Dave Schools, J Mascis, Nels Cline, Thurston Moore and Friends Celebrate 50 Years of the Jazzmaster
In 1958, Fender introduced the Jazzmaster guitar as an alternative to its Telecaster and Stratocaster models, and the axe has come in and out of fashion over the years, making its biggest waves in the surf, garage-pop and alternative music scenes. On Friday Fender celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Jazzmaster with an all-star concert at New Yorks Knitting Factory. The night featured several show performances by noted Jazzmaster guitarists, most of whom blurred the line between alternative and avant-garde. The evening began with a short set by Fender favorites, Long Island-based Edison Glass, before Television guitarist Tom Verlaine took the stage for an instrumental performance with his longtime collaborator, guitarist Jimmy Ripp. The friends played a short, melodic set that recalled Verlaines experimental solo work more than Televisions mixture of punk and jam. In addition to being a member of The Beat, Ripp played with Verlaine in a latter day incarnation of Television.
Next up, Sonic Youth guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo took the stage for a single, 17-minute noise jam that relied heavily on Sonic Youths trademark feedback, but left much of the crowd disappointed. Wilco guitarist Nels Cline then brought the rooms noise level back to a whisper, offering a freeform, completely improvised duet with live performance painter Norton Wisdom. The mixed-media artists actually have a side-project together known as Stained Radiance, where Cline improvises off of Wisdoms paintings instead of vise-versa.
The night ended with a hard-rock performance by Dinosaur Jr. leader J Mascis, a musician who has his own signature Jazzmaster model. For this performance the alt-rock guitarist was joined by Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools and drummer Kyle Spence, with whom Mascis toured with as the Fog a number of years ago. In certain respects, the night also served as a swan song for the Knitting Factory itself, which will close its doors later this year and reopen across the East River in Brooklyn in 2009.