OTS is a series of jazz and improvised music events in Lexington, KY. The series tries to give a home to artists making music that doesn't fit with commercial sensibilities and to build an environment where artists and audience can interact more directly. It's a very informal undertaking.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Review of last weekend's Vandermark 5 performance

Walter Tunis of the Lexington Herald-Leader reviewed the Vandermark 5's performance at Underlying Themes in Friday's Weekender section. Here it is ...

The week that was
by Walter Tunis
Lexington Herald Leader - Feb. 10, 2005

The Vandermark 5 at Underlying Themes (Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006):
"You're not only here," remarked saxophonist-clarinetist Ken Vandermark. "You're actually glad to be here." Yes, this highly enthusiastic and involved crowd was packed into all available sitting and standing spaces at Underlying Themes. And for every torrent of scorched cello, every deft switch of percussive tempo and every instance where Vandermark and the outstanding new lineup of his quintet volleyed grooves back and forth, the audience replied with shouts, sighs and the sort of vocal immediacy usually afforded bigger acts in bigger halls. At one point, when Vandermark gave a split second honk from his baritone sax as part of between-song tuning, an audience member sang a few complementary notes to form a giddy, impromptu melody. That this all happened on Super Bowl Sunday was remarkable. But far more surprising were the open instrumentations by the Vandermark 5, a band that has often reveled in its near brutal physical force. This two-set concert instead allowed drummer Tim Daisy to ignite a swing groove during Sign Posts over the bass/cello chatter of Fred Lonberg-Holm and Kent Kessler. Likewise, Vandermark let the beefy sound of his baritone cook up earthy funk under the aptly named To Build a Fire. And for those still craving the 5's wake-the-dead solos, there was the playful but fiercely robust encore of That Was Now, a rough-and-tumble coda to an evening where artist and audience became a joyously united musical force.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

OTS Spring 2006 schedule

Here's the rundown of OTS shows for the Spring. I expect we'll have a couple additional ones pop up at the last minute so the Event numbers are subject to change.

OTS / Event 063
guitar/cello duo from NYC; recommended if you like Gastr del Sol, Derek Bailey, Nels Cline, the Dirty Projectors
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 @ Mecca, 451 Chair Avenue (just off S.Broadway near Bolivar)
two sets starting at 8pm, all ages welcome, $3
FREE Sounds and more info - myspace.com/maryandjess

OTS / Event 064
Ken Vandemark - reeds, Dave Rempis - saxophones, Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello,
Kent Kessler - bass, Tim Daisy - drums
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S.Upper St
two sets starting at 7pm, all ages welcome, $5
FREE Sounds and more info - kenvandermark.com

OTS / Event 065
Lexington's 3rd Annual MARDI GRAS JAZZ PARADE
led by NYC's Burnt Sugar
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25 through the streets downtown!
beginning at 6pm at the corner of Short and Mill Sts
> all ages after-party immediately following the parade at ArtsPlace, 161 N. Mill
> 21+ after-party featuring a full length performance by Burnt Sugar and free food from Gumbo Ya Ya at 8pm at The Dame, 156 W. Main

[You're invited to join the fun. Check out lexingtonmardigrasparade.blogspot.com for more details.]

OTS / Event 066
Dave Rempis - saxophone, Anton Hatwich - bass,
Tim Daisy - drums, Frank Rosaly - drums
THURSDAY, APRIL 13 @ Mecca, 451 Chair Avenue (just off S.Broadway near Bolivar)
two sets starting at 8pm, all ages welcome, $3

OTS / Event 067
AB BAARS QUARTET presents "Kinda Dukish"
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S.Upper St
two sets starting at 7pm, all ages welcome, $3

Thursday, December 08, 2005

OTS / Event 061 - The Sabir Mateen Quartet with ISWHAT?! featuring Claire Daly - Friday, Dec. 9 @ Firebird Studio

OTS / Event 061

Outside the Spotlight 3rd Anniversary Performance/Celebration
featuring the Sabir Mateen Quartet and ISWHAT?! featuring Claire Daly
Friday, December 9 @ Firebird Studio
359 W.Short St - near the corner of Broadway
8pm, all ages, $5

Help celebrate the third anniversary of the Outside the Spotlight series this Friday, Dec. 9 @ Firebird Studio. The performance is a double bill headlined by the SABIR MATEEN QUARTET from New York with Cincy's ISWHAT?! featuring NYC baritone saxophonist CLAIRE DALY opening the show.

Sabir's group is pure fire jazz - intense stuff that hits you in the gut and the heart. Strangely, this will be the third straight year that Sabir has played at the OTS anniversary party. This group features legendary trumpeter Raphe Malik, pianist Raymond King, percussionist Ravish Momin, and, of course, Mateen on reeds and flutes.

Perhaps you're already familiar with Cincy's ISWHAT?!. P'haps you saw them open for KRS-One at the Dame or you caught them at the CD Central/WRFL-sponsored 'Independent Music for Independence Day' stage in Phoenix Park this past 4th of July. Musically, ISWHAT?! merges the funky side of avant-jazz (think Mingus) and next-school, socially conscious hip hop. For this show (as with the 4th of July gig), the group's beatboxer/mc Napoleon Maddox and tenor saxophonist Jack Wright are joined by NYC baritone saxophonist Claire Daly. For more info and free sounds, check out http://www.iswhat.net and http://www.clairedalymusic.com.

So, that's that - a great night of music and an excuse to eat cake and drink wine and coffee with friends.

Check out http://thelexingtonproject.org for a nice preview of the show written by Reese Richardson.


OTS/Event 062
(young guitar/trombone/drums trio from Richmond, VA)
Sunday, Jan. 8 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper

OTS/Event 063
(guitar/cello duo from NYC)
Saturday, Jan. 14 @ Firebird Studio, 359 W. Short St

OTS/Event 064
(from Chicago, Ken Vandermark-reeds, Kent Kessler - bass, Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello, Dave Rempis - sax, Tim Daisy - drums)
Sunday, Feb. 5 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper

Lexington's 3rd annual MARDI GRAS JAZZ PARADE
Saturday, Feb. 25 through the streets downtown!

more to be announced soon!

review of The Thing + Joe McPhee show

A review of The Thing and Joe McPhee's OTS show from last Friday's Herald-Leader.


Lexington Herald-Leader
Friday, December 2, 2005
from the Weekender section

"The Week That Was"

The Thing with Joe McPhee at Underlying Themes:
The members of the Scandinavian free-jazz trio The Thing dressed for the evening in souvenir T-shirts advertising an Austin, Texas, eatery called Ruby's Barbeque. They seemed to enjoy the taste of rock 'n' roll, too, as numerous non-jazz references were peppered about the band's hourlong second set. And when it came to embracing the improvisational inspiration that propels much of its music, the trio went right to the source. It enlisted veteran saxophonist/trumpeter Joe McPhee, a daring jazz stylist for more than three decades, as an auxiliary player. McPhee proved a catalyst for much of the evening's trickier meshings of rock and jazz. Playing off the scorched bark of baritone saxophonist Mats Gustafsson during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Art Star, McPhee let the music settle into a mantra-like drone before switching to soprano sax and leading The Thing into an atypically sweet-sounding revision of the Black Sabbath staple Iron Man. The rest of the set exhibited numerous levels of beastly improvisation, but it was again McPhee who proved the leveling force. In tackling You Think You Know Me, a work by the seldom-recorded South African trumpeter Mongezi Feza, McPhee and Gustafsson turned to their tenors and molded the music into a studied but soulful blues lullaby. "The music, it takes you to different places," Gustafsson remarked between tunes. That it did -- and with efficiency and invention to spare. - Walter Tunis, contributing music critic

Friday, November 04, 2005

review of Festival Quartet show

Another review from Walter Tunis at the Lexington Herald Leader. This one, a review of OTS/Event 058 - Tim Daisy's Festival Quartet performance on Oct.27 at Underlying Themes, ran in the Friday, November 4 edition of the Herald-Leader.


Tim Daisy's Festival Quartet at Underlying Themes:
During the lengthy Victory Suite, Chicago drummer Daisy unveiled an encyclopedia of jazz-related grooves. There was the funereal mood established by tenor sax man Keefe Jackson and cornet player Josh Berman, a feverish riff the drummer cooked up on a cowbell, some playful group cacophony, and a meditative solo showcasing the patient phrasing of bassist Anton Hatwich. No sooner did the reflective feel set in than Daisy shifted the tempo again with the abrupt severity of an alarm clock. Astonishing musicianship, expert band dynamics and a continual sense of surprise -- what more could you want from a jazz show? - Walter Tunis, contributing music critic, Lexington Herald-Leader

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Next! Monday, November 21 OTS/Event 059 THE THING+JOE McPHEE

OTS / Event 059

Mats Gustafsson (Sweden) - tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, fluteophone
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (Norway) - bass
Paal Nilssen-Love (Norway) - drums, percussion
Joe McPhee (Poughkeepsie, New York) - tenor saxophone, trumpet

Monday, November 21 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper (above Buster's, entrance next to Mia's), Lexington, KY
two sets starting at 8pm, all ages welcome, $5

Here's a description borrowed from the Norwegian consulate website:

"The Thing burn with the fire, spirit, and inspiration of the hottest free jazz... streamlined with the razor-sharp blade of the fiercest hard rock. With an acoustic jazz instrumentation, the three young Scandinavians sing a rallying wail that can match any stack of amplifiers. The repertoire is a combination of 60's era new-jazz (Don Cherry, James Blood Ulmer) and transformations on hard rock throw-downs (PJ Harvey, White Stripes, Sonics). This is no watered down jazz-rock. The Thing take the most uncompromising aspects of both genres... and turn up the heat.

As if it weren't enough, The Thing are joined by living legend Joe McPhee. McPhee is a true messenger of jazz's radical avant-garde. A musical storyteller at heart, Joe McPhee plays every note with the cry of the blues. A musician of depth, sincerity, and sole, McPhee is one of Jazz's greatest living artists."

Check out www.joemcphee.com and www.paalnilssen-love.com for more info.

Should be a great one!

Friday, September 23, 2005

review of last week's FME/Flaherty-Corsano show in today's Herald-Leader

A review of OTS/Event 053 from today's Herald-Leader. Glad to see that Walter took time to compliment Underlying Themes as well.

Lexington Herald-Leader
September 23, 2005
Weekender section

"The week that was"
by Walter Tunis, contributing music critic

FME with Paul Flaherty/Chris Corsano Duo at Underlying Themes

The working dynamics of these two free jazz ensembles were fundamentally the same. Both emphasized monstrous saxophone voices while utilizing drummers to design rhythmic foundations that moved and shifted dramatically underneath. It was as if the music lived and breathed on a fault line.

FME (Free Music Ensemble) is fronted by the always- resourceful Chicago reed player Ken Vandermark. He punctured his trio's exchanges with muscular leads on baritone saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet but regularly recoiled so bassist Nate McBride and drummer Paul Nilssen-Love could supplement blasts of elegant cool (on Exit Republic) or transform a wild march into jagged funk (on the 35-minute Decoder). Almost continuously, FME played with a unison voice instead of as a rhythm section that conventionally trailed a soloist. But its resulting music, provocative as it was, still balanced improvisational might with grooves that were infectious and inviting.

Saxophonist Flaherty and Corsano presented music that was more purposely conversive. With no bassist to work off of, Flaherty would erupt with tenor and alto sax leads of frightening intensity, while Corsano came across as a rhythmic pressure cooker full of ideas that his hands (and legs) could barely keep up with. During the second of two 20-minute improvs, Corsano wound up with the soles of his feet grinding metal dishes atop a pair of drumheads while he scraped out sounds on the rims of his kit with violin bows. A true Kodak moment.

A thumbs-up, as well, to Underlying Themes, a new loft performance/gallery space atop Buster's at the corner of Main and Upper. The sound it offered was contained, clear and efficient, while its overall vibe was informal and immensely cordial. Although it's hardly a penthouse, the venue seems poised to be a prime vehicle for giving underground art a towering, visible downtown presence.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

take 1

awight, folks.
trying to create a new way for peeps to find out about upcoming OTS shows.
so, i guess we'll start with a list of upcoming shows ..

NEXT! Outside the Spotlight / Event 054
Sara Schoenbeck - bassoon
Harris Eisenstadt - percussion
Saturday, September 24 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper (above Buster's, entrance next to Mia's)
8pm, all ages welcome, $3

Outside the Spotlight / Event 055
Jack Wright - saxophone
Carol Genetti - voice
Jon Mueller - drums
Wednesday, September 28 @ Firebird Studio, 359 W. Short St (near the corner of Broadway)
9pm, all ages welcome, FREE!

Outside the Spotlight / Event 056
Matt Weston - solo percussion
Ben S. Jacob/Adam P. Schweigert - violin + electronics
Thursday, October 6 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper (above Buster's, entrance next to Mia's)
8pm, all ages welcome, $3

Outside the Spotlight / Event 057
Carl Ludwig Huebsch - tuba
Matthias Schubert - saxophone
Wolter Wierbos - trombone
Monday, October 17 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper (above Buster's, entrance next to Mia's)
8pm, all ages welcome, $3

Outside the Spotlight / Event 058
Tim Daisy - drums
Josh Berman - cornet
Keefe Jackson - saxophone
Anton Hatwich - bass
Thursday, October 27 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper (above Buster's, entrance next to Mia's)
8pm, all ages, $3

Outside the Spotlight / Event 059
Mats Gustafsson - reeds
Inegbrigt Haker Flaten - bass
Paal Nilssen-Love - drums
Joe McPhee - reeds + brass
Monday, November 21 @ Underlying Themes, 110 S. Upper (above Buster's, entrance next to Mia's)
8pm, all ages welcome, $5

Outside the Spotlight / Event 060
** OTS 3rd Birthday Celebration **
Sabir Mateen - reeds
Raphe Malik - trumpet
Raymond King - piano
Jane Wang - cello
Ravish Momin - drums
Friday, December 9 @ venue tba