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…

Caroline Davis “Heart Tonic” at Jazz Gallery 4/13/18 (by Marta Sanchez)

PERSONNEL: Caroline Davis (alto saxophone), Noah Preminger (tenor saxophone), Julian Shore (piano, rhodes and synth), Tamir Shmerling (upbright and electric bass), Jay Sawyer (drums), Rogerio Boccato (percussion on “Ocean Motion”)

SET LIST: Constructs, Penelope (Wayne Shorter), Footloose and Fancy Free, People Look Like Tanks, Air, Ocean Motion (all songs by Caroline Davis except the Shorter)

HIGHLIGHTS: Caroline’s solo over “Constructs” was a powerful improvisation, full of rhythmic confidence and fresh ideas.

Caroline Davis celebrated the release of her CD “Heart Tonic” on Sunnyside Records. Her eight compositions plus an arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s “Penelope” are influenced by many different stylistic ideas that go from traditional jazz to the most avant-garde, although the whole set stayed coherent and personal.

Like many of Davis’s compositions, “Constructs” has many different parts that explore different atmospheres. It begins with a tricky bass line over which the horns play a mysterious melody. After that, the rhythm section breathes, going into a kind of vamp that opens for a short shared improvisation by Davis and Noah Preminger. The melody in the horns developed to become more angular and rhythmic, and almost before we realize it the tune became a fast swing feel for brilliant solos by Davis, Preminger, and Julian Shore.

Davis’s arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s “Penelope” was faster and more rhythmically intricate than the original ballad. Shore offered a compelling solo that created a lot of space for interaction with the rhythm section.

Shore’s synth intro to “Footloose and Fancy Free”  somehow reminded me of a Haitian chorus, the way one of the voices go a half step apart when you least expect it.  The tune proper started with an electric bass line, over which the horns sang a sophisticated avant-garde melody creating a contrapuntal, rhythmically complex effect.

“People Look Like Tanks” was the only composition not included on the CD. Davis wrote a gorgeous melody over a steady rhythm on the piano that created the most poetic moment of the night.

An atmospheric and textural drum intro by Jay Sawyer set up the vibe of “Air,” a really pretty ballad that honored its title. Shore painted with rich chords in his feature. Eventually the horns started soloing together. Preminginer and Davis were on fire, encouraging each other and reaching high levels of energy.

Rogerio Boccato joined to play the last song of the set and the last one of the CD, “Ocean Motion”, a tune that started with a powerful line in 9/8 played by Tamir on electric bass. The vibe remind me a bit of Weather Report, with an African rhythm underneath in an electric format. The tune ended with an exchange between drums and percussion, where Jay and Rogerio displayed endless ideas.

Caroline Davis’s music is deep and personal. It is rhythmically complex, but the band made the difficulties sound easy and natural. Everyone onstage was free to make things happen.

— by Marta Sanchez

Billy Childs at The Jazz Standard 3/25/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Billy Childs (piano), Dayna Stephens (soprano, alto and baritone saxophones), Hans Glawischnig (bass), Ari Hoenig (drums)

SET LIST: Rebirth (Childs, Acuña), Windmills of Your Mind (Legrand), Dance of Shiba (Childs), Peace (Silver), The Starry Night (Childs)

HIGHLIGHTS: Hoenig consistently drove the energy of the band forward with an undercurrent of rhythmic subdivision, constantly reacting to and supporting the ideas presented by the soloists.

Billy Childs is now best known as a major composer. However, he hasn’t lost touch with jazz, and his latest album Rebirth represents a return to the renowned pianist’s earlier days as a sideman playing with hard-bop legends Freddie Hubbard and JJ Johnson.

The quartet kicked off their set with the album’s title track, a high-energy romp in straight eighths. After playing the main theme, the band settled into a vamp for the piano solo with one measure of 5/4 and one of 7/4. The skill of all the band members was quickly made apparent as they deftly suggested each melodic or rhythmic idea before putting it in its place and moving to the next musical impulse. Stephens improvised over a new section, and eventually transitioned into a final vamp section with a repeated melody line, buttressed by hits from the rest of the band which progressed through a series of re-harms before an abrupt conclusion.

Childs’s compositions may resemble hard bop in their feel and intent, but in other ways, the pieces reflect of Childs’ other music endeavors into orchestral and chamber writing. Rather than rely on the common lead-sheet approach to Jazz writing, his pieces are more through-composed, with multiple written passages, transition sections, and improvisations taking place over different forms.

The winding logic of Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of Your Mind” began as a contemplative waltz. The open ended solo section was a one-chord vamp followed by a minor blues turn-around, which allowed the band to explore different options. Childs threw in a few “out” chords, Glawischnig responded with melodies and counter-rhythms, and there were several interactive moments between Hoenig and Childs.

“Dance of Shiba” was a piece designed around rhythm. In each passage, the trio asserted a set of angular hits connected by a frantic melody on the saxophone. In moments like these, Glawischnig and Hoenig were invaluable, they both have an unshakable sense of pulse and great dexterity when it comes to subdividing and manipulating the beat. Much of the rhythmic dynamics of the in-head were abandoned for the piano solo which happened over a commonplace ¾ with mostly static harmony. For the alto solo, the band brought back some of the hits from the exposition, and Stephens took on the challenge of integrating them into his solo. The song ended on a drum solo by Hoenig with the band making the hits sharply and in unison, connecting and re-imagining the rhythms in multiple ways.

Horace Silver’s “Peace” began modestly with Childs mapping out the songs harmony with arpeggios before bringing in the melody. The rest of the band entered with Stephens playing the head on the baritone and Hoenig delicately ornamenting and marking the time. In Glawischnig’s only solo of the night he projected clear melody lines with confidence, his sense of phrasing was loose and natural, but he still was always connected to the grid. Stephens took an unassuming solo which casually meandered through the form. The piano and drums offered a relatively minimal accompaniment, but Glawischnig stepped in to converse melodically with Stephens. For the start of his solo, Childs reached into the piano to mute strings and played with a few simple ideas before concluding on a high, with a series of virtuosic arpeggios.

The final tune, another composition by Childs, was a good amalgamation of the different musical ideas presented throughout the night. The tune featured a few contrasting sections, each based around modulating harmonic structures attached to syncopated hits. Each soloist explored varied moods, from contemplative to brash, and the band was always listening to cues from each other, allowing them to function as one unit to bring Child’s experienced vision into reality.

by Kazemde George

b there or b square 4/23/18

MONDAY APR. 23

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Ryan Hernandez Trio w. SY Hong, Hank Allen-Barfield ▲ Perry Beekman Trio w. Jack Ryon, Lou Pappas
Birdland Maureen McGovern ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Aaron Comess Sculptures w. Oli Rockberger, Keith Loftis, Teddy Kumpel, Leon Gruenbaum and guests Joan Osborne, James Maddock
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cornelia St. Cafe Sound Traffic w. Thollem McDonas, Laura Ortman, Miah Artola
Club Bonafide Jim Self/John Chiodini w. guests The New York Tuba Six ▲ Aaron Rimbui
Dizzy’s Purchase Jazz Orchestra w. Mike LeDonne
Fat Cat Harold O’Neal’s Piano Cinema Raw ▲ David Schnitter Quintet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Blue Opal Jazz
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 Randy Ingram w. Drew Gress, Jochen Rueckert ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rockwood Music Hall  Jim Campilongo Trio w. Tony Scherr, Josh Dion
Rue B Mara Rosenblum Solo Piano “Monday Blues Series”  ▲Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio ▲ Jonathan Barber Group ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Andrew Kushnir Trio ▲ Tomoko Yanagita Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Tony Purrone Trio ▲ The New School Jazz Jam Session w. John Koozin Trio
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Locobeach
Bar Lunático Beekman: Kyle Nasser, Yago Vazguez, Pablo Menares, Rodrigo Recabarren
Bushwick Public House Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Sandy Ewen, Matteo Liberatore, Lauri Hyvarinen; Jason Mears, Quentin Tolimieri, Andrew Drury ▲ Adam Caine, Bob Lanzetti, Adam Lane, Billy Mintz ▲ Spencer Friedman/Ryan Shreves
Shapeshifter Lab Florian Herzog  ▲ Gene Perla w. Alan Jones, Nicole Glover, Jon Ballantyne ▲ Concetta Abbate/Benjamin Engel
Sir D’s Lounge Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra w. Steve Wilson, Carolyn Leonhart

see rest of the week…

Jason Rigby “Detroit-Cleveland” Trio at Cornelia St. Cafe 3/30/2018 (by Nathan Bellott)

PERSONNEL: Jason Rigby (tenor & soprano saxophones), Cameron Brown (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)

SETLIST: Mushi Mushi (D. Redman), Unreason (Rigby), Possible Beauty (Rigby), Untitled (Rigby), Satellite (J. Coltrane)

HIGHLIGHTS: Rigby’s dark tenor sound mirrored the patina of his vintage horn
.___

Fresh from a worldwide tour with Mark Guiliana’s Jazz Quartet, Jason Rigby returned to Cornelia St. to lead a trio of regular collaborators. Bassist Cameron Brown has appeared on all of Rigby’s recordings, drummer Gerald Cleaver has appeared on the last two. The most recent, One, features this ensemble playing both originals and standards.

Rigby rarely counts of a tune, he simply begins, and the set commenced with an anthem from the Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet, Dewey Redman’s “Mushi Mushi.” The tune’s corkscrewing melody and harmony are a strong example of the influence of Ornette’s aesthetic upon its author and the American Quartet’s concept writ large. This trio phrases as one, punctuating the spaces between the soloist’s statements with measure.

Gerald Cleaver played the room. His beneath-the-radar approach was effective, but a few accented snare hits made me almost jump out of my seat. Cameron Brown’s big beat shined through on “Mushi” during the open solo sections, where he balanced the harmonic landscape between Rigby’s implications and his own intimations. The “time, no changes” aspect of the tune works perfectly for this trio, as deep swing isn’t sacrificed by unexpected digressions.

“Unreason” was the sole soprano saxophone number, a modal tune in three. Rigby has managed to get almost the same tone on the small horn as the big horn, no small feat. The potential inherent in the title of “Possible Beauty” was to be found in Rigby’s opening cadenza. The newest tune of the night lacked a title: This band often workshops new material on the bandstand, allowing the audience to see a different side of the creative process.

They book-ended the set with another tenor repertoire classic, John Coltrane’s “Satellite.” The majority of the music that had preceded was open, often free of form and harmony. The complex chord changes and set form of “Satellite” forced the players into another approach to improvisation, one that combines intuition with concentration. Rigby offered an open challenge to his previous self with each consecutive chorus. After trading, Cleaver showed off his deep knowledge of the drum lineage with an extended sermon. Afterwards, Cameron Brown amusingly remarked to Rigby, “You waited til the end to call that tune?”

— by Nathan Bellott

b there or b square 4/15/18

MONDAY APR. 16

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Andrew Pereira Trio w. Cole Davis, JK Kim ▲ Dana Reedy Trio w. Glenn ALexander, James Robbins
Birdland  Frank Wildhorn & Friends ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note McCoy Tyner & Special Guests
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Dizzy’s Emmet Cohen Trio feat. Tootie Heath, Russell Hall
Fat Cat Camila Celin ▲ George Braith Group ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Blue Opal Jazz
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
Le Poisson Rouge Nels Cline 4 w. Julian Lage, Scott Colley, Tom Rainey
Local 802 AFM Jam Session
Mezzrow Ed Cherry, Bruce Barth & Dezron Douglas ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Minton’s Julius Rodriguez Quintet feat. Harish Raghavan
Rockwood Music Hall  Jim Campilongo Trio w. Chris Morrissey, Kenny Wollesen
Rue B Mara Rosenblum Solo Piano “Monday Blues Series”  ▲Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster
Smalls Lucas Pino Nonet w. Philip Dizack, Alex LoRe, Nick Finzer, Andrew Gutauskas, Rafal Sarnecki, Glenn Zaleski, Chris Smith, Martina DaSilva, Jimmy Macbride ▲ Jonathan Michel Group ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Silvana Jon Sheckler
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Andrew Liceta Trio ▲ Alex Hamburger Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield and guest Rale Micic
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band
55 Bar Mike Stern

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Cumbiagra
Bar Lunático KADAWA w. Tal Yahalom, Almog Sharvit, Ben Silashi
Bushwick Public House Aaron Rubinstein, Sarah Hughes, Brandon Davis, Michael Larocca ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Hampus Ohman-Frolund/Anders Nilsson ▲ Nick Lyons Quartet ▲ Kenneth Jimenez Quartet ▲ Welf Dorr, Aron Namenwirth, Zach Swanson, John Loggia
Sir D’s Lounge Makrokosmos Orchestra

see rest of the week…

Andrew Cyrille Quartet at the Village Vanguard 3/29/18 (by Dan Lehner)

PERSONNEL: Andrew Cyrille (drums), Ben Street (bass), Bill Frisell (guitar), Richard Teitelbaum (synthesizer, laptop, piano)

SET LIST: Dazzling (Perchordially Yours) (Cyrille); Proximity (Cyrille); Brl Itz (Street), Variations and Silence (Teitelbaum), The Painter (Hemphill), With You in Mind (Cyrille), Special People (Cyrille)

HIGHLIGHTS: Cyrille demonstrated the power of a single cymbal hit on his solo in “Dazzling (Perchordially Yours), where attack and decay delivered emotion and compositional logic.

Of all the laudatory things you could say about Andrew Cyrille’s week at the Vanguard, it was perhaps his unique approach to ensemble casting that stood above all else. Who else but Cyrille would have the foresight to unify Bill Frisell (who was on his third week in a row at the Vanguard), with someone like Richard Teitelbaum, an electronic musician veteran from the early Moog days who’s virtually unknown in the jazz world? What other 78-year old drummer would (or even could) hire musicians using looping stations and Ableton Live laptop interfaces at one of the world’s most illustrious jazz clubs?

The quartet, formed for a fantastic ECM release in 2016, lent historical perspective to Cyrille’s unique position in the avant-garde, one that has both a deep history and something profound to say for the present.

The quartet’s diverse repertoire allowed Cyrille to perform as instigator, colorist and independent explorer, sometimes just shading between his band mates motions and sometimes punching with crackling energy and clear intent. Cyrille’s solo moments understood the importance of a sound’s decay, his solo on “Dazzling” limiting itself to the meditative, gong-like resonance of a single cymbal controlled by his mature, poetic sense of time of free time. Cyrille could be painterly and spare, but also very playful, his Caribbean roots showing in his galloping, bell-and-block oriented intros.

The music often breathed in episodic ways. “Dazzling” frequently rested and rearranged itself between solos and duos, in a way that the new temporal and musical information felt neatly arranged, rather than broken apart (recalling Joe Lovano’s observation that “all the tempos are one tempo” in Cyrille’s music). Teitelbaum’s spare, conceptual “Variations and Silence” commented not only on space and timbre but also the realness of each sound, a three-way dance between the wholly existent sounds of the drum and bass, the semi-real sounds of Frisell’s effects-laden guitar and the purely synthetic sounds of processed didgeridoos and violin concertos from Teitelbaum’s Ableton patches.

For all its experimentation, the music was often extremely listenable. Cyrille’s elegiac “Proximity” was wistful and resolute, buoyed by Street’s supportive but musically free directional sense, anchored with his gorgeous and direct tone. Street’s “Brl Itz”, a wry, scuffling 3/4 piece, was imbued with a rock ‘n roll shot of energy from Cyrille, moving from freewheeling drum ‘n bass snares deftly back to the rhythm of the melody. Teitelbaum’s synth had a fascinating palette, ranging from dainty flute sounds to detuned horror movie pieces, but his piano playing was just as compelling, saving his colorful, Cecil-Taylor-meets-Gyorgy-Ligeti sensibility for one tune only. Frisell, always a master of the amicable wrapped in the experimental, dragged the bluesy melody of Cyrille’s “Special People” through a glittering array of echoes and delays, brilliantly moving out of the woods to collide with his band mates for one last triumphant melody to close a rejuvenating and probing set of music.

by Dan Lehner

b there or b square 4/9/18

MONDAY APR. 9

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Jonah Udall Trio w. Brian Krock, Jake Shandling ▲ Valerie Farber Trio w. Cat Toren, Jake Leckie
Birdland  Natalie Douglas Tributes: Elvis ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Purchase Jazz Orchestra w. Todd Coolman feat. Dick Oatts
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cornelia St. Cafe Martin Hennessy & Rachel Peters w. Meredith Lustig, Kyle Oliver, Alden Terry
Dizzy’s Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra w. Joe Lovano
Fat Cat Osso String Quartet ▲ Ned Goold Quartet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Blue Opal Jazz
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 Mike Moreno & Nitai Hershkovits ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Minton’s Chris McCarthy, Harish Raghavan, JK Kim
Rue B Mara Rosenblum Solo Piano “Monday Blues Series”  ▲Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Gilad Hekselman, Orlando Le Fleming ▲ Joel Frahm Group ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Shoko Igarishi
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Ron Affif Trio
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band
55 Bar Mike Stern

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Los Cumpleanos
Bar Lunático Kevin Harris Project w. Hery Paz, Will Slater, Felix Lecaros
Bushwick Public House Matt Lavelle/Daniel Carter ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Daniel Carter, Blaise Siwula, Matt Lavelle, Eric Plaks, William Parker, Jon Panikkar ▲ Tony Malaby, Roberta Piket, Hilliard Greene, Billy Mintz ▲ Daniel Blake Quartet ▲ Yoni Kretzmer, Mazel Fortia, Joe Hertenstein
Shapeshifter LabAlex Frondelli Stacked Quartet with Cole Davis, Jaylen Pentinaud, Miho Sasaki
Sir D’s Lounge Kevin Blancq KBQ Big Band

concerts

National Sawdust Rafiq Bhatia’s Breaking English

see rest of the week…

Scree at Arbor Day House 3/29/18 (by Andrew D’Angelo)

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PERSONNEL: Ryan Beckley (guitar), Carmen Rothwell (bass), Jason Burger (drums)

SETLIST: Season 2 (Beckley), Being Realistic (Beckley), Free Improv, C Waltz (Beckley), Cut Short (Beckley), Theme Song (Beckley), Weather Theater (Beckley), TV Sometimes (Beckley), Better Day (Beckley)

HIGHLIGHTS: “Free Improv” didn’t produce the sort of sound often associated with free improvisation. The trio played as if performing a composition they all knew by heart and were just interpreting in a unique way. The song was subtle and gorgeous, with a structure that can only be achieved by musicians who have a profound connection to one another.

Ryan Beckley sat on the floor cross-legged in an almost meditative position, engaging the audience both aurally and spiritually. Carmen Rothwell towered over him with her acoustic bass. Drummer Jason Burger was his own unique story, supporting the music in the same way the floor was supporting the audience. This house concert felt reminiscent of the environment at the old Knitting Factory on Leonard Street, with 50 or so guests sitting comfortably on the floor listening attentively to the music.

The music was gentle and had plenty of movement, obviously a group effort. When I asked bassist Rothwell how Scree’s compositions were created, she said, “All of the tunes were composed by Ryan and, of course, worked on and fleshed out (to various extents) in rehearsals and conversations with me and Jason,” she replied. Ryan said about Jason, “We work out the arrangements cooperatively in rehearsal, so everything going on rhythmically and texturally over there is Jason’s handiwork!”

During the set Beckley read excerpts from both The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality by Michael Heim and Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire. These unexpected interludes also kept the audience on the edge of their collective consciousness.

Around 1991 or 1992, I heard Bill Frisell live for the first time at the ICA in Boston. Even 25 years later, I can tell you  the way he sounded that night changed my life forever. This concert with Scree had me feeling the same energy.

Ryan Beckley’s guitar playing is as grand and finely honed as Frisell’s was at that age. I asked Ryan if he was influenced by or felt his playing was connected to Frisell’s in any way. His response was a bit surprising. “It’s a bit of an embarrassing comparison, since I feel very much like a knock-off Frisell one might buy on Canal Street,” said Beckley.

I’m sure we’ve all had those live music experiences, where the music is so beyond the physical sounds that it impacts us in a much deeper way. Those nights don’t come from knock-offs, and I can assure you that these three talents combined as Scree delivered nothing but the real deal.

— by Andrew D’Angelo

b there or b square 4/2/18

MONDAY APR. 2

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Alan Kwan Trio w. Evan Gregor, Curtis Graham Nowosad ▲ Perry Beekman Trio w. Jack Ryan, Lou Pappas
Birdland  Jeffry Dunham Hosts “Uke Night!” ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Deborah Davis 20th Annual Benefit for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Club Bonafide JAZZ-ology ▲ George Spanos
Cornelia St. Cafe David Amram & Co. w. Kevin Twigg, Rene Hart, Elliot Peper
Dizzy’s Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet w. Special Guest Carl Allen
Fat Cat Jarod Kashkin ▲ Bobcat Quintet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Blue Opal Jazz
The Iguana Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Iridium Ed Palermo Big Band w. guest Kasim Sulton
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
The Kola House Glenn Crytzer Orchestra
Local 802 AFM Jam Session
Mezzrow Cameron Brown & Aruan Ortiz ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rockwood Music Hall Jim Campilongo Trio w. Chris Morrissey, Josh Dion [II]
Rue B Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster
Silvana Tobiasz Siankiewicz Quartet
Smalls Ricardo Grilli w. Chris Potter, Taylor Eigsti, Joe Martin, Eric Harland ▲ Joe Farnsworth Quartet w. Eric Alexander, Isaiah Thompson, John Webber ▲ Afterhours Jam Session
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Jasper Dutz Duo ▲ Nick Brust Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Vandoren Artist Showcase and Jam Session
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band
55 Bar Sean Wayland w. Sam Minaie, Nate Wood ▲ Mike Stern w. Francois Moutin, Richie Morales

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Dilemastronauta y Los Sabrosos Cosmicos
Bar Lunático Miles Okazaki Trio with Linda May Han Oh, Dan Weiss Bar Lunàtico
Bushwick Public House Reggie Sylvester Trio ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Kevin Shea ▲ Guillermo Gregorio, Omar Tamez, Joe Fonda ▲ Dierk Peters, Nick Dunston, Stephen Boegehold ▲ Juanma Trujillo, Hery Paz, Andrew Schiller, Robin Baytas ▲ John Loggia/Eric Plaks
Pinebox Rock Shop Facehugger: Anna Webber, Angela Morris, Edward Gavitt, Shawn Lovato, Colin Hinton
Scholes St. Studio Burton Greene Quartet w. Reut Regev, Adam Lane, Igal Foni
Sir D’s Lounge Jon De Lucia Octet w. John Ludlow, Marc Schwartz, Jay Rattman, Andrew Hadro, Stefan Vasnier, Aidan O’Donnell, Steve Little Sir D’s 8,

see rest of the week…

Ben Perowsky, Tim Berne, Hank Roberts, David Torn at The Stone 3/16/18 (by Noah Berman)

PERSONNEL: Ben Perowsky (drums, percussion, electronics), Tim Berne (alto saxophone), Hank Roberts (cello), David Torn (guitar, electronics)

SET LIST: Improvisations 1 and 2 (Perowsky/Berne/Roberts/Torn)

HIGHLIGHTS: Each improvisation had mysterious origins. After initial introductions, the sidemen seemed to be warming up while Perowsky double checked his recording device, but he enthusiastically egged them on to make these sounds the de facto beginning of the set. Later on, as the audience applauded their first epic improvisation, Torn launched into a series of massive ascending arpeggios, creating a real-time crossfade between the applause and the second improvisation.

For the fourth night of his residency at The Stone, Ben Perowsky assembled a new quartet featuring three veteran improvisers. Their two improvisations were contrasting in length (approximately 50 minutes and 10 minutes) but shared a “let’s see what happens” approach. While there were solo moments sprinkled throughout, this set was primarily about the collective sound of the ensemble, with no explicit stylistic agenda.

Each musician brought a personal set of sounds and approaches to the band. Peroswky’s drumming was extremely dynamic, often using shifts in volume to lead the band down particular paths. Whether drawing on a deep well of pulse-based grooves or using a more abstract approach, his playing exhibited a great deal of flexibility and diversity. The combination of tasty, session-style drumming with electro-acoustic soundscapes was the most unique and defining characteristic of the set. Perowsky also augmented his drum set with a collection of bells and electronics that further increased the scope of his contributions.

David Torn brought a digital aesthetic, using cosmic reverbs, loops, and glitchy effects to continuously transform his organic and expressive guitar playing, where distortion and microtonal pitch variations link blues slide guitar and Indian music. Hank Roberts could supply contrast by emphasizing his cello’s acoustic sound, or combine extended techniques with distortion and echo effects to access a whole other set of sounds. Tim Berne operated in many spheres, whether playing soloistic lines over an evolving textural backdrop, duetting with Torn or Roberts, providing a drone, or laying out entirely. Torn, Roberts and Berne all paired off at various points for “duets,” soloing together,  shifting timbral emphasis, confusing the listener as to what sound was coming from what instrument.

— by Noah Berman

b there or b square 3/26/18

MONDAY MAR. 26

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Cole Davis Trio w. Jasper Dutz, Vaughn Stoffey ▲ E.J. Decker Trio w. Joe Giglio, Marshall Rosenberg
Birdland  Anita Gillette Celebrates Irving Berlin ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Bobby McFerrin Spirityouall
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Cornelia St. Cafe Oscar Perez Quintet w. Ted Chubb, Bruce Williams, Anthony Perez, Vince Ector
Dizzy’s Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra: Cartoon and TV Music Goes Latin Jazz
Fat Cat Gallen Passen ▲ Ray Gallon ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Kat Vokes Trio
The Iguana Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
Jazz Gallery Pascal Le Boeuf + Friction String Quartet: Ritual Being [World Premiere] w. Kevin Rogers, Otis Harriel, Taija Warbelow, Doug Machiz, Remy Le Boeuf, Anna Webber, Martin Nevin, Jochen Rueckert
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
The Kola House Glenn Crytzer Orchestra
Local 802 AFM Jam Session
Mezzrow Harvey Diamond & Cameron Brown ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso

Rue B Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Nitai Hershkovits, Or Bareket ▲ Corcoran Holt Quintet w. Josh Evans, Stacy Dilliard, Benito Gonazales, Willie Jones III ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Michel
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Mark Cross Trio ▲ Juan Carlos Polo Trio
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield feat. Jorge Chicoy ▲ The New School Jam Session with John Koozin
11th Street Bar Richard Clements/Murray Wall Band
55 Bar Stew Cutler and the Mofos w. Tom Wilson, Chulo Gatewood, Bill McClellan ▲ Mike Stern w. Teymur Phell, Richie Morales

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Bulla en el Barrio
Bar Lunático Omer Avital’s Qantar w. Eden Ladin, Asaf Yuria, Alexander Levin, Ofri Nehemya
Bushwick Public House Aron Namenwirth, Yutaka Takahashi, Eric Plaks, Sean Conly, Jon Panikkar ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Keisuke Matsuno, Songyi Jeon, Dayeon Seok ▲ Hans Tammen, David Rothenberg, Nicola Hein ▲ Bonnie Kane, Sandra Sprecher, Dave Miller ▲ Brian Drye Duo
Roulette John Abercrombie—Timeless, A Tribute To His Life And Music: Joey Baron, Randy Brecker, Nels Cline, Marc Copland, Jack DeJohnette, Eliane Elias, Peter Erskine, Mark Feldman, Bill Frisell, Drew Gress, Marc Johnson, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Thomas Morgan, Adam Nussbaum, John Scofield, Ralph Towner and guests
Sir D’s Lounge Bob Bennett Big Band

see rest of the week…

Ari Hoenig Trio at Smalls 3/12/18 (by Nicole Glover)

PERSONNEL: Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Orlando le Fleming (bass), Ari Hoenig (drums)

SETLIST: Stompin’ at the Savoy (Sampson), Lyric (Hoenig), Onyx (Hoenig), Arrows and Loops (Hoenig), Prelude to A Kiss (Ellington)

HIGHLIGHTS: Many exhilarating and near telepathic moments.

Ari Hoenig has been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene since the 1990s, with a steady Monday night residency at Smalls that offers a unique approach to both standards and original material. Tonight he was joined by Gilad Hekselman and Orlando Le Fleming, two associates Hoenig has been working with for over a decade. This edition of trio played with fire, huge dynamic contrasts, and kept themselves and the audience guessing.

Hoenig’s groups can freely suggest multiple different rhythmic modulations over the form.  This concept must stem in part from the widely influential Wynton Marsalis album Standard Time Vol.1. Hoenig takes these mathematical equations to new heights, delving into all sorts of possibilities for the form and harmony.  Well-known, well-constructed jazz songs act as the perfect catalyst for the experiments produced by this rhythmic laboratory: Tonight we heard two big-band era standards,  “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and “Prelude to a Kiss.”

Hekselman displayed fluidity, a clean tone, and an agile rhythmic sense. La Fleming’s articulate counterpoint and keen intuition shaped the structure of the music. While all three players are pushing boundaries, they also have a deep connection to the tradition:  Hoenig and La Fleming’s quarter note hump and shuffle beat swung hard, and Hekselman has a deep blues sensibility informed by George Benson.

Hoenig is a compelling composer as well. “Lyric,” composed for his daughter, featured a particularly inspired solo from La Fleming, and Hoenig’s solo over the outro generated huge excitement from the audience. “Onyx” was a new beautiful ballad with a singable melody, moving through several pretty harmonic centers. The 11/8 “Arrows and Loops” has been in his repertoire for years. It was slower than usual tonight, allowing Hoenig to play around the deceptive melody in new, fresh ways. Hekselman had a fascinating solo feature after the head, creating a loop with his pedals that allowed him to improvise upon his spontaneously created structures while still in a precise 11/8.

by Nicole Glover

Miles Okazaki’s Trickster at The Jazz Gallery 3/16/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL:  Miles Okazaki (guitar), Matt Mitchell (piano), Anthony Tidd (electric bass), Sean Rickman (drums)

SET LIST:  Mischief, Kudzu, Box in a Box, Eating Earth, Caduceus (all by Okazaki)

HIGHLIGHTS:  The 3-part counterpoint between the bass, guitar, and piano on “Caduceus” showcased Okazaki’s unique approach to melody and thematic development.

—–

Trickster is an exploration into an idiosyncratic world of uneven rhythmic cycles, unconventional melodies and opaque harmonies. The compositions are tightly constructed around specific rhythmic resolution points, usually marked by the Tidd on the bass, and most of the tunes feature a short exposition, with extended solo sections happening over a bass ostinato. The band often gave the impression of a hulking and intricate machine. Rickman and Tidd are the engine and fuel, Okazaki and Mitchell are the many moving parts whirring, clanking and sputtering.

“Mischief” began with a piano solo, entering slowly, and accompanied only by a repetitive strumming pattern in 9/4 by Okazaki. As Mitchell continued to clarify his ideas, the bass entered with a 4-note ostinato in a 5+4 rhythmic framework, which remained constant throughout the song. Rickman came in as Mitchell’s solo grew in intensity, matching the guitar’s comping pattern on the snare, and driving the energy forward. Mitchell ended on a high note with octaves in the right hand and lush rolled chords in the left, before taking over the comping pattern from the guitar. Okazaki presented a several ideas in his solo before cueing the end of the song and playing a short solo guitar introduction to “Kudzu.”

Okazaki slips around the guitar with small intervals and quick turns before darting into large intervallic jumps. He prioritizes motivic development: A single idea will mutate through superimpositions, groupings and displacements, all relating somehow to the relentless complex vamps below.

“Eating Earth” featured another oddly metered bass figure, but Rickman laid down a groove reminiscent of a standard backbeat. Mitchell took a solo exploring different textures and small embellishments, and eventually built into a series of ideas woven together like an Ecsher drawing, each fragmented idea seeming to lead nowhere and everywhere at once. Okazaki played a few brief phrases before bring down the band and starting “Caduceus” which featured a soli for the bass and guitar, which later branched off into a multi-part counterpoint with the guitar and piano layer new parts above of the bass. The band ended the set with an extended high-energy solo by Rickman, before increasing the tempo for a final recitation of the guitar/piano/bass interplay.

by Kazemde George

Zach Phillips Saxifrage at the Glove 3/3/18 (by Tom Csatari)

PERSONNEL: Zach Phillips (wurlitzer elec piano, voice) Derek Baron (flute, voice) Ayla Combes (voice), Stephen Cooper (elec. Bass), Unknown (elec. guitar), Louisa deButts (voice–reading), Christopher Forgues (voice–reading), Miguel Gallego (acoustic guitar), Sarah Goldfarb (cello), Alexis Graman (voice–reading), Levon Henry (tenor saxophone), Will Henriksen (violin) Paige Johnson-Brown (elec. gtr, voice), Adrian Knight (dx7 synthesizer) Mike Kolb (microkorg synthesizer), Calvin LeCompte (voice), Asprey Liu (voice), Amelia Moyer-Perez (voice), Billy McShane (alto saxophone), Rebecca Rom-Frank (voice–reading), Sarah Smith (voice–lead), Austin Vaughn (drum kit), Marlon Cherry (percussion), Leah Wishnia (voice)

SET LIST: Leave Some For Writing (Phillips/S. Smith), Crooks Like Children (Phillips), Duke On The Beach (Phillips/S.Smith), Wheel of the Law (K.Smith), Deaths and Disappearances (Phillips), Alibi (Phillips), Real Name James (Phillips), Bring Me To Silence (Phillips), Now I Want The Following Home (Phillips), Tout Suite (Phillips)

HIGHLIGHTS: “Real Name James” featured strong electric bass playing from Stephe Cooper, whose own band Cloud Becomes Your Hand has also been making waves.

Zach Phillips’s new project “Saxifrage” is a self-described “20-30 piece quiet group” named after a flower. Their collective style was heard at The Glove in Bushwick, a venue inside an unmarked door near the Gates J/M/Z station.

Phillips is the son of Louisiana-born poet Cleopatra Mathis and filmmaker/screenwriter William F. Phillips. He’s from New Hampshire originally but spent many years living and working in Brattleboro, Vermont, where he studied and worked with the jazz guitarist and composer Christopher Weisman, whose polytonal folk-jazz aesthetic is a clear influence on Phillips’s current output.

The group played Phillips’s own hard-to-categorize compositions and one cover by the neo-psychedelia songwriter Kendra Smith. The group’s sound, songs, and ethos are connected to Phillips’s recent recording project Martyr Group (which features him singing and playing Wurlitzer on his own songs with backing from four jazz-trained guitarists/bassists) and older songs from the now-defunct band Blanche Blanche Blanche (co-led with vocalist Sarah Smith who also joined Saxifrage on two songs). This music is dense, wide-ranging and somewhere in the sphere of jazz-literate freak pop.

Phillips described this particular performance as a more collective, jazz-influenced project than his previous bands and recordings. While there was a core group of musicians, there was also an open invitation to bring friends and collaborators to join the evening if they agreed to learn the music. Demos and charts were sent out beforehand and the group rehearsed briefly before the show.

The group of 24 performed with the lights on so that the group could read their stapled packets. Performers spilled into the audience, with only Phillips’s core band and Wurlitzer on the stage. Four “readers” were stationed throughout the room with microphones and tasked with reading disconcerting poetry between each song.

The set began with “Leave Some For Writing,” an up-tempo, largely diatonic song with a fast saxophone melody break played by Levon Henry and Billy McShane. Sarah Smith sang two numbers with the group which she co-wrote with Phillips. From the Blanche Blanche Blanche repertoire, “Duke On The Beach” featured a complicated, poly-metric structure with major seventh chords moving in strange, often chromatic ways. “Crooks Like Children” was built on a beautifully gnarly rising chord progression on the keyboard with a chanting rap verse. “Deaths and Disappearances” involved dissonant suspended poly-chords. “Alibi” was catchy and filled with Phillips’s signature brand of anti-jazz harmony. “Bring Me To Silence” was a saccharine love song with an anthemic chorus melody and asymmetrical harmonic rhythm, upheld nicely by Austin Vaughn on the drum kit and Marlon Cherry on percussion. (Cherry surely knows his Airto.) “Now I Want The Following Home” was dreamy and almost psychedelic; the verse chords sounded impressionistic and distinctly American (Ravel meets Ariel Pink with a side of Carla Bley?), although the chorus had — no joke — a standard II/V/I progression. On top of everything else, there was a guitarist who I couldn’t see on stage playing what sounded like synth guitar through a tremolo pedal, transgressing fairly left-field bebop lines. (Leo Blevins with Sun Ra?)

The ballad “Tout Suite” was a bittersweet bookend to a twisted evening of forward-thinking, genre-warping music.

— by Tom Csatari

Charles McPherson Quintet at Dizzy’s 3/3/18 (by Nathan Bellott)

PERSONNEL:  Charles McPherson alto saxophone, Yotam Silberstein guitar, Jeb Patton piano, Todd Coolman bass, Jonathan Blake drums

SET LIST:  Deep Night (Rudy Vallee), Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez), Lover (Rodgers & Hart), Jeb Patton Solo Number, Polka Dots and Moonbeams (Van Heusen & Burke), Song of the Sphinx (McPherson), Tenor Madness (Rollins)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Charles was in top form, particularly on the blues and one of his blazing signatures, “Lover.” Another fan was in the house, Lee Konitz, who even got up during a song to join them on stage to scat on “Polka Dots And Moonbeams.”

___

Any chance to hear Charles McPherson in person is a treat: He’s right in the lineage from Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges and Bird: a bebopper at heart who takes no prisoners.

The first tune was Rudy Vallee’s 1929 hit “Deep Night,” in this case possibly inspired by the canonical version by Sonny Clark. Charles’s operatic tone on the alto soared above the ensemble. All of the old masters know that projection comes from air, not audio equipment.

“Nature Boy” was prefaced by a dedication to Maxine Gordon, widow of Dexter Gordon, who was in the house (Dexter would have been 95 this year) as well as Charles’s wife Lynn. The arrangement was centered around a bass line played flawlessly by veteran Todd Coolman. The tune’s misterioso feel was enhanced by Yotam Silberstein’s atmospheric guitar, which fluidly moved between being a second “horn” in the band and providing texture.

When McPherson announced the next tune would be “Lover” I knew I was in for a treat. This is Charles’s bread and butter- changes and tempo. The tune featured Jonathan Blake, a chorus out front and an extended solo after that. In between the drum explosions, Charles played an inspired solo. Rawness is one of the true qualities of bebop, and McPherson’s rhythm explodes in unexpected ways. (We often focus on the advanced harmony of bebop, but the true essence may be in the rhythm.)

The band took a break to allow Jeb Patton to play a solo number in which he took us through the history of jazz piano. Rooted in stride, this piece sparkled and showed that Patton had, in McPherson’s words, “done his homework.”

“Polka Dots and Moonbeams” was intended to feature Yotam Silberstein but that concept took a left turn when I saw Lee Konitz get out of his seat and head towards the stage. Nobody considered this a problem, when you’re 90 years old and a living relic of the music you can kind of do what you want. Silberstein realized this as well and played a short solo, giving the mic to Konitz to scat a chorus or two on the standard and then take the tune out.

The sole McPherson original, “Song of the Sphinx,” was a modal piece with an “esoteric” vibe. There were moments when Charles’s alto evoked faraway references such as Jimmy Lyons with Cecil Taylor on “Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come.” Upon further thought, both saxophonists are essentially coming out of Bird….

My hope that I’d hear the blues was fulfilled at the very end of the set with “Tenor Madness.” I love the choice of such a simple tune, a vehicle to get at the essence of jazz. McPherson didn’t disappoint, running up and down the horn as well as playing some of the dirtiest blues riffs you could hear today.

by Nathan Bellott

Mike Eckroth/Scott Colley at Mezzrow 3/12/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Eckroth.jpg

PERSONNEL: Mike Eckroth (piano), Scott Colley (bass),

SET LIST: The Touch of Your Lips (Noble), So Tender (Jarrett), You and the Night and the Music (Schwartz), Sabia (Jobim), Moon River (Mancini), Willow Weep For Me (Ronell)

HIGHLIGHTS: The duo’s interpretation of “Sabia” shone with understated lyricism from Eckroth and subtle counterpoint from Colley.

The piano/bass duo is an important format for Mike Eckroth. In his early years, he held a nightly duo gig with bassist and mentor Morrie Louden. More recently, he released a duo record with bassist Ron McClure. Eckroth cites Charlie Haden’s duo records with Keith Jarrett and Kenny Barron as important reference points as well classic pairings like Evans/Gomez and Ellington/Blanton. He explains, “You leave a lot out in any duo format, but you also gain leeway that you wouldn’t have in a bigger band..

Eckroth was joined by Scott Colley for their first performance since playing together as members of John Scofield’s quartet. Eckroth opened “The Touch of Your Lips” with an unaccompanied rubato introduction followed by a warm and swinging reading of the melody. Colley entered for the melody with a two-feel that continued as Eckroth began his solo with relaxed lines in his right hand. Colley’s two-feel eventually settled into a hard-swinging walking line. Eckroth dug in with increasingly dense textures and counterpoint in his left hand. Colley’s solo followed with searching, fluid lines eventually arriving at a final statement of the melody.

Eckroth opened Keith Jarrett’s “So Tender” with a rich and lyrical introduction that gracefully transitioned to the melody. Against a straight, medium-tempo pulse, Eckroth and Colley’s solos drew from a wide palette of rhythms and subdivisions, creating dense and captivating lines. The duo continued with an up-tempo version of “You and the Night and the Music.” Eckroth’s introduction established a deep groove with an unaccompanied chorus through the form that also seemed to be in the Jarrett tradition. After a hard-swinging solo from Eckroth, Colley entered with long eighth-note lines that picked up where Eckroth left off. He then shifted to a series of quarter-note triplets contrasting and complementing what had come before. Colley concluded with a series of double-stops before Eckroth delivered a loose recapitulation of the melody.

After a beautiful reading of “Moon River”, the duo closed with a blues-filled “Willow Weep for Me” in 6/4. Eckroth let loose with a soulful introduction that stretched through the piano before he and Colley dug into the form. As they had done all night, Eckroth and Colley balanced their own creativity with warmth and support for each other.

— by Jeff McGregor

b there or b square 3/19/18

MONDAY MAR. 19

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Sagi Kaufman Trio w. Yoav Eshed, Simon Wilson ▲ Nora McCarthy Trio w. Marvin Swell, Donald Nicks
Birdland  Constantine Maroulis ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Eric Krasno & Friends feat. Cory Henry
Caffe Vivaldi Open Mic Night
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Cornelia St. Cafe Noa Ford w. Josh Deutsh, Dan Loomis, Ronen Itzik
Dizzy’s Brubeck Brothers Quartet w. Dan Brubeck, Chris Brubeck, Mike DeMicco, Chuck Lamb
Fat Cat Ben Paterson Duo ▲ George Braith Group ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Kat Vokes Trio
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Dan Cray w. Joe Martin, Mark Ferber ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso

Rue B Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster
Smoke Vincent Herring Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Shoko Igarishi Trio ▲ Kaz Araki Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield feat. Jimmy Bruno ▲ The New School Jam Session with John Koozin
55 Bar Kelsey Jillette & the Americas Project w. Tony Romano, David silliman, Daniel Foose ▲ Mike Stern w. Teymur Phell, Richie Morales

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Locobeach
Bar Lunático Kate McGarry Quartet w. Keith Ganz, Sean Smith, Clarence Penn
Bushwick Public House Daniel Carter, Eric Plaks, Adam Lane, Tcheser Holmes ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane▲ Welf Dorr Quartet ▲ Nick Fraser Quartet w. Kenny Warren, Brandon Lopez ▲ Drew Wesely, Ben Rolston, Colin Hinton ▲ Stelios Mihas, Zach Swanson, Michael Sutton
Sir D’s Lounge Adam Kolker’s Expanded Trio
Three’s Brewing Jeremy Udden Sound Pairings

see rest of the week…

b there or b square 3/12/18

MONDAY MAR. 12

Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Cole Davis Trio w. Jasper Dutz, Vaughn Stoffey ▲ Les Grant Trio w. John Chin, Evan Gregor
Birdland  The Donny Nova Band feat. Julia Trojan ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note McCoy Tyner w. Special Guests
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Cornelia St. Cafe Katherine Ella Wood & The Jazz Festivity w. Jonathan Michel, Charles Goold, Reuben Allen
Dizzy’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra w. Special Guest Lew Tabackin
Fat Cat Evan Shinners ▲ Ned Goold Quartet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Kat Vokes Trio
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Michael Eckroth & Scott Colley ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Minton’s Young Lion Series: Sarah Turkiew & Taylor Clay

Rockwood Music Hall Aaron Comess [I] ▲ Jim Campilongo Trio w. Chris Morrissey, Josh Dion [II]

Rue B Soul & Jazz Singers Jam Session feat Jerome Foster

ShrineJuanma Trujillo Group

Silvana Brian Kastan
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Gilad Hekselman, Orlando Le Fleming ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Bruce Williams 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, Vic Juris, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield feat. Saul Rubin
55 Bar Zack Brock, Chris Tarry, Joel Rosenblatt ▲ Lage Lund w. Matt Brewer, Justin Faulkner

brooklyn

Barbès Braincloud ▲ Los Cumpleanos
Bar Lunático Omer Avital’s Qantar w. Eden Ladin, Asaf Yuria, Alexander Levin, Ofri Nehemya
Bushwick Public House Eric Plaks, Aron Namenwirth, John Loggia ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane ▲ Michael Lytle, Matthew Ostrowski, Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic ▲ Caroline Davis, Caleb Curtis, Charlotte Greve, Oscar Noriega ▲ Eli Wallace, Ben Cohen, Dave Miller ▲ Will Greene, Elias Stemeseder, Raf Vertessen
Sir D’s Lounge Michael Sarian and The Big Chabones
Three’s Brewing Jeremy Udden Sound Pairings

concerts

The Schomburg Center Fostina Dixon and Winds of Change with Edsel Gomez, Lonnie Plaxico, Ronnie Burrage

see rest of the week…

Ben Wendel at Village Vanguard 2/28/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Ben Wendel (tenor saxophone), Aaron Parks (piano), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Matt Brewer (bass), Eric Harland (drums)

SET LIST: February: Joshua Redman, November: Aaron Parks, July: Julian Lage, August: Mark Turner, May: Shai Maestro, October: Gilad Hekselman, Unforeseeable (all by Wendel)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Eric Harland’s playing was supportive, joyous, and contagious. During several sections he was also hollering and “wooing” so frequently that it almost constituted another voice in the music. 

“The Seasons” was a unique musical project undertaken by Ben Wendel in 2015. In each month, he composed a song dedicated to one of his musical collaborators, making up a cycle of 12 songs that showcases Wendel abilities as a player and composer while exposing the influences he has drawn from his colleagues. The project culminated in a series of videos of Wendel performing these pieces as duos, each along with the song’s dedicatee.

Like some of his favorite collaborators, Joshua Redman and Mark Turner, Wendel sports a powerful sound, a nimble altissimo range, and an expanded intervallic approach to improvisation, which is especially impressive given his strict adherence to tuning and uniform timbre. His playing was also very rhythmic, and he often used sub-divided note-groupings to build polyrhythms, and push the beat forward along with the rest of the band. His punchy attack and rhythmic integrity paired well with Brewer’s playing which was equally locked-in and confident. On his only solo of the night, Brewer played lyrically, and projected his melodies with clarity, and a seemingly effortless adherence to the groove.

Parks and Hekselman worked together as a comping unit, with Hekselman adding some moody textures, and Parks subtly marking chords, each in conjunction with one another and with the soloist. In his own solos Hekselman played the straight man. He stayed true to the compositions, and presented his ideas clearly and with a clear tone. On “November,” Parks delivered a dialed in a bluesy solo, but in others solos he ventured more towards abstraction, drawing up energy with flurries of notes, and contrary rhythms.

The compositions had a musical clarity with each piece framed around a distinct bass-line, rhythmic motif or melody, revealing the original format for the songs as duo performances. The ensemble did a great job of filling out these pre-distilled ideas, and with a lineup of very virtuosic players, it was refreshing how they all focused on building the songs, and allowing the strong musical cadences to land and be fully digested by the audience. Some of the set’s most exciting and satisfying moments happened when the whole band nailed the song’s theme and bass-line, accompanied by Harland’s audible hoots, and churning grooves.

by Kazemde George