C'zar, Pale Soul and D-Madness (l-r) (Photo By Gary Miller)
Ice Cream SundayLudwig's, Jan. 11
It's become the norm for hip-hop beats to be constructed on turntables and samplers, primarily a function of scarce funding in inner-city school band programs. So where does a one-man rhythm machine, armed at once with bass, keyboard, and drums, fit into the hip-hop's cultural universe? While the Roots and studio producers Dr. Dre and DJ Quik maintain their own instrumentalism, Austin's Dwayne "D-Madness" Jackson crafts layered tracks that sound as legitimately hip-hop as anything created by Jay Dee or 9th Wonder. A Hip-Hop Humpday veteran, D-Madness' heavy riffing clashes with the jazzed-out flights of Michael C'zar's soprano saxophone and the beat science of Pale Soul. Behind the graffiti-art tributes to jazz icons decking the walls, Texas School for the Blind grad D-Madness added an intriguing chapter to Ludwig's weekly Ice Cream Sunday event, a regular Fourth Street forum for syncopated excursions into piecemeal beat construction. As D-Madness' army of one sets a groove in motion, Pale Soul instantly appropriates it into his own keyboard as a sequence of overlapping loops, which allows Madness to alternate between instruments, carrying the main theme through various permutations. As rolling bass turnarounds and rim shots galore merge with swirling chord progressions, C'zar chimes in on his sax, blowing glass waves of melodic mastery. The end result is a blissful concoction, with wide-open sounds ambitiously reaching for the skies of pedestrian imagination. Pulling together the influence of Steve Gadd, Larry Graham, Weldon Irvine, Branford Marsalis, and Madlib with the cohesion of a Stevie Wonder studio session, the Ice Cream Sunday trio is a force of versatility and grace. As Austin continues to come to terms with its rich tradition as a center for African-American music, there's nothing better than hearing shades of that glorious past being adopted among the postmodern practices of the present.