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Ellen W. Lytle
Whitney Live; Nick Didkovsky
Not since Yoko Ono took a hammer to a Ming vase, shattering it in hundreds of pieces in order to avenge the cancer that ravaged her college friend and cellist, Charlotte Moorman, has the Whitney Museum heard such a configuration of sound. But last month, composer, guitarist, and band leader/musician Nicholas Didkovsky jumped on the backs of three of his bands and led them to the Whitney’s downstairs cave breaking the silence of visual art.
We heard three distinctively different ensembles ranging from foot stumping country/western rock by 'Bone' to gorgeous Asian sounding, 'Sirius' to the venerable rock/ fusion, jazzier sounds of 'Dr.Nerve'. All three groups are conducted by Didkovsky who also plays lead guitar. His music combines the fury of rock n'roll' heavy metal with intricate compositions which shows up mostly in 'dr.nerve' which has been going strong for twenty four years. Didkovsky also teaches creative software technology at Columbia and NYU. He lives in Carnegie Hill with his wife Wendy Roberts a film technician and their two school age sons, Leo and Sasha who brought a coterie of schoolmates along with their parents.
The boys were busy filming while the whole of Yorkville seemed to be filing down the stairs sitting wherever there was a pocket sized bit of floor. As the evening progressed and darkness set in, passers by on Madison Avenue stopped to look down the sheet glass window onto a pond of people and a cacophony of musicians, many of them even prepared with flash cameras! The conviviality and colors of the crowd lent a surrealistic visual to the cold stone backdrop of the Whitney reminding me of a 21st century 'sixties' concert.
Didkovsky's composition is always radically wonderful and in 'Dr. Nerve' it's amazing how he knows just how to place intricate fusion with romantic swing every once in awhile. In tonight's 'Sirius' ensemble I imagine walls of tinseled glass raining down on silvery buttons; from a drone to a rhapsody the glass becomes a window and the window watches winter burning under a frost; melting onto downy hills breathing a dance darkly into silhouette.
The differences of the three are palpable. 'Nerve' seeds the ground with a thousand crickets or flesh eating horns that rip through an afternoon tide like a tornado sending sound that boomerangs like a jar of jelly beans exploding in a pitcher of orange juice. And the new 'Dr. Nerve' can fill an ocean. It's fat and shinny maybe fuller
yet leaner (full of oxymorons) but I miss some of the old lapses, the ranginess which usually led to somewhere unplanned.
Didkovsky though, blazes 'Bone' on uncharted trails as if they are climbing high chaparrals on horseback then dipping down onto streams laced with crystal and rock. These three pieces; guitar, drums and bass practically blow
the roof off of the Whitney and in the end, with or without horses, they build cliffs high and wide enough to mount every rock on every slope and cover every inch of raw rim.
Lately I find that even a rock concert (usually without vocals) can lead you onto a wide screen of images and can anyone dispute the exciting poetry marvelous music yields.
The band members are; 'Dr.Nerve'; Yves DuBoin sax, Leo Ciesa drums, Rob Henke trumpet, Jesse Krakow bass, Kathy Supova keyboards, Ben Harrington trombone, Michael Lytle clarinet and Nick Didkovsky electric guitar.
'Bone'; Hugh Hopper bass, John Roulat drums, Nick Didkovsky electric guitar.
'Sirius' string quartet; Rachel Golub violin, Ron Lawrence viola, Judy Redhage cello, and Tom Chiu violin.
Reviewed by Ellen Lytle / March 15, 2008
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