As a member of JamBase, I feel it is my duty to tell the good people of San Francisco about truly exceptional music. Last night's engagement at Yoshi's in Oakland was certainly not for everyone, but as far as I'm concerned, should be required listening for any one who fancies themselves a music appreciator.

Ponga is an all improvisational freak out band that rarely plays together. The quartet consists of Wayne Horvitz of Zony Mash on keyboards, the one and only Skerik of Critters Buggin and Garage a Trois to name just a couple on sax, Dave Palmer a Fog City alum on keys as well, and the amazing Bobby Previte on drums.

It was apparent from the first note of the first set that we weren't going to hear anything remotely familiar, regardless of how well you might know the self titled debut album, or the new release, Psychological. The instrumental music was all off the cuff, and would be impossible to duplicate, making every note original. The interaction between Horvitz and Palmer was mind bending as they traded bass lines and tweaked out noises, creating walls of sound that are beyond comprehension. Skerik... well Skerik is Skerik, need I say more? And I am almost embarrassed by my lack of knowledge in regards to Bobby Previte, who immediately jumped into a very finite group of drummers on my list. The musicianship these men displayed was unparalleled and uncompromising, and may I remind you they do all this, without any guitars.

I will not sit here and try to describe music that is outside the realm of our English language, instead I will simply tell you that if you go see any music before new years, do yourself a favor and go see Ponga at the Justice League this evening. They hardly ever play together, and if you miss this, your missing IT - that intangible "it" that makes music so special.

For those of you who need a comparison, I will ask you to think Miles Davis in the late sixties, brought up to date with modern effects, Macintosh computers, and dueling keyboards. Of course it's weird, but that's half the fun. These men are pushing Jazz, taking chances and killing it!

The Kayceman
JamBase | HeadQuarters
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[Published on: 12/11/01]

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