By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Milo Fine/Davu Seru/Elliot Fine
Percussion Music; Improvised
There's no such thing as a free improvisation. Spontaneous composition by dint of wit, skill, and will makes enormous demands of musicians. Life in the moment becomes even more collar-grabbing when the players refuse all rules--including apparent no-rules rules of rebels ranging from John Cage to Cecil Taylor. Ah, you say, but the players can make anything they want, whatever sounds for however long. They can squeak and squawk their large intestines out, or nap and say they did it on purpose. After all, who's going to be the wiser?
Milo Fine, for one. On Percussion Music; Improvised, there's simply zero tolerance for that kind of party-pooping. Best known for his work on drums, piano, and clarinet, Fine has long been one of the brighter asteroids in a distant belt, recording on the prestigious Leo, Hat Hut, and Fusetron labels. In the process, he has garnered a small but passionate international following, and manages to draw upward of 10 individuals to shows on his home turf. The anti-Kenny G? You damn betcha!
On this double-live bid for continued obscurity Fine is as uncompromising as ever, to an extent that makes Genghis Khan seem like Daniel Webster. The first disc documents a performance at the Homewood Studios gallery space in May of this year with his dad Elliot and Davu Seru. Seru is local improv's most leonine youngster, and his mind is even suppler than his wrists. Fine pére; a 44-year veteran of the Minnesota Orchestra who took up drums at age 11--in 1936--holds down the other end of the generational continuum.
You can almost feel the charge of linking synaptic bursts as the trio generates a veritable Japanese garden of tinkles, clicks, rolls, and splashes. Slightly more austere than its mate, the second disc captures Fine solo at the Acadia Theater. Percussion Music places a massive burden of attention on the listener: Imagine transcribing a Morse code transmission of Finnegan's Wake during a period of intensive solar flare activity. But for those with sufficiently long attention spans, the payoff is considerable--like learning to listen from scratch.