After spending eight years in the Kronos Quartet, many were surprised when cellist Jeffrey Zeigler left Kronos - ostensibly one of the highest-profile gigs in the world - last year and moved back to NYC. At the time, Zeigler said that he was motivated by the desire to spend more time with his family - he and his wife, composer Paola Prestini, are raising their young son in Williamsburg - and to pursue "various solo projects and collaborations" that he couldn't manage while touring with Kronos (such as this joint with Hauschka and Samuli Kosminen last summer.)
The fruit of those collaborations were on display last night at le Poisson Rouge, where Zeigler performed tracks from his debut solo album, Something of Life, set to be released next week on both Innova and Vision Into Art Records. Performing with percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum Zeigler's set was performed straight through, virtually without pause. Behind them were projected a series of visuals, including an phantasmagoric video by S. Katy Tucker set to Prestini's Listen, Quiet. (Less impressive was Tucker's Etch-a-Sketch-type drawing that accompanied Felipe Perez Santiago's percussive Glaub)
Using a battery of looping pedals and electronics, Zeigler gave a dynamic performance that included everything from Philip Glass' slow, somber Orbit, to John Zorn's wild, manic Babel, during which Zeigler plucked a short baton stuck in his strings. (I arrived late and missed Gity Razaz's haunting, otherworldly Shadow Lines.) But, the centerpiece was the album's title track: an extended, atmospheric work by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche in five movements. Ziegler played over field recordings Kotche made while he was on tour, from destinations as widespread as Perth, Australia and Denver, Colorado. Showing some theatricality at the end, Zeigler and Rosenbaum packed their gear, put on their coats and walked out the stage door. (Yes, they came back for curtain calls.)
More pics on the photo page.