You will not find a better collection of astoundingly intellectual and accomplished musicians than exists in Brooklyn’s Yuganaut. Taken on their own, the three men of Yuganaut prepare eclectic soundscapes as diverse as their own backgrounds. Together, they conjure up something entirely kaleidoscopic with an identity of its own.
Needless to say, their free show Thursday evening at the Krannert Art Museum would not be one to miss even if it wasn’t free.
Stephen Rush (moog, rhodes, effects, toys, euphonium, you name it) is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan where his interdisciplinary responsibilities span five departments. Rush leads the university’s Digital Music Ensemble while appeasing the requests of numerous commissions and requests for performances. To date, he has performed with the Merce Cunningham Studio, the Gyory Ballett in Hungary and at institutions of higher learning across the globe. If his music, art, dance and engineering resume doesn’t speak for itself, Rush is also co-producer of the radio series “Uncharted Jazz” on NPR.
Geoff Mann (drums, vibes, cornet, mandolin) is likewise highly educated having studied at the Appel Farm Arts and Music Center, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and at New School University. In addition to playing in numerous other New York based ensembles, Mann also writes soundtracks for film and television. Any doubts on Mann’s cred, just look to his genealogy. His father was the late great Herbie Mann, who synonymized the words flautist and sexy. Lock up your sister.
Tom Abbs (bass, tuba, cello, violin, percussion, didjeridoo) has a more peculiar resume than his two counterparts. Also classically trained via the New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music program (where he worked with Reggie Workman, Buster Williams, Joe Chambers, Junior Mance, Chico Hamilton and Arthur Taylor), Abbs is renown for how his fluid use of the tuba. When not playing with his other experimental groups, Abbs acts as general manager for the record label ESP-Disk, which was originally founded in the 1960s to produce records in Esperanto. Since then, they have released records for Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, the Fugs and Pearls Before Swine among others.
So what happens when you put them all together? Just about anything. They are often described in astronomical terms, not so much in terms of size, but more so in terms of astronomy and how exploring the unexplored translates into music. We’ll just let Dave Lynch of the All Music Guide give you the final sales pitch:
“Get your boarding passes ready and queue up for an interstellar journey…piloted by Yuganaut, a crew of three intrepid explorers skilled in traveling the byways of space and time in the spirit of such previous pathfinders as Sun Ra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Miles Davis in his ’60s and ’70s electric period… Yuganaut proves that their chosen style of musical expression can be the sound of something genuinely startling.”
The free show starts at 7:30 p.m.