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Gregg Bendian's Interzone

Wednesday, Oct 10 2001
In the liner notes to Requiem for Jack Kirby, the new album by Gregg Bendian's Interzone, comic book illustrator Mark Evanier explains, "Jack Kirby was bold and innovative, & he did the impossible by creating work that was both brilliantly planned & literally spontaneous. Like a fine jazz musician, he always knew what he was doing, but when he sat down at his [drawing table], he never knew precisely how it would come out." This process of yielding to the moment led to Kirby's realization of the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and other groundbreaking comic book characters, all of which instilled in a youthful Bendian "a sense of wonder at [Kirby's] limitless imagination and creation of possible worlds."

At its best, jazz improvisation captures a similarly otherworldly essence, which vibraphonist Bendian manages to evoke on Requiem by giving his Interzone bandmates -- Nels Cline (guitar), Joel Hamilton (bass), and Alex Cline (drums) -- plenty of space to flex their skills and spontaneity. Think of the album's suite of extended compositions (most more than 10 minutes long) as a super-powerful beast on a mission to, say, eradicate jazz poseurs from the face of the Earth. The improvised parts are the sinewy meat on the strangely shaped, rock-solid bones of the score, while the interlocking melodies and pizzicato rhythms of vibes, electric six-string, upright bass, cymbals, and snare are the spectral luminescence radiating from the heart of the beast. Soaring through the cosmos in a blaze of color, Bendian's creature torches the wannabes in its fiery wake. Jack Kirby (and, indeed, many of his costumed pals) would be proud.

About The Author

Sam Prestianni


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