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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008 02:33 pm

Go see the saw at the freejazz forum

Crissie Trigger joins the End Times Trio Nov. 2, playing the saw.

Boo! Here comes Halloween weekend when the bars get loaded with plenty of costume contests, lots of live music and general all-around weirdness, which adds up to one frighteningly good time. Check the IT Pub Crawl listings for a favorite fright night location and have some fun on this hoot of a holiday. Then around 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, at Charles and Limey's Lounge (620 S. First at Vinegar Hill Mall area) come scare yourself when End Times Trio hosts the Springfield Freejazz & Creative Music Forum concert series featuring guest artist Crissie Trigger.

We've been through the jokes before so I'll refrain from asking why freejazz isn't free and attempt to explain this peculiar music art form sometimes termed as avant-garde or experimental. Richard Gilman-Opalsky, drummer and founding member of End Times Trio along with saxophonist Frank Trompeter and guitarist Mark Schwartz, creates music that sounds cacophonic and unorganized while actually containing complicated song structures within parameters of improvisational performance. Often songs are completely improvised while others begin with merely a title and suggestion. Some are more defined into movements, but all encompass a strikingly different approach to music-making and instrument-playing than your average popular music composition.

In improvisational music performance and particularly in jazz, guest musicians enhance group shows, and End Times Trio often invites participants for musical experimentation. At this Sunday's concert, Crissie Trigger joins the ETT on saw. Yes, you heard right, she plays the saw. The trusty cutting tool of the handy carpenter doubles as a musical instrument. Trigger first heard the saw played during her tenure as a member of a touring improvisational theater troupe that traversed across Europe in the '70s. Originally from London, England, she relocated to Springfield a few years ago. Earlier this year when she saw another saw player it rekindled her interest in the idea of playing the sharp-toothed, metal-bladed implement.

"I seemed to have a knack for it," she says in her definitely English accent. "So I traded my bass banjo to a musician from a band in Bloomington for a saw."

Trigger's artistic background of instrumental music and improvisational theater prepared her well for a foray into freejazz which she interprets as, "a combination of notes and sounds creating a soundscape of color with music instead of paint." The actual physical workings of saw-playing consists of bending the saw into an "S" pattern, then running a bow across the flat or "sweet" spot, as in bowing a stringed instrument. Trigger estimates the range of notes available from an average saw between "an octave and a half to three quarters" with some specifically designed saws reaching an entire two-octave range.

If you think we're kidding here, you are wrong my friend. Just ask the members of the International Musical Sawplayers Association at their annual festival in Felton, Calif. Or listen to the amazing, internationally acclaimed sawyer Natalia Paruz, who performs with various symphonies and was a recent guest on "A Prairie Home Companion." For those of you about to saw, we salute you. Complete starter kits are available online at www.musicalsaw.com, where for the fair price of $104.55 you receive a two-octave baritone saw, bow, resin, case and a "two-page sheet of instructions," plus an offer to engrave your name into the saw for only a few pennies more. As you can see, this musical saw business is serious stuff.

The only other saw sighting in Springfield I can recall was a dark and stormy night many years ago in some shadowy tavern when Doc Hughes, a cohort of Springfield Shaky, pulled out his saw to rip on a few old blues tunes. With an ethereal, moaning sound best heard and not described, Trigger's saw-playing combined with the stirring work of End Times Trio should be nothing short of a hauntingly beautiful, post-Halloween experience. So, shall we see you at the sawing?

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