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The Taoist Sanctuary on Park Blvd. played host to an all-star free jazz concert by some of the music's heaviest hitters on March 16, when Dependent Origination, an ensemble organized by multi-instrumentalist Peter Kuhn unleashed a blistering, kaleidoscopic 90 minute, fully improvised set to a packed house. Kuhn made waves in the '80s in recordings featuring NYC bassist William Parker and drummer Denis Charles.

Joining Kuhn were trumpeter Hugh Ragin, best known for his work with Anthony Braxton, David Murray and Roscoe Mitchell, Dave Sewelson, a veteran East Coast baritone saxophonist who plays with Parker and Jemeel Moondoc, drummer Alex Cline, the LA master of free percussion, local drum hero Nathan Hubbard, and SD bassist Harley Magsino


Opening in a silence pierced only by the whispered bell tones of Cline and Hubbard, Ragin began with long, held tones as Kuhn and Sewelson slowly filled in the blank spaces. Soon there were 3 independent lines happening at once as the drummers kicked it into a higher, more explosive space while Magsino stayed mostly in the background with soft glissandi. Ragin lit into a continuous expository of clarion call multiplicities while Kuhn issued warbled multiphonics and Sewelson brayed eerie altissimo projections. The horns spread out on the stage while Cline and Hubbard took it to another dimension with an almost Caribbean type groove.

After Kuhn recited some poetry, he picked up an alto and delivered some squiggly lines with abrasive velocity, Cline dropped literal "bombs" that felt like future-shock as Ragin grabbed a piccolo trumpet and launched into a series of screaming, soaring comments that triggered another all-out group crescendo. Out of nowhere, Sewelson crafted a lurching bass line that Cline picked up on for a joyous feeling of Charles Mingus directing the Art Ensemble of Chicago.


There were so many radically different moods, grooves and open-spaces that keeping track of the constantly shifting environments became virtually impossible--but I can attest to a distinctly New Orleans group-improv passage, a moment in which Ragin seemed to be channeling multiple free-bop heads and a glorious 2 drum shoot-out leading to a trio with Magsino, (who could finally be heard to good effect--with a totally cool bass riff), and another few diminuendos that bordered on pin-drop silence.

The ending came a little abruptly-- but that constituted a minor distraction in an otherwise sumptuous evening of hard-core listening.

photos by Chad Fox

  • Jam Session alerts


archer March 18, 2013 @ 3:13 p.m.

somewhere around the halfway point is where this thing really got interesting, and yes, harley's increased presence was a significant factor in that transition. the effect of the cline/hubbard combo was magic throughout.


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