improvised jazz has the ability to grab my mind whole, shake it, and set it back in place. i’m left pleasantly disoriented and mentally exhausted. the convergence of george lewis on trombone, marilyn crispell on piano, miya masaoka on koto, and hamid drake on drums was one of those blissful events.

george lewis does things to a trombone that are quite gross to watch, yet you can’t take your eyes off of him. every few moments he seems to be emptying his spit trap, and between songs he mops himself down with a towel. the man has a great deal of saliva, and he needs it to do what he does. rumbles, moans, squeals, low whistles, and whispers.

patient and adept, lewis has no problems finding his entrance points or knowing when to sit back and groove to what someone else is doing. lewis represents what i love about improvised music. he is jazz.

crispell does fine work on piano. she, too, is a patient player, never forcing the music together. her presence on the stage is understated, though her output is serious.

while we sat waiting for the show to begin i puzzled over the koto on stage, not having a clue what it was doing there. masaoka did things to a koto that i wouldn’t have imagined. i perceive it as such a traditional instrument, and yet here she was thumping on the bottom of it while she forced it to surrender all of its possible music.

i didn’t focus enough on drake’s percussion, unfortunately. it was there and it was fitting. lewis is a captivating figure, and it was difficult to see that there was anyone else on the stage.

june 28th, 2003, 8pm, vancouver east cultural centre