In improvisation, duos are a sort of conversation. Big bands are something like a game of follow the leader. In a sense, trios are a combination of both. They retain much of the conversational intimacy of a duo through a kind of shared leadership of conversation that rarely if ever occurs in the classic quintet format, or even in the quartet. Many things can happen in trios that would be virtually impossible in another format.
How much more interesting still, then, when the trios are trios of the same instrument. That is exactly what the Magma Festival has brought tonight at the Chapel Performance Space in Wallingford. Presenting four different trios of similar instruments–trios of trumpets, strings, clarinets and percussion–the 3 X 4 show has assembled a corps of twelve brilliant improvisers to explore the possibilities of sound and phase dynamics.
The extraordinary, legendary Lesli Dalaba joins Reptet’s Samantha Boshnack and ambient drone mistress Angelina Baldoz in a trio of trumpets. Stylistically, the three are fairly far apart, which in itself promises an intriguing combination of voices; aesthetically they are quite similar in their approach to breathing-based rhythms and sound in general. Similarly the percussion/idiophone trio of Stuart Dempster and frequent compatriot Susie Kozawa meet Empty Cage Quartet’s Paul Kikuchi with similar approaches to space and dynamics. The clarinet trio of Beth Fleenor, Paul Hoskin and Jenny Ziefel are all well familiar with each other. All three are deeply interested in the qualities of the reed itself as well as the woodwind, so expect an exploration of pure timbre from them. Composer and erhu player Byron Au Yong in a trio with cellist Paul Rucker and violinist Tari-Nelson Zagar all work frequently in composed music, but they are also extremely gifted improvisers across different idioms.
Hollow Earth Radio is well-known as Seattle’s most eclectic radio station. The Magma Fest each year gives them the opportunity to give back to the community and show off the diversity of Seattle music. Teaming up here with Nonsequitur who’ve tirelessly dedicated to experiment in music programming over the past twenty-three years is a great partnership and possibly the most interesting show on the festival’s roster.
March 16, 7 pm // Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N // Tickets by donation $5-15 sliding scale