With the death of an artist, there is, perhaps predictably, a flourish of online activity to commemorate the said artist. Billy Bang was no exception. About a dozen concert recordings have turned up and among them, I thought this one carried a special significance. This was the Vietnam Aftermath band, largely composed of members who had shared the experience of serving in Vietnam in their youth. For Bang and his ex-combatants, the project offered a chance to work with and work through the emotional demons generated by serving in a war that never was popular and ended in defeat. As with war experiences in general, what happened often remained unsaid unless one marshalled the courage to deal with it, personally or therapeutically in company with others.
For his and his co-musicians, Bang wrote up eight tunes that in various ways captured the Vietnam war reality. Motives from Asian music are mixed in with familiar jazz idioms, for instance in the theme of the opening track which also is the first off on this concert recording. We'll get to hear five pieces off the Vietnam aftermath cd, and as the band was called back for an encore, we'll get a sixth, Bien Hoa Blues. As Bang lived in Germany on and off, he gave a shot at introducing the band and himself in German as well.
This aftermath cd was followed up by Vietnam Reflections, though without Frank Lowe, who had died in the meantime and he later went on to collaborate with Vietnamese musicians. All in all, a very positive hour, and a proof that music can be life-affirming, in the case of Billy Bang, a deep truth and not a cliche.
Don't forget to pick up Billy Bang cds, many of which are still in print!
For further info, including the background for these tunes, check this source:
Billy Bang - vietnam aftermath
August 23 2002
Saalfelden JF, A
Billy Bang v
John Hicks p
Curtis Lundy b
Frank Lowe ts
James Zollar tp
Michael Carvin dr
01 BB ann/Yo! Ho Chi Minh Is In The House 12.00
02 BB ann/Tunnel rat 9.06
03 BB ann/Moments For Kiamia 11.33
04 BB ann/Fire in the hole 7.48
05 BB ann/Saigon phunk 9.18
06 Band Introduction 1.31
07 Bien Hoa blues 9.30