Musica Elettronica Viva continues to be the best improvising ensemble around town, as far as I know, though there are quite a few free jazz groups that I have not heard. The MEV musicians have little regard for harmony or formal restrictions, and go for a counterpoint of individual expressions, which are somehow unified simply by their energy. At the peaks such improvisations can become loud protests. But the anger I used to sense in these jam-session protests a few years ago is not so common now. A tone of optimism or confidence seems to have taken its place.
The performance by MEV at WBAI’s Free Music Store Saturday night had many sparse sections, ans even gentle moments, but the last half hour was as intense as I have ever heard the group play. Throughout the evening the diverse contributions of the four players always seemed in balance with each other. All were leaders. All were followers. The current group consists of trombonist Garrett List, drummer Gregory Reeve, pianist Frederic Rzewski, and Richard Teitelbaum, who operates a Moog synthesizer.Note:
The group originated in Rome about 10 years earlier, where it usually included Alvin Curran, as well as Rzewski, Teitelbaum, and others.