ige*timer with Aurora Nealand and Simon Lott
8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29
Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 592-3220; www.zeitgeistinc.net
Andy Durta's semiregular Scatterjazz bookings are passports to disorientation, black holes in the sonic universe starring everything from magnetic impromptu jazz guitars (Manhattan's Terrence McManus) to electronically hatched aural insects (Hungary's Rovar17). Pairing area talents with international transients, they also serve as public blind dates at which anything can and often does happen.
New Orleans sax-grinder Aurora Nealand is herself a Scatterjazz semiregular, playing with McManus in January 2010 and Jekyll-and-Hyde Berlin duo ige*timer in fall 2009 at the Fair Grounds Coffeehouse and Hi-Ho Lounge, respectively. This week, Nealand, along with time-signature surgeon Simon Lott, is participating in a rare improv reprisal. ige*timer, a classically trained, off-the-rails band consisting of Klaus Janek on looped upright bass and laptop processing and Simon Berz on MacGyvered electronics and live percussion, is back to release Ice Cold Pop (Everest), a series of bleak, bleating sine-wave soundscapes partially recorded during its gigs here last year. And again, Nealand is on the bill.
"They're really fun, humorous musicians," she says. "Very sophisticated, but also humorous. I think sometimes that music can get a little too serious or academic. ... It was very theatrical. [Berz] wore this lab coat, and he had these wires that were amplified. He would touch parts of his body that had certain metals attached, and the signals would go through the pickups, basically, and that would make the sound."
The avant-garde gigs are the flip side of a split musical personality for Nealand, whose regular appointments include the busking ensemble Panorama Jazz Band, Eastern Bloc party Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?, and newborn group Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses. Relocating here from France in 2004, the California native swapped her flute and piano — tools of the trade as a composition student at Ohio's Oberlin College — for the vernacular voices of saxophone and accordion. "It's two different stages," she says. "I only started playing jazz when I got here. It's more like stages of immersion. I am still interested in composition. I think that's kind of beautiful and somewhat lacking in New Orleans, intentional composition."
Accidental composition is particularly abundant this week thanks to ige*timer's alien explorations. The Zeitgeist show is second in a three-part residency: first, upstairs at the Blue Nile (10 p.m. Tue., Sept. 28) with trombonist Rick Trolsen and guitarist Chris Alford; last, at AllWays Lounge (10 p.m. Thu., Sept. 30) with pianist David Torkanowsky and reeds expert Rex Gregory. (Berz is staying in town to launch "10X10=>11," a 10-night October engagement, also at Zeitgeist, staged with gear fashioned out of foraged refuse.) Each concert features a set by the opening duo and a closing, all-hands-on-deck improvisational quartet, the same format as in 2009. Nealand, who was teamed with cellist Helen Gillet, says the process was particularly inspiring.
"We played first and then they played, and I was like, 'I'm so excited to play with them,'" she says. "I feel like they felt kind of similar. It was a really nice energy, different than a lot of improvised gigs that I've played. These guys are just like, 'We're here together. We like sound. Sound is fun. Let's make sound.'"