What Is Known
Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch
Aaron Bennett tenor saxophone / John Finkbeiner guitar / Lisa Mezzacappa double bass / Vijay Anderson drums
Available on Amazon
A product and also a protagonist of the rich and unique San Francisco Bay Area scene, bassist Lisa Mezzacappa is getting more and more noticed each day. And not only because she’s a woman using a supposedly male instrument, like Joelle Léandre and very few others – music is what really matters, and Mezzacappa has the technique, the creativity and the concept to play the most rewarding progressive jazz and free improvisation coming from the West Coast of the New World. She has studied with Henry Threadgill and Myra Melford, and has workshopped with Meredith Monk and the Sun Ra Arkestra. That only explains her openness and the variety of situations she’s into: her chamber electroacoustic quintet Nightshade, the metal jazz band Go-Go Fightmaster, the dub reggae project Joseph’s Bones or the “cinema noir” trio Citta di Vitti, among others. Bait & Switch is Mezzacappa’s “garage jazz” quartet, labeled as such because of the parallels with garage rock — a raw, collective, energized approach to jazz that focuses on band sound and chemistry, and “What is Known” is a remarkable debut CD. If two of the tracks are versions of compositions by Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) and Steve McCall (Air), the other thoughtfully-constructed original compositions were generated from fragments of improvisations recorded by Mezzacappa’s “honorary musical godfathers” (from the liner notes): Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra Arkestra, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. Doing this, with her, are some of the finest in the new “avant” generation, Aaron Bennett, John Finkbeiner, and Vijay Anderson, and they play like there’s no tomorrow.