b there or b square 2/19/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Paul Jubong Lee Trio w. Daniel Durst, Diego Maldonado ▲ Elisabeth Lohninger Trio w. Walter Fischbacher, Marco Panascia
Birdland Linda Purl ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Roy Hargrove
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Salute to Vinicius de Moraes & Baden Powell feat. The Afro Sambas Ensemble & Andres Laprida
Cornelia St. Cafe Ryan Slatko Trio w. Ben Tiberio, Mike Piolet
Dizzy’s Julian Bliss Septet: A Tribute to Benny Goodman w. Martin Shaw, Lewis Wright, Neal Thornton, Colin Oxley, Tim Thornton, Ed Richardson
The Django Bill Dobrow ▲ David Johansen
Fat Cat Osso String Quartet ▲ George Braith Band ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Ron Blake & Marc Cary ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Minton’s Young Lions Series: Steve Nelson Quartet w. Alec Safy, Mike Camacho
Rockwood Music Hall Lior Milliger Quartet with Nitzan Gavrieli, Arnon Palty, Ronen Itzik [III]

Rue B Orion Turre Quartet
Smalls Joe Martin Quartet w. Mark Turner, Kevin Hays, Nasheet Waits ▲ Ari Hoenig Trio w. Chico Pinheiro, Eduardo Belo ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Subculture Nadje Noordhuis/James Shipp ▲ Nadje Noordhuis Quintet
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield, Vic Juris and guest Sheryl Bailey
55 Bar Mike Stern


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Locobeach
Bar Lunático Gilad Hekselman’s GHEX Trio w. Rick Rosato, Jonathan Pinson
Bushwick Public House Elijah Shiffer, Stan Zenkoff, Sam Day Harmet ▲ Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewen ▲Brian Groder Quartet ▲ Sarah Bernstein, Ryan Ferreira, Jeremy Carlstedt ▲ Anna Webber, Yuma Uesaka, Edward Gavitt, Shawn Lovato, Colin Hinton
Three’s Brewing Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Moppa Elliott, Ron Stabinsky, Kevin Shea ▲ Brian Adler’s Shankar


National Jazz Museum Kevin Sun Trio w. Walter Stinson, Matt Honor

see rest of the week…

Dave Stryker Quartet at Smalls 2/16/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Dave Stryker

PERSONNEL: Dave Stryker (guitar), Bob Mintzer (tenor saxophone), Jared Gold (organ), McClenty Hunter (drums)

SET LIST: Blues Strut (Stryker), Pusherman (Mayfield), Thaddeus (Mintzer), Everything Happens to Me (Dennis), Shadow Boxing (Stryker)

HIGHLIGHTS: The quartet’s arrangement of Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” allowed each soloist space to create and explore while maintaining the spirit and vibe of the original.

Dave Stryker’s trio with Jared Gold and McClenty Hunter has been together since Hunter joined the group in 2010. They have performed and recorded regularly including their most recent record Strykin Ahead, which featured vibraphonist Steve Nelson. The organ trio has been an important part of Stryker’s musical history:

I grew up listening to records by Grant Green with Larry Young, Jimmy Smith, etc. I was fortunate to play 2 years with the great Jack McDuff and ten years with Stanley Turrentine.

This night at Smalls, the trio was joined for a rare New York appearance from tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer. The evening opened with Stryker’s hard-grooving shuffle “Blues Strut.” Stryker’s solo was patiently developed, beautifully combining soulful melodies with well-placed harmonic substitutions. Mintzer’s improvisation had a similar alteration of blues and superimposed harmony, which he sang out with his compact, Joe Henderson-esque tone. Gold dug in with a rich wash of melody and harmony underpinned by his relentlessly swinging left-hand bass. Throughout the tune, Hunter’s deep shuffle groove was punctuated by perfectly placed accents and hits.

Mintzer’s medium-swing “Thaddeus” was a tribute to Thad Jones and a contrafact on Jones’ “The Groove Merchant.” Hunter and Gold laid down a warm and relaxed groove for Mintzer’s tight, gospel-like melody. Mintzer’s solo combined punchy, rhythmic figures with harmonically daring lines. Stryker swung particularly hard with an improvisation full of blues and bop. The quartet’s interpretation of “Everything Happens To Me” beautifully captured the melancholy mood of the song. Stryker began with an unaccompanied introduction. Mintzer then danced through the melody with sensitivity and imagination and was answered by a half-chorus solo from Stryker. Mintzer reentered on the bridge, gradually returning to the melody in the last A before arriving at his cadenza, which balanced virtuosity with lyricism.

The set closed with Stryker’s “Shadow Boxing”, a fast-moving piece punctuated by heavily-syncopated hits at the end of the form. It featured concise and powerful solos from all four musicians, confirming their commitment to melody, swing, and the blues.

— by Jeff McGregor

Mary Halvorson’s Reverse Blue at the Stone 2/4/18 (by Caroline Davis)


PERSONNEL: Mary Halvorson (guitar), Chris Speed (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Eivind Opsvik (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums)

SET LIST: Reverse Blue (Halvorson), Torturer’s Reverse Delight (Halvorson), Echinochloa (Halvorson), Rebel’s Revue (Opsvik), Insomniac’s Delight (Fujiwara), Resting on Laurels (Opsvik), Really OK (Speed), Back Down Slowly (Halvorson)

HIGHLIGHTS: I was brought back to my youthful angst with Mary’s “Torturer’s Reverse Delight” which started with some interweaving madrigal-esque melodies which transformed into a grunge rock solo section, over which both Chris and Mary slayed.

I caught Mary on the last day of her weeklong residency at the Stone in the East Village on a rainy Superbowl Sunday. Although a larger portion of the tunes were by Halvorson, Reverse Blue is a true collaborative effort. (Collaborative bands seem to be more and more common in New York.)

Their namesake tune connected its melody through funk to a light waltz to a bouncy swing and back again. Mary runs the gamut of styles and grooves in all her music. The band ventured into open territory during Mary’s solo, and then miraculously returned home again, ending with a darling clarinet trill.

Chris Speed is generous on both clarinet and tenor. In “Echinochloa,” he included a wide warble in his already beautiful tone, which complemented the laconic energy of the piece. There was a nice moment between Opsvik and Speed, where they both pressed into a note at the same time and their sounds folded into each other. The song ended with an open bass solo, pulsing and driving without being overly aggressive.

“Resting on Laurels” offered lots of interlocking rhythms in the meat of the piece, but then retreating to a beautiful cloud of texture (bells, clarinet exasperations, bowed bass frenzies, pointillistic delayed guitar statements) that led back to a shorter version of the melody and a quick halt.

Tomas’s drumming offers a terrain outside the realm of the day-to-day. He is sensitive to the timbral and pocket needs of a piece, but he’s also a catalyst. Like all the other members of Reverse Blue, he pushes the band to heights not yet reached. Seeking the new is a common thread that ties these four musicians together.

by Caroline Davis

Miguel Zenón at The Village Vanguard 2/11/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Miguel Zenón (alto saxophone), Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass), Henry Cole (drums)

SET LIST: Quitate de la Via Perico (Rivera), Las Tumbas (Rivera), Ciclo (Zenón), Sangre De Mi Sangre (Zenón), Las Ramas (Zenón)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Henry Cole’s playing throughout the night was inspiring. He plays with a sensitive touch, without losing the full dynamics of the drumset. And by emphasizing the ‘big beat,’ he makes even the most complex rhythmic structures feel like 4/4, while also catching every intricacy of Zenón’s compositions with accurate subdivisions.


Zenón started the set with his arrangements of two songs by the Puerto Rican Salsa singer and composer, Ismael Rivera. On “Perico” he took only the minimum from the original song, utilizing a few simple riffs as jumping-off points for extended improvisations and his signature polyrhythmic, multi-meter inventions. “Las Tumbas” began with a more standard treatment, a lyrical solo by Perdomo giving way to an honest recitation of the melody by Zenón, before transitioning into a high-energy revamp of the original song’s introduction. A third section in 6/8 served as a solo form for the saxophone. In his solos, Zenón puts on display his piercingly beautiful tone and purposeful dexterity.

The band demonstrated their ability to flawlessly execute their leader’s most involved rhythmic structures when needed, but never overemphasized any specific motif. Both Glawischnig and Cole can confidently mark the more complex forms and hits without sounding confined. By extrapolating away from prescribed hits and playing over the bar-lines, they created a very free environment for improvisation without ever losing their bearings. Perdomo’s sparse and sometimes non-existent comping contributed to this open feeling, which gave way to more clear structures only at critical pre-orchestrated moments. The arrangements and compositions were geared towards improvisation, but featured diverse sections often with different solos happening over different forms, and with functional transitions between sections and songs.

Zenon ended the set with “Las Ramas” from his most recent album, Típico, a slowly-paced melody juxtaposed by constant metric modulations in the rhythm section. The song concluded with a drum solo over a syncopated vamp marked by the whole band, a concise thesis statement for the evening.

by Kazemde George

b there or b square 2/12/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Jonah Udall Trio w. Steve Williams, Noah Becker ▲Beat Kaestli Trio w. Pete McCann, Gary Wang
Birdland Kooman & Dimond ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note McCoy Tyner w. Special Guests
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Cornelia St. Cafe Dave Juarez “Stories” w. Max Zooi, Albert Marquez, Marty Isenberg, Eric Reeves
Dizzy’s Juilliard Jazz Ensembles
Fat Cat Jarod Kashkin ▲ Ned Goold Quartet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Flatiron Room Blue Plate Special
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Micah Thomas w. Dean Torrey, Kyle Benford ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rockwood Music Hall Wayne Tucker and the Bad Motha’s [I] ▲ Campilongo After Dark! Jim Campilongo Trio w. Chris Morrissey, Kenny Wollesen [II]

Rue B Carlos Homs Trio
Smalls Kevin Hays/Mark Turner/Marc Miralta Trio ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Michel
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Wishing on Stars ▲ Alan Kwan Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield, Vic Juris and guest Tony Purrone
55 Bar Jim Ridl ▲ Leni Stern Band w. Mamadou Ba, Alioune Faye


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Los Cumpleanos
Bar Lunático Kulik & Voltzok Group w. Hila Kulik, Yonatan Voltzok, Vince Ector, Barry Stephenson
Bushwick Public House Hillai Govreen Segal, Santiago Leibson, Kenneth Jimenez, Rodrigo Recabarren ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Patricia Brennan, Juanma Trujillo, Zach Swanson, Léonor Falcon, Noel Brennan ▲ Eric Plaks, Don Chapman, Zach Swanson, Kolja Gjoni ▲ Sandy Ewen, Michelle Yom, Paul Feitzinger
Shapeshifter Lab Rafael Piccolotto de Lima Chamber Project with Hadar Noiberg, Alejandro Aviles, Remy Le Boeuf, Stuart Mack, Patti Kilroy, Delaney Stöckli, Pedro Vizzarro Vallejos, Susan Mandel, Glauco Lima, Vitor Gonçalves, Eduardo Belo, Mauricio Zottarelli ▲ Brooklyn College Jazz


City Winery Al DiMeola

see rest of the week…

Pete Zimmer trio at Smalls 2/8/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Pete Zimmer

PERSONNEL: Pete Zimmer (drums), George Garzone (tenor saxophone), Peter Slavov (bass)

SET LIST:  Improvisation #1 (Zimmer, Garzone, Slavov), Peace (Silver), I Love You (Porter), Improvisation #2 (Zimmer, Garzone, Slavov), Billie’s Bounce (Parker)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Garzone’s robust yet sensitive interpretation of “Peace” was captivating.

Pete Zimmer’s association with George Garzone began at the New England Conservatory of Music playing duo in Zimmer’s weekly lessons. During that time, Zimmer would occasionally sub in Garzone’s legendary trio The Fringe. This was an invaluable experience for Zimmer:

Some of the most powerful musical experiences I ever had were playing in between George and John Lockwood when I was 21/22 years old. There was a total feeling of freedom and it was very liberating.

Although they play more tunes and forms than the Fringe, Zimmer’s trio with Garzone and Slavov takes a similar approach:

We generally don’t talk much about the music before we play. We keep it as natural, organic, and as fresh as possible, always listening, interacting, and allowing things to go any direction at any time.

The extended free improvisation that opened the set illustrated this approach. Zimmer began with a hard-swinging up-tempo solo that led into a duo with Garzone firmly in the Coltrane/Jones tradition. Slavov eventually joined with a pulsing bass line that increased the music’s simmering intensity. After a round of trading between Zimmer and Garzone, the music shifted to a loose medium swing. In perfect contrast to his earlier solo, Garzone delivered long, relaxed melodies punctuated by dense Trane-like flourishes. Later in the set, the trio stretched out with another open improvisation. Garzone began with slow, searching pentatonic melodies buoyed by Zimmer’s rolling mallets. Slavov followed with with a dense and earthy solo that reminded me of Jimmy Garrison.

Another important source for Zimmer is Joe Henderson’s Village Vanguard recordings with Ron Carter and Al Foster. As he explained,

Obviously our trio has a different vibe, but their openness and interaction is something to aspire to.

The group’s interpretation of “I Love You” illustrated this connection. Garzone’s solo danced through the form alternating between weaving chromatic lines and Rollins-like motivic development. Slavov and Zimmer explored the space around Garzone’s tenor lines providing both support and dialogue.

The set closed with a spirited interpretation of “Billie’s Bounce.” After a concise statement from Garzone, Slavov dug into a walking solo full of creativity and harmonic nuance. Zimmer followed with an authoritative and hard-swinging solo. While the group maintains many of the familiar traditions of the tenor trio, these conventions never inhibit a sense of freedom and discovery.

— by Jeff McGregor

Gilad Hekselman Trio + Mark Turner at Smalls Jazz Club 1/31/18 (by Jeff McGregor)


PERSONNEL: Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Mark Turner (tenor saxophone), Rick Rosato (bass), Jonathan Pinson (drums)

SET LIST 1: It Will Get Better (Hekselman), Tokyo Cookie (Hekselman), Stumble (Hekselman), Cheryl (Parker), Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So (Hekselman)

SET LIST 2: Verona (Hekselman), Clap Clap (Hekselman), My Ideal (Whiting/Robin/Chase), Home To You (Hekselman)

HIGHLIGHTS: The night closed with “Home To You” where Hekselman, Turner, and Pinson exchanged ideas with a sense of joy and freedom.

Gilad Hekselman’s trio with bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jonathan Pinson has maintained a busy touring schedule for the last two years. In November, they were joined by Hekselman’s long-time collaborator Mark Turner for a tour in Europe. This night at Smalls, the four reunited for their first performance together since returning home.

The night opened with Hekselman’s “It Will Get Better.” Like many of his compositions, it had a long arrangement buoyed by strong melodies and ample solo space. Hekselman’s searching improvisation blended loose, singing melodies with precisely executed polyrhythms. Turner followed with a patiently developed solo that was punctuated by explosive Brian Bladesque hits from Pinson. The drummer also draws on Marcus Gilmore and the straight-eighth, Dilla-esque language that characterizes much of contemporary New York drumming. Later in the set, Pinson stretched out on “Cheryl” with a dynamic, hard-hitting solo.

“Verona” opened the second set and featured a beautifully melodic solos from Rosato who has a rich, percussive attack in the tradition of Larry Grenadier and Joe Martin. Later in the set, the quartet gave a beautifully concise reading of “My Ideal.” Turner’s dry, unaffected interpretation of the melody was profound in its simplicity. The solo that followed voiced the harmony with a creative precision that was equally moving.

The first set closed with “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So”, a captivating melody with a simple arrangement that felt almost like a country ballad. I often hear elements of this type of Americana in Hekselman’s writing and playing, especially in his own groups. While it is common for Hekselman to be associated with guitarists like Kurt Rosenwinkel, this aspect of his playing comes from somewhere else. He explained that part of it is his love of songs and popular music, but another important source is Bill Frisell.

Bill Frisell is one of my very favorite guitar players. He really makes the guitar sound like a guitar and I really dig that in him. Most of my influences are pianists, saxophonists, and vocalists, but with Bill I feel like he has taught me to come back to the guitar. When I want to play in a way that is more guitaristic, I often think of him.

While Hekselman’s music draws from many places, he is able to channel everything into a cohesive voice that is his own. The quartet illustrated a similarly unified vision.

by Jeff McGregor

b there or b square 2/5/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Cole Davis Trio w. Adam Larson, Jared Schonig ▲ Gabrielle Stravelli Trio w Greg Ruggerio, Pat O’Leary
Birdland Fleur Seule ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Jose James w. Takuya Kuroda, Takeshi Ohbayashi, Ben Williams, Nate Smith
Carlyle Hotel Champian Fulton Trio
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Pedro Boschi Group: Songs from NatuReza ▲ Nick Semenykhin Trio w. Solomon Gottfried, Andrew Licata
Cornelia St. Cafe Amram & Co. w. David Amram, Kevin Twigg, Rene Hart, Elliot Peper
Dizzy’s Polly Gibbons: A New York Moment w. Andy Ezrin, Shedrick Mitchell, Richie Goods, Mark McLean, Paul Bollenbeck
Fat Cat Evan Shinners ▲Behn Gillece Band ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Flatiron Room Damn Tall Buildings
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Franck Amsallem & Tim Ries ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Mintons Young Lion Series: Cole Davis Quartet w. Immanuel Wilkins, Lex Korten, Matt Wilson

Rue B Orion Turre Quartet
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Nitai Hershkovits, Or Bareket ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Shoko Igarashi Trio ▲ Nick Brust Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Vando Jam w. David Bixler Quartet


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Dilemastronauta y Los Sabrosos Cosmicos
Bar Lunático Chris Speed’s Pachora w. Brad Shepik, Chris Tordini, Jim Black
Bushwick Public House Tony Davis/Josh Uguccioni ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane ▲ Ethan Helm, Gabe Terracciano, Jon Snell, Noah Berman, Matt Honor ▲ Jeff Pearring, Adam Caine, Ratzo Harris, Billy Mintz ▲ Welf Dorr Quartet ▲  Lior Milliger, Javier Moreno Sanchez, Rodrigo Recabarren


see rest of the week…

Mary Halvorson and Randy Peterson at The Stone 1/30/18 (by Noah Berman)

PERSONNEL: Mary Halvorson (electric guitar), Randy Peterson (drums)

SET LIST: Improvisations 1-4 (Halvorson/Peterson)

HIGHLIGHTS: After several minutes of untreated guitar, Halvorson hit a distorted chord and made a loop out of the decaying sustain. In this moment, she discovered what would be the key strategy for the set – the interplay between free drumming and precise digital echoes and loops.

Mary Halvorson and Randy Peterson joined forces for the first time on Tuesday, performing a series of four extended improvisations. Peterson created energy and movement while avoiding specific pulses or meters. Halvorson developed and transformed motivic content and created texture and depth with effects.

Halvorson began Improvisations 1 and 4 with simple melodic themes based on an [024] trichord and a perfect 4th interval, respectively. This material functioned in several ways. Initially she applied techniques of motivic transformation to generate more related material. Then, after the music brought the duo to a new area, she could return to these initial cells, effectively restating the theme. Finally, with the ability to create loops she could juxtapose a secondary area with these melodies. Improvisation 2 stood out for its blues implications. Frequent use of A7 and D7 chords, in combination with a prominent echo patch, placed elements of the blues in a cosmic dub setting. Throughout the set, Halvorson also used effects to create fleeting sonic accents, sometimes turning a distortion on and off quickly, or activating a tremolo effect just as a feedbacking note died off.

The most unique and interesting moments in the set came when Halvorson contrasted Peterson’s unmetered playing with a steady pulse. Most often this was accomplished with an echo effect or loop. In isolation, these passages could suggest Bill Frisell, Lee “Scratch” Perry, or Steve Reich. In combination with Peterson’s unmetered playing, these pulse-oriented sounds created tension and contrast. The finale of Improvisation 3 featured this concept at its most exciting and dramatic. Here Halvorson eschewed all effects and steadily picked out a set of arpeggios worthy of Slint. The repetition of the riff, its inherent harmonic tension, and the rhythmic rub of Peterson’s energy-based drumming made for a decisive climax.

by Noah Berman

Benny Golson Quartet at Jazz Standard 1/26/18 (by Dan Lehner)

PERSONNEL: Benny Golson (tenor saxophone), Buster Williams (bass), Emmet Cohen (piano), Alvester Garnett (drums)

SET LIST: Confirmation (Parker), Whisper Not (Golson), Stablemates (Golson), Surrey With the Fringe on Top (MacRae/Anthony), Now’s The Time (Parker)

HIGHLIGHTS: Golson deftly mined an abundance micro and macro information over one of his most beloved contributions to post-bop, ‘Stablemates,’ both digging into specifics and reveling in the shape of the tune overall.

“He asked if I had any tunes. Man, all I had was tunes!” Benny Golson held court to a packed Friday night audience on quite a few personal topics, but it was his recollection of handing a fateful tune to fellow Philly up-and-comer John Coltrane for Miles Davis’s band that felt the most crucial to Golson’s character arc. That knotty, hourglass-shaped tune “Stablemates is one of a few touchstone jazz compositions from the post-Parker bop era.

Golson is also an underrated voice in the tenor saxophone, and his smokey tone is darker than ever as he approaches his 90’s. Everything he plays has the authoritative seal of elder statesman craftsmanship. The solo on “Whisper Not” was full of the same wistful curvatures of the composition itself, whipping up little aerials that gracefully swooped down into his warm low registers. “Stablemates” gave a master class in how the elders handle quick changes. On Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” Golson seemed to reference the saxophone giants that preceded both Bird and himself.

Golson noted that his rhythmic section was younger than him. While true, the age range represented was actually at least three or even four generations apart. Buster Williams is 75, Alvester Garnett is 47 and Emmet Cohen is 27. They played together in marvelous fashion, and Golson even gave them their own trio feature on the “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” where they bounced the innocent melody around different keys. It was a potent and quirky rendition seemingly spun out of thin air.

Williams, also sharp and spry as ever in his elder years, was a wizard of tune playing, switching on a dime between pretty melodies, verbose pluckings and vocalistic groaning. Garnett’s solos were full of emphatic and clear rhythmic melodies with occasional inserts of funky polyrhythms. Cohen, described by Golson endearingly as “young and crazy” exploded many of the quartets moments in spectrums of weird and splendrous color, making use of 6/8 Bach-like inventions and changes-defying chromatically-upward moving figures to splash youthful energy into the performance. The obviously proud Golson beamed like a father figure from his modest throne.

by Dan Lehner

b there or be square 1/29/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Daniel Dickinson Trio w. Emiliano Lasanky, Connor Kent ▲ Nora McCarthy Trio w Daniel Eli Weiss, Jeff Carney
Birdland Victoria Shaw ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Roberta Gambarini
Cleopatra’s Needle Nathan Brown Duo ▲ Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide The DoDo Band: An International Retro-World-Jazz Celebration ▲ Tristan Geary Trio w. Patrick Robinson, Gabe Seymour ▲ Jonathan Fritz: Nuevo Flamenco
Cornelia St. Cafe Jim Story & Lesley Dormen: A Literary Evening ▲ Django Fest: Anouman w. Peter Sparacino, Koran Agan, Josh Kaye, Eduardo Belo
Dizzy’s Monday Nights with WBGO: Amina Figarova Sextet w. Alex Pope Norris, Wayne Escoffery, Bart Platteau, Luques Curtis, Jason Brown
Fat Cat The Better Tones ▲ Valery Ponomarev Alto Madness Sextet ▲ Billy Kaye
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Vanisha Gould w. Eden Ladin, Dean Torrey, Kush Abadey ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso

Rue B  Carlos Homs Trio
The Shrine Shevelovin’ Quartet
Silvana Sergio Cardozo
Smalls Logan Richardson Quartet feat. John Escreet, Harish Raghavan ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Michel
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
55 Bar Tyler Blanton
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: An Evening of Jazz Guitar feat. Ben Monder


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Bulla En El Barrio
Bar Lunático Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom w. Carmen Staaf, Kirk Knuffke, Lisa Parrott, Tony Scherr


The Juilliard School The Music of Miles Davis: Juilliard Jazz Ensembles

see rest of the week…

Seamus Blake Quartet at Smalls 1/24/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Seamus Blake

PERSONNEL: Seamus Blake (tenor saxophone), Tony Tixier (piano), Matt Clohesy (bass), Kush Abadey (drums)

SET 1:  Untitled (Blake), Wandering Angus (Blake), Betty In Rio (Blake), I’m Okay (Del Barrio), Guardians of the Heart Machine (Blake)

SET 2:  Sneaky D (Blake), Willow Weep For Me (Ronell), Vaporbabe (Blake), Blues for the Real Human Beings (Tixier), In Bloom (Nirvana)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Blake’s solo on the ballad “I’m Okay” sang with a piercing beauty.

Last November, Seamus Blake recorded with a French rhythm section that included pianist Tony Tixier. The album features new compositions from Blake and will be released later this year. Playing mostly music from the new record, Blake and Tixier were joined by bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Kush Abadey for this performance at Smalls.

Blake’s only agenda with these new compositions was to be concise and “to the point.” While he feels that some of the music has a more European feel, much of it is still grounded in his North American roots. As he explained, “I am who I am.”

The melody of the untitled opener put an angular and atonal line against different bass pedals. Tixier navigated this harmonically open space with a dense, searching solo that reminded me of early Keith Jarrett. The samba “Betty In Rio” was a contrafact on “Along Came Betty.” In the Tristano style, Blake’s new line beautifully blurred the symmetry of the tune’s phrase structure. Making it a samba instead of the typical medium swing opened up a new side to these well-worn changes. In a similar way, Blake created a fresh space in “Willow Weep For Me” by placing the melody against a 7/4 second-line groove. In both tunes, Blake stretched out with awe-inspiring solos that were relentlessly melodic and inventive.

“Guardians of the Heart Machine” closed the first set. The dramatic lyricism of the melody felt at times like a grunge anthem, which Blake’s sang out with his buoyant, Breckeresque tone. Through Blake’s solo, Abadey sensitively propelled the music forward while coloring everything with a Tain-like swirl of rhythm and texture. In a more direct tribute to the grunge era, the night closed with a hard-hitting reading of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” It captured one of Blake’s greatest strengths: the ability to convincingly pair harmonic complexity with raw, unaffected lyricism.

by Jeff McGregor

Elliot Mason Cre8tion at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola 1/24/18 (by Dan Lehner)

PERSONNEL: Elliot Mason (trombone/bass trumpet), Sofija Knezevic (voice) Tim Hagans (trumpet), Brad Mason (trumpet), Dan Nimmer (piano), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Jonathan Blake (drums)

SET LIST: Before, Now and After (Mason/Knezevic), Caravan (Tizol/Ellington), Let Me Ask You Something (Mason/Knezevic), Passion Dance (Tyner), Resolution (Coltrane)

HIGHLIGHTS: The Mason brothers and Knezevic performed an unexpected unison transcription of McCoy Tyner’s opening solo lines from “Passion Dance.”

In the 21st century, more trombone players are demolishing the stylistic lines previously drawn between the gestural, slide-heavy style of the Swing era and the stepwise, trip hammer, harmonically adventurous style of the Be-and-Post-Bop era.  There might be no better example than Elliot Mason. His time in the historicist JALC band has likely had a hand in imbuing his phrasing with wide, glissando’d expressions that reach as far back as Kid Ory, but he frames these gestures around the razor-precise, harmonically-acrobatic runs you’d find in contemporary heavyweights like Robin Eubanks and Marshall Gilkes..

The vocalistic side of his playing came through the most with his originals, aided with grace and clarity by vocalist and lyricist Sofija Knezevic. The set opener “Before, Now and After” unfolded almost like the overture to an opera, buoyed by Jonathan Blake’s soft mallets and flowing like the poetic, Midwestern post-modernisms of Maria Schneider’s vocal parts before eventually evolving into twisty, Jobim-esque chromaticisms.  “Vulnerable”  was a bossa that might have cribbed its style from Lee Morgan’s “Ceora” and “Let Me Ask You Something” moved affable, songbook-style melodies around shifting harmonies.

Most of the fire came during interpretations of classics. Mason’s solo on “Caravan” journeyed with terrifying speed and harmonic substitution. His bass trumpet playing was an expansive take on a rarely-played instrument; like most valved low brass players, his time-feel and contour had a lot in common with Bob Brookmeyer, but he added a bouncy effervescence in the upper register reminiscent of Clark Terry.

His guest trumpeters also had blazing things to say over his arrangements but in refreshingly different ways. Tim Hagans’ solo on “Resolution” was a masterclass in unpredictability, stopping both long and short of where one would expect every single line of his to go. Elliot’s brother Brad was similarly adventurous on “Passion Dance” but with more of an  “inside” sensibility.

It was a cast of improvisers displaying finesse and ferocity.  Mason wrangled the band and the repertoire and made it all his own.

— by Dan Lehner

Tom Harrell at the Village Vanguard 1/14/18 (by Caroline Davis)

PERSONNEL: Tom Harrell (trumpet/flugel horn), Danny Grissett (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Adam Cruz (drums)

SET LIST: Moving Picture, Sea, Someone, Dublin, Vibrer, Taurus (all by Tom Harrell)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Tom Harrell is a king in my book. Even his endearing, muffled count offs are iconic.

Without a doubt, Tom Harrell is one of the living legends of the genre. Harrell has worked endlessly to create a perfect improvised line, through both tried-and-true bebop-isms and newly paired intervals. During this rare quartet concert he kept stretching and pulling, creating new melodies I hadn’t heard from him before.

“Moving Picture” began with a pedal and a stately melody that sort of jutted in and out, leading to an unison 8th-note line that sent off the trumpet solo. It was a perfect example of Harrell’s propulsive tenacity, proving once again that he develops his ideas to their fullest. The band never left his side, they were both supportive and ambitious towards the direction of the music.

“Sea” had a sort of Alberti-bass inspired figure introduction that unexpectedly gave way a beautifully flowing sequential melody overtop a Bossa-nova inspired groove played by Adam Cruz on the caxixi. The breadth of grooves, from Bossa Nova to Samba to Baiao, explored with this small Brazlian instrument was especially impressive under Danny Grissett’s propulsive solo. Cruz laid out for the rest of the song, listening and smiling the whole way through. Ugonna is steadfast, reliable, and his solos are cliché-free.

“Someone” was a funky excursion that brought us back to the 70s. There were only two chords throughout the whole song, and the band sounded like they had fun re-harmonizing in the moment. Tom’s solo suggested the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie in a few places.

A long duo for piano and trumpet, “Vibrer” (written in 2007 for a French-American Cultural Exchange Grant) was fascinatingly abstract, something almost next door to Olivier Messiaen. The sections with improvisation were rooted in Grisset’s perfect time.

There’s no shortage of melody, sequence, and clarity of phrasing in Tom’s writing, these factors are at the center of his craft. Somehow he makes the mundane sparkle. From drum solos over one-chord vamps to repeating conventional harmonies, his tunes allow the band the freedom and space to be spontaneous without many constraints holding them hostage. His leadership is graceful and humble, and this band was walking alongside him the whole way.

by Caroline Davis

b there or b square 1/22/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Paul Jubong Lee Trio w. Daniel Durst, Diego Maldonado ▲ Melissa Stylianou Trio w. Jesse Lewis, Ike Sturm
Birdland Steve Ross ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note “Jazz-Ageddon:” Ray Angry, Warren Wolf & Friends w. Tia Fuller, Jeremy Pelt, James Carter, Ali Jackson, Ben Williams, Marcus Gilmore, Wycliffe Gordon
Cleopatra’s Needle Nathan Brown Duo ▲ Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Chloe: French Jazz, Standards & Bossa Nova ▲ Dailza Ribeiro w. Itaiguara Brandao, Wesley Amorim, Everton Isidoro, Nanny Assis
Cornelia Street Cafe Bennington Writers ▲ Cabaret Fest: Seyyah w. Dusty Francis, Abby Lee, Genevieve McGahey, Tracy Michailidis, Napat Mingkwanyuen, Lucia Roderique
Dizzy’s JALC Youth Orchestra/Big Band feat. Marcus Printup
Fat Cat Harold O’Neal’s Piano Cinema-Raw ▲ Brandi Disterheft Band ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Jazz Gallery Jonathan Blake Trio (Live Recording) w. Chris Potter, Linda May Han Oh
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Danny Fox w. Chris van Voorst van Beest & Max Goldman ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Mintons Rico Jones Quintet w. Sam Towse, Cole Davis feat. Adam Larson & Colin Stranahan

Rue B Carlos Homs Trio
Smalls Ari Hoenig & Edmar Castaneda ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Michel
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
55 Bar Stew Cutler w. Tom Wilson, Mark Peterson, Bill McClellan ▲ Lonnie Plaxico
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: An Evening of Jazz Guitar feat. Yotam Silberstein


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Jina Brass Band
Bar Lunático Ben Monder Trio w. Matt Brewer, Ben Perowsky
The Drawing Room Play Trio w. Jacob Sacks, Masa Kamaguchi, Vinnie Sperazza


see rest of the week…

Anna Webber Septet at Jazz Gallery 1/18/18 (by Kevin Sun)


PERSONNEL: Anna Webber (tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, bass flute), Jeremy Viner (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Chris Hoffman (cello), Matt Mitchell (piano), Chris Tordini (bass), Ches Smith (drums)

SET LIST: Korē II, Interlude 1, Loper, Interlude 3, 4, Interlude 2, Interlude 4, 1, Array, Interlude 5, Clockwise, b–>a, Korē I (all by Webber)

HIGHLIGHTS: Amid a brief, quiet respite of bass flute, vibes, and bass after a period of sustained noise, trombonist Jacob Garchik’s mute comes loose from his instrument and clatters on the wooden stage—a spontaneous moment that somehow felt perfectly appropriate.

Premiering a collection of new works composed during a residency in New Hampshire,  Anna Webber led a septet through a program of action-packed episodes. The ensemble generates motion with collective efficiently; foreground becomes background and vice versa, with strategic trading of roles and parts between instruments. Prominently featured in several of these were fragmented, interlocking rhythms distributed in clusters of pitches across instruments—a cryptic Morse code that would materialize again in different formats and contexts.

Webber’s compositions narratively sequence transformations and mutations of defined material, such as a rhythmic cell or a melodic fragment. The way these changes unfold come off as somehow both unpredictable and retrospectively inevitable, which is a testament to Webber’s attention to both momentary details and to the overarching compositional architecture. On “Loper,” a repeated snare figure in the drums laid the setting for a seemingly endless march of chords, played one to a beat at a walking pace. As tension built across the sequence of shifting harmonic colors, the emergent setting revealed itself to be a tenor feature for Viner, who burst out of the ensemble texture with sweeping masses of pitches; this provided both a dramatic focal point and a formal counterweight to the orderly succession of harmony emanating from the rest of the band.

Longer works like “Loper” were punctuated with a series of interludes that thrust the band into situational experiments with timbre, duration, and attack. In one, a seemingly endless upward creep in the cello and clarinet incited anxiety in the background as Jacob Garchik ripped loud, insistent glissandos in the foreground.  “Interlude 4” started off with an infernal quarter-tone saxophone duet that suggested massive bees buzzing through an amplifier. Soon the rest of the band began filling in the spaces with unison hits, which increased in frequency until blossoming into a spacious cello solo that saw the two tenors finally in repose, a brief calm before the final reprise.

Disciplined music sometimes ends up sounding airless and dull, but this exhilarating performance proved that exacting parts can actually generate freedom of expression.

by Kevin Sun

Matt Pavolka: The Horns Band at Smalls Jazz Club 1/17/18 (by Jeff McGregor)


PERSONNEL: Matt Pavolka (bass, trombone), Chris Cheek (tenor and soprano saxophone), David Smith (trumpet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Mark Ferber (drums)

SET 1: Car Crash While Hitchhiking, Magali, The Speed of Dark, Disciplinary Architecture, Mr. Tanimoto Who Still Had No Oars, And Then We Towed New Zealand Out To Sea (all by Pavolka)

SET 2: Defeating The Porpoise, Without Fear of Wind or Vertigo, Malebolge, Noboru Wataya’s Time of Madness, Crackers Eating Crackers (all by Pavolka)

HIGHLIGHTS:  “Mr. Tanimoto, Who Still Had No Oars” stood out for its captivating melody and beautiful improvisations. Cheek’s solo was particularly striking and perfectly supported by Pavolka and Ferber who’s elastic accompaniment created a range of timbres and textures for Cheek to improvise over.

Pavolka formed the Horns Band in 2011. The group performs regularly in New York City and released their first record in 2014 on Fresh Sound Records. Pavolka cites a range of influences for the group, but his most direct references are Dave Holland’s chordless quintets (Jumpin’ In, Seeds Of Time, and The Razor’s Edge). Pavolka explains further:

I hope everybody feels free in the context of this music, but I’m really interested in getting as much compositionally out of this instrumentation and these musicians as I can.

The evening opened with the swinging “Car Crash While Hitchhiking,” an angular melody over rhythm changes. The familiar form allowed the soloists to stretch showcasing each musician’s distinct blowing style. As the set continued, Pavolka’s more involved compositions allowed the group to further explore the balance between individual and collective. Improvised or notated, counterpoint is key for the Horns Band.

I write for this band like a large ensemble, but with the flexibility of a small one. I love creating harmony by writing single-note lines that make sense by themselves, but become something else when they all come together.

The evening closed with “Crackers Eating Crackers,” a fast (mostly) 5/4 that featured blistering solos from Cheek, Garchick, and Ferber.  Pavolka reflects the contemporary moment while staying true to his own voice.

— by Jeff McGregor

Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio at Jazz Standard 1/12/17 (by Nicole Glover)


PERSONNEL: Dr. Lonnie Smith (B3 Hammond organ, keyboards, custom electric walking stick), Jonathan Kreisberg (guitar), Johnathan Blake (drums)

SET LIST: Up Jumped Spring (Hubbard), Alhambra (Smith), Frame for the Blues (Hampton), JuJu (Shorter), Play it Back (Smith)

HIGHLIGHTS: Smith’s unaccompanied intro to “Alhambra” with several Korg keyboards was a spontaneously composed concerto that evoked the feeling of both Charles Ives and Gil Evans.  Kreisberg and Blake’s effortless swing and open ears generated exciting musical interplay throughout.

The good doctor is still full of surprises. At 75 years old, the spirited NEA Jazz Master is leading a grooving and imaginative unit that melds the wisdom of venerable guru with two younger and forward thinking musicians.

“Up Jumped Spring” kicked off the set. Smith and Kreisberg’s harmonic interaction was a treat, both carefully attuned to the space and timbre of the other. After Smith’s beautifully orchestrated intro to “Alhambra,” the band launched into a lilting, up-tempo groove that suggested an Afro-Cuban Ennio Morricone. Slide Hampton’s “Frame for the Blues” began as the quietest ballad I’ve ever heard. Kreisberg took a particularly tasteful and bluesy solo, evoking the minimalist melodicism of Lester Young.

Wayne Shorter’s “JuJu” combined the spirit of the 1965 original with a driving, modernist rhythmic quality. Blake was the ringleader, offering a constant flow of ideas generating new pathways and ending with a modulation into a gentle 4/4 hip hop groove that sounded like a lost track from J Dilla’s Donuts.

At this point, Smith grabbed a walking stick and slowly sauntered out into the crowd, taking a seat at the far end of the dining room (“He is 75, after all,” Kreisberg playfully reminded the audience). I wasn’t really sure what was going on, and I wasn’t alone – the band looked confused, and the even the club turned the lights on. However, as bewildered chatter started to permeate the room, distinct percussive sounds began to come from the stage. Smith had started waltzing back up, playing the strange, electronic music stick (the “Slaperoo”, as I was later informed) as a sort of electric bass/theremin hybrid.

“Putting on a show” is generally more scarce in the modern climate. Those with a flair for showmanship can tread dangerously close to melodrama but Smith had charmed us from the beginning. I’ve seen other jazz elders like Roy Haynes and Tootie Health utilize this element of entertainment in their performances as well.

On the final Smith original “Play it Back,” Blake’s deep and well- orchestrated drumming reminded me of “Zigaboo” Modeliste with the Meters. He had the entire Standard dancing. The band reached a fever pitch, and for a moment there was a distinct Jimi Hendrix power trio vibe as the audience shouted and cheered. During the final climactic moments, Smith summed up the evening by turning to Kreisberg and exclaiming, “Wow!”

— by Nicole Glover

Pedrito Martinez and Alfredo Rodriguez at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola 1/12/17 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Pedrito Martinez (percussion, vocals), Alfredo Rodriguez (keyboards, vocals)

SET LIST: The Invasion Parade (Rodriguez), El Guije (Martinez, Rodriguez), Yemaya (Yoruba Traditional), Quizas Quizas Quizas (Farrés), Untitled (Martinez, Rodriguez), Gitanerias (Lecuona)

HIGHLIGHTS:  A chant dedicated to the Yoruba goddess, “Yemaya,” brought Cuban culture and religion into focus and relevance within an American context. It is rare to hear ceremonial Yoruba songs from performed at a Jazz club, but Martinez and Rodriguez bridged the gap, exposing the shared roots of both the American and Cuban traditions.

Martinez and Rodriguez have yet to decide on a label for their collaborations, but what they create exists on the vanguard of music today. They seamlessly combine styles that span the scope of Cuban music, including Rumba, Son, Bata, Timba, and Merengue, with American sounds stemming from Neo-Soul, Modern Jazz, and Hip-Hop. On command, the pair can swiftly transport the audience to a cabaret in 1950s Havana, a boisterous Rumba on a Cuban street corner, a thumping club in NYC, or a sacred Yoruba ceremony.

Throughout the set Rodriguez hammered out chords and melodies with percussive accuracy. For “Quizas Quizas Quizas,” he delivered a sensitive exploration of the song’s gorgeous melodic and harmonic cadences. At other moments he utilized a mic and keyboard, occasionally laying down a lush bed of vocoder harmony in support of Martinez’s lead vocals.

The percussion arsenal included four congas, snare drum, and seated cajón/ kick-drum.  Martinez could mark the time with a woodblock pedal at his right foot and a hi-hat with his left. A pair of slash cymbals and a set of chimes came in handy for contemplative moments; three Batá drums set up to the side were for conjuring Yoruba. Martinez flawlessly recombined sounds and rhythms from Guaguancó to backbeat.

Separately and together, Rodriguez and Martinez are distinctly personal yet deeply rooted in authentic traditions.

— by Kazemde George

Orrin Evans at Jazz Standard 1/7/17 (by EB Silverman)


PERSONNEL: Orrin Evans, piano; Bill McHenry/JD Allen, tenor saxophone; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; James Genus, bass; Mark Whitfield Jr, drums (sitting in on the blues: Sean Jones, trumpet; Donald Edwards, drums; George Burton, piano)

SET LIST:  Glide (Evans), Save the Children (M Gaye Arr. Evans), Take out the Midgets and Send in the Giants (Allen), Kooks (Bowie Arr. Evans), blues (N/A)

HIGHLIGHTS: Diverse accompaniment by the trio for each of the three unique soloists. The free playing always felt propulsive.

The band took the stage relaxed and joking among themselves. It was the final night of a three night stint for the sextet (the Captain Black Big Band had played the previous three nights).

A freeform melody pierced the air and the band took off.  Jensen played directly into the grand piano, eliciting a certain echo of the trumpet and overtones from the piano. The band dropped out as McHenry took the stage a capella, wailing away. Evans got up and changed Bill’s music, preparing the band for Marvin Gaye’s “Save the Children.” The medium slow straight 8th groove paired with the robust sound of McHenry’s tenor.

“Take out the Midgets and Send in the Giants” began with Rollinish strings of lines from Allen alone out front. A cue’d melody put the whole band back in the familiar territory of the unknown. The only solo by Genus from both sets offered deep tone and flawless virtuosity.

Evans announced the next tune as a Jensen feature, “Kooks,” a David Bowie number recorded on Orrin’s #knowingishalfthebattle. Whitfield’s introduction took some time, slowly making its way towards an implied 12/8, hip hop beat. Jensen freely interpreted the verse of the tune before turning it over to Evans. The tune had an uplifting feeling with a catchy break at the end of every chorus and wonderful interplay between the rhythm section (changing the feel, creating interesting fills before/during/after the break). Jensen’s warm sounds, even in the higher register, were a pleasant fit for tune.

To finish up, Evans thanked the audience and the club and told his pals in the audience to come up and sit in on a fast blues. It was charming seeing friends appear from the back of the Standard and into the light. Donald Edwards was first and ended up playing the entire tune. Sean Jones sat to the side and waited for his time to strike. Midway through the tune, Orrin looked deep into the dark room and gestured: Sure enough, George Burton appeared, placing his bracelets and rings on top of the piano. “Orrin Evans and his jazz family” came to an end with a melodic fragment cue’d by McHenry , echoed by the whole front line before halting on a dime.


— by EB Silverman

b there or b square 1/15/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Julphan Tilapornputt Trio w. Jeong Hwan Park, Kobe Abcede ▲Tammy Scheffer Trio w. Glenn Zaleski, Daniel Foose
Birdland John Pizzarelli’s Nat King Cole Centennial Tribute ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Keyon Harrold & Friends
Cleopatra’s Needle Nathan Brown Duo ▲ Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Emilie Surtees ▲Harry Smith Trio
Cornelia St. Cafe Elena Mindla & Ernest Shteynberg ▲ Percussion Fest: Seyyah w. John Hadfield, Jenny Luna, Kane Mathis, Eylem Basald, Marandi Hostetter, Zoe Christiansen, John Murchison, Adam Good, Shane Shannahan, Philip Mayer
Dizzy’s Rhoda Scott Lady Quartet w. Sophie Alour, Geraldine Laurent, Julie Saury
Fat Cat Jarod Kashkin ▲ George Braith Group ▲ Billy Kaye
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Luca’s Jazz Corner Roger Lent Solo
Mezzrow Hendrik Meurkens, Bill Cunliffe, Dave Finck ▲ Pasquale Grasso, Ari Roland, Phil Stewart
Mintons Dead Center feat. Takuya Kuroda 
Rue B Carlos Homs Trio
Rockwood Music Hall Jason Linder’s Now vs. Now
Silvana Rico Jones Quintet
Smalls Perrine Mansuy, Christophe Leloil, Pierre Fenichel, Fred Pasqua ▲ Fred Nardin, Leon Parker, Or Bareket ▲ Samy Thiebault, Adrien Chicot, Sylvain Romano, Philippe Soirat ▲ Gael Horeyou, Ari Hoenig, Etienne Déconfin, Viktor Nyberg ▲ Guilhem Flouzat, Sullivan Fortner, Desmond White ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
55 Bar Nate Birkey w. Roberto Tarenzi, Bill Moring, Joel Rosenblatt ▲ Adam Larson Quartet w. Fabian Almazan, Matt Clohesy, Jimmy Macbride + Special Guest!
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: An Evening of Jazz Guitar feat. Lage Lund


Barbès APAP: Braincloud ▲ Miramar ▲ Locobeach
Bar Lunático Tribute to Allen Toussaint led by Danny Fox
Erv’s Eden Bareket


see rest of the week…

Ralph Lalama & “Bop Juice” at Smalls 1/7/2018 (by Nathan Bellott)

PERSONNEL: Ralph Lalama, tenor saxophone, Alec Safy, upright bass, Clifford Barbaro, drums, (Joe Magnarelli, trumpet, sat in on the closing blues)

SET LIST:  Just in Time (Styne, Comden, Green), Nonchalant (Lalama), Lester Left Town (Shorter), Detour Ahead (Ellis, Frigo, Carter), Take the Coltrane (Ellington)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Barbaro’s dancing approach to rhythm propelled the band; LaLama fellow bopper Magnarelli traded exciting choruses on “Take the Coltrane.”

Ralph Lalama & “Bop Juice” was the first show I saw upon moving to New York in 2010. The trio, led by the underrated tenorman, usually features Clifford Barbaro “on the drums and cymbals” and a handful of “bass violinists”: Alec Safy has been filling that chair for a while now. Smalls is home base for Bop Juice, they play the club frequently.

As usual, Smalls was standing room only when they started the set with “Just in Time.” Lalama has a big, biting tone and a mastery of diverse articulation. For extended periods he will play turned to the side of the room, engaging the drummer and creating tension. That tension is then released in a crescendo as he turns to the audience, holding a pinched high note when Barbaro gives a big downbeat. This old-school approach is notably audience-friendly. Ralph is all about tension and release, in performance, in person and in small talk between tunes.

After some schmoozing to the crowd, they continued with the sole Lalama original of the set, “Nonchalant.” It’s a mood piece, a completely different texture. Barbaro’s mallets were subtle throughout, staying in place and fully exploring the textural possibilities. Alec Safy took a really nice solo as well. The tune’s harmony consists of lydian major chords with static motion, contrasted with the end of the form, marked by a descending minor thirds.

The influence of Sonny Rollins looms large. As with Rollins, Bop Juice’s approach to form, solo order and trading length challenged preconceived notions. “Lester Left Town” ended up with tenor and drums playing 8s,4s,2s, and even 1s. They play this tune at every Bop Juice gig, it’s my favorite in their repertoire.

Barbaro’s mastery cannot be overstated: rough around the edges and deeply swinging.

Lalama dedicated the next tune, “Detour Ahead,” to a cause that I cannot print in this review. It’s great to hear this seldom played song in the sax trio context, as I associate it with Bill Evans and pianists in general. Safy’s single chorus solo offered impeccable construction.

The ballad segued directly into Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane.” After the statement of the melody came a lengthy walking bass and drum duet, another example of Bop Juice’s unpredictable approach to form. I looked down for a second and suddenly the trumpet of Joe Magnarelli was pointed at my face from across the room (his posture is unmistakable). It was a real treat to hear him in the chordless context, stretching a bit, offering a nice balance of the hardbop language he is known for as well as forays into pentatonics. Lalama played an inspired solo as well: The blues is his bread and butter. Taking out the gig on a high note, the pair traded choruses, eliciting whoops and gasps from the crowd.

by Nathan Bellott

Brad Mehldau Trio at the Village Vanguard 1/7/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Brad Mehldau (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums)

SET LIST: Blues in C (Mehldau), Waltz in C Minor (Mehldau), And I Love Her (Lennon/McCartney), The Song is You (Kern), I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (Bassman)

HIGHLIGHTS:  “And I Love Her” was a crowd-pleaser. The song served to illustrate the strong connections between the diverse musical traditions drawn on from the trio. It’s a whole dictionary, but to give just a few B’s: The Beatles, Bach, Bill Evans, and Brazilian…

Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier, and Jeff Ballard delivered a dialed-in and relaxed performance of recognizable songs and a pair of originals. The show was not a dramatic spectacle or a subdued abstraction, but a casual and methodical musical conversation between well-spoken and considerate friends. Perhaps in the hands of lesser musicians, such a modest set of songs would leave the listener asking for more, but these longtime bandmates were constantly inventing and proposing new ideas.

The first song of the night was an up-tempo 12-bar blues with an erratic and propulsive melody. Right away, the trio set themselves apart in their ability to make each player sound like an individual while also contributing to the overall sound. During his piano solos, Mehldau would leave space for Grenadier to interject or redirect. However, the piano never sounded as if it was searching, and the bass never played out of turn. Ballard, true to form, was constantly creating, changing the feel and throwing new rhythmic ideas at the rest of the band.

The second original song began in a stark and abstract fashion. Once they filled in the harmony and subdivisions everything made more sense, and the piece grew into a steady, fast-paced waltz.

A charming cover of the Beatles’s “And I Love Her” shifted the tone of the concert. The song started as a Bolero reminiscent of the original recording. As Mehldau continued to extrapolate, Ballard and Grenadier reverted to their familiar interplay with a more funky straight-eighth feel.

“The Song is You” started off with a single solo-piano line, soon matched by another line in counterpoint before the band entered with swing in 7/4. Mehldau continued to develop his solo with two-part counterpoint lines which flawlessly bubbled through the harmony. Ballard’s drum solo was full of rhythmic super-impositions, often leaving behind the groove for extended periods to explore different recombinations of subdivisions and alternate feels.

A wholesome version of the ballad “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” ended with an extensive and contemplative solo piano coda.

by Kazemde George

Peter Bernstein & Lage Lund at Mezzrow 1/8/18 (by Jeff McGregor)


PERSONNEL: Peter Bernstein (guitar), Lage Lund (guitar)

SET 1: Who Can I Turn To (Bricusse/Newley), Teddy (Hutcherson), We’ll be Together Again (Fischer), United (Shorter), Theme for Ernie (Lacey), You Stepped Out of a Dream (Brown), SKJ (Jackson)

SET  2: Nobody Else But Me (Kern), My Ideal (Chase/Whiting), Stablemates (Golson), I Should Care (Stordahl/Weston/Kahn), Lazy Bird (Coltrane), All Too You Soon (Ellington), Trane’s Blues (Coltrane)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Bernstein really “sang,” especially on the ballads. Lund’s solos sidestepped expectations creating particularly captivating moments.

Back when he was still a student at the Berklee School of Music, Lage Lund would make trips to New York that would often include a lesson with Peter Bernstein. As is often the case with Bernstein and his students, the two would play duets. Flash forward to now, and they meet at Mezzrow, supporting each other with warmth, familiarity, and ease, gracefully navigating their shifting roles as soloist and accompanist. To each tune, they brought an arrangement that was clear and lyrical, but never formulaic.

In a recent interview, Bernstein observed that some musicians are “keepers of a flame” while others “light something new.” For me, both Bernstein and Lund seem to keep the flame and create something new. In their different ways, they recall the aesthetic of past masters like Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery, but within that lineage, each has found a modern voice. While Lund and Bernstein share much in common, there are important differences in their individual output. Bernstein’s original compositions are lyrical, swinging, and illustrate a deep connection to the blues. He also regularly draws from the American songbook where he has established himself as one of great interpreters of that repertoire. In both his treatment of standards and original compositions, Lund’s output reflects a more contemporary aesthetic.

On this intimate night, differences merged into unity. Both were focused on teamwork and song.

— by Jeff McGregor