cline and Vinny Golia. An impressive debut, What Is Known embraces this lineage, establishing a foothold for Mezzacappa in this revered continuum; expect to hear more from her in the future.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD31/PoD31MoreMoments4.html

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa Steps Out with First Recording as Leader

Lisa Mezzacappa’s Baith & Switch – What is Known (CF 192)
Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa had a good idea when she thought of what she would do for her first album as leader: she took some musical fragments played by artists she had especially admired, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Dolphy, Ayer, Ornette, Kirk, Sun Ra, and built performance pieces out of them. There are also good cover versions of Captain Beefheart’s “Lick My Decals Off, Baby,” (it stays in the mind) and Steve McCall’s “I’ll Be Right Here Waiting.” Then she chose to work with musicians she had long associated with: Aaron Bennett, tenor, John Finkbeiner, electric guitar, and Vijay Anderson on the drums.

Into the studio and now out comes What is Known (Clean Feed 192) by Lisa Mezzacappa and Bait & Switch.

The pieces hang together well. The band does too, via better living through (musical) chemistry and because in part they know each other musically from long association.

Bennett’s tenor is raucous and energized, Finkbeiner plays some abstract and electric lines worth your ears’ attention, Lisa M. has a forcefully strong tone and convinces with what she does. Vijay plays as a group member. What he does is right and it’s thought through.

Now perhaps one could say that about alot of bands but in this case the material Lisa has put together moulds the end result to be smart, varied and quite stimulating.

This is a really nice first album and it plays repeatedly in my musical listening cycle right now. Definitely recommended for some worthwhile and very modern jazz improv!
http://gapplegateguitar.blogspot.com/

The Jazz Observer review by Forrest Dylan Bryant


Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch

On an afternoon dominated by rhythm and blues, it was a small but adventurous group that headed for the room known as the Night Club to check out San Francisco bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and her twitchy, angular quartet, Bait & Switch. A few, not knowing what they were getting into, might have even found the band’s name accurate. But for those who could hang with the band’s multiple twists and turns, it was a thoroughly enjoyable thrill ride.

Marked by tense, insistent riffing in odd meters, Bait & Switch draws its inspiration from what Mezzacappa calls the “little moments” in extended stretches of free improvisation — those times when everybody in a band finds themselves on precisely the same wavelength and the clarity shines through. Taking such little moments from recordings by Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and others as her sources, Mezzacappa has blown apart and reconstructed those snippets of sound into full-blown original tunes.

Mezzacappa is one of those bassists who is as much fun to watch as she is to hear. Switching restlessly between bowed and pizzicato playing, she might rock back on her heels or lean in close to her music stand at any moment, sometimes plucking forcefully at the strings as if to flick off something nasty, at other times melodic and introspective. Her solo lines roam hither and yon, like a housefly buzzing around a room: hovering, meandering, or banging against the window trying to get out.

The band’s other main voice belongs to tenor saxophonist Aaron Bennett, whose agitated skronk quivers and shakes as if about to implode, or turns huge and open, brushing the outer edges of tone. When he gets truly heated up, his body twists in uncomfortable directions and his own gulping breaths become a part of the music, marking the time with an odd, hiccuping sound. John Finkbeiner offers a sort of wry commentary on guitar, with fractured half-grooves like miniature cubist paintings, while drummer Vijay Anderson chugs away like a runaway train, quick-paced and unswerving. Time and again Anderson would fall into a riff and worry it down to a nub, then toss it aside in the blink of an eye in favor of some new variation.

They may have been out of sync with the rest of the Festival on this day, but Bait & Switch’s little moments provided an intriguing afternoon shake-up.
http://www.jazzobserver.com/2010/09/monterey-2010-lisa-mezzacappas-bait-switch/