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Robin Rimbaud

Most of you are probably familiar with the notion of “found sound” compositions; that is, recorded or sampled bits of everyday audio reconfigured and presented as a new and—one hopes—cohesive sonic entity. Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner), who will appear at RPI on Wednesday, takes that practice a bit further: His compositions are less found sound than stolen sound, as he’s a little more aggressive in his collection techniques. His nickname, Scanner, in fact, comes from the cell-phone scanner he uses to snatch conversational fragments out of the ether. Those of you cell-reliant types who find the prospect of any public performance of artwork containing traces of your own “private” chats a little off-putting may not be surprised to hear that Rimbaud’s got another nickname: the “telephone terrorist.”

Privacy issues notwithstanding, Rimbaud’s collages have garnered the enthusiastic attention of the new-music crowd, both the mobs and the mavens. He has toured with DJ Spooky, performed with Laurie Anderson, contributed to albums by Bryan Ferry and Combustible Edison, worked with visual artist Mike Kelly; and he counts among his fans none other than modern-classical titan Karlheinz Stockhausen, who has said, “He is very experimental because he is searching in a realm of sound which is not usually used for music... he has a good sense of atmosphere.”

On Wednesday (Jan. 21) at RPI’s West Hall (Sage Avenue, Troy), Rimbaud will perform 52 Spaces, a work combining improvised music with still imagery culled from the films of Michelangelo Antonioni. The performance is free. For more information, call 276-4778.

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well & Living in Paris

When the revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well & Living in Paris debuted in Greenwich Village in 1968, few people knew the irony of the title: Yes, the enormously popular Belgian-born singer and composer was at that time living in Paris, but he would soon leave for the Marquesas Islands to continue his battle against the lung cancer that would kill him 10 years later. In retrospect, the title seems an almost superstitious invocation of protection for the beloved entertainer. The revue would go on to be one of the most popular and longest-running off-Broadway productions in history; and the production being mounted by Capital Repertory Theatre, we’re told, is the “number one Subscriber Survey choice.” Everybody loves Jacques.

From Frank Sinatra to Celine Dion, Terry Jacks to Tom Jones, crooners have paid homage to Brel by covering his compositions (either the direct translations of the lyrics into English by the revue’s co-authors, Eric Blau and Mort Shuman, or the looser, more impressionistic versions by ’60s poet Rod McKuen). And, more broadly, artists like David Bowie and Leonard Cohen have incorporated much of Brel’s theatrical blend of sophistication and doom into their own styles. His songs hit all the high points, as Capital Rep points out: “Brel deals with the social morality of war, drugs and sex, pain and death, understanding, healing and love...”

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well & Living in Paris opened yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 14) and runs through Feb. 8 at Capital Repertory Theatre (111 N. Pearl St., Albany). Tickets for the performances are $29-$36. For show times and reservations, call 445-7469.

Odetta

Odetta is an American musical icon. Her strong, expressive voice and dedication to the folk and blues traditions have influenced a couple of generations of performers, from Bob Dylan to Cassandra Wilson. The Alabama-born, California-raised singer came out of the 1950s New York folk scene, and has been going strong ever since. Recent albums have found her delving deep into the blues, and honoring the legacy of the legendary Leadbelly. (Well, she’s actually been doing both for most of her career—but her commitment and enthusiasm have never waned.)

As a Down Beat critic wrote, “she uses her sweeping, dramatic voice to uncover layers of heartache and contentment in lyrics that few other singers could get at.”

Odetta will perform two shows tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 16) at 7 and 9:30 PM at the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady). Tickets are $20. For reservations and information, call 381-1111.


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