You may remember Mark Deutsch from repeated airings of the PBS short series Expressions, which focuses on the achievements of the local arts community. Deutsch is the charismatic musician who spent several years and all of his money constructing the bazantar, a unique hybrid instrument marrying the upright bass to the sitar. He left town for San Francisco last fall, but PBS continues to air his episode -- and who can blame them? With his piercing gaze, guru aura and mathematically dizzying music, Deutsch and his bazantar make for compelling television. But the TV version of the bazantar doesn't really do justice to an instrument that is felt more than heard. Live, Deutsch conjures rolling thunderheads of sound that resonate inside your chest, raising hackles and inducing the same vertigo that presages summer downpours.
As if the unearthly sonic and psychic vibrations of the bazantar were not enticement enough, Deutsch and co-conspirator Eric Hall have assembled Massamalgam, an improvisational supergroup that includes trumpeter Roy Campbell and drummer Gary Sykes. Deutsch is well known for his ability to inspire his fellow players to great performances, and with the Ustad Alan Kushan (hammered dulcimer) and Michael Zerang (percussion) joining forces with Campbell, Sykes and Hall, the evening is ripe with the potential for beautiful, unforeseen moments. The return of Massamalgam provides an all-too-rare opportunity to have your third eye opened to the crucible of truth.