Bonnie Wright’s Fresh Sound series held its final spring concert on May 16 at Dizzy’s – possibly the wildest music the venue has witnessed since setting up shop at the Pacific Beach home of San Diego Jet Ski Rentals a year and a half ago.
The duo concert of alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi and drummer Gabriel Lauber (traveling under the nom de plume Cosmic Brujo) signaled a return to "free jazz" in its most literal sense: no tunes, no charts, no boundaries or rules. There was, however, a lot of form, rhythm, polyrhythm and instant composition.
The concert opened with the shocking sound of Lauber dropping small cymbals on the hard tile floor, spinning and scraping them while Eneidi fluttered a series of elliptical trills. Lauber then began a relentless assault with bundle-sticks -- agitating Eneidi into low honks and blatts as the two hovered and tugged like birds of prey at the edge of a vortex.
The saxophonist explored long tones with sculpted vibrato and grainy multiphonics, balancing the alkaline with the acidic as Lauber conducted a wide arc of dynamics, from considered scrapes and pings to a fusillade of sticks on skins.
Twenty minutes in, the piece climaxed with harsh, kingsnake alto squiggles weaving through jackhammer textures in a manner suggesting the epic encounters of Jimmy Lyons with Sunny Murray. Lauber broke out soft mallets to accompany the soft cries of Eneidi, like distant thunder on a stormy plain. The lack of meter did not equal an absence of flow -- that was as strong and inevitable as the course of water through a landscape.
The concert concluded with an episodic journey that unfolded from a call-and-response beginning into a squall of kinetic energy -- Eneidi’s fractal screams bouncing off Lauber’s hyperactive whirlwind. After several rounds of violent exchanges, Eneidi wrapped it up with the same plaintive melody with which he began.
Raw, brilliant and messy, kind of like real life.
Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years.