Border Crossings

Although Thursday's festivities contained not a whiff of neo-klez, they did fulfill Coleman's hints that the birthday party would be a raw spread, which would allow Coleman— who actually sat at Duke's feet as a teenager— to revel in less-trod minutiae of the master. So it was "Such Sweet Thunder" rather than "In a Mellow Tone," "Rumpus in Richmond" instead of Strayhorn's number about the IND. Roy Nathanson provided alto flutterings on the underplayed 1938 gem "Black Butterfly," and on a deconstructed "Love You Madly," Coleman made gleeful percussive splashes like a six-year-old needing a Ritalin fix. (He also chanted Ellington lyrics like a manic mantra.) Sure they flubbed some passages and missed some cues, but this Raw Ellington had such inspired freedom I asked Coleman if his brother's name was Ornette. — David Yaffe

Smooth Operator

Vaudeville for the mind: Red Fish Blue Fish performing at Sunday's Bang on a Can marathon
Hiroyuki Ito
Vaudeville for the mind: Red Fish Blue Fish performing at Sunday's Bang on a Can marathon

It's become fashionable to play "blame the parents," but in examining the sexily surreal worldview of alternate-universe electro-loungester Khan, you can't help but think the wheels were set in motion by loving folks who filled in a birth certificate with the name Can Oral. Since altering that spelling, Khan has released scads of offbeat singles— and even opened a store (Avenue B's Temple Records) to sell 'em. Most recently, the affable absurdist eclipsed Sigue Sigue Sputnik by selling advertising space on the cover of his new Matador album, 1-900-GET-KHAN (on which he's abetted by ethereal Twin Peaks diva Julee Cruise), to a variety of male escorts.

Have you tested out any of the advertisers on your cover, for quality-control purposes?

I haven't actually been to any of them, no. But as a rule, my advice is not to think the most expensive escort is the best. You should start in the mid-priced area and screw your way around to find what you like.

I understand that you'll be doing your own phone line in order to promote the album. What will that entail?

It will cost $2.99 a minute, and one line will have me doing these little updates on my life from wherever I am, in a bar or whatever, one line will be a party chat room, and one will have a professional phone operator. It's just a way for me to make some extra money through a hobby of mine.

Is 1-900-GET-KHAN a good soundtrack for sex?

Friends of mine who've tested it out tell me they're quite pleased. DJ Snacks, who's a very good friend, says it's the most fuckable album in his collection.

Where would you say you fall on the musical continuum?

Somewhere between Frank Sinatra and Laurie Anderson. What I do is sort of techno-cabaret, very improvised and sometimes very cheesy. Hopefully, it's very entertaining as well. I really want to be seen as an entertainer.

What should people expect from your upcoming show [Thursday at the Parkside Lounge]?

It depends on how much I've had to drink. I remember this one time at Lucky Cheng's, when this drag queen filled me up with liquor, I started doing karaoke and stopped doing the real words, just telling people that they were shit. This big midwestern guy jumped on me and started choking me until security threw him out. They say it was the biggest riot in Lucky Cheng's history.

And if you're sober?

Well, at least Julee will be there. She's twisted sexy, so it's bound to be okay when she's on. — David Sprague

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