The Low C# Theory
Reviews & Comments
The Low C# Theory
How low should you go? Chicago's Demetrithilious Kelly, better known as Jauqo III-X (pronounced “Jaco three-ex”) takes it all the way down to low C#. His custom fretless Michael Adler "subcontra" bass is strung with custom SIT stainless roundwounds (.100, .125, .160, 195) and tuned C#F#BE. That's right - your low string is his high string. Why? It's part of Jauqo's "quest for the perfect lows." As he says, "I simply would like to reinvent the way we feel groove. The deeper the groove, the more tribal and spiritual." The seven fully improvised groove tracks on Jauqo's debut disc see his snaky subterranean lines mingling with the high-energy stickwork of Al DiMeola drummer Ernie Adams. Rounding out the quartet is a pair of guitarists, 6-stringer Kudzai Kasambira and 9-stringer DaLawn Simpson, whose moody contributions to the slowly evolving jams suitably complement Jauqo's so-low work. The disc's dearth of graspable melody, occasional rhythmic imprecision, and exceedingly low notes sometimes combine for an absolutely queasifying listening experience - but you've got to hand it to Jauqo for forging his own direction, even if that direction is down, down, down. (BL)
Bassist Jauqo III-X is a man after Joey Arkenstat's own heart. For starters, his fucking name is Jauqo III-X. For another, on the back cover of his album, he states (modestly) that "I simply would like to reinvent the way we feel Groove." (And, actually, he plays "Fretless Subcontra Bass (C# F# B E)." The densely packed liners are filled with capital letters: "The Main Life Line throughout this Recording was to Maintain only the Highest level of Energy (The intertwining of the Souls here to become One, but continue the expression of self as the Individual we all are)." But does it jam, brah? Happily, the answer is a resounding "yes." Clocking in at a slim 35 minutes of pure instrumental goodness, it is clear that Jauquo III-X employed judicious editing techniques (even if the improv segments themselves are all untouched), and should be held as a model for others. The music itself -- played with drummer Ernie Adams, guitarist Kudzai Kasambira, and nine-string guitarist DaLawn Simpson -- is of the demented, dissonant, prog-Primus, primo-Buckethead variety. The tracks are untitled. The jams are thrilling. Oblique Strategies sez: "Lowest common denominator."
- Jesse Jarnow
Jauqo has some pretty high aspirations taken from his liner notes, "I simply would like to reinvent the way we feel groove." Without waxing too philosophical here, of course there is no one way of experiencing music or any art form for that matter. They say perception is reality, that how you perceive your world is your personal signature. If it is real for you, it is real. Granted, that may not necessarily apply to the straight-jacketed crowd! If you see bunnies in your soup, chances are you are wrong. Compounded upon that, not every persons physical brain is the same in all the nuances, just as not all personalities are the same. What I call beautiful may repulse you. What is tonal to one person is atonal to another.
There was a time in the not too distant past the jazz itself was thought completely atonal to many Caucasians. It took some time for the WASP ear to learn to appreciate the subtleties of jazz music. You will find that holds true in Jauqos Low C# Theory release as well. It is new in some ways. It is beautiful to some ears, and it will be ugly to others. That is not a problem nor an evaluation of the worth of his work. In art, most of the 'power' lies in the observer.
Jauqo himself is a formidable player and has ventured into new realms with his truly unusual instrument selection when it comes to his basses. From his Adler Subcontra four string (tuned C#, F#, B and E) up to 12 and 15 string basses, Jauqo is indeed venturing into sound realms most bass players have yet to go. But do all the bells and whistles add to the musicality of the album?
Again, perception is reality. What is your expectation of what is musical? This album has very much of an experimental feel to it. So, these are explorers and therefore deserve the accordant respect as well as warranting some leeway to allow them to discover new musical geography. It may come across as bit atonal to many now, but in 20 years, Jaquo might be viewed as one who went forth with a lantern into the musical night. We do desperately need some new ideas, and perhaps he and others like Gary Goodman and Bill Dickens will be the source of this. It would be so nice to move beyond the ground being tread by so many bassists today.
I've been listening to the cd since I got about three weeks ago... The entire cd is groove oriented. It reminds me of the early 70's free form fusion I grew up listening to. The drums and bass form a rock solid foundation. Both guitarists are doing interesting things, panned hard left or right. As far as the audibility of the bass, I think I hear every note and that's good enough for me. It records well and sounds very tight. This cd begs for a DVD so I can see the artists in action... There's a lot to hear on this project and the more I listen the more I discover. Very cool project, Jauqo. Congrats
- Brad Johnson
This CD has one of the deepest grooves I've heard. Jauqo knows how to lay it down and it shows. That bass sounds incredible. A very deep tone. Jauqo's theory is real and very believable. I recommend this CD whole-heartedly...
- Bernie Connors
I've been listening to this disc for about a week now, and figured I need to write a bit about it.
The Music: It seems to be very much improvised jazz-rock fusion - it reminds me of the Brand X 1976 debut CD "Unorthodox Behaviour" in the general feel of the groove, but also of The Zawinul Syndicate with all the groovy improv, and of Liquid Tension Experiment for the heavy guitar sounds and improv. Now, I like improvisation, but often on this disc I miss melodic themes - often I feel the guitar playing is too far out. But perhaps I am a bit of a traditionalist in that sense. I like the rythm and groove - it is tight and driving. It rocks.
The Sound: This is where it gets really interesting, Jauqo III-X plays the sub-contra bass (as you are no doubt aware of) and the first time I played the CD on my HiFi system, I was amazed at how tight and well defined and... audible the bass sound was, including those deep deep notes. Right now I am listening to the album through headphones, and it sounds great that way as well. I don't know if it is a result of the playing technique, the instrument, or the mastering process; but the bass sound is really happening. And it stands out in the mix, it is heard very well through the two guitars even when they play a lot. It seems to escape that crowded midrange area, probably because it is so deep. I like it a lot! ...
Summary: Friggin' great bass sound and playing! I'm looking forward to hearing more sub-contra bass in a more traditional setting. Did I mention that this CD rocks?
I have had some time now with Jauqo's disc. I am definitely into the "Free", creating while on the spot playing... something very difficult to pull off convincingly. I found it interesting that the guitarists could neither see nor hear each other while the actual playing/recording these pieces. Reminds me a little of the technique Jaco used to record "Crisis"... Jaco would feed snippets into each players' headphones as they added their part (FWIW, "Crisis" was NOT a LIVE/everybody playing at once experiment). Jauqo's album is a ONE-take, free-for-all endeavor... totally unlike "Crisis" in that regard.
In Jauqo's liner notes, he sez drummer Ernie Adams had just come off the road with Al DiMeola... it sounds like it. Adams is hitting on all cylinders; he is a beast (note all the pieces kick off with the drums establishing some direction).
Jauqo's bass is very clean & tight. I did try to listen ONCE while in my car... you may owe me a new set of speakers! To me, much of the grooves were in a driving Rock-Fusion style. Maybe, MAYBE, a little more variation in 'feel' with some more 'dymnamics' would help seperate some of the pieces' energy... at times, I almost felt as though I was listening to one long piece (& there's certainly nothing wrong with that). Jauqo sez this was the 1st time he had played with Ernie Adams; they do have much sympatico goin' on... you can hear each player feeding & feeding off the other. Very, very happenin'.
The two guitarists are panned left/right. DaLawn Simpson sounds like he's outta the Sonny Sharrock/Pete Cosey/Hendrix/Vernon Reid school. He's got using the nasty feedback as a sonic tool in order to paint a picture down. Hope you guys got my drift with that... Kudazi Kasambira has a different approach (at least what I heard on this disc). Sometimes, I'm reminded of a 'funkier' Andy Summers. The contrast between the 2 guitarists is startling... but it totally works. ...
And to differ somewhat about being "too Free", on a whole, Jauqo's recording settles into a groove... i.e. it's never really that noizy (like, say, Peter Brotzmann's Dare Devil). There are some bombastic moments, though.
So, I do recommend The Low C# Theory for those adventurous enough to try something different. It is a beautiful recording; everything is clear as a bell. For a "Free" & improvised venture, the pieces really flow (#3 may be my personal favourite) ... in other words, I'm not getting the kinda headache I seem to get after a Last Exit listening experience. Fact is, The Low C# Theory has grown on me with each listen.
Thanks, Jauqo! - JimK
So I received the CD this afternoon. I'm giving it my second listen right now, this time through my headphones (the first time was through my speakers). It's interesting how different the bass sounds between my headphones and my speakers. The bass is much more boomy (in a good way) through my speakers, but my headphones give it a tone that's more... raw and earthy. I've recently started exploring improvized music through the likes of Coleman and Coltrane and other free jazz gods. I'm really enjoying The Low C# Theory because while it's still improvized in a similar fashion, it's completely different from the free jazz stuff. Jauqo III-X's constant groove in the lowwww registers gives this recording a great feel, and the two guitarists' vastly different styles combine real nicely. I'll have to listen to it some more, but for now, I'm digging it! Very refreshing (yet heavy) change from what I've been listening to lately.
THE LOW C# IS REAL! LOOK OUT.
Jauqo hooked me up with this CD and it's certainly been an ear-opening experience. After a few spins of this disc, I'm pretty sure it's helped tune my ears to lower frequencies... and I've been playing a low F# for years! With my KRK studio speakers I was missing so much until I put the CD in my car with the sub.
Avant-garde groove. All improvised. Agressive at times. The drums are nuts, but still retain the groove. Great stuff Jauqo. ... everytime you listen you hear something new. Looking forward to what you come up with next!
- Jean Baudin