City Pages September 26, 2007
Speech and music mix like blood, even when randomly juxtaposed. In short bursts, the marriage is harder to fuck up than cooking Pop Tarts, and pregnant with the sorts of potential fireworks Barry White detonated with almost every monologue. But the longer the dalliance, the trickier the chemistry, especially in rarefied realms: Literary poetry offers more daunt than hip hop, simply 'cause it lacks the latter's natural musical muscle and high-powered handshake factor. Plus, in adapting to any sonically robust situation, poets almost invariably sacrifice nuance in favor of broad strokes and quick payoffs.
The audio component of book and CD combo Invisible Jazz finds Christopher Shillock's poetical cake both eaten and intact, thanks largely to artistic partner, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Tabatha Predovich's supple voice and wide-ranging chops. Not that Shillock doesn't hold up his end: At 67, he's easily one of Minneapolis's most tenacious rebels, a long-time player in antiauthoritarian politics and facilitator in disciplines ranging from theater to punk rock. Meaning when he says, 'careening amphetamine dawn,' as on 'Zero Hour,' you better believe him. Shillock has a fine voice, too, sort of a cross between Leonard Cohen (like medieval French outlaw bard François Villon, one of his patron saints) and Jim Northrup, only more Irish. While musical variety predominates, Predovich's Gothic-prog sensibilities twinkle through on pretty much everything except the title track (guess) and the album closer, 'Blue Nile,' a time-traveling antiwar drama that'll land the duo a Prairie Home Companion slot if there's any justice in the world.
CHRISTOPHER SHILLOCK and TABATHA PREDOVICH PERFORM FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, at BEDLAM THEATER; 612. 339.5002