The story appears on

Page A11

March 11, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Friction alliance generates heat

LET'S make this clear: this column is about a band, and that band has a name. Furthermore, the name of that band is not "Spinach Nightmare."

You would know this too if you saw the band in question on March 1 at JZ Club (46 Fuxing Rd). That's because its leader and saxophonist - a long, lanky guy who looks like a mix of rock musician Frank Zappa and LSD guru Timothy Leary - said so from the stage.

This was not the first night that Alec Haavik and his band The Friction Alliance toyed with conventions of what is and isn't proper to express from the stage.

Jazz band The Friction Alliance plays a forward-looking style that incorporates elements of free jazz, bebop, and everything in between. Without notice, tempos change; time signatures can vary multiple times in a single song. This openness in structure really plays tricks with the listener's sense of time, creating a dizzy effect and forcing a deeper listening to the music.

Equally as adventurous and more unique are the electronic effects Haavik uses in conjunction with his saxophone. This allows him to add echo and just-recorded sound loops to his "live" playing, meaning that from one saxophone can come a whole horn section.

These techniques were brought to their apex when Haavik played a piece unaccompanied by other musicians. Instead, he utilized looped saxophone parts he recorded on the fly to create a fully realized and lush song.

The piece had the sonic legacy of jazz, but the technique of looping sounds and then creating new ones to harmonize them owed more to hip hop. But whereas hip hop DJ Cut Chemist (profiled in the last "Super Sonic" column) borrowed from already recorded materials, the sounds here all came straight from the mouth of Haavik.

When talking to Haavik, this writer could sense the child-like excitement of someone excitedly pushing the boundaries of possibility.

"Certainly a lot of people think my music is crazy or out there," says Haavik. "And they're absolutely right."

He's one of the musicians in Shanghai (including Haavik's sometimes collaborator Theo Crocker) striving to push jazz along, keep it from becoming what many people perceive it to be a museum piece.

Taking the historical walk to noted jazz landmarks with Shanghai Flaneur a few weeks ago was engaging, and it provides a fascinating context to Shanghai in the past and present. But however valuable this knowledge is, it's not as mercurial and thrilling as creating something truly new, something like The Friction Alliance.

The Friction Alliance with Alex Haavik will be showing their crazy and out there music every Thursday in March at JZ Club, each week accompanied by special guest. The shows are free. A glimpse of the future: priceless.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend