It's a pairing that feels fundamentally bizarre, but also somehow inevitable. She's an avant-garde artist who has dabbled with pop; he's an experimental rock star with a penchant for surrealism. And together, Laurie Anderson and Mike Patton are going to be performing a 16th century text by a general from the Ming Dynasty. No, really.
The seeds for this three-night run at SFJAZZ were planted last May, when Patton briefly performed with Anderson during her set with Terry Riley and John Zorn at the Chapel in San Francisco. The pair will now tackle "Quanjing Jieyao Pian"—a chapter of a 1560 military instruction manual written by Chinese General Qi Jiguang, that focuses on unarmed combat exercises. Roughly translated, the title means "Chapter on the Fist Canon and the Essentials of Nimbleness."
Patton, a Eureka native, is most famous for his work as the frontman of the rock band Faith No More, but he has a long history of boundary-pushing in outfits like Mr. Bungle, Fantômas and Hemophiliac. Anderson's background is rooted in performance art and sound experimentation, and she is the current resident artistic director of SFJAZZ.
It's impossible to predict in advance what these two innovators will conjure up together—previews promise only "an exploration of vocal styles." One thing's for sure though. It definitely won't be boring. –Rae Alexandra