Chef Joseph Williams scrutinized a bowl of ground beef, sprinkling it with dried parsley, chopped white onions and peppers, a secret red seasoning that turned the mixture light pink. He pressed and juggled the patty between both palms, spinning it like a thick round of pizza dough with a snap of his left wrist. Then he indented it with his thumb and placed it on a smoking grill.
Flames sprang up around the Cajun burger, and it broke a glistening sweat.
Adam Matlock of Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps looked out over the crowd at Cafe Nine Friday night and thanked the headliners, Kindred Queer — up next — for having Dr. Caterwaul’s perform at Kindred Queer‘s show celebrating the release of its album, Child. Matlock said Kindred Queer would be taking the stage very soon, noting that “they will be completely different from what we’re doing, and that’s New Haven music in a nutshell.”
Acclaimed composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith stood in front of a whiteboard Sunday afternoon in a room above Firehouse 12’s studio. It was the middle of the first CREATE festival, a weekend-long celebration of Smith’s music that drew musicians to play with him from around the country and kept Firehouse 12’s performance space packed.
“I’m a minimalist,” Smith had said the night before, at the first of two weekend concerts. “I don’t do very much of nothing.”
Except, he said, make a little music. Ponder questions about the universe. Conduct scientific research. Attend imaginary meetings with foreign diplomats. The usual. He said it all with a healthy dose of humor, and the audience laughed. But there was seriousness behind those jokes. And on Sunday afternoon, Smith had only a marker in his hand, and he wasn’t playing; he was drawing shapes on the board, and talking. By doing so, he opened a door into his music, and music making, for everyone.
Wednesday night marked a commemoration at Cafe Nine of the anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide on April 5, 1994. The Tet Offensive, New Haven’s rock ‘n’ roll string quartet, marked the occasion by performing Nirvana’s landmark 1991 album Nevermind almost in its entirety (only the hidden track was missing).
But the openers to the show, the Right-Offs, served up just as fitting a tribute by reminding the crowd of the power a rock trio — just a guitar, bass, and drums — could have when it got down to the business of making noise.