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…

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

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