Avant-Waynesboro: Jason Ajemian’s Folklords

August 12th, 2015 · No Comments · By

Thursday, August 13th@The Tea Bazaar: Jason Ajemian: Folklords  9:00, $7

At first Jason Ajemian was just another jazz bassist from Waynesboro, a big-talking fancy-plucking long-string dreamer of the sort you find wherever players of unwieldy instruments are allowed to congregate. We payed him no particular mind. This was way back, before people started putting phones in their pockets, preferring to keep them on tables or desks, or mounted on walls like prize trophies. He was just a kid then, we all were, except the old people, who are now dead. He showed up as the younger brother of his older brother, and of no great physical stature, and from Waynesboro, playing an instrument whose most famous practitioner was a cartoon character named Pig-Pen. And yet, even then, there were rumors of his talent.

Eventually he moved out to the big city, turned pro, and started hanging out with musicians who had big names in small circles, but he kept coming back.  He came to play and we went out to listen. And over the years we got to witness the evolution of a musician. Not just a fine instrumentalist, but a composer and a leader and a creative force, always carrying the promise of something new when he appeared, a new group or project or musical enthusiasm. And so we came to look forward to these appearances, as new chapters in a long-running story that we had become invested in.

Music is a temporal art, not just in the way that other arts are not, but also in the way all arts are temporal. They have history, the history of the art, the artist, and the artwork. If you come to see Jason and his bandmates (drums,sax, electric guitar, bit of messing around with electronics) play Thursday night you will have an experience of duration, but that duration will just be a moment within a greater duration. And you will hear that even if you don’t know it. It is the richness of the music. Particularly since it comes out of jazz (better to say out of than in, since exploring new territories is the essence of it), with its endless embroidering of its own time. The music of Folklords includes elements of the compositions of Monk, Mingus, and Sun Ra, created years ago by great men now dead . Layered in with that are the compositions of Ajemian, carefully constructed over some time before performance. Added to that are the improvisations of the group, performed in the moment, of immediate inspiration but coming out of the full length of the life each musician has experienced. Different spans of time bound together into a unity, giving a sense of transcendence, of eternity, that is the gift of art, and maybe music especially.

I have listened to the album Folklords (of course I don’t know close the live set will be to it). You can listen to one track from it on Youtube above. It’s impressive, dense and chewy, out there but grounded, dark but warm. A lot of skittering, but with some heavy bottom to hold it together. A very textural free music, sometimes jazzy, sometimes rocking, sometimes something else. The one thing that challenged my appreciation was the vocals. I am not much of a fan of arty spoken word in music, or sing-speak, and there is a good bit of that. But even if you share my aversion — and I imagine millions do — give this a chance. Sometimes the vocals won me over and even when not they provided an interesting irritation. I am eager to see how this aspect of the music plays out live, with human presence. Maybe much better. Even now, listening to the album a second time as I write, I am liking it more. It is a joy when something makes you like it more, like certain people you never forget, or booze.

Highly recommended to some, who know who they are, but also to others, who only God knows who they are — they must take a leap of faith, and gamble with their evening, and their seven dollars. Will they dare?



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