Digital Primitives: Hard-Funkin' Free Jazz In Concert : A Blog Supreme Digital Primitives revealed improvisation as a soulful, soul-bearing journey in a concert from the Contradiction Dance studio in Takoma Park, Md.

Digital Primitives: Hard-Funkin' Free Jazz In Concert

What happens when you arrive late: a bad spot and a blurry Digital Primitives photo. Lars Gotrich hide caption

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Lars Gotrich

What happens when you arrive late: a bad spot and a blurry Digital Primitives photo.

Lars Gotrich

Either the Jazz Internet needs to be clearer, or I'm not a good enough Googler, because I had to call a friend to find out when the Digital Primitives show began this past Sunday. And I was still 30 minutes late.

"You just missed the first song, that's all," said the promoter. Sigh. Jazz Internet, you gotta do better than this!

Digital Primitives is a hard-funkin' blues trio that grinds on free jazz. Comprised of multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, reed player Assif Tsahar and percussionist Chad Taylor, the group just released its third album Hum, Crackle & Pop, on Tsahar's Hopscotch Records. (The first featured Hamid Drake on drums.) You can hear lead track "Walkabout" on this Take Five.

As I entered the Contradiction Dance studio in Takoma Park, Md., Cooper-Moore had taken up a flute and Chad Taylor set up brushes and a snare drum in front of his kit. If you think of free jazz as nothing but overblown squeals, Cooper-Moore has always been one to reveal its meditative side. Over Taylor's swishy brush beats, which felt like sticks wanting to crawl out and play, Cooper-Moore alternated light, Eastern melodies and fluttered notes.

But as reverent and peaceful as Cooper-Moore can be, Digital Primitives is really a gnarly blues animal. The howl that came out of Cooper-Moore shouldn't have been surprising given past protest records like America, but his voice pierced the dance studio mirrors and pummeled everyone in the room. Saxophonist Assif Tsahar picked up on the vocal melody, slowly tearing it apart after each repetition as Chad Taylor hit a funk pocket that'd make ?uestlove do a double-take. Taking up his diddley-bow ("a lap fretless bass suspended in air and played with sticks"), Cooper-Moore channeled the explorative funk bass of Jamaaladeen Tacuma (Ornette Coleman's Prime Time) on an instrument with only one string.

The extended improvisation that followed, titled "The Old Lady In Blue A Damsel Still," is really unlike anything I've heard in jazz right now. All three musicians pounded into their instruments with truth-seeking fervor, twisted and wrangled as it was. There were touches of James Blood Ulmer's blues-tinged free-music -- perhaps a bit of the aforementioned Prime Time -- but at Contradiction Dance, Digital Primitives revealed improvisation as a soulful journey. The medium for such a journey might be an odd one, but didn't we heed the desperate call of Sly and the Family Stone's Stand!? If I have to holler, dance and writhe, I will follow Digital Primitives wherever they go.