Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

C.J. Reaven Borosque

Date of Interview/Article:6/17/2000
May 28, 2000 7:30 SET #1 Ø24C and SET#2 Rent Romus and the Lords Of Outland by C.J. Reaven Borosque

A dynamic and open-ended set was had for all, courtesy of Ø24C, an amorphous group of twentyish musicians living and playing improvisational music in the bay area. For approximately an hour they played one long continuous piece that spanned the gamut from silence spattered-pointillism to free flowing articulate jazz -influenced melodizing.

The band consisted (on this evening) of Mike Perlmutter and James Livingston on saxophones, Tom Swafford on violin, Niels Myrner on drums and Loren Dempster on Cello. The rippling energy of Loren Dempsters cello added a classical air to the otherwise jazz-rooted ensemble.

Also, hats off to the sustained quake-like rumbling of drummer Niels Myrner. Michel Perlmutter added a whimsical feel with his playing of various small instruments and "clarinet in water bowl". Tom Swafford's highly emotional violin and James Livingston's melodic support rounded out the group nicely.

They were accompanied by an improvisational dancer, listed on the program only as "Gabe. His fantastical interpretation of the music, and intense melodrama characterized by pensive and expressive gestures not only added an air of dramatic theatre to the piece but made it completely enjoyable to witness for the entire one hour-long set. From leaping to laying down to wrapping himself in the thin black curtain that hung behind the stage area, his contribution to the energy of the evening was extensive.

So caught up was the audience, that despite several pregnant pseudo-endings, the group was forced to continue as the audience sat in rapt attention, hanging on every riff and movement. The grand Finale being when, the band fell into silence and the drummer poignantly handed "Gabe" a kitchen knife.

It was certainly a worthwhile event for attending, and I hope to catch up with Ø24C again in the near future, to see where their exploratory approach to improvisation takes them.

Set number 2 was, as always, an excellent performance by the one and only Sultan of double saxophones Rent Romus. Despite accusations that his double horn playing is a "gimmick" it should be noted that no one since Rassan Roland Kirk has attempted this feat of harmonic interlacing between two different horns and succeeded with such gusto.

The celebratory attitude with which Romus and his fellow musicians approach the long end of jazz-free form space music is rare these days when jazz has seems to have become synonymous with boredom and age. Not So for RENT! Who told me that he is determined to take the "three guys named moe" attitude out of the music!!! And why not? The groove oriented funkadelic-ness of bass player Bill Nortker and the earthy easy going drums of Dave Mihaly work in perfect tandem with Romuss' wild and uproarious personae and sound.

This performance was a tribute to Dr. of psychology Charles Ponce. The tunes consisted of five songs that covered the thematic concept of self/world analysis.

"It's Here Already ,"Is it me?, "Search from within" and "Kid Thorozine Takes It All In Stride" all captivated the audience's attention without demanding the listeners energy. "Merry Chrysalis", a tune by Bill Noertker was definitely one of the best tunes of the evening and did evoke kind of alternate reality festiveness (Christmas songs for galactic travelers?).

The pervasive feeling of the set was one of easygoing openness and "structure from within", without the usual stodginess one finds in most so-called "Avant-Guard" performances these days.

Accompanied by his new pantheon of self-designed hats, Rent, once again, takes the "Moe" out of "music".

You can catch Rent Romus and various guest bands on the last Sunday of every month at the 848 Community Center, 848 Divisadero, S.F. $5-$10 at the door.