Theriault, Hannafin, Hamilton

Doug TheriaultThe concert on Thursday evening the 5th of March was a special one for me, its being the first time I’d heard Doug Theriault live. From the first CD of his I owned, Unidentified, I have been enormously taken by the music of this enormously talented Portlander. What’s more, the first set of the evening was a duet between Doug Theriault and Matt Hannafin, whose last couple of appearances I’ve been unfortunate to have missed. And what a lovely set it was. Anyone who’s heard either man could be forgiven for thinking them very unlikely partners, but these two are both skillful and sensitive musicians and experienced collaborators, and both qualities were much in evidence that evening, with Hannafin coaxing some harsh beauties from his drums to match Theriault’s electronics and equally Theriault producing some soft and gentle sounds to match Hannafin’s delicate drumming.

Tom HamiltonThe second set of the evening was two short pieces by Tom Hamilton of New York, the first a feedback piece, the second an old school type sythesizer piece. The first was made up of sounds like those made by a microphone in front of a loudspeaker but much more controlled than a real microphone would be under those circumstances. I must say that while I prefer the wildness and unpredictability of raw feedback, I cannot think of any feedback, including that in Hamilton’s cool little piece,  that I haven’t liked.

Matt HannafinThe last set, with all three playing, was in a way the most intriguing. After the superbly integrated set of the very different Theriault and Hannafin and the controlled, composed synthesizer pieces by Hamilton, it could hardly help but intrigue. And against all expectations (all my expectations, anyway), Tom Hamilton plunged right in to the improv fun. Only after some time had passed, did he produce anything like what he’d played in his solo set. And then what do Theriault and Hannafin do but alter what they’d been doing to make Hamilton’s old school synth sounds sound a perfectly natural and legitimate part of the mix.

Quite a stunning display of improvisatory virtuousity.

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