Flexure happy to keep playing it left of jazz center
Saxophonist Ben Opie always is looking for new ways to present his music, not only in the notes he writes but in the bands that play it.
Drummer Dave Throckmorton says it is the heart of the “left-of-center jazz” Opie creates any number of ways.
Opie will be working in that direction as he leads a residency at the New Hazlett Theater in the North Side with his new band Flexure. It will cap with a concert Saturday evening.
Opie describes the band as “a little like the Miles Davis bands of the '70s,” built around a funky rhythm, and electric guitar and bass.
“The melodies are simple specifically so that the musicians can do something with them,” he says. The pieces are far removed from the chordal complexity of bebop, focusing more on the groove, he says.
The residency will begin Thursday afternoon and run into Saturday, giving the band time to work on performing and recording in sessions closed to the public.
The concert, too, will be built around improvisation, Opie and Throckmorton say. It will include pieces developed on the spot, use of hand signals to indicate parts for the band and experimental composed works that can be added over a variety of grooves.
Computer visual artist Matt Wellins also will be creating improvised laptop images to the music.
The band is made up of Opie and Throckmorton, bassist Paul Thompson, percussionist George Jones, trumpeter Ian Gordon and guitarist Chris Parker.
“We feel really good about having Dave and Paul up here, improvising grooves, something they did 100 percent of the time with Beam,” Opie says, talking about a funk duo of the drummer and bassist.
While this residency is the first major appearance of Flexure, Opie says, it has made several appearances at a Tuesday night jazz series at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville and at Club Cafe.
Throckmorton says Flexure is in some ways offshoots of two well known Opie bands. Thoth is a trio, the name of which is made up of the letters in Throckmorton's, Opie's and Thompson's names. Flexure also has its roots in Opek, a 12-piece band that features all of the players but Parker, who has filled in at times but is not a regular.
Throckmorton can understand Opie's comments about the band being Miles-like in its funk, but he insists the “band is more Ben's.”
He adds the band gets its strength because the players know each other so well from playing in other Opie ensembles.
Opie admits new bands can create nervousness on the part of some listeners. But, he says, the residency and the concert all are focused on creating music with a good groove.
“This is not just an intellectual exercise,” he says.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Natrona Heights native Paul Luc content to live the simple musical life
- Cohen’s latest shows ongoing artistic growth
- Roy Ayers closes Pittsburgh’s Jazz Appreciation Month with R&B feel
- Etheridge, Smashing Pumpkins tickets on sale soon for Munhall shows
- Music legends Dick Dale and Merle Haggard plan W.Pa. shows
- Synod Hall concert mixes basic bluegrass with benefit
- Kanny: Country and western rocks the PSO
- Parrotheads rejoice: Jimmy Buffett coming to First Niagara on Aug. 13