kitty brazelton bandleader DADADAH life goes onsound










where we've been




staged dramas





Kitty Brazelton first convened DADADAH in autumn 1989, for a dance concert by Rebecca Romero at Columbia Teachers' College. The idea was to have a flexible yet compact orchestra able to perform more elaborate and exacting compositions than her four-piece, hard-rocking Hide the Babies was capable of. Dadadah was conceived as an occasional group, but it soon won a vast amount of Kitty's attention, even though she was completing her DMA in composition from Columbia University, teaching for Lincoln Center Institute and had recently moved from the Upper West Side to the East Village to live with her soon-to-be husband, Howard Mandel.

Kit's drama of romantic triangulation "Snow White" and proto-feminist anti-war "The Night Is Mine" were circulating as Dadadah demos by mid '90, and the band honed its unique "comprovisational" repertoire (such as the "Textures I-V") in gigs at the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe and the Knitting Factory; she was writing all the time, Kitty became pregnant with Rosalis Moon Mandel in August '91; during her third trimester, Dadadah finished recording Rise Up! at New York City's famed Baby Monster studio and Kit mixed with Bryce Goggin (Rosie kicked along in utero). The band took no real break for the birth: it played on Diedre Murray's Firewall Festival at the NYC City Center YWCA on a bill with Craig Harris's Tailgator's. Three-week-old Rosie was there.

But finding gigs for a nine-piece band became a hassle, and in part to address Dadadah's need to perform frequently, Kitty established the Real Music Series at the newly opened CB's Gallery. The Series was a regular Sunday afternoon music party in spring and fall, '93, hosting diverse emerging artists of all descriptions (including multi-media and movement works). Besides playing its growing repertoire, Dadadah took on special compositions by far-flung friends including Eve Beglarian, Maura Bosch, Marie McAuliffe and Diedre Murray as well as day- or evening-long tributes to Sun Ra (on the day of his death) and John Cage.

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Rise Up! was released on Accurate Records in 1994---a full three years after its inception---and received glowing reviews (the Boston Phoenix called it "debut of the year") concurrent with Dadadah's forays to New England (including the Middle East club in Cambridge) and the Midwest---Minneapolis, Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago (in spring '95, where they appeared opposite Ken Vandermark's quartet at HotHouse). Inspired by that tour, Kit wrote all new Dadadah material in a burst, and embarked almost immediately on recording (and then shopping to the adventurous few among current record company execs) Love Not Love Lust Not Lust.

Of course, she'd been busy with other projects all this time, too: a recording of new and unusual American chamber music for her quintet Bog Life; compositions for the piano duo Double Edge, for violist Martha Mooke, guitarist Jeffrey Schanzer and pianist Bernadette Speach, for Manhattan Brass Quintet, twisted tutu, and Absolute Ensemble's orchestra; realizations of computer pieces at Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center; establishment of Hildegurls, the quartet that created an electric version of Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum, and the digital-punk trio What Is It Like to Be A Bat? and also producing the first Women's Avant Fest in Chicago.

To regularize Dadadah's schedule and to play more frequently than even a favorable Knit-Fac rotation allowed, the band began its two-year residency at CBGB's Downstairs Lounge under clubowner Hilly Kristal's punk-rock aegis---a space it baptized, playing first Monday of every month starting in November 1997, with guest stars including Butch Morris, Elektra Curtis, Bob Stewart, Judi Silvano, Kathy Supové, Eve Beglarian, Christine Bard and Judith Sainte-Croix, and DJ Firehorse. As word spread of the rowdy music and warm scene, Dadadah attracted a curious, international audience, and finally connected with Angelo Verploegen of the ambitious Dutch firm Challenge/A-/Buzz Records. Love Not Love Lust Not Lust was released in Europe in May 1999, and in the U.S. (distributed by Eurojazz/Allegro) late in the summer.

The band has undergone considerable evolution during its 10 years, although it maintains an indelible personality. Trombonist Chris Washburne remains as an anchor from its first incarnation, while the french horn and alto sax responsibilities have been passed along, respectively, from Andris Ritenis to Tom Varner to Tracy Turner to Tom Varner to Lydia Van Dreel to Mark Taylor (who also plays with Max Roach); from Danny Weiss to Briggan Krause to Phillip Johnston to Michaël Attias. Guitarist Chris Tso, explosive on Dadadah's earliest recordings, was followed by the extraordinary Hui Cox, who's remained a close friend even as Rolf Sturm has been inducted into the band. Several fine drummers have driven Dadadah, starting with Jim Pugliese, including Ed Ware, Todd Turkisher, Dane Richeson, Grisha Alexiev, Owen Howard, and currently David Rozenblatt. Original harpist Elizabeth Panzer still guests with the band, though Park Stickney has been regular harpist since '95. Martha Colby is the long-time cellist, having replaced Mary Wooten, though Madison's Matt Turner filled in for Martha on LNLLNL because she was being married. Bassist Mat Fieldes followed the deep groove established by Roland S. Wilson who followed Ed Broms and Eunice Holland. Many other fine musicians have temporarily subbed for an otherwise-occupied bandmember---pianists Kathy Supové and Myra Melford, bassist Chris Wood of Medesky-Martin-&- fame and drummer Rashied Ali for a few (see Dadadah Incarnations). And who else will turn up with the band remains to be seen!

Dadadah's next move was to up the ante on its performance style by moving from the casual ambiance of CB's Downstairs to the posh surroundings of Joe's Pub at the Public Theater. We had a full house --- great crowd, and Kitty outdid herself, if we may say so, in a most revealing turn. The band returned to Chicago to perform at HotHouse on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1999, and then took its show "Kitty Brazelton in 3D!!!", directed by Valeria Vasilevski, to HERE's CultureMart 2000 on January 7 and 8, 2000---scheduled partly as a showcase for attendees of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) convention. Further performances in Boston, Washington D.C., and Europe are in the planning stages. A third CD is in the air, as Kitty braces herself for another bout of Dadadah composition, intensive rehearsals and self-recording.

Over a decade, the band has proved its staying power, even though its trans-genre approach and sheer size remains daunting to conventional commercial record companies and venues. Hell with that---the listeners and musicians dig it. Dadadah is the orchestra of the future, now!


"Art-rock, rock-jazz, grunge and free-jazz improvisation...alluring and fascinating...axiomatic and natural."—

"A wild-eyed sense of irony and reality combined with angst and sensual repose...many 'wow's!' during this totally engaging recording."—All Music Guide

"To call it art rock would be a cheat: Brazelton traverses jazz textures, improvisation, rock guitar, and pop and art-song conventions."--- Boston Phoenix.

"Smart, eclectic, futuristic boogie, her music knits together art rock, art song and free jazz improv in the best tradition of the brawny-but-brainy downtown style." ---New York Press

"Brazelton's voice is as chameleonic as the music, spanning the pop and rock spectrum from Lydia Lunch to Patsy Cline to Joan Jett." --- John Corbett, Chicago Reader.

"[Dadadah's] Rise Up might be just the thing to wake up your ears and your imagination. The rewards are manifold...incredibly disparate elements in an exciting whole." ---Cadence

"A genre bender if there ever was one...some of New York's finest performers." ---Axcess

"An ear-opening mixture of rock, jazz and contemporary classical, dramatic, moody and compelling."--- Isthmus (Madison, WI)

"Music that delves into the psyche." ---The Cleveland Free Times


Media contact/Review Materials: Braithwaite & Katz


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© 2001, Catherine Bowles Brazelton.