b there or b square 5/14/18

MONDAY MAY 14

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Luke Schwartz Trio w. Kells Nollenberger, Kyle McCarter ▲ Tammy Scheffer Trio w. Glenn Zaleski, Daniel Foose
Birdland Natalie Douglas Tributes: Ella ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Ron Carter Birthday Celebration
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cornelia St. Cafe Quartetto Tomassinni w. Patrisa Tomassini, Lorenza Ponce, Ina Paris, Nelly Rocha
The Cotton Club The Cotton Club All-Stars Big Band
Dizzy’s Javon Jackson’s Berklee Sextet
Fat Cat Jarod Kashkin ▲ Ned Goold Quartet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Iguana Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
The Kola House Glenn Crytzer Orchestra
Local 802 AFM Jam Session
Mezzrow Russ Lossing & Cameron Brown ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rockwood Music Hall Ben Winkelman Trio w. Matt Clohesy, Pablo Bencid
Rue B Mara Rosenblum Solo Piano “Monday Blues Series”  ▲Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Darnell Thomas
Smalls Lucas Pino Nonet w. Philip Dizack, Alex LoRe, Nick Finzer, Andrew Gutauskas, Rafal Sarnecki, Miki Yamanaka, Desmond White, Jimmy Macbride ▲ Jonathan Michel Quintet w. Anthony Hervey, Zoe Obadia, Keith Brown, Anwar Marshall ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Andrew Licata ▲ Tomoko Yanagita
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band

brooklyn

Bar Lunatico Carl Bartlett Jr. w. James Navan, Steve Wood, Hiroyuki Matsura
Bushwick Public HouseLior Milliger, Welf Dorr, Adam Lane, Jeremy Carlstedt ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane ▲ Andrea Wolper/Lauren Lee ▲ Shawn Lovato, Todd Neufeld, Colin Hinton ▲ Michael Larocca, Tristan Pollack, Zac Jaffee, Aaron Rubenstein ▲ Rodrigo Recabarron/ Justin Wert
Shapeshifter Lab  B’s Bees: Julien Sandiford, Joe Ferracuti, Alec Safy, Brandon Goodwin
Sir D’s Lou Caputo Not So Big Band

see rest of the week…

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society at Dizzy’s 5/2/18 (by Dan Lehner)

PERSONNEL: Dave Pietro, Rob Wilkerson, Sam Sadigursky, John Ellis, Brian Landrus (saxes and reeds); Seneca Black, Sam Hoyt, Matt Holman, Josh Deutsch, David Smith (trumpets); Mike Fahie, Ryan Keberle, Kalia Vandever, Jennifer Wharton (trombones); Sebastian Noelle (guitar); Adam Birnbaum (piano); Matt Clohesy (bass); Jon Wikan (drums)

SET LIST: “Blowout Prevention,” “Chrysalis,” “Tensile Curves” (all by Darcy James Argue)

HIGHLIGHTS: Argue’s epic “Tensile Curves” embodied the spirit of Duke’s “Diminuendo in Blue” with 40 straight minutes of complex, slowly unfolding writing that never felt laborious.

Bob Brookmeyer is a landmark modernist whose music is rarely heard outside of Monday nights at the Village Vanguard. However, his influence can be found everywhere in big band sounds from Jim McNeely, John Hollenbeck, Maria Schneider, Ted Nash, and many others, perhaps especially in Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society.  It was nice to hear the Society honor one of its forebearers and unpack some of its own musical DNA at Jazz at Lincoln Center: both sets were stocked with original compositions that Argue explicitly says were, “inspired by my mentor, Bob Brookmeyer.”

The Brookmeyerian tactic Argue used to greatest effect was the equalized, episodic use of solos and solo sections. Liberated of the subservience of long tones, the rhythmic backgrounds of “Blowout Prevention” bobbed and reacted in an arresting volley against Mike Fahie’s sharp and contemplative solo. “Chrysalis,” a pretty and pained ballad, contained some of Brookmeyer’s lush and complex extrapolations of melody; dovetailing harmonies dispersed like droplets of water, swelling into grandiosity before being stripped of all accoutrements at the last minute.

All of that seemed like a warm-up for “Tensile Curves,” a 40-minute tribute to “Diminuendo in Blue” that decreased not in volume but in metric time. Once again background-as-foreground was used to usher in new sections and solos (featuring nimble rhythms from Kalia Vandever, acerbic Wheelerian melodies from David Smith and harmonically rich clusters from John Ellis), but the sheer range and scope of the piece was staggering – bright rollicking swing, doom metal open intervals, irregular clave rhythms and classical arpeggios all unraveling in a slow-motion math equation.

In an interview with Ben Ratliff in 2006, Brookmeyer said part of his modus operandi was to see how long he extend his musicals thoughts without breaking the relationship to the listener. In this regard, Argue’s works are undoubtedly a success.

— by Dan Lehner

b there or b square 5/7/18

MONDAY MAY 7

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Alan Kwan Trio w.Christopher Wright, Connor Kent ▲ Christine Tobin Trio w. Phil Robson, Peter Brendler
Birdland The Bombshells ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Ron Carter Birthday Celebration
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cornelia Street Cafe Amram & Co. w. Kevin Twigg, Rene Hart, Elliot Peper
The Cotton Club The Cotton Club All-Stars Big Band
Club Bonafide Dan Greenblatt Group ▲ New Moon Acoustic Blues Band
Dizzy’s Jeff Hamilton Trio w. Tamir Hendelman, Christoph Luty
Downtown Music Gallery Lorin Benedict, María Grand, Caroline Davis
Fat Cat Ben Patterson Duo ▲ Todd Herbert Group ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Iguana Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
The Kola House Glenn Crytzer Orchestra
Local 802 AFM Jam Session
Mezzrow Harvie S, Roni Ben-Hur & Tim Horner ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rue B Mara Rosenblum Solo Piano “Monday Blues Series”  ▲Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Darnell Thomas
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Nitai Hershkovits, Matt Penman, Gilad Hekselman ▲ Joe Farnsworth Quartet w. Abraham Burton, Keith Brown, John Weber ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Miyoko Sparrow Duo ▲ Nick Brust Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band
55 Bar Sean Wayland ▲ Sergei Avanesov w. Jeff Miles, Ricky Rodriguez, Samvel Sarkisyan

brooklyn

Bar Lunatico David Berkman
Bushwick Public House Raf Vertessen, Drew Wesely, Hery Paz ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Tiffany Chang/Robert Dick ▲ Florian Herzog, David Leon, Stephen Boeghold ▲ Eli Wallace, Chris Pitsiokos, Andrew Smiley, Jason Nazary ▲ Ethan Primason, Justin Frye, Arian Shafiee
Sir D’s Lounge Virginia Mayhew Septet with Dave Smith, Lisa Parrott, Noah Bless, Roberta Piket, Billy Mintz

see rest of the week…

Akie Bermiss at the Owl, the Late Set 4/20/18 (by Sami Stevens)

PERSONNEL: Akie Bermiss (Voice and Piano)

SET LIST: Can’t Take My Eyes off of You (Crewe/Gaudio), Space and Time (Bermiss), I Know Death (Bermiss), Medicine (Bermiss), Close Your Eyes (Bermiss), Alone Again (Bermiss), On The Street Where You Live (Loewe/Lerner) Still Bleeding (Bermiss), Before You Go (Bermiss), Send It On (Bermiss)

HIGHLIGHTS: Akie Bermiss balanced humor and darkness with a personal set of space-themed tunes.

Akie Bermiss, writer of of alien love songs, pianist, singer, and lovable nerd, gave an informal, intimate solo set for a small crowd of eager listeners at the Owl Music Parlor. A fan of science fiction, Bermiss’s songwriting called to mind something akin to Star Trek; on the surface dealing with alien worlds, but at its core, dealing in the very human realm of relationships and love. Bermiss primarily writes jazz-influenced RnB and Neo-Soul but mixes it up with an occasional light-spirited standard.

“Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” set the tone; deviations from the original melody and harmony were carefully selected for maximum impact, the song ending a playful, surprisingly atonal interaction with a car alarm sounding in the distance. The first original, “Space and Time” was a lush love song, dealing with Bermiss’s favorite brand of forbidden romance; one between alien and human. The song took the set to a more modern space, with minimal harmonic movement and voicings inspired by D’angelo era RnB. In “Medicine,” Bermiss built a love story around a short bass ostinato, with short, lyrically driven phrases on the verse. His delivery was rough and dynamic, recalling a Ray Charles brand of intensity. “Close Your Eyes” featured a cameo by singer Candice Corbin, a warm, genuine duet evocative of modern musical theatre.

A new song “Alone Again” was a catchy riff on unrequited love, a mid tempo jam on the day to day realities of single life. A microcosm of the entire show, the song read as funny, relatable, and deeply revealing; a sort of self-deprecating refusal to wallow in the weight of loneliness, choosing instead to greet it with humor. Bermiss balanced the set with a rendition of “On the Street Where You Live,” beginning out of time, then meandering to a joyfully loose traditional Ragtime feel. “Still Bleeding” was another standout original about love and loss, showing Bermiss’s church influences through his vocal riffs and harmonic choices. “Send it On” was the clear climax of the night, a gospel theme culminating in an extended vocal improvisation rich with tradition, ending in a call and response with the eager audience.

by Sami Stevens

Linda May Han Oh at the Village Vanguard 4/20/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Linda May Han Oh (acoustic and electric bass), Ben Wendel (tenor saxophone), Matt Stevens (guitar), Fabian Almazan (piano), Rudy Royston (drums)

SET LIST: Blue Over Gold, Yoda, Deepsea Dancers, Speech Impediment, Perpluzzle, Western, Walk Against the Wind (all by Oh)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Oh’s composition “Speech Impediment” effectively brought to life the story of someone with a stutter struggling to say “ I Love You.”

For her debut as a leader at the Vanguard, Linda May Han Oh’s band played several songs from the recent Walk Against the Wind as well as some older pieces. Oh’s compositions utilize rhythmic ostinatos and rich harmonies, with strong tonal centers to clearly define an emotional space while still allowing unprescribed free improvisation.

“Blue Over Gold” began with a contemplative mood established with a 2-note bassline on eighth-notes, harmonized by piano and guitar and eventually saxophone. Several of Oh’s songs utilized similar 2-note rhythmic patterns as a way of creating rhythmic complexity and establishing harmonic centers. Royston played a double-time feel which propelled the band into the main theme for the song, with Wendel playing the melody over the top of the rhythm section’s accentuations of beats 1, 2, 4, and 5 in a 7-beat cycle. A short bridge recapitulated the bassline from the introduction as a melodic feature, and solos took place over the hits of the 7-beat framework. Wendel ran through some double-time lines, and brought the energy up with some gritty altissimo screams before handing off to Stevens. The guitar solo drew most of its energy directly from the rhythm section, ornamenting the groove set up by Oh and Royston. Oh took a solo as well; she moved deftly through different ranges of the bass playing mostly eighth-notes, and seemed to play modally and melodically rather than truly outline each chord.

“Speech Impediment” began with an improvised solo piano introduction by Almazan. He immediately established the use of repeated notes, a kind of jerky phrasing represented of a person with a stutter. Eventually he subsided into a quiet and reflective 2-chord vamp. The rest of the band entered, with the melody being carried by Wendel and Stevens who each interpreted its rhythms slightly differently, adding to the stuttering effect. The theme of repeated melody notes continued in the next section which had a backbeat with one eighth note missing every few measures, and alternated between two different tempos. The band then abandoned structure and descended into a slightly dissonant and muted free improvisation, with Stevens creating ambient textures and exchanging sharp stabs with Almazan, while Oh played a low drone, and the rest of the band added ornaments. Eventually, everyone melted away leaving only Royston to continue playing for an extended drum solo.

Overall this set featured a great balance of virtuosity and emotional connection. Oh’s tunes could be abstract and complex at times, but they also delivered several satisfying moments using direct and conventional approaches.

by Kazemde George

George Colligan Trio at Smoke 3/29/18 (by Brendan Polk)

PERSONNEL: George Colligan (piano), Buster Williams (bass), Lenny White (drums)

SETLIST: Run Around (Colligan), False Valse (Colligan), Ceora (Morgan), Voyage (Barron), Weightless, Rising Towards the Sun (Colligan), Body and Soul (Green), Usain (Colligan)

HIGHLIGHTS: Buster Williams! His walking strut and melodic solos were top drawer.

George Colligan has been playing with Buster Williams and Lenny White for years, usually in Williams’s own group Something More. Colligan comes out of the hard-hitting tradition of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, so naturally he is a perfect mesh for this veteran rhythm section known for associations with Hancock, Corea, and really everyone else from the 70s power jazz era. White challenged Colligan with rhythmic manipulations and the occasional metric modulation, while Williams’s immaculate stroll made the whole room swing.

Colligan’s “Run Around” was a kind of rhythmic and angular riff sent right into drummer territory. “False Valse” a pretty yet intense waltz with a vamp interlude: Colligan showcased dense and modal harmonies in huge chords while White subdivided the beat into doubles, triples, and plenty of dotted quarter notes.

Lee Morgan’s “Ceora” is almost too familiar at this point, but when someone like Buster Williams gets a chance to play it, it can still be a sublime experience. Williams played with Morgan and is a consecrated member of the Philadelphia tradition. Williams is not just a master accompanist but also a master of lyrical and melodic soloing. In only two choruses, he told a story using a series of singable, melodic statements that also displayed his unique and beautiful bass tone.

A hard swinging version of Kenny Barron’s “Voyage,” featured an exciting call and response section from Colligan and White. “Voyage” is perhaps not as well-known as “Ceora” but it has become Barron’s most-covered composition. Williams and White have both played with Barron, of course, and by programming this selection Colligan makes it extra clear what path his in.

On a medium tempo rendition of “Body and Soul,” Williams soloed first, again showing his sublime melodic sense. Colligan demonstrates impressive technique as a pianist, playing with a big sound and occasionally jumping into double time lines in his right hand. The virtuosity sat smoothly atop the amazing hook-up between William’s walking lines and White’s ride cymbal. The trio was sounding great.

“Rising Towards the Sun” was meditative and ballad-like, perhaps not to far from Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” and the night ended with the quickly paced “Usain” (named after Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt). The opening melody included four statements of a quick and frenetic phrase, a short modal vamp, and a repeated eighth note melody subdivided into groups of five. The following flurry of solos, along with committed support from Williams and tight cymbal work by White, left the room at Smoke in a blithe and electrified mood.

(by Brendan Polk)

b there or b square 4/30/18

MONDAY APR. 30

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Alan Kwan Trio w. Evan Gregor, Curtis Nowosad ▲ Dorian Devins Trio w. Lou Rainone, Paul Gill
Birdland Max von Essen w. Billy Stritch ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note McCoy Tyner & Friends
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cornelia St. Cafe Simon Mulligan w. Craig Handy
The Cotton Club The Cotton Club All-Stars Big Band
Dizzy’s Temple University Jazz Band w. Terell Stafford & Special Guest Ann Hampton Callaway
Fat Cat The Better Tones ▲ Jeremy Manasia Group ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Iguana Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
The Kola House Glenn Crytzer Orchestra
Local 802 AFM Jam Session
Mezzrow Peter Bernstein, Richard Wyands, John Webber ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rue B Mara Rosenblum Solo Piano “Monday Blues Series”  ▲Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Darnell Thomas
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Nitai Hershkovits, Matt Penman ▲ Joe Farnsworth Quartet w. Eric Alexander, Isaiah Thompson, John Weber ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Linda Presgrave Quartet ▲ Juan Carlos Polo Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band

see rest of the week…