The most fascinating jazz these days emanates from edgy musicians who can play it either way: inside-out or outside-in. Like an eye-catching reversible coat that's green one day and blue the next, multi-chromatic bands like Burnt Sugar and the Satoko Fujii 4 are both fashionable and functional. The line between composition and improvisation blurs. Blink and--damn!--it's changed clothes.
This week, all the action's on the Duke campus. The Saturday, Sept. 10 show at Baldwin Auditorium stars Burnt Sugar as part of Duke's "The Word on Music Symposium." They blend Africana, vintage funk, proto-bop and most anything with a sturdy, mahogany grain. Joined together by the texts of writer Greg Tate and techniques pioneered by conductor Butch Morris, Burnt Sugar is a big, rollicking house-party on wheels that can turn on a dime.
Then, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Fujii quartet arrives from New York with bristling, big-city energy and one of the best rhythm sections in the biz. Pushed by the chattering drums of Jim Black and the sexy crawl of bassist Mark Dresser, Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura will wiggle and wail. Don't be shocked at the sheer intimacy of piano-brass conversation; Fujii and Natsuki are wife and husband, musically and otherwise. --Joe Vanderford Get Yr Hatchet On Since its first issue in April 2004, The Raleigh Hatchet has done more than chart capital city art and bar openings and the comings and goings of bands into the local dancehalls and rock bins. The magazine, led by editor-in-chief D.A. Nation, has boasted a welcome sense of irreverence and comic tenacity, giving everything--from the inveterate "Art Fag" to the cynical, popular-opinion-be-damned film cynic--a chance to place well-deserved ribbings.
The Hatchet hosts its first music festival from Thursday, Sept. 8 to Saturday, Sept. 11 at, fittingly, downtown's epicenter of rock, Kings. Also fitting is the lineup, which--in large part--is as irreverent as its sponsor. Friday's headliner, Patty Hurst Shifter, gets cranky with the "country rock" tag, and rightfully so, as they sport miles more swagger than sorrow. Scott H. Biram isn't the first one-man band, but you may leave convinced he has the most fun doing it. Hearts & Daggers opens Night One. Charlotte's Pyramid, like the rest of Night Two's lineup, completely ignored the whole genre question, as they meld jazz, rock, country and avant sounds into a knob-twiddled soundtrack to a stony road trip. STRANGE headlines, The Dynamite Brothers open, and Providence's Urdog and Sweden's Circle (sleepy hums meet scorching soundspots) fall somewhere in between. Night Three closes it with rock 'n' roll, start to finish: Esquimaux, Awesome New Republic, The Bleeding Hearts, Fatal Flying Guillotines and A Rooster for the Masses.