“What time is it?” David Fiuczynski (pictured) quizzed the audience well into his set at the outdoor Arena del Mare as boats on the water twinkled enticingly behind him. “It’s Beethoven time,” he thundered back, probably the three most unlikely words uttered during this RareNoise Records double bill. Performing microtonal music with his trademark double-necked guitar specially tuned to allow for the band’s distinctive quartertones, the maverick guitarist had the underused microtonal keyboards of young Turk Utar Artun to his side, while the main direction came through his duetting with English violinist Helen Sherrah-Davies. Kansas City drummer Alex Bailey, and the colourfully dressed Memphis bass guitarist Dywane ‘MonoNeon’ Thomas cooked up a mysterious heat around ‘Micro Emperor’, a fragment of Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto.
Fiuczynski’s set, based on music from the Planet Microjam record – he’s now heading up the Microjam Institute at Berklee in Boston too – was a compelling snatch of a style of music you rarely get to hear, certainly not in a jazz setting. Sun Ra’s ‘Sun Song’ originally on the 1957 album Jazz By Sun Ra was for me the outstanding performance of the night, and let’s hope we hear more on this side of the Atlantic again from violinist Sherrah-Davies, who like Fuze also teaches at Berklee. Earlier, English organist Roy Powell, now living in Norway, brought his Interstatic band to open proceedings. This prog organ outfit, with Tord Gustavsen Trio drummer Jarle Vespestad in unlikely jazz-rock barrier busting mode and ECM guitarist Jacob Young bluesy and articulate on his solos, allowed Powell to channel Keith Emerson and even the late Jon Lord into the soup of his lively style. He explained to the audience that Interstatic play like Tony Williams’ Lifetime, most evident on their tune ‘The Elverum Incident’, but with a few modern twists. Yet the band took leave of this inspiration many times during a set only slightly hampered by a pedal of Young’s guitar needing to be replaced. Playing material mainly from the eponymous Interstatic release Powell got well and truly stuck in like some sort of hippy organ guru specially attuned to the sultry Genoese night. He’s definitely back with a bang.
– Stephen Graham