ISSUE Project Room : an open and versatile environment in which established and emerging artists conduct, exhibit and perform new and site-specific work
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andrewcsmith on 09/20/2011 at 10:00AM
Okkyung Lee, one of Issue's 2011 Artists-in-Residence, performed back in April as part of a quartet that also included jazz guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and drummer Tom Rainey. She's collaborating with the dancer Michelle Boulé this Friday in a free performance at Issue Project Room's 110 Livingston space in Downtown Brooklyn, in a piece called long white shadows (FREE | RSVP), where the two performers will constantly change their relationships within and toward the space.
A classically trained cellist born in Korea, it's not like Lee doesn't regularly work with jazz musicians. She's a staple of the New York free improvisation scene, counting as past collaborators Nate Wooley, Peter Evans, John Butcher (at Issue Project Room on 09/20, Buy Tickets), Tyshawn Sorey, and many more. But there's a certain vibe to this performance that distinguishes it from others, perhaps because the other musicians are laying down such a steady downtown-jazz-club riff that Lee's aggressive playing, focused more on sound than on groove or pitch, is almost out of place. There's a moment, about four minutes into the second track, where Ellman repeats a little lick and Sverrisson and Rainey join in, but then—what's that in the background?—a crazy, almost banshee-like scream that threatens to send this clean jazz groove off the tracks and into the woods. In most other free-noise improv settings, there would be a collective recognition and acknowledgement that things are now getting noisy and everyone would, somewhat safely, get noisy together. But something different happens here, which is that these two things—a steady post-bop jazz-rock groove and what could be Xenakis run through a half stack—coexist for a moment.