Thursday, September 17, 2015

KID MILLIONS & SARAH BERNSTEIN
“Live at Gravesend Feb. 11, 8pm” C40
(Gravesend Recordings)



So this is fun – Gravesend Recordings, a studio at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn, puts on these in-studio performances by duos, and records the proceedings. “Concert”-goers get a free tape of the experience as a part of it. (I did not experience it, yet that is a pic of my promo tape up there, you guys. Suck it!) It’s a pretty cool setup if you ask me – most of the performers have been duos, and for this one, Gravesend After Hours No. 5, drummer Kid Millions of Oneida and Man Forever is paired with NYC violinist/composer/poet Sarah Bernstein. Yeah, drums and violin! I’m ready for it.

As you’d imagine, the result of a 2-sided improvisational session between two elite members of the avant-garde music scene yields many exciting moments and surprises. Other experimental-improv duos spring to mind – Thurston Moore and Loren Connors on their 2013 RSD collab, Flower/Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh and whoever he ends up playing with, Greg Saunier and whoever he ends up playing with, etc. Here, Millions’ drumming is at once inventive and restrained, a bed for Bernstein’s virtuosic performance. Her violin sometimes resembles a human voice, and her voice, although she seldom uses it, and wordlessly when she does, exists around the same frequency, so it’s difficult to tell sometimes when one ends and the other begins. But she knows how to sling that violin, let me tell you – she’s all over the place with it, a hurricane of notes and texture, proving that you don’t need brass for avant jazz.

The players ebb and flow – there are moments of downtime, but Millions and Bernstein whirl recklessly around each other, maximizing their sonics and probably almost falling over each other in the confined studio space. I think I can hear Bernstein’s violin whacking Millions in the head a few times as she gets a little too close to him. That’s probably my imagination though. But I am going to Google “Kid Millions studio head wound” now, and hope for some juicy pics.


--Ryan Masteller



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