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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Feb 28, 2011

Elliott Sharp, one of the great avant-garde guitarists and composers of the past few decades, will turn 60 years young this weekend, and will celebrate with two great big wonderful birthday parties in New York.

The first will be held at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn on Friday night, March 4, 2011. Entitled E#@60: A Benefit Concert Honoring Elliott Sharp’s 60th Birthday, it is billed as “A One-Night Celebration Featuring Internationally Renowned Artists and World Premiere Performances”. The event will be hosted by Jo Andres and actor Steve Buscemi, with performances by Sharp, the JACK Quartet, theSirius Quartet, Jack Womack, and Tracie Morris.

After he catches his breath, the party continues with a collection of his long-time friends and collaborators performing his music at ISSUE’s current space at the Old American Can Factory on Saturday March 5, 2011. Among Sharp’s works to be performed are Flexagons (Orchestra Carbon), Octal (Sharp performing solo), Oligosono (Jenny Lin, piano), Bootstrappers (JG Thirwell, Anthony Coleman, Melvin Gibbs, Don McKenzie, & Sharp), Amygdala (Marco Cappelli, guitar), and an all-guitar version of Sharp’s SyndaKit. The celebration begins at 5:00 with an open Flexagons rehearsal and continues until late.

 Sharp has long been a central figure in the avant-garde music scene in New York City of over thirty years and a long-time supporter of ISSUE Project Room. Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, he leads the projects Carbon, Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics and Terraplane, and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction. His collaborators have included Ensemble Modern; Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Radio-Symphony of Frankfurt; Debbie Harry, Perry Hoberman; blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Pops Staples; jazz greats Jack DeJohnette, Sonny Sharrock, Oliver Lake, and Billy Hart; turntable innovator Christian Marclay; and Bachir Attar of the Master Musicians Of Jahjouka, Morocco.

 I caught up with Elliott as he was rehearsing for these performances, and discussed his collaborations, his love for mentor Roswell Rudd and the music of Thelonious Monk, and how he's like people to think of him today. Featured in Podcast 208 are songs including:

Elliott Sharp - “Return of the Pharm Boys” from Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Yahoos. One of his most accessible works - and with Sharp that is a relative term - was co-written and performed with Eugene Chadborne (piano and dobro).

Vernon Reid, Elliott Sharp and David Torn - “Valse Oblique” from Guitar Oblique. A “super session” of sorts, featuring three guitarists -  Reid (the key player in Living Colour), Sharp and David Torn (Bill Bruford, Lou Reed, Jan Gabarek).

Elliott Sharp - “Homage James Tenney” from String Quartets 2002-2007. Sharp says that perhaps listening to his more recent string quartets a listener can get a good idea as to what his musical philosophy and style is about. ‘Nuff said.

 Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd - Title Track from Monk's Dream. Rudd was Sharp’s mentor at Bard College, and turned him on to the music of Thelonious Monk and other jazz innovators..Here he performs with perhaps the greatest interpreter of Monk's work, Steve Lacy on a 1999 Verve release.

Joey Baron + Elliott Sharp + Robert Zorzi - “The Erotic Dwarf” from Beyond. Sharp loves playing with strong drummers, and none more than Joey Baron. This trio date from 2000 seemingly has a normal set-up of two guitars and a set of drums, but tape loops, overdubs and other instruments such as sax and dobro that make it a treasure trove of sounds.