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LOU HARRISON has always inspired awe. His monumental career touched on some of the most revolutionary movements in contemporary music. He is a gentle giant in the classical world, and his legacy to both the Central Coast and the music world in general is enormous. Since his passing, many fine writers have eulogized his career elegantly. They have spoken about his life, his passion and his activism, his sense of good humor and his love of untempered scale.

The best scholarship on Lou also mentions that he made art in the same fashion that he lived life: He made his own damn rules. If there wasn't an instrument capable of making a sound, he built it. If there wasn't an ensemble assembled to cover the timbres he wanted, he put it together. Like his life, his art was a continual expression of the possible working against the construct of the conventional.

The Perilous Chapel, a piece featured in NEW MUSIC WORKS' performance Saturday night, is a good example of his philosophy. Originally composed in collaboration with dancer JEAN ERDMAN, it features an ensemble that isn't usually found grazing in the pastoral fields of the classical repertoire: percussion, harp, cello and flute. It also showcases two things often overlooked in Harrison's legacy: the man could write a vamp, and most importantly, he could write a melody. While most leave a contemporary music concert looking either confused or angered, Lou knew how to leave them singing.


THE GODDESS OF FUNK and BAT MAKUMBA brought a healthy dose of Carnival into the midst of our rain-soaked Lent last week. If shows of this quality keep on hitting MOE'S on school nights, Thursday just might be the new Friday. Bat Makumba had me at hello. Beginning their show offstage with chanting and a triangle, the group filed in grooving hard. Though later in the set accordions, saxophones and guitars would make an appearance, the opening number was all about the membranaphones. Even the bass line was carried on two gigantic drums. It was incredible instrumentally, and then when the lyrics hit, all hell broke loose.

At 6 feet 6 inches, lead singer and sometimes guitarist ALEX KOBERLE is an intimidating frontman. When he is spitting out rap in Portuguese and glaring into the crowd, he gets downright scary. I though he was going to jump out into the crowd about halfway through his first chorus.

Which is a crazy thought, because everyone knows you only do that during the encore.

Percussionist EMILIANO BENEVIDES also gets an intensity award, but his mania seems to be a little more lighthearted. Spastically jumping up and down during the set and surrounded by a plethora of percussive objects with far too many X's in their names to be native to here.

Emiliano shifted in between beats and feels about every 16 bars.

He also screamed a lot. GARY KEHOE got into the party during the end of the first set, standing next to Emiliano on the right-hand side of the stage. These two masters kept the groove up while drummer JASON TAYLOR stepped from behind the kit and attacked a djembe for a while. He was more than good, he was downright scary, that is, until the band all started shuffling in time together Motown-style, then he reverted to adorable.

While I did enjoy most of the evening's music, I am going to weigh in with a slightly biased opinion. This band is at its best when it stays off the Brazilian side of the rock/samba band thing. Though the Korn cover was cool and kinda fun, they really and truly rock the room hardest when they call out the samba line. People can't fight that kind of pulse. If forces them to become engaged with the song. With rock solos, all you get is an appreciative nod, with five drummers and maybe a bass, then you are in danger of getting hit by rhythmically flung limbs. Especially with the heavy rapping in Portuguese going down. It was flippin' Sweet Kip.

Peter Koht

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From the March 9-16, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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