Ku-umba Frank Lacy / 10³²K - Rubenstein Atrium - February 26, 2015
Much as I resist quoting from official promo materials, this concert was so far out on the unique scale that I’ll relinquish. First, the name of the trio, “10³²K ” refers to “the Planck temperature, at which matter ceases to exist, and conventional physics breaks down, when strange things, unknown things, begin to happen to phenomena we hold near and dear, like space and time”. Their shtick is to select a historic but perhaps overlooked figure influential on modern jazz as a touchstone, and compose based on this inspiration. For this gig, the starting point was Skip James, “a Mississippi Delta blues artist who recorded a hit album in 1931, and then disappeared from the music world for the next 33 years. Discovered in a hospital in 1964 by three young blues enthusiasts, James spent the last five years of his life as one of the most celebrated figures of the mid-60s folk-blues revival”. So this throws up a whole bunch of dots to connect; the resulting suite hardly fits my conception of delta blues, but that’s not the idea. The addition of vocalist Justin Hicks and his powerful blues moanings somewhat clarified the musical pedigree, but that was but one of several dimensions explored on this night.