PERSONNEL: Rodney Green (drums), Corcoran Holt (bass), Tim Green (alto), Adam Birnbaum (piano)
SET LIST: Fingerpainting (Hancock) Introspection (Monk) Carousel (Mulgrew Miller)
Ooh What You Do To Me (Al Foster) I Want to Stand Over There (Bobby Hutcherson)
HIGHLIGHTS: It was a rare pleasure to hear a group of lesser-known compositional gems from the canon of hard swinging jazz. Birnbaum’s solo intro to “Introspection” was striking.
After some light banter with the audience, Rodney Green counted off Herbie Hancock’s “Fingerpainting.” The tempo was a bit quicker than the V.S.O.P recording, and from the downbeat, the gel between Corcoran Holt and Green was buoyant. The band swung hard throughout the blowing. Each of the members enjoyed an opportunity to take a bite out of the tune before ending over the introductory vamp.
Thanks to an abstract form and uncertain key center, Thelonious Monk’s “Introspection” is rarely called at jam sessions. During his intro, Adam Birnbaum’s rubato interpretation was filled with moments of rolling chords intermixed with punches. (Solo piano was especially successful in the reverberant church.) A quick blast of the tune at tempo called in the band, which then sat right in the beat. Rodney’s punctuations during accompaniment of the number were catchy and helped punctuate the confusing form. Tim Green’s improvisation included well-placed references of the melody to keep the tune in the listener’s ear intermixed with creative hard bop language. For his only solo statement of the set, Green offered clean technique and structure while retaining a certain off-balance feeling within the time.
With a slight prod from Rodney, Tim Green began the next number a capella, freely speaking over the changes of Mulgrew Miller’s “Carousel.” Slowly the band crept into a slow waltz and eventually the moment was seized by Corcoran Holt, who offered punchy lines in all registers.
The bassist was also featured out front on “Ooh What You Do To Me” by Al Foster. Holt began with some hard-hitting blues language followed by ideas stemming from a pedal point. Green provided a funkier beat framework for this tune, including an obviously Foster-inspired feel for the Afro-Cuban bridge. The band locked into the song’s tricky bass line and proceeded to groove out.
The evening closed with a burning take of a Bobby Hutcherson composition, “I Wanna Stand Over There.” Green mentioned enjoying the cut on In The Vanguard. the 1986 Hutcherson live date with Kenny Barron, Buster Williams, and Al Foster. It is telling that Green is citing the masters in the mid-80s, an era not all of Green’s generation have thought much about. (Indeed, most of the rep – V.S.O.P, Miller, Foster, ’86 Hutcherson — was comparatively recent and significantly less explored than a whole host of more common hard-swinging tunes from an older canon.)
“I Wanna Stand Over There” features a single hit answered by a melodic line, repeated and varied. Rodney found cracks within the hits of the melody to drive the tune into the soloing form. From there, it was Tim Green taking off and blowing his heart out. After a winding Birnbaum solo, Corcoran and Rodney exchanged ideas together, walking bass with percussion input. At the end the band stopped on a dime and rang a bright, bell-like chord.
— by EB Silverman