Jul 8, 2013
Jamie Saft is likely the hardest working musician in the jazz avant-garde today. With no fewer than half a dozen working bands, plus recurring gigs with the likes of long-time collaborator and friend John Zorn, Saft is never at a loss for something new and exciting into which he can throw his many talents. Now living in the Catskills area of New York, he enjoys a beautiful new studio, Potterville, and his own label, Veal Records, that allow him the artistic freedom of which lesser artists can only dream.
I spoke with Jamie about one of his most exciting new projects, Slobber Pup. The quartet, which finds Saft’s keyboards joined by electric bassist Trevor Dunn, guitarist Joe Morris (a free jazz icon whose discography numbers over 100 albums as a leader/co-leader over the past 30 years) and Hungarian hardcore drummer Balazs Pandi, have released their first CD, Black Aces, and Saft is justifiably proud of the results. You start to get the picture when he calls the CD a “connection between the worlds of metal music, avant, microtones, and true forward improvisation”. These are not standards in 4/4 time.
Podcast 361 is our fascinating conversation, which moves between topics as disparate as Twelve Tone Music, the Blood Libel, and Roots Reggae. Only with Jamie Saft are all those topics not even close to disparate; they are a major part of his resume. Music selections compliment the podcast and include:
Slobber Pup – “Basalt”, “Accuser (edit)” and an edited version of the Title Track from Black Aces. Most of the tracks on the CD are lengthy, with “Accuser” running over 25 minutes. The pieces are fully improvised and follow a musical theoretical concept called “snake time” or “Glacial time”. Listen to the podcast for more on that. The edits versions are mine; thanks to Jamie for letting me cut up his work to bring you a taste.
Jamie Saft – “Black Shabbis: The Trail of Libels” from Black Shabbis. My all-time favorite band name started as a joke between Saft and John Zorn, but ended up in a very serious musical project that explored the themes of Anti-Semitism in the form of “The Blood Libel”, a centuries-old false allegation that Jews murder Christians – especially Christian children – to use their blood for ritual purposes, such as an ingredient in the baking of Passover matzah.
Jamie Saft – “Fresser Dub” from Sovlanut. Although the cover of the CD appears as Manischewitz Matzah, inside is an insidious reggae beat. Saft is a huge fan of dub and roots reggae, and plays with a number of bands, including his latest, New Zion Trio. “Fresser” is a Yiddish term that roughly translates into “glutton”.