David Torn

jazz fusion is a movement in music, that I have to say, often leaves me cold. Yeah, Bitches Brew is great and other masterworks of the genre obviously resonate, but shows like a rare appearance by guitarist David Torn that I caught on Tuesday night at Joe's Pub are less than thrilling.

For those who like me don't know the entire Torn saga, he's a guitarist renowned for his texturalism and his ability with electronics and effects. A former student of Leonard Bernstein, John Abercrombie and Pat Martino, Torn has been laying low since an early Nineties health crisis.

Assisted by saxophonist Tim Berne, Torn's performance at Joe's was all about manipulating sounds, mostly feedback via an effects rack he had in a case, up on a chair. "Noodling" is the word that comes to mind. "Knob-twisting" is another. Neither are meant as compliments. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say "wanking" but for much of the evening Mr. Torn was not far off. Sorry, call me old fashioned but I need some sort of song structure. Fusion encourages rampant indulgences. Now when Torn actually got down and played, he was killer. But there was way too little of that. Proof yet again that every eagerly anticipated, rarely seen legend ain't really worth the trouble.

vince's picture

Agree totally.

Larry Harvey's picture

that is a meaningless distinction and I am surprised you would generalize like that. "There is good music and bad music", true for "fusion", classical, pop, jazz etc. Pangea by Miles Davis is one of the great perfomances by a music ensemble. One would likely call it fusion but it is inventive and musical- one of the great guitar albums of all time