Jack the Dog

The gulf between rigorously scripted academic composition–the type of music known in British circles as “new complexity”–and open improvisation sometimes seems hopelessly unbridgeable. In the new music establishment there’s a general contempt for free music, while players who see themselves as improvisers often use the word “academic” as a handy way of describing anything stiff and lifeless. But for Jack the Dog these two worlds are complementary. A duo consisting of percussionist Carrie Biolo and composer/multiinstrumentalist Jeffrey Kowalkowski, Jack the Dog are part of a contemporary classical underground working to break down the barriers. This concert will also erode classical music’s traditional performer/composer distinction by featuring pieces by Kowalkowski himself (written in collaboration with Biolo), rather than turning to the work that the duo sometimes performs by folks like Mauricio Kagel, John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Iannis Xenakis. And by mixing prerecorded tape with live performance, they’ll call into question that dichotomy as well. Jack the Dog’s use of tape is one of their most personal aspects–they deftly manipulate their own voices to create musique-concrete-style soundscapes. Biolo is one of the most promising young musicians on the scene; she plays with ensembles ranging from the free play of Rebar and the structured improvisations of Gene Coleman to the skewed cabaret songs of Maestro Subgum and the Whole. At times Kowalkowski plays on jaw harp while Biolo’s varied percussion mingles with palpable textures on the accompanying tape. Elsewhere Kowalkowski matches shimmering sheets of piano to Biolo’s bright vibraphone, contrasting consonant sections and rapid unison lines with sharp dissonances and dense clusters–all spun over a haunting taped backdrop. Friday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666. Thursday, January 25, 9 PM, Urbus Orbis, 1934 W. North; 252-4446. JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.