Lloyd has been playing since the 1960s. I have no idea what he used to play like, but in this Tiny Desk, he couldn’t possibly look more like an “old man.” In what is one of the more disconcerting Tiny Desks I’ve watched, Lloyd sits in a chair and doesn’t take off his big puffy coat or his toque for the whole performance [I don’t know when this was filmed, so maybe it was cold that day, but come on]. Nor does he move, wave, acknowledge anyone or even smile (except once at the end). Since he never takes his sunglasses off, he could be asleep (except that he really wails on the horn).
Moran is the youthful member of the duo and his piano playing is a lot of fun to watch. In addition to playing some very lovely sections, he also plays some intensely dissonant parts as well. This is free jazz in all its glory
“Hagar’s Lullaby” (by Charles Lloyd) has a pretty (but not lullabyish) melody on sax—a simple 8 note melody which is constantly in danger of being overtaken by some wild riffing. About 4 minutes in Moran plays super fast and loud–almost a drone for a minute or so.
“Prayer” (by Charles Lloyd) opens as a more mellow piece with occasional moments of Moran’s louder piano. After about three minutes in, it turns into utter chaos as Moran is all over the piano with rumbles of dissonance–it’s really noisy (and cool) before returning to the main melody. Since I don’t know anything about these songs, I don’t know how much is improvised. I have to assume a lot, but I don’t really know.
Lloyd’s only reaction comes when Moran starts playing the loud, fast intro notes of the final song, “Sand Rhythm” (by Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran). He smiles at Moran. The song is pretty dark and intense with some wild riffing on the piano. About 2 minutes from the end, Moran does something to the piano to really impact the overall sound—it sounds more than deadened, but it really give anew tone underneath Lloyd’s skronking.
While I’m sure that Lloyd is the main draw in this duo, I was far more interested in Moran’s playing. There’s was nothing wrong with Lloyd’s work at all, but the presentation was so flat that I had to keep looking elsewhere.
[READ: February 15, 2016] Kaput & Zösky
Lewis Trondheim is a prolific cartoonist. I had only seen his book A.L.I.E.E.E.N before so I didn’t know what to expect from a book with real words. I certainly didn’t expect this collection to be filled with short “skits” and one page interstitial (translated by Edward Gauvin). Eric Cartier is also credited in the book, although I don’t know what for.
Kaput and Zösky are alien creatures bent on destroying everything and ruling the world. Pretty much each strip has them landing on a new planet with the intent of destroying it. Typically the short, rounder one, Kaput is ready simply to destroy everyone while the taller one with yellow ears, Zösky, seems to wan to take a more reasonable approach.
In the first one (only one page) they land on earth and are intimidated by a spider. The second one involves a bureaucratic nightmare which is quite funny. The third one is very funny as the creatures on the planet literally do everything K&Z say (that must have been hard to translate).
I enjoyed the one where everything is worth betting on and seeing how easy it is to turn into a bettor yourself.
In a later one Zösky tries to flatter the leader rather than blowing them up, but the leader knows he is ugly and is insulted by their “mockery.” In a later one, the two run for office and there is much good politician bashing in it
Much of the fun in these stories comes from the crazy planet names and the bizarre shapes in outer space. Also, Trondheim’s alien creatures are wonderful. As with A.L.I.E.E.E.N. there is quite a lot of violence with all manner of creatures getting blown up. But they seems to be dissuaded from destroying entire planets.
Sprinkled between these are a strip called The Cosmonaut. These are one page multi-panel stories in which a guy in a space suit encounters aliens and blows them up. There’s a different variant in one and I enjoyed them all quit a bit. The final one, which involves a poop-related joke was really funny.
First Second used to publish a lot of French books translated into English. Trondheim was a benefactor of this, but it seems they haven’t done a new one of his in a while. #10yearsof01
Incidentally these books have been made into a TV show which is available on DVD and streaming.