Sunday, March 8th, 2015
The Civic Minded 5, Timucua Arts Foundation
and Park Avenue CDs present
Ava Mendoza’s Unnatural Ways
Park Avenue CDs
2916 Corrine Drive, Orlando
11:00 am doors, 8:00 pm concert
free admission, all ages welcome
Ava Mendoza’s electric trio whisked to a fast yes vote in a recent cm5 booking meeting. New music heads might shake their heads at what we didn’t quickly agree to but the guitarist had a swift and sure majority. Mendoza’s reputation is growing. She is making a systematic climb up the inclined plane of the small, critical and brand protective new music/improv crowd. And there’s this: Mendoza is standing next to her former Mills College professor, Fred Frith, playing half of his guitar parts in Frith’s Gravity band.
Maybe we should explain this tacit letter of introduction that Frith’s Gravity provides, yes? Fred Frith was guitarist in the legendary Prog Rock-era band Henry Cow. Their 1970’s music- often categorized by the term Rock In Opposition- will be quickly separated from acts like Yes or Genesis based on the construction of each album. Recalling Prog bands includes a memorable inventory of Roger Dean or Hipgnosis album covers or mystical/fanciful story arcs. Henry Cow inversely delivered three contiguous studio albums with a varying mixed media woven sock as album art alongside intellectual, social and political texts. The band made record albums through 1978. In the post-Cow world, Frith’s 1980 Gravity album retained some of the Rock In Opposition musicians and Mothers of Invention-invoking mix of rock, jazz and classical, adding the celebration of worldwide folk dance gestures. In the cm5 world, Gravity is a Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper’s size, experimental, yet joyous grand slam.
Ava Mendoza has made a move from California’s Bay Area to Brooklyn to present her hybrid jazz, rock and blues guitar fingerpicking experiments in an often impertinent and compelling fashion. Like Marc Ribot or the late Sonny Sharrock’s myriad guitar-led ensembles, Mendoza’s electric trio considers, dices and combines many aesthetics without seeming beholden to any single outcome. Add Nels Cline to Fred Frith for some of her formative conservatory studies as another hint to Mendoza’s potential outcomes. The guitarist uses elements of the Downtown post-jazz sound in her Unnatural Ways trio with bassist Tim Dahl and drummer Max Jaffe. She is more likely to add vocals than her mentors. When you marry those vocals and the sometimes impolite howl of her ensemble, a No Wave comparison is understandable, too.
Aside from the still challenging moments that the early Eighties’ NYC Downtown scene provided, possibly the greatest contribution is the continuing emancipation from artistic strata. Mendoza, like so many younger creative musicians, appears at those edges of the pop music world, too. Mendoza has played with Mike Watt, Tune-Yards and Carla Bozulich.
One of our festival-attending cm5 operatives saw a set of this flexible Unnatural Ways trio on the bill alongside Frith’s Gravity band in Canada and reported the results. We’ll host them and should see a new Unnatural Ways album for this ten-date East Coaster that precedes a like-size European tour.
Take part in the this instant arts community created at each event by appearing willing – described by composer Anthony Braxton as the “friendly experiencer.” It’s Timucua in Audubon Park’s own Park Avenue CDs- a home for several hundred live concert appearances of all stripes. Just like Timucua white house, the bottle of wine/BYOB for community distribution works here, too.
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