MEXCLA MUSIC and the Colour of Sound
Virtuosic performance and interaction at the Harrison House in Joshua Tree, Nov. 6
By Aureliano |
Published on LatinoLA: November 4, 2015
I have been hearing about MEZCLA MUZIC for the last few months from various media and word of mouth including - LATINO LA, PERFORMING ARTS LIVE, LA WEEKLY,
LOS ANGELES TIMES, KPFK radio etc., and while I knew Christopher Garcia's extensive drum set and percussion work with various configurations (see links below) I was unaware of Jeronimo (Jxel) Rajchenberg's work. (Not quite sure how Garcia manages to keep all those plates spinning and consistently performing and composing such different music at such a high level but he does.)
Mr. Rajchenberg is from Mexico City, MX., and has just completed his DMA studies at California Institute of the Arts, and has been involved in several disparate projects not only as a composer but sometimes as a dancer, including scoring music for dance, chamber ensemble, opera(!), and multi media, in Mexico, the United States and abroad.
In July of 2013 Rajchenberg and Garcia met via emails and phone calls but they did not physically meet until July of 2014 and they have been working together ever since. Rajchenberg invited Garcia to perform at his doctoral recital at California Institute of the Arts which was held in April 2015 at the Wild Beast and they premiered new works for their respective instruments and have since performed numerous times throughout the Southland.
I went to hear them on three different occasions, the first time at the Westerbeck Theater, Center for the Arts in Pasadena, another time at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, and then at Los Angeles City College at David Alpert Hall as well as their live radio broadcast on KPFK's Global Village. They also sent links for (currently unlisted) YOUTUBE videos in case I had additional questions about the compositions.
At every performance the stage had instruments from very different cultures sitting side by side, stringed instruments from Mexico, South America, Europe and Africa including the 4-stringed requinto jarocho, the 10 stringed charango, the classical nylon string guitar and the single stringed musical bow the berimbau and tawitol.There were also percussion instruments of India, (North and South) tabla, kanjira, ghatam, dholak, and indigenous percussion and wind instruments of Mexico made of clay, wood, floating gourd water drums, bamboo and singing stones,
But unusual instrumentation does not necessarily mean compelling music, and while some groups "throw instruments together" for the sake of trying to be different, the music these two gentleman create is organic, while at the same time being virtuosic, and compelling on many different levels. Garcia and Rajchenberg continue to draw on a number of musical AND cultural traditions in a seamless manner as each member shares a deep history of traveling, composing and performing with musicians from various cultures and guesting with musicians of Africa, Bali, China, Japan, indigenous and folkloric Mexico throughout the United States and abroad.
Garcia will be premiering new works for Western harp and instruments of indigenous Mexico and Meso America in January with harpist Tasha Smith Godinez in Mexico City and Rajchenberg is currently performing in the first mobile opera in Los Angeles called HOPSCOTCH.
Some of the concerts featured the duo playing ringing metals (INFLECTED REVERBERATIONS) a Garcia composition dedicated to Japanese percussionist Takinojo Mochizuki or both of them standing on opposite sides of one marimba facing each other. They also have their own arrangement of a piece called ONCE by the group UAKTI which is in 11/8 but based on geometric shapes - triangles, squares, 6 pointed stars, etc., tallying up to 11 beats per phrase. Some of the compositions are fixed but most of them allow for some form of improvisation.
But the compositions which really affected the listeners at every concert, myself included, were their original compositions like ANA Y ESTHER, a piece in 19/8 featuring charango and daf, "dedicated to the women in their lives", their mothers, and the composition AYOTZINAPA written for the missing 43 students in Mexico.
This piece featured classical guitar and baa wehai, floating gourd water drums of the Yaqui people of Sonora with a deep resonating sound, along with stones, which were rubbed or struck with smooth river rocks as well as a 38" symphonic gong which Garcia used as a huge resonator, blowing a clay ocarina with the overtones of the clay instrument resonating with and against the huge suspended gong as well as extracting a sound as if a person was literally wailing out of it.
The piece was all things at once, melancholy, surprising, powerful and triumphant all at the same time, and the same could be said for the composition WITH HIS HAT IN HIS HAND, a composition Garcia wrote in homage to his father which seemed as fragile and poignant as rose petals.
MEZCLA'S performances and interactions are virtuosic, to say the least, and both seem to be able to have their instruments take on different responsibilities throughout their performance - rhythm, melody and harmonic roles are tossed back and forth without letting you become aware that this is what they are doing.
Is it MAGIC?
Or is it MUSIC?
Or is it both as has been claimed by KPFK's Global Village John Schneider.
"There's really nothing like it, these gentlemen have done their homework, they know about music from all over the world and they have taken from different cultures and then let the instruments speak to them, how they want to be played and make these EXPERIENCES, it's not even music it's an EXPERIENCE, sometimes you don't even hear it, you just feel it. This is magical stuff ….instruments you will probably never see, and music from the earth made of stone, gourds, guitar "
Many years ago these terms where interchangeable, and MEZCLA MUZIC
takes us back to a time and place within ourselves utilizing instruments of various cultures in an organic way to remind us of who and what we once were before radio, television, cassettes, vcrs, dvds, mp3s became our entertainment.
When the only soundtrack to our lives was our own heartbeat, breath and the songs our mothers and elders sang to us as children.
If you have not made an opportunity to experience this, you should!
MEZCLA MUZIC will be performing 11/6/FR @ 8 PM
@ THE HARRISON HOUSE in Joshua Tree CA
INFO FOR THE PERFORMANCE
MEZCLA MUZIC SITE
Christopher Garcia website
Jeronimo JXEL Rajchenberg website
Auraliano is a free lance writer covering musical events and
culture in and around Los Angeles and the Southland