Seattle's most enduring and unpredictable experimental music group is not named after a soft-focus 1970s porno film, as you might think. With a moniker borrowed from an Edwardian-era tobacco tin, Climax Golden Twins have been fashioning singular and brilliant music since 1994.
Core members Robert Millis and Jeffery Taylor along with occasional collaborators—including drummer Dave Abramson, Jesse Paul Miller, and Scott Colburn—sumptuously blend field recordings, odd electronics, and vintage 78 rpm records. Recently, Millis told me that CGT "have become more of an improv/rock/noise/free hillbilly/collage band with a drummer... or something like that."
I've caught CGT live many times since the mid-1990s. The following notes, scrawled during or immediately after the performance, encapsulate my favorite CGT shows.
Club Mercury, September 13, 1999: I finally "get" CGT. Seen 'em a few times before, but tonight they made the bravest, greatest fade-in I have ever heard. Over 40-plus minutes, drones, pulses, scratchy field recordings, and quietly echoing crackles ramp up, gently getting louder and louder. Then it stops. Suddenly. My ears feel incredibly open: What remains—a hushed conversation and clinking glasses—has become music.
Funhouse, September 11, 2005: Equipped with broken electric guitars, a straw hat, and a pile of ancient, shabby rackmount gear, CGT whip up feedback howls, sped-up tambourine jangles, and children's lullabies. Amid the applause, some guy next to me shouts, "Rock and roll!" Nope.
Rendezvous, March 22, 2007: Buzz and hum from the guitars sound like rattling chains smothered in static. In front of the stage, coins get pitched into a bare, throbbing speaker cone. Afterward, Millis strums a guitar and sings old folk songs; experimental music is the true folk music of today.
Climax Golden Twins, Alvarius B, and David Daniell perform Thurs Jan 17 at the Rendezvous, 10:30 pm, $5.
This great bassist found fame in the 1970s with one of the era's seminal fusion outfits, Return to Forever. In those halcyon days, Clarke and Weather Report's Jaco Pastorius redefined the bass guitar with rapid, flamenco-inspired melodic riffs. On his latest disc, The Toys of Men (Heads Up/Telarc), Clarke occasionally detours into smooth ballads but still fires up the funk. Through Sun Jan 20. Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729, sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm, $27.50.
What's a jazz group without a piano? Led by saxophonist Dick Valentine, this pianoless quartet is lithe, limber, and sonically translucent. Flutist Fraser Havens adds sunny counterpoint and angular, but not obtuse, solos. With Ken Strong (bass) and Bradley Papineau (drums). Egan's Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market Street, 789-1621, 7 pm, $5.
LAKE UNION CIVIC ORCHESTRA
LUCO's concerts have a homey feel missing from most classical music gigs; before the show, people laugh and chat casually as if at home. Yet when the music begins, the audience's attention becomes steadfast and quieter than most other orchestral performances I attend. Debonair conductor Christophe Chagnard leads the band in the jubilant Roman Festivals, the seldom-played final chapter of Ottorino Respighi's "Roman Trilogy." In addition, Adam LaMotte is the soloist in Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255, 7:30 pm, $10/$15.
Next week the Seattle Chamber Players sally through their Icebreaker IV festival, but here they back up pianist Ivan Sokolov in a bold concert of avant piano music. On the docket: works by Erik Satie, Sofia Gubaidulina, Cathy Berberian, Edison Denisov, and Alexander Raskatov, along with John Cage's classic "Imaginary Landscape" and "Bacchanale," as well as the "Three Graphic Studies" by Sylvano Bussotti, Karlheinz Stockhausen's Klavierstücke XIV and more. Fourth-floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 286-5052, 7:30 pm, $8—$12.
HADLEY CALIMAN QUARTET
Once nicknamed "Little Dex," this friend and disciple of Dexter Gordon still sounds robust and lyrical. Caliman and his tenor saxophone were superb at the Ballard Jazz Walk last November, smoldering his way through Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" with trumpeter Tom Marriott. Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, 8:30 pm—12:30 am, $15.
The Cathedral Organist, Soloists, and Chamber Orchestra get the jump on everyone else and celebrate the 100th birthday of Olivier Messiaen (1908—1992) with one of the French composer's many masterpieces for solo organ, Le Banquet Céleste, and the Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine. Impractically scored for chamber orchestra, piano, women's chorus, and the eerie, wailing ondes Martenot, Trois Petites Liturgies shimmers with tiptoeing rhythms, frothy piano chords, and blissed-out, surreal chanting. I'm also keen to hear the Suite for Ondes Martenot and Piano by Darius Milhaud and a section of Pli Selon Pli by one of Messiaen's most renowned students, Pierre Boulez. Call ahead for good seats. St. James Cathedral, 804 Ninth Ave, 382-4874, 8 pm, students pay as able/$22 suggested donation.