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