Tokyo-based avant-garde pianist and composer Satoko Fujii has toured “every continent except Antarctica,” according to her bio. But she samples the local staples whenever she’s in New Haven. “I love clam pizza at Frank Pepe,” she said. “Natsuki” — that’s trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, Fujii’s husband — “likes the Japanese restaurant Miso, that is different from Japanese restaurants in Japan but the food tastes good!”
Fujii’s ever expanding and evolving musical tastes have brought her to Firehouse 12 several times in the last few years. On Friday, she’ll perform with the group Gato Libre in the group’s first-ever U.S. tour. Fujii has joined the ranks of several jazz and experimental-music luminaries — among them Mary Halvorson, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, and Bill Frisell — who have become steady visitors to the Crown Street studio, bar, and concert space as performers and recording artists.
Toward the end of The Proud Flesh’s set on Election Night, singer and guitarist Pat Dalton introduced the song they had released one year ago. “When we put this out, it was hard to imagine Trump as president, but here we are,” he said.
Adam Morosky, aka TimeGhost, had set up his custom synth on the floor of Café Nine in front of the stage, next to a backlit screen fronted with slatted shades. He had light sensors, pressure pads, and a coneless speaker to bring his creations to life. The crowd had moved in closely to observe his set with more scrutiny. , “Sometimes noise music is not very weird, and sometimes it is weird,” Morosky said. He also noted that sometimes it’s played on a Tuesday night in New Haven — in this case, for the first of two nights of third annual Elm City Noise Fest.
The Nashville-based Woody Pines, Tuesday’s headliner at Cafe Nine, has played there “at least four times” including an “exciting” New Year’s Day show once.
“I love Cafe Nine,” he told me over a beer after his set was over. “It’s down home, really the most cozy, friendly neighborhood bar. They have a great sound system and music seven days a week, so if I’m passing through town on a weird day, I know I can probably play here.”
Tuesday may have been considered one of those weird days for many reasons. The day before had been filled with enough tragedy and sadness to last a week or more, and it was apparent that everyone was feeling the need for a little fine tuning and even finer tunes.
Asked what performances from the Uncertainty Music Series’ 10-year run came most memorably to mind, musician Anne Rhodes recalled one by Canadian duo Not The Wind Not The Flag. “They’re such flexible, unpredictable musicians. I think Brandon [Valdivia] can do five different beats with four different limbs, and as a duo they play off each other really well,” she said. “And for me this comes up over and over again with improvised music, but they’re people I’m really happy to see.”
But she also remembered a performance by composer Brian Parks. “He did a 40-minute improvisation on virginal,” an instrument in the harpsichord family. “It was all overlapping polyrhythms … and most of the people there, because they were coming from Yale and used to a little bit more of a concert music setting, and a contemporary classical idiom, were super uncomfortable and some of them were actually really mad.” She chuckled. “And it was so good.”
Shortly after taking the stage Friday and introducing bandmates Mary Halvorson on guitar and Ingrid Laubrock on soprano and tenor saxophones, drummer and bandleader Tom Rainey cut right to the chase.
“I hope you enjoy it,” he said. “Well, I hope we enjoy it, too.”
From that, Rainey launched the group into their first set, with distant but thunderous tom work amidst probing lines from tremolo guitars and tenor saxophones that danced around a harmonic center before jumping tracks completely, comfortably demonstrating the vitality and necessity of improvised music — and of good places in which to listen.
Until Sunday, viewers approaching the glassy facade of Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) on Audubon Street will immediately notice the large-scale, exuberant paintings in the window. They were created through an interesting collaboration between students and teachers of CAW’s Young People’s Department participating in CAW’s Adventures in Summer Programs.
There were maybe two dozen people in Cafe Nine on Tuesday evening when Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys took the stage. Couples sat around the club’s high tables. Broussard, standing in the center of the stage, tested his equipment for a second. Then, without introduction, the band launched into its first song, and three couples sprang to their feet and danced across the floor.
For the next two hours, the dancing wouldn’t stop.