NuVoid Jazz


Nashville Scene

As members of punk-jazz group UYA (aka Upstanding Young Americans), pianist Rodger Coleman, drummer Sam Byrd and their bandmates made a righteous racket in the nightclubs of Boston and New York City in the early ’90s. UYA’s version of Sun Ra’s “Dancing Shadow” can be heard on the Sun Ra tribute record Wavelength Infinity (which also features tracks by The Residents, Travis Shook, and Eugene Chadbourne and Jimmy Carl Black, to name a few). Coleman now lives in Kingston Springs with his wife and works as a paralegal, but he’s gotten back into music recently. When Byrd, who now lives in Richmond, Va., comes to visit his wife’s family in Nashville, the two musicians get together to whoop up some improvisational mayhem at Coleman’s home studio. On the duo’s recordings at, you can hear Sun Ra’s influence, as well as Cecil Taylor and even the Grateful Dead — Coleman’s blog NuVoid reveals his love for the Dead (among many other bands), and you can hear faint echoes of Europe ’72 ’s “Prelude” on Coleman/Byrd tracks such as “For the Sake Of” and “Divide By Zero.” This installment of Zeitgeist’s Indeterminacies series will be hosted by Blair School of Music professor Stan Link.


Pianist Rodger Coleman and drummer Sam Byrd's collaboration is an energetic and succinct recording. Clocking in at a mere 35 minutes, there is not a scrap of waste on Indeterminate (Improvizations for Piano and Drums).

Captured live at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Nashville, near where pianist Coleman is based, Indeterminate is a vibrant document of the collaboration between Coleman and Byrd, who have worked together in other combinations in Boston and New York. This concert recording is captured nicely, you can hear the attack of the percussion balanced with the fury of the piano; it's dense music, but not without space. 

Coleman's playing has elements of Cecil Taylor's approach, like in the percussive tonal clusters and strong rhythmic drive, all connected by tight melodic runs. Byrd, who seems to have integrated a rubber duck into his kit and is not shy about squeezing it, gives Coleman more than enough support to build on. Or, maybe it's the other way around, where Coleman's intensity provides Byrd with space to explore and rhythmic ideas to push around. 

Towards the end of the short recording, Coleman works over and over a small melodic invention, and suddenly, sprinkles in some musical quotes. It's a wonderment how a quick refrain from St. Thomas sticks out, like a shiny object in the musical maelstrom. Overall, the music is exciting and the relative brevity of the recording is a strong point too, not letting the music run out of steam. An enjoyable listen.

RATING: ***1/2