Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

November 11, 2012

Jandek, “Atlanta Saturday” 2-cd set (Corwood 0809)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 11:38 am

JANDEK,   “ATLANTA SATURDAY”   2 cd set   (Corwood 0809)

2012 is turning out to be another excellent year for Jandek. I can’t comment on the various shows he’s done outside of Texas, but the Austin show was a revelation, the Houston “punk” show was totally unexpected and totally worked, MAZE OF THE PHANTOM (the latest Corwood studio release) was a fascinating excursion into exotica-tinged chamber-improv with wordless female vocals, and now comes ATLANTA SATURDAY, recorded live in early 2007, which can also be described as “chamber Jandek.”


Disc One:

Prelude (9:30)

Part One (10:22)

Part Two (09:58)

Part Three (13:22)

Part Four (13:46)

Disc Two:

Part Five (14:17)

Part Six (21:54)

Part Seven (11:23)

Part Eight (13:10)


The Representative from Corwood: piano, vocal

Seth Coon (bass clarinet),   Ana Balka (violin),   Kelly Shane (percussion)

recorded 17 February 2007, The  Academy of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia

In a sense, this album is perfectly timed: like the latest Corwood studio album,  MAZE OF THE PHANTOM (also a 2-cd set, $12 ppd. in the US, $13 overseas),  ATLANTA SATURDAY mines mostly spacious low-volume “Chamber Jandek”  territory, and like the recent performance at Mankato State University in Minnesota, Jandek is on piano.

It’s hard to make generalizations about Jandek’s large body of work (and now there’s an ever-growing body of live performances to consider too), but one generalization I’d make which is often true, and which is ESPECIALLY true when the Representative From Corwood is at the piano, is that traditional notions of time seem to stop, or to become irrelevant, and we are taken into an area that is beyond time–this is not music that’s headed somewhere, music where we pass signposts along the highway–it’s music that swirls within itself, music that investigates the ground on which it’s located, music that continuously consumes its own tail and re-emerges. Of course, many artists have attempted to redefine or go beyond time in their respective disciplines: in film, Andy Warhol in his silent, pre-Paul Morrissey work (which needs to be projected at the proper speed for the intended effect) or in his early sound films such as HORSE, where “time” is slowed down by any number of methods, and we the viewers are jostled out of our complacent attitude toward “time”…..or going back to the silent era, the Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer, whose deep compositions and sometimes glacial pace (in comparison with the work of his contemporaries) cause us to slow down our internal clocks and to start revelling in the texture of the moment, in the mise-en-scene; in music, everyone from Thelonious Monk to Captain Beefheart, and especially composers such as Morton Feldman or John Cage (and Cage’s “number pieces,” which were a large part of his later composing years, brought a radical new conception of time and of time-between-collaborators-in-performance). In fact, one of the biggest concerns of artists working in music or cinema in recent decades has been the redefinition of time. Anyone who has lived with Jandek’s  HELSINKI SATURDAY  (Corwood 0796, an album I’ve had on repeat for entire afternoons)  knows the feeling of how time seems to slow down and even stop, and begin circling, swirling, during that hour-long performance. For Atlanta Saturday, imagine a quartet with Jandek’s piano at the center, with a lot of space, and an elegant “drawing room” feel to the improvisations. It’s a pure music, with an astringent warmth, a music that suggests the first rays of sunlight on a new morning.

Many of the lyrics here—and this is a very strong, very poetic album—deal with loneliness and isolation: sometimes loneliness in being separated from someone the poet longs for, sometimes loneliness in a broader, existential sense. The “You” addressed could be a person, could be the universe, could be the deepest levels of the self. Jandek has always been a strong lyricist, going “in character” (as a method actor) into the deepest recesses of the psyche and challenging the self to take an unfazed look at the state of the self.

Many of the lyrics are recited here, as poetry, rather than “acted out in song,” as often happens with Jandek (although as the album proceeds, more pieces are gently sung). Here are a few sample lines—

There’s a place to sit and watch

things that aren’t really there

I thought I could crack through to you

but I don’t know if it’s me that is he

The shattered sense and broken time

that took apart the puzzle of man (me?)

I’ll sift the sands once more

and enter the picture like I do

not that these are totally typical, or the most memorable lines on the album—you need to hear it yourself. Taking lines out of context doesn’t capture the PROCESS of soul-searching of the speaker, the poet, and these lyrics seem to capture the PROCESS of self-definition, of making the existential decisions needed to proceed in the world. When I recently discussed Jandek’s lyrics as a guest on a radio documentary dedicated to his work broadcast on the Mankato State University radio station,  KMSU-FM, when Jandek recently played Mankato, Minnesota, I mentioned Samuel Beckett’s work as a kind of analogy to Jandek’s lyrics, the bare and primal existential poetic soliloquies about the most elemental aspects of existence and of ascribing meaning to existence. And that side of Jandek’s work is particularly strong here. With those deep and soul-searching lyrics in the midst of such deep and elegant music, you’ve got a combination that’s truly unique and truly satisfying artistically. It’s a shame it took 5 years for this performance to be released on Corwood (it was recorded in 2007) because I could have been enjoying this music for the last five years, but we’ve got it NOW, so get your copy NOW. This is an excellent entry point to Jandek’s musical and lyrical world. I can’t imagine anyone with an open mind and an eclectic music palate NOT being able to enter this world and also “get” what Jandek and crew are doing here. You are put into the perspective of the “outcast from civilization” (the title of this suite of pieces) inside each of us…


Please check out the many fine products offered from Corwood Industries, listed at

Unlike KSE, which issues home-burned cdr’s in home-printed sleeves (and thus has low overhead), Corwood Industries issues REAL professionally made CD’s, not cdr’s…that costs a lot of money, as those of you who run small labels know…and Corwood does 1000 of each release…if you really want to help Jandek and the Corwood aesthetic, buy A FEW releases from Corwood (or take the generous 50% discount on an order of 20 pieces or more)…that money will provide funds for Corwood to issue more Jandek recordings…don’t download them or get a friend to burn you a cdr…$8 for a single and $12 for a double POSTPAID IN THE USA is a great deal…

Music and arts writer Chad Radford, who attended this concert in 2007, kindly allowed me to share some pics he’d posted at his blog,  Please do not copy these photos without his permission. Thanks to Chad for these excellent shots, which really help to put you in the concert setting…


NOTE: an excellent seven-part documentary on Jandek and his body of work was broadcast on KMSU-FM in Mankato, Minnesota, in the Fall of 2012. I was interviewed for the series, and excerpts from my comments can be found on shows four and five:

show four:

show five:

If everyone who is reading this, who has SOME interest in Jandek, would buy at least THREE Jandek albums (which would be cheaper than going out to a movie with a date on Friday or Saturday night, for instance) , it would help the Corwood enterprise enormously. Jandek is doing a lot for us…and has for going on 35 years now. Let’s give something tangible back to him and to Corwood…and the albums you get back will provide hours if not days of fascination and satisfaction. Corwood albums I acquired 25+ years ago still sound fresh and as I continue to travel with The Rep on his artistic journey over the years, the earlier albums continue to re-blossom and to open up deeper levels of artistry and of wisdom.

Can’t wait to see what Corwood’s got up its corporate sleeve next…

1 Comment »

  1. Atlanta Saturday is a really beautiful album. I grabbed it per your post, and I am enjoying it a lot. Great stuff! I hope Corwood releases a recording of the concert that I attended in Davis, CA 2010. One of the best live music experiences of my life!

    Comment by Mark — December 6, 2012 @ 10:58 am | Reply

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