Last night in the wine bar of Manhattan’s Gild Hall hotel, warm yellow light from a brushed-metal chandelier fell gently onto Jena Malone and Lem Jay Ignacio. Together they’re better known as The Shoe, the name of a Rube Goldberg-like instrument Malone performs with during their set: an old steamer trunk opened and filled with electronic music equipment. Malone, known primarily for her acting, has a sweetly high-pitched yet elegant and haunting voice that sounds like it should be coming out of a 1920s phonograph. Coupled with Ignacio’s thoughtful work on the keyboard and electric piano, the duo creates improvisational music experiments (tap shoes and looper pedals are only the beginning) heavily influenced by early folk and jazz traditions. The crowd, informally gathered in the round, listened in silence and awe as the two improvised songs from a random book chosen by an audience member from the hotel’s library and a letter sent to Malone by a 17-year-old fan, among others.
The Shoe (Jena Malone and Lem Jay Ignacio) @ Gild Hall, July 9, 2014
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