I wrote my last post, about my rediscovery of Henry Threadgill, on Friday. Later that afternoon I sat down to look up some music listings for the weekend and, lo and behold, who was playing just two days later? Henry Threadgill and his current group, Zooid. That sort of thing never gets old to me.

So Sunday, after a day of apartment hunting and a tasty dinner at No.7 in Fort Greene, the lady and I headed to Roulette in Soho. Roulette is a pretty awesome, if surprisingly tiny (and, at least the other night, hot!), art and performance space that has been around for about thirty years putting on shows of, as they put it, “Experimental and Adventurous Music.” For the first set, the group played what I assume were largely songs from their new CD, This Brings Us To, Vol. 1. The second set was a longer-form piece commissioned specifically by Roulette, where Zooid, normally a drums-bass-guitar-tuba-reeds combo, was supplemented by a cellist.

The music is “free” in the sense that it’s hard to discern many static harmonic patterns in any give tune, and there’s a good amount of collective improvisation going on. But for the most part the feel is more hypnotic and angular than it is intense or chaotic. There’s a common rhythmic theme that runs throughout the tunes. Basically, the songs often have a strong groove, almost even a funk feel, to them, but the beats are disjointed and jerky–it’s as if one musician is playing a 4/4 groove, the next is playing the same beat but his 1 is on the other guy’s 2, another is playing a similar groove but in 5/4, etc. Everything matches up to create a loopy, head-bobbing feel, but trying to count out the rhythm is essentially a futile exercise. You could probably dance to it, but anyone watching might question your neurological well-being.

The show was recorded for Roulette TV, which already has probably a few dozen performances from Roulette’s archives available for viewing online. Check ’em out.

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