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

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


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


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


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


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