Moments into any Shot x Shot song and it’s evident the quartet is heavily influenced by free jazz and the avant garde. Songs are abstract, ethereal, contemplative and riotous. Moaning saxophone meanders heavily amid sprawling drum beats and unpredictable bass lines. Songs are both methodical and pointed, but rely heavily on improvisation and feeling.
“For me, it’s emotional in a way that no other music is,” alto saxophonist Dan Scofield says. “It’s totally free, it’s the people that I really love and trust and it’s proven to be cathartic and fun, and also challenging.”
While Shot x Shot’s two LPs show that Scofield and bandmates Dan Capecchi (drums), Matt Engle (bass) and Bryan Rogers (tenor sax) are accomplished composers, the band is about to tackle someone else’s work. As part of Ars Nova Workshop’s Composer Portrait series, they will perform a number of compositions from Tim Berne’s Bloodcount at Johnny Brenda’s next week.
Berne, a free jazz saxophonist and bandleader, formed Bloodcount in the early 1990s. For much of the decade the quartet was noticed for their surprising and unusual juxtaposition of genres ranging from funk to chamber music, and for their long compositions—up to 40 or 50 minutes in length. Propitiously, Bloodcount’s line-up is identical to Shot x Shot’s, with a drummer, bassist, alto and a tenor sax.
“It’s quite fitting for us,” Engle says. “When we first got together, we were listing to Ornette Coleman a lot and bonding over his music. The next big thing we collectively got into was Tim Berne’s Bloodcount. We were all sharing recordings and were real enthusiastic about it. It’s great we got this opportunity to play and perform that same music.”
But Scofield adds, “It wouldn’t have been as fun to do it three years ago because it would have been too literal. We were all listening to it and obsessing over it. We got a little respite and here it is.” ■
Mon., Nov. 23, 9pm. $5. With Bird Fly Yellow. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com