New Music Without Borders
Genres and categories are cool when you’re trying to sell something. But some of our most compelling musical artists don’t pay attention to the imperatives of the marketplace. They make what they make, and the grand bazaar of culture must sort out where to file the “product.” Ian Faquini (guitar) and Paula Santoro (voice), native Brazilians, explore the traditional art form of Xylography, engraving wood with a metal object, in song. On “Metal na Madiera” (“metal on wood”), the two employ modern harmonics and melodies while exploring the story-telling possibilities of traditional Brazilian rhythms. The result is mesmerizing. Likewise, Club d’Elf, the Moroccan-flavored dub-jazz collective, blends funk with Phish, Marrakesh with Brooklyn, and bebop with trance, offering a cosmopolitan melange that defies categorization. On their new double-disc, “Live at Club Helsinki,” the group gets toe tapping and booties swaying — all while delivering virtuoso improvisations. Similarly — but in an entirely different musical tradition — composer and saxophonist Josh Green and his Cyborg Orchestra mash up jazz, classical chamber music, and Sesame Street. His “Telepathy & Bob” is a wonderfully weird recording, one that earns the honorific “beyond categorization.” Green, like legions of contemporary musical creators, seems blissfully unconcerned with fitting neatly into a shrink-wrapped box. We listeners are grateful.