PHOTOS & RECAP: Matt Mitchell & Ches Smith at Korzo – 6 Sept 2011

Tonight, after 12 hours of travel from Detroit to New York City, I decided to head back out in the rain to Korzo to see a solo set by pianist Matt Mitchell and a duo set by Matt and drummer Ches Smith. It proved to be a very good choice on my part, as it was an evening of music unlike I’ve heard before and played at the highest level.

From Matt Mitchell & Ches Smith at Korzo – 6 Sept 2011

Matt Mitchell said he’d never played tonight’s compositions in public. In fact, he said he’d never intended to play the music in the second set until Ches offered to learn it. At one point Matt turned to the audience and said, “I’d like to publicly thank Ches Smith for learning this fucking music.” We’re all lucky that happened.

From Matt Mitchell & Ches Smith at Korzo – 6 Sept 2011

The opening solo set was very, very intense. I don’t know if it was compounded by fatigue or a lack of food, but at one point I wrote a note to the friend who was with me that read, “This is making me sad/agitated.” That’s not a criticism. In fact, it’s a compliment. Music that causes an emotional reaction is my favorite kind of music. My friend responded by saying that it made her feel like breaking all the glasses in the restaurant. Sadly, she didn’t act on that feeling.

Another friend who was there described the pieces as “etudes,” which is apt. The compositions were a series of small, gem-like studies surrounded by layer upon layer of jagged, imaginative improvisation. Having never heard any of them before, I had no idea which bits were written and which improvised, and my guess is that Mitchell intended for that to be the case.

From Matt Mitchell & Ches Smith at Korzo – 6 Sept 2011

The addition of drummer Ches Smith took the agitated onslaught of the first set and hardened it into a precise chaos of pointed rhythms and surprising melodic invention. I think that sentence is probably crap, but I’m having some trouble telling you what I heard. I’ll just leave off by saying what I said on Twitter: “That was a hell of a show. If you missed Matt Mitchell and Ches Smith tonight, you really did miss something.”

From Matt Mitchell & Ches Smith at Korzo – 6 Sept 2011

p.s. — I also wrote a poem at the show.

Author: Jason Crane

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