Glenn Patscha Little Big Band

Those familiar with the downtown New York music scene will be familiar with Glenn through his work with -among others- Ollabelle, from whom he borrows several of his players. At the Living Room last night, he played a pump organ from the 1940′s (in its original wood cabinet), sang with a voice reminiscent of both Jack Bruce and -rather oddly- Julie (Driscoll) Tippetts, and led his brand new six-piece band. Strands of Carla Bley’s seminal Escalator Over The Hill*, in a more compact and “user-friendly” form, emerged from this unusual combination of blues electric guitar (Sean Costello), acoustic guitar (Fiona McBain), bass clarinet (John Ellis; my favorite instrument!), cello (didn’t catch her name, but it’s my favorite instrument too!), drums (Tony Leone), and the voices of Fiona McBain and Amy Helm. This was the best-sounding band I’ve heard in a long time, probably since Hem a year or so ago, before they embarked on their world-wide touring.

A rendition of Neil Young’s “Are You Ready for the Country” provided an almost-jam-band interlude in the middle of the set, while the closing number was a beautiful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska that started with just the voice and the organ, and almost subliminal touches of guitars and brushed drums, then swelled slowly to full force, joined by the bass clarinet, while the cellist, who was not included in this number, leaned against her instrument and plucked an accompaniment for herself.

Glenn Patscha’s rather large band is a keeper. I want more!

* I tried to find a nice, informative review on a stable web site likely to stick around for a good while, but I couldn’t find anything. EOTH was an amazing record when it came out in 1971, featuring such jazz and rock luminaries as Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Gato Barbieri, Don Cherry, Don Preston, Linda Ronstadt (and 4-year old Karen Mantler!) and while it is far from perfect, it is still such an important work that I can’t believe there’s nothing meaningful on the web about it (in English at least; there are a couple of reviews in French and German, but even those aren’t too great. The only thing I can leave you with is this old Rolling Stone entry.

Back to where we were…

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One Response to Glenn Patscha Little Big Band

  1. The Rolling Stone article link you give for Escalator Over the Hill isn’t bad, Pierre. Shorter but with better linkage for exploring the context - and it’s all wild and woolly in there, fun to click away and read about a kind of music that may not even be possible any more in these pale sad uniform days - is the All Music Guide entry on Escalator Over the Hill. Reviewer Richard S. Ginell has an impossible task writing the record up, and he doesn’t do badly:

    [Carla] Bley and librettist Paul Haines called it a “chronotransduction,” whatever that means. The critics called it a jazz opera — which it isn’t. Escalator is, however, very much of its time, a late-’60s attempt to let a thousand flowers bloom and indulge in every trendy influence that Bley could conceive.

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