When is a fiddle tune not a fiddle tune? When it’s free jazz.
A new, as-yet-unnamed trio featuring Sten Isachsen (mandolin), Mat Kane (fiddle) and Michael Bisio (bass) made its debut at Valentine’s Music Hall on Tuesday night as part of Dan Johnson’s remarkable Americana Tuesdays series. Usually the program leans towards songwriters and rocking roots bands, but Isachsen’s combo went way outside, warping chestnuts like “June Apple” and “Kitchen Girl” into something more akin to Ornette Coleman than Eck Robertson.
Essentially the performance was a seamless half hour of music, with a snatch of melody (“a piece of candy,” as Isachsen later said) being thrown out between great wedges of improvised sound. Occasionally, as will happen with improv, the trio went down a blind alley – watching them find their way out was as much fun as any other part of the brief show.