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Pitch'd

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Published 7/14/1999

IN THEIR ZONE ORCHESTRA

New York’s Central Park Summerstage is one of those great Big Apple entertainment-cultural freebies. While you couldn’t ask for a more public radio-diverse lineup than African politi-pop king Hugh Masekela and Detroit’s own Innerzone Orchestra, you could ask for a more compatible one, as evidenced by the Masekela fans wondering just what the hell to make of Innerzone’s techno-jazz experiments. IO, as its binary, Rollerballesque banners proclaimed, rolled through what sounded like "Bug in the Bassbin," the most accessible and certainly most well-known track – it’s five years old – from the group’s upcoming Programmed disc on electronica label Astralwerks.

This afternoon’s show, however, wasn’t about electronica or techno, as IO’s Carl Craig made abundantly clear when he boldly told the audience what he and his band were doing was "the future," and invoked John Coltrane and Miles Davis. A little pretentious, because as much as Innerzone took "jazz" to mean improvised risk-taking, it seemed that either muddy stage sound or the heat made "jazz" mean that the one beat became harder and harder to find.

But with so much ventured, there was certainly a lot gained. On one track, the loose vibe made the band seem like a spacecraft capable of graceful cruising at high speed, lumbering marvelously over the landing pad and touching down. Craig, controlling the prerecorded sequences and mix from his banks of gear, brought up a twisting synthesizer sequence that percussionist-drummer Francisco Mora thickened up. New York-based keyboardist Craig Taborn softly stabbed at the phantom one with spectral chords as DJ Recloose flew in effects-heavy turntable scratches. This went on for a good five minutes before Mudpuppy bassist Paul Randolph brought the whole brilliantly sun-stroked maelstrom into focus with deep bass drops that formed a melody without getting so patterned that it became trite. Like some sort of digital-age take on the melody and skronk of Sonny Sharrock’s Ask The Ages-era noise-guitar jazz efforts, Innerzone made its own kind of fourth-dimensional sense. Wisely, Craig chose to go out on a crowd-pleasing acoustic guitar cover of the Stylistics’ "People Make the World Go ’Round," sung and played by Randolph doing his best Ben Harper.

BEAT(FURTHER)DOWN(TOWN)

If you’ve noticed there aren’t quite the crowds circling around the block south of Woodward Village after hours this Saturday, it’s because area house promoter-scene champion Korie Enyard is no longer hosting Saturday’s "Go Deep" party at Club Better Days, saying simply that "it’s time to move on and do my own thing." Enyard says she plans to bring live house acts (CeCe Penniston, etc.) to town, as well as eyeing a new space further downtown. (This search would exclude the former Blue Moon building at the corner of Woodward and Alexandrine, which former Motor partner-current scene hob-nobber Steven Sowers has bought.)

LINDA'S ROLLING HER EYES

You almost don’t wanna know how they do it, but BTM Productions has become Detroit’s silent concert promotions giant. Sure, BTM pissed "the scene" off by turning Easter’s "True Masters" party into a booking-coup Eminem gig. But more than any other promoters, BTM seems to get that the kids want more, better, bigger and more booming. Next weekend’s "Picasso" party won’t disappoint. Jazzy Jeff joins hip-hop’s clown prince Biz Markie, super-human beatbox Rahzel and Detroit’s own Jaydee-featuring, Busta-Tribe producing, Interscope Records-signed, jazzy hip-hop juggernaut in its own right, Slum Village – and, oh yeah, great house spun by Chicago’s Terry Mullan, Detroit’s own rave-friendly techno titan Kevin Saunderson, junglist-James Bond villain Goldie and Chi-town booty legend DJ Funk. Advanced tickets at the usual baggy-pantsed outlets.

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