Dead Cat (Oct. 20) & Freedom Jazz Collective (Oct. 22)

Good show from Dead Cat Bounce last Thursday. They surprised me a bit — music was much freer than I had anticipated, even ragged in spots, which was a nice contrast to the well-orchestrated ensemble passages that opened and closed the handful of pieces they played. “Silent Movie, Russia 1995,” a tune off their latest album, Chance Episodes, presented a good case in point. The opening melody, played on clarinet over two alto (if I recall correctly) saxes and a baritone, had a haunting cinematic quality–wistful and romantic in its classical construction. But the piece was then allowed to fray into a host of nicely contrasting–even conflicting–voices, before returning to the warm melody to close.

Oblique Orchestra opened the show with two extended free-jazz pieces. Drummer Carmen Castaldi was a wonder, as always, and saxophonist Dan Wenninger strung lines that ranged from pensive to abrasive. Nice, heady stuff.

On Saturday, I took in my first Freedom Jazz Collective show at the All Go Signs factory space. Wenninger directed the 19-piece free-improv group through all manner of racket and mayhem, the single musical number gathering, releasing and reworking itself for something close to an hour, with every bit of it engaging. Nice to have such a skilled, dedicated, fun, exploratory, avant-garde group here in Cleveland. Keep it up guys!

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