Vijay Anderson | Hardboiled Wonderland | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2010 | MW 836-2 | CD

Vijay Anderson – drums, bowls | Sheldon Brown – alto, tenor & soprano saxophones | Ben Goldberg – clarinet, contra alto clarinet in E-flat | Ava Mendoza – electric guitar | John Finkbeiner – electric guitar | Smith Dobson V – vibraphone

Recorded, mixed, and mastered at New Improved Recording, Oakland, CA. Recording engineers: Eli Crews, Rich Graff and John Finkbeiner. Mixed and mastered by John Finkbeiner. Cover art by Jeff Kao. Layout by Marek Wajda. Recorded February 26, 2008. Overdubs on October 5, 2008

Tracklist: 1. Hard-Boiled Wonderland 2. East Oakland Reverie 3. A Few More Hands (for Richard Grossman) 4. Interlude 5. Skittering 6. Dilatation 7. A Widow’s Last Penny 8. Swimming in a Black Well 9. Nix 10. March at the End of the World

Vijay Anderson, John Finkbeiner, Aaron Bennett and Robert Overbury

In 2007–2008

I was involved with two trios. Ben, Sheldon, and I did a baffling six-month stint at a crepe restaurant. Not long after that, John, Ava, and I began to gather erratically. I found both trios intriguing—they were alike, and they were disparate. I liked that each had an expansive yet unique take on collective improvisation. I suggested the two groups get together and play. After our concurrence someone suggested we document it… and just like that, we did. I enlisted Smith to fulfill a lighter, more melodic role as co-percussionist.

I think of this as a double trio, and as I am its instigator, my name appears as if I were its leader. I have taken care of most of the logistical details; otherwise, this is an egalitarian venture. The music was improvised without preconception or direction from me or anyone else. The only thing I strongly suggested was that the personnel alter from piece to piece. And it was my decision to embellish the first piece with more layers (bowls, guitars). That is the only overdub. From fancy to fruition, this has been quite a voyage. I am very happy with what we’ve done. I was lucky to be surrounded by players of such intuition, generosity, and acumen. I commend them for their time and energy.

The name of this sextet comes from Haruki Murakami’s novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. — Vijay Anderson

I’ve been listening to this album for a while now

finding it so immensely rich that I thought I would do it insufficient credit by already reviewing it. So I listened again, and again, and again. Even if totally improvised, the music sounds very structured, with themes and angles of attack coming and going, shifting in layers and floating forward quite coherently, despite the incessant changes. It all sounds like the long intro to something that it still coming, but it’s there already, right in front of your ears. It does not sound like jazz at all, influenced by some notions of 20th century classical music, yet at the same time it is accessible and lyrical, and totally free.

The initiator and band leader is drummer Vijay Anderson, actually bringing together the two regular trios he plays in : Sheldon brown on saxes, Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Ava Mendoza and John Finkbeiner on guitars, and Smith Dobson V on vibes. Interestingly enough, both Anderson and Finkbeiner also are part of Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch. The band’s coherence is, as said, astonishing. They move forward like a shoal of fish, all together yet without a clear path, and remaining a single body, rather than an entanglement of clashing sounds. The line-up changes regularly, always in the same vein, a little raw and light-footed. And even if all the voices are there at one moment or the other, there is no real soloing to speak of, but rather a joint creation of a sonoric totality.

Actually, the overall tone of the music fits well with the title, a reference to a novel by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami. The Japanese author is, apart from being a jazz fan, the master of describing ordinary life, but beyond his perfectly normal characters, the mystery hides, not even magically, but as a presence in the subconscious, or in nature, or in evil. Check him out, you won’t be disappointed.

The same effect is generated here : wonder and surprise are created with limited means : there is no shouting, no special effects, no clashes or crescendi or climaxes: what you get is a slow evolution of elements that all together create something new and eery. Lighfooted and menacing. Great tension is the result. Great listening too! — © stef

Vijay Anderson and John Finkbeiner

Vijay Anderson

is a freelance drummer, bandleader, and teacher who lives and works in Oakland, California. He has been performing professionally in the Bay Area since 1997. He holds a MFA in music performance from Mills College, where he studied with Roscoe Mitchell, William Winant, David Bernstein, and Fred Frith. He earned his BA in music performance from S.F. State, studying under Eddie Marshall, Francis Wong, Hafez Modirzadeh, and Wayne Wallace. Anderson has performed and recorded with such diverse, outstanding musicians as Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalists Lynn Johnston and Vinny Golia, Bay Area composers/performers Ben Goldberg, Sheldon Brown, John Schott, Graham Connah, Darren Johnston, Smith Dobson V, Lisa Mezzacappa, Aaron Bennett and Ava Mendoza, and Austria-based saxophonist/composer Marco Eneidi. He also has worked extensively with Brooklyn based bass player/composer Adam Lane as part of Lane’s Full Throttle Orchestra, the Adam Lane Trio featuring Vinny Golia, and Adam Lane’s Blue Spirit Band featuring Avram Fefer and Roy Campbell.

Anderson has collaborated with filmmaker/visual artist Jeff Kao on the short films “Start to Finish” and “Peter Panic”, and contributed to the soundtrack of filmmaker Tim Hicks’ psychological horror film “The Aphrikan.” Additionally he has composed and performed original scores for projects by Facing East Dance Company. Other notable career highlights include playing with Paul Smoker, John Tchicai, Wadada Leo Smith, Bishop Norman Williams, BJ Papa, the Bill Horvitz Expanded Band, Phillip Johnston, Joel Forrester, Mike Watt, Chuck Dukowski, Slovenly Jr. (subbing for Rob Holzman) and Baculum. Anderson has performed at many venues and festivals in the Bay Area and beyond, including: Yoshi’s, the Stone, Bruno’s, Café Claude, the Smell, The Luggage Store, 21 Grand, New Langton Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Bop Shop, the Hammer Museum, the De Young Museum, Intersection for the Arts, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival, the Fillmore Jazz Festival, the San Francisco Alternative Music Festival, the North Beach Jazz Festival, and the San Francisco Summerfest Jazz Festival.

Currently Anderson performs with Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait And Switch, Aaron Bennett’s Go-Go Fightmaster, various Graham Connah projects, as well as many pickup groups throughout the Bay Area. He currently leads two of his own bands, the Vijay Anderson Quartet, and the Touch and Go Sextet. His first record under his own name, entitled “Hard Boiled Wonderland”, was released in August 2010 on Nottwo Records. Anderson’s recorded work can be found on Cadence Jazz Records, Clean Feed, Cimp, Pax Recordings, Edgetone, Evander, Three Beads of Sweat, and Nottwo Records.


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