Yotam Silberstein at Smalls 3/8/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Yotam Silberstein

PERSONNEL: Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Nitai Hershkovits (piano), Doug Weiss (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums)

SET LIST: I’m Confessin’ That I Love (Smith/Grant), Capricho de Espanha, (Holanda), The Village (Silberstein), De tu lado del mar (Aguirre), McDavid (Silberstein)

HIGHLIGHTS: Silberstein’s arrangement of Carlos Aguirre’s “De tu lado del mar” perfectly set Aguirre’s striking melody. Weiss, Silberstein, and Hershkovits built on each others’ improvisations creating a seamless arc through the form.

The piano/guitar quartet has been a favorite format for Silberstein and one that he has explored throughout his career. As he explained,

I had a teacher that used to say that piano and guitar should just stay out of each other’s way. I have kind of made it my life goal since to prove him different. I love playing with piano and guitar and I think it can be the most wonderful thing, if it is done with care and love.

Silberstein has a long history with pianist Nitai Hershkovits. The two met as teacher and student at an Israeli music camp where Silberstein was teaching.

The set opened with a relaxed and swinging version of “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You.” After a sensitive treatment of the melody, Silberstein dug in, mixing double-time lines and soulful melodies. After solos from Hershkovits and Weiss, Scott returned to brushes for an understated improvisation full of subtle rhythmic tension.

The quartet followed with Silberstein’s arrangement of “Capricho de Espanha,” a fast, intricate melody in five by Brazilian composer Hamilton de Holanda. Against an open pedal, Hershkovits took the first solo overlaying the static harmony with an array of harmonic superimpositions. Scott supported with simmering intensity following Hershkovits to a climactic hit that ended Hershkovits’s solo and began Silberstein’s. Silberstein started in the low register with loose melodies that reset the energy of the group, patiently building towards a final statement of the melody.

“The Village,” the title track from Silberstein’s most recent album, sets a spacious, soulful melody against a fast moving pulse. Over the changes to “It’s Alright With Me,” the solo section swung with a burning series of trades between Silberstein and Hershkovits. Hershkovits’s right hand delivered intricate melodies punctuated by left-hand comping that reminded me of Brad Mehldau. Scott propelled the two with a straightish, quantized swing-feel before taking a powerful solo of his own.

“De tu lado del mar” opened with a duet between the piano and bass. Against a pedal in the bass, Hershkovits sensitively sang Aguirre’s melancholy song. Weiss took the first solo, perfectly extending the yearning romanticism of the opening with Hadenesque melodicism. The set closed with Silberstein’s “McDavid”, an up-tempo calypso with a happy melody. Each soloist was concise, never obstructing the joyful mood of the song, and illustrating the type of “care and love” that is at the heart of this group.

Jazzmeia Horn at Jazz Standard 3/2/18 (by Sami Stevens)

PERSONNEL: Jazzmeia Horn (vocals), Victor Gould (piano), Barry Stephenson (bass), Henry Conerway III (drums), Marcus Miller (saxophone)

SET LIST: Tight (Carter), I Didn’t Know What Time it Was (Rodgers/Hart), I Remember You (Schertzinger/Mercer, Arr. Horn), The Peacocks (Rowles/Winstone), Night and Day (Porter)

HIGHLIGHTS: Horn turned “Night and Day” into a stream-of-consciousness flow of self-love.


Jazzmeia Horn was personable and relaxed right from the top of Betty Carter’s “Tight.”  She is an inheritor of the Carter tradition: chewing her words in a playful manner, possessing a seemingly spoken phrasing style, while maintaining nearly covert rhythmic complexity, very much one with her band.

“I Didn’t Know What Time it Was” began with just bass and voice, the grid still clear and swinging. When the band eventually came in the interpretation continued to be inventive and fun. Marcus Miller (not the famous bassist) seemed to be cut from just the same natural cloth as Horn: the voice and alto trades felt like a fluid exchange of ideas.

Horn’s complex arrangement of “I Remember You” featured quick hits underneath the singer’s low-key rhythmic intricacy. Victor Gould was a supportive accompanist, offering encouraging and provocative ideas without intrusive ego. Barry Stephenson on bass and Henry Conerway III on drums were steady and swinging, letting the rest of the band build high on such a solid foundation.

Briefly excusing the rest of the band, Horn and Gould gave a duo rendition of “The Peacocks,” a classic tune by Jimmy Rowles, gifted with exceptional lyrics by Norma Winstone in the mid 90’s. This story needs no fixing, it only needs to be sung. Horn paid it this respect, offering a light delivery with minimal adornment.

“Night and Day” offered a new side to Horn, a call and response with the audience, sharing a bit of her perspective on self-love and guns in school.  Its expected that a Jazz singer should know how to improvise notes, but verses? That’s a skill usually saved for Hip Hop and R&B sessions. And yet Horn did it with grace, embracing her role as the woke lady with the mic. At no point in the evening did Horn shy away from who she is, and this extended improvisation was no exception.

— by Sami Stevens

b there or b square 3/5/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Sagi Kaufman Trio w. Yoav Eshed, Stephen Boegehold ▲ Valentina Marino Trio w. Taulant Mehmeti, Myles Sloniker
Birdland Cheryl Bentyne reARRANGEMENTS OF SHADOWS ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note The Showdown Kids feat. Scott Metzger, Katie Jacoby, Simon Kafka ▲ WOLF!
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Cornelia St. Cafe David Amram w. Rene Hart, Kevin Twigg, Elliot Pepper
The Cutting Room CompCord Big Band w. Franz Hackl, Peter Oswald, Wayne J. Du Maine, Dennis Hernandez, John Clark, Mike Seltzer, David Whitwell, Jonathan Greenberg, Gerson Galante, Paul Jones, Paul Carlon, Scott Hoefling, Mercedes Beckman, Richard Sussman, Lawrence Goldman, Joe Abba, Melanie Mitrano, Gene Pritsker
Dizzy’s Monday Nights with WBGO: New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band feat. Vuto Sotashe
Fat Cat The Better Tones ▲ Behn Gillece Quartet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Natalie Dietz Trio
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow David Berkman & Chris Lightcap ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso

Rockwood Music HallJim Campilongo Trio w. Chris Morrissey, Josh Dion [II]

Rue B Orion Turre Quartet
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Nitai Hershkovits, Matt Penman ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Jasper Dutz Duo ▲ Nick Brust Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Vando Jam feat. Mark Gross
55 Bar Sean Wayland


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Dilemastronaura y Los Sabrosos Cosmicos
Bar Lunático Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom w. Carmen Staaf, Tony Scherr
Bushwick Public House Devin Brahja Waldman, Brandon Lewis, Reggie Sylvester ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Rick Parker, Martin Philadelphy, Jeremy Carlstedt ▲ Joe McPhee, Elias Stemeseder, Ken Filiano, Raf Vertessen ▲ Eriq Robinson, Dave Ross, Matt Chilton, William Hooker ▲ Prawit Siriwat, Daniel Durst, Colin Hinton
Sir D’s Lounge Brian Krock’s Big Heart Machine
Three’s Brewing Jeremy Udden Sound Pairings


Jazz at Lincoln Center Young People’s Chorus of New York City [Rose Theater]
The Schomburg Center A Celebration of Alice Coltrane: Brandee Younger

see rest of the week…

Harold Mabern Trio Live at Smalls 2/21/18 (by Nicole Glover)

PERSONNEL: Harold Mabern (piano), Paul Sikivie (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)

SET LIST: Open Sesame (Hubbard), F Blues, Daahoud (Brown), Cherokee (Noble), Do it Again (Becker/Fagen)

HIGHLIGHTS: Mabern connects the dots in American music. He plays it all and talks about it all, too.

Harold Mabern is legendary for his encyclopedic knowledge of repertoire: Who else from his generation offers a set list of Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, and Steely Dan? He’s played with everyone and still has his ear to the ground, often leading his own trio featuring Joe Farnsworth on drums and a rotating cast of skillful young bassists including Paul Sikivie.

The set started with Hubbard’s “Open Sesame,” with a great, driving energy that is always characteristic of Mabern’s groups. His powerful touch and melodic use of quartal harmony generated much excitement in the crowded club, and Paul Sikivie’s bass solo featured effortless motivic idea development with a beautiful sound. The trio then launched into a swinging blues in F. Mabern is deeply connected to his Memphis blues background, and there is a singing, spiritual quality to his playing. Farnsworth had a memorable solo feature, creating his own call-and-response melodies.  Mabern chose to play Brown’s “Daahoud” as a walking ballad,  showcasing the trio’s sense of phrasing and groove. Mabern’s cadenza was in the tradition of Art Tatum and Phineas Newborn Jr, where exceptional virtuosity meets a deep blues consciousness. A ridiculously burning “Cherokee” is a staple in Mabern’s repertoire and his particular arrangement is notorious – each “A” section goes up a half step, with the bridge played in the key of the second “A.”

Professor Mabern loves to share his knowledge and commitment to community. He gently asked the audience to keep George Cables in their prayers, and discussed their mutual love for Wynton Kelly. He praised Ahmad Jamal, “My main man,” admiring Jamal’s ability to, “Always find the right note.” He informed us that it was Tadd Dameron’s, Nina Simone’s, and Joe Farnsworth’s birthday; naturally, the room sang “Happy Birthday” to the drummer. Farnsworth was a former student, and Mabern even went so far to namecheck other former drum students, including Bill Stewart, Tyshawn Sorey, Johnathan Blake Jr., and Mark Guiliana, all of whom he praised for doing “big things, everything under the sun!” No topic seems to escape Mabern: The great tenor players out of Chicago, his favorite chord substitutions, even Perry Como.

The celebration of all styles of music ended with a feel-good, boogaloo version of the Steely Dan tune, “Get Back”, which had all of Smalls grinning ear to ear. Seeing Mabern play is an essential rite of passage for a New York musician.

— by Nicole Glover

Nick Finzer’s “Hear and Now” at Cornelia St. Cafe 2/28 (by Dan Lehner)

PERSONNEL: Nick Finzer (trombone), Lucas Pino (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Alex Wintz (guitar), Glenn Zaleski (piano), Dave Baron (bass), Allan Mednard (drums)

SET LIST: Just Passed the Horizon (Finzer), Never Enough (Finzer), The Greatest Romance Ever Sold (Prince R. Nelson), New Beginnings (Finzer), Again and Again (Finzer), Race to the Bottom (Finzer)

HIGHLIGHTS: The group conceptually stretched its legs by interpreting a 90’s Prince crossover-pop tune as a John Coltrane Quartet selection, the result being a remarkably potent and surprisingly non-cheeky addition to his mostly original set.

Nick Finzer has been a strong entry in the catalogue of young trombonists for a few years, notably with JALC and Anat Cohen. However it is as a bandleader where Finzer makes his strongest mark. Hear and Now’s performance at Cornelia St. Cafe was a delicate balance between intricate counterpoint, group interplay and individual features.

Finzer’s writing had a stately sort of quality even in the excited moments. The genial harmonies between trombone and bass clarinet in “Never Enough” had an air of Duke Ellington bucolicism.  In “Just Passed the Horizon” a lively and curious melody started in unison before the members gradually broke off to fulfill other roles. “Race to the Bottom” framed lightning fast, dive-bombing runs with late-60’s-style parallel harmonic figures. Prince tributes have become common since 2016, but Hear and Now’s reimagining of the less-talked-about “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” as if performed by the John Coltrane Quartet worked surprisingly well, wringing the pop tune’s chordal twists for all they were worth, outfitted with McCoy-esque block chords and Elvin-esque snare-ride combos.

Finzer was a nimble and diverse technician, comfortable breezing through all the registers. He might have a similar constructive sense as Ryan Keberle: long, attractive melodic sequences that utilize wide intervallic ranges, capped by short falls and unexpected turns into double-time. He was sensitive to color in the broad musical sense of the term; harmonically, he massaged “out” harmonies into the logic of his solos through careful repetition, and texturally, he made use of the woefully underrepresented bucket mute to blend in with his bandmates.

The sextet’s sidemen made formidable statements within Finzer’s music. Pino had a fiery temperament not unlike Joe Henderson, moving from booming low ends to fluttering, arrhythmic sheets in the highs. Zaleski and Mednard tapped into similar energies in “Again and Again,” the pianist moving between tippin’ bop phrases and Robert Glasper-ish gospel, Mednard similarly mediating New Orleans swing, modern jazz and boom-bap hip-hop. Wintz’s feature on “New Beginnings” mixed Frisellian/Methenian prettiness with spidery sprints, while Baron leavened poeticisms with fierce syncopation.

— by Dan Lehner

Da Yeon Seok Quartet at Korzo 2/27/18 (by Kevin Sun)


PERSONNEL: Hery Paz (tenor saxophone), Leo Geno (piano), Matt Pavolka (bass), Da Yeon Seok (drums)

SET LIST: “Relation: Part I, II, III, IV” (Seok), “Brainstorm” (Seok), group improvisation

HIGHLIGHTS: During a 50-minute set largely featuring collective improvisation, abrupt transitions heightened the drama while giving form and variety to the proceedings. At one point, a thunderous duet between saxophone and piano seemed to vanish into thin air, granting an opportunity for arco bass to glide forth into a thrilling upper register passage.


Korzo is a notoriously challenging room for drummers. With a high ceiling, brick back wall, and predominantly sound-reflective surfaces, the backroom can easily produce an undifferentiated wash of cymbals and drums. Leading her own quartet there on Tuesday, Da Yeon Seok used the resonance of the space to her advantage, playing with a characteristic restraint that lent gravity to her statements while bringing out the beauty in the decay of sound.

The first 40 minutes of the set were uninterrupted, moving between notated portions (“Relation: Part I, II, III, IV” as well as “Brainstorm,” composed by Seok) and extended improvisations departing from preconceived material. Beginning with measured statements of cymbal, snare, and bass drum set apart with unhurried rests, Seok set the pace for the music to follow. Under the ceremonial mood cast by these slow but sure gestures, an episode of start and stop fragments featuring saxophonist Hery Paz, pianist Leo Geno, and bassist Matt Pavolka quickened to a climax of pitched and unpitched sound before shifting into a delicate contrapuntal duet between saxophone and bowed bass.

Geno provided the hyperbolic foil to Seok’s spacious approach; at moments, his rhapsodic pianism called to mind the physicality of Cecil Taylor, with ripples of keys moving in contrary motion from the far ends of the piano toward the center, or vice-versa. Paz’s translucent but burry sound—not overbearingly heavy, and possessing pleasing weight—folded smoothly into the collective textures of the ensemble. Unlike many saxophonists, Paz’s vibrato is noticeably intentional, with an emphatic and quick shake that might recall Tony Malaby, but which he uses discriminately and at times completely omits, using a penetrating straight tone instead. Pavolka moved freely between serving as an unmoveable anchor for the improvising ensemble and improvising in the foreground, with virtuosic runs spanning the entire range of the bass.

At the end of this continuous sequence of music, an abrupt choke to a full-blown group improvisation left the piano alone, laying into several loud, sustained dissonances before going silent. Seok introduced the band during the ensuing applause while also modestly remarking that she wasn’t sure if she could call what they’d just played her compositions, since, “It was mostly improvisation.” However, the compositions certainly provided the sufficient pretext for these musicians to make thoroughly captivating music together.

by Kevin Sun

Frank Lacy Sextet at Smalls 2/27/18 (by Dan Lehner)

PERSONNEL: Frank Lacy (flugelhorn, vocals), Michael Wang (trombone), Stacy Dillard (tenor and soprano saxophones), Helen Sung (piano), Ryan Berg (bass), Brandon Lewis (drums)

SET LIST: Gonzin’ (Lacy), Think on Me (George Cables), Carolyn’s Dance (Lacy), Pamela (Bobby Watson)

HIGHLIGHTS: Lacy’s lack of trombone playing didn’t make the performance feel empty; his well-known, robust vocal style filled the set with soulful bravado on “Carolyn’s Dance” and his proficient, perhaps-less-well-known flugelhorn playing both complimented the top register of the horn lines and made for a familiar yet personal solo instrument.

True to his idiosyncratic nature, Frank Lacy didn’t play any trombone. Taking the Blakey-esque top voice role on flugelhorn, Lacy led a burnished front line over a potent rhythm section that gave everybody a workout.

“Gonzin'” is a hard-bop/post-bop tune with asymmetrical rhythm section hits and a harmonically cycling B section, gave a good introduction to the group’s philosophy.  Brandon Lewis cracked his snare drum through the negative space of the melodic lines and took an almost overwhelmingly explosive solo.  Stacy Dillard played in the Wayne Shorter tradition, a mixture of keening authority and slippery harmonics that fit neatly into the logic of the composition.

Lacy exhibited a remarkable aptitude on flugelhorn. Much of the time he favored single-chorus jaunts filled with texture and one-to-two note pepperings, but on the lively, plena-like rhythms of Bobby Watson’s “Pamela,” he strung together a series of small but assertive phrases strung together with long threads of bebop runs that would cap off in a series of high flutters like Freddie Hubbard.

George Cables’s “Think on Me” provided a vehicle for Michael Wang’s considerable phrasing and technique, shifting around tupletted phrases in the high register a la Conrad Herwig, swooping up and down the mid to high registers of the trombone. Ryan Berg’s approach to the tumbao figure was similarly robust and wide-ranged, a thick texture interspersed with doubled-up rhythms.

Helen Sung helped bring disparate elements together, flipping on a dime between mimicking the group’s percussive energy and offering teetering and crooked bop lines at breakneck speeds. In one instance, she used a mid-chorus horn monã as a jumping point to unravel a solo line that was unbroken for almost the entire rest of the chorus before slamming back into the two-handed rhythmic figure.

Lacy’s group was diverse in personal style, but united in the sort of devotional power people have come to expect from this leader.

by Dan Lehner

Nicholas Payton Quartet @ Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, 2/22/18 (by Sean Gough)

PERSONNEL: Nicholas Payton (trumpet, piano, Rhodes, clavinet), Vicente Archer (double bass), Joe Dyson (drum kit), Jacquelene Acevedo (percussion)

SET: Relaxin’ with Nick, El Guajiro, Two, Six (all tunes by Payton)

HIGHLIGHTS: Archer occasionally looking at Payton the way bass players used to look at Erroll Garner. “What’s he gonna do next?” Refreshing to see great musicians who are sometimes thought of as “inside” truly improvising.

Nicholas Payton has gotten a lot of press as a polemicist and writer. He also has a level of respect among musicians and audiences that isn’t earned by blogging. Seeing one of his sets still begs the question: Do y’all realize what he’s doing?

Aside from the craziness of playing a valve instrument and a keyboard simultaneously, Payton has eliminated the intrusive comping and harmonic guessing games that plague quartets. In certain registers, the blend of trumpet and Rhodes actually sounds like a new hybrid instrument. Even when he’s not playing trumpet, Payton already distinguishes himself with the variety of orchestration he gets from piano, Rhodes, and clavinet, and the depth of tunes he can call on from his recent catalogue.

A blindfold test would’ve yielded some interesting responses to the first tune, beginning in the upper registers of the piano. Gently descending in plush tones, Payton and Archer agreed on a pedal point and a tempo, and Dyson and Acevedo tastefully picked their spots to join. Ahmad Jamal might have appreciated the way Payton left everyone room dynamically and otherwise by sometimes just comping with the left hand. Among high, clear piano lines, Payton subtly developed a quotation from “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” Turning to Rhodes, trumpet, and finally piano again, this swinging tune was called “Relaxin’ with Nick.”

Acevedo altered the room temperature with bells, chimes, and an instrument that sounded like sifting sand. Moving to congas (and some cowbell), she took a masterful solo, building a melody and chasing several claves/grooves back and forth. These shifts of tempo made the entrance of the band on “El Guajiro” that much more tight. The rest was madness (in the best way). An epic in two parts with some awe-inspiring trumpet, this “El Guajiro” was more turbulent than the track on Afro-Caribbean Mixtape.

What better way to follow that than the angelic “Two” from Payton’s album Numbers. At one point Payton let the melody linger on a little patch on clavinet, then gliding down to the broader sound of the Rhodes. To paraphrase one of his posts from awhile back: “What’s the point of music if it doesn’t make you want to dance or fuck, or bring you closer to God?”

On “Six” (also from Numbers), Payton was preacher, virtuoso trumpeter, and George Clinton-like instigator at the clavinet and Rhodes. He left the audience grooving, transitioning at some point to what sounded like a pop tune that I was embarrassed not to recognize for sure, but evocative of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”

Big props to Archer for the combination of groundedness and openness that allows maximum mileage from minimal material — plus some strong, wide-ranging solos. And Joe Dyson was the x-factor in making the ensemble everyone’s instrument. He was so effortlessly attuned to the music that the dynamics weren’t dynamics. Even at the most boisterous on “El Guajiro,” the pops and smacks of the drums landed so right that loud didn’t seem loud, quiet didn’t seem quiet, solos didn’t seem like solos. The communal spirit was intact. #BAM

by Sean Gough

Dave Douglas Dizzy Atmosphere: Dizzy Gillespie at Zero Gravity 2/24/18 (by Tom Csatari)

PERSONNEL: Dave Douglas (trumpet), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Gerald Clayton (piano), Linda May Han Oh (bass), Joey Baron (drums), Bill Frisell (electric guitar)

SET LIST: Almazan (Douglas) Manteca (Gillespie) Pacific (Douglas) Cadillac (Douglas) Con Alma (Gillespie) Pickin’ the Cabbage (Gillespie)

HIGHLIGHTS: Dave wrote some double-trumpet background pads during Linda Oh’s bass solo on his original “Almazan” that were really hip and unexpected.

The trumpeter, composer, bandleader, arranger, educator, and entrepreneur Dave Douglas was commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center to write and arrange music inspired by Dizzy Gillespie for a group of all-star musicians for a two-night run at the Appel Room inside the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

The second set of the second night began with an unaccompanied solo from the leader. Douglas started with wide leaps and stretching post-bop acrobatics, foreshadowing a set of intricate, risky, intense and far-ranging music.

Douglas’s own “Almazan” slowly bloomed with atmosphere until all members of the group were collectively improvising over a rubato pulse, reminiscent of Paul Motian or perhaps the pianist Fabian Almazan (who is referenced in the song title). The piece expanded into a 6/4 polyrhythmic groove with bebop-inflected trumpet melodies from the horns. Nothing stayed in one place: diverse rhythmic feels were superimposed over the form for different soloists. Ambrose Akinmusire’s loose-but-linear lyrical atonality was extremely fresh.

The group transitioned into another drone-y improvisation — some sort of Schoenbergian blues aesthetic — which led them into Douglas’s free arrangement of “Manteca.” Joey Baron brought the melody out on his dry cymbals, Douglas took a melody-first approach to his solo, and Gerald Clayton took the rhythm section swinging on his turn at the changes. Sparkly clangs from Bill Frisell’s distorted delay entrails and reverse loops offered a dissipating coda.

“Pacific,” another original inspired by Gillespie, reminded me of Ben Allison’s cinematic-jazz and Chico Hamilton’s crossover experimentations. Again, Douglas used the double-trumpet sound to great effect, beginning with a duel-trumpet herald. Eventually the composition with full band offered a widespread melody from Douglas, juxtaposed against a jagged line from Akinmusire. The latter displayed the woodier tone when taking a fleet-footed solo where he appeared to be floating and pushing at the same time, completely unencumbered by the restrictions of his instrument. Linda Oh was a pillar of stability. Her tone was heavy on the mids, projecting out into the room and dealing out ultramodern dexterity.

“Cadillac” was a Phrygian-tinged vehicle for the guitarist. Frisell made the whole show feel lighter with his iconic surf shred, and hit his stride during “Cadillac”‘s blues vamp. Some interstitial rubato improvisation led the group into a reading of one of Gillespie’s most well-known compositions, “Con Alma” which was played pretty straight and graced with the comparatively rare intro from the first recording. Akinmusire’s solo was had an endless flow of lyrical, shape-based ideas over the form’s shifting harmony. Frisell countered with a starlit beauty which made Akinmusire shake his head with adoration, mouthing “Yeah, man!” at the outset. Linda Oh bounced through the harmony deftly during her solo and Douglas soloed over the outro, driving things home in a bluesy avant-garde manner suggestive of his work with John Zorn’s Masada.

The set ended with Dizzy’s early “Pickin’ The Cabbage,” a stylish minor tune with some nice changes. Clayton took a block chord solo which included punches of atonality; Akinmusire kept it short and to the point; Frisell sounded like a mad scientist on the fretboard. Joey Baron actually played with Gillespie (a little known fact), and he closed the night with a drum shout before the last head out.

There was a lot of soloing, but the group came together at key moments. The project was aptly titled, with Dave Douglas refracting Dizzy Gillepie’s music through a 21st-century lens with a once-in-a-lifetime band.

by Tom Csatari

Rodney Green Quartet at the Cave at St. Georges 2/9/18 (by EB Silverman)

rodney green

PERSONNEL: Rodney Green (drums), Corcoran Holt (bass), Tim Green (alto), Adam Birnbaum (piano)

SET LIST: Fingerpainting (Hancock) Introspection (Monk) Carousel (Mulgrew Miller)
Ooh What You Do To Me (Al Foster) I Want to Stand Over There (Bobby Hutcherson)

HIGHLIGHTS: It was a rare pleasure to hear a group of lesser-known compositional gems from the canon of hard swinging jazz. Birnbaum’s solo intro to “Introspection” was striking.

After some light banter with the audience, Rodney Green counted off Herbie Hancock’s “Fingerpainting.” The tempo was a bit quicker than the V.S.O.P recording, and from the downbeat, the gel between Corcoran Holt and Green was buoyant. The band swung hard throughout the blowing. Each of the members enjoyed an opportunity to take a bite out of the tune before ending over the introductory vamp.

Thanks to an abstract form and uncertain key center, Thelonious Monk’s “Introspection” is rarely called at jam sessions. During his intro, Adam Birnbaum’s rubato interpretation was filled with moments of rolling chords intermixed with punches. (Solo piano was especially successful in the reverberant church.) A quick blast of the tune at tempo called in the band, which then sat right in the beat. Rodney’s punctuations during accompaniment of the number were catchy and helped punctuate the confusing form. Tim Green’s improvisation included well-placed references of the melody to keep the tune in the listener’s ear intermixed with creative hard bop language. For his only solo statement of the set, Green offered clean technique and structure while retaining a certain off-balance feeling within the time.

With a slight prod from Rodney, Tim Green began the next number a capella, freely speaking over the changes of Mulgrew Miller’s “Carousel.” Slowly the band crept into a slow waltz and eventually the moment was seized by Corcoran Holt, who offered punchy lines in all registers.

The bassist was also featured out front on “Ooh What You Do To Me” by Al Foster. Holt began with some hard-hitting blues language followed by ideas stemming from a pedal point. Green provided a funkier beat framework for this tune, including an obviously Foster-inspired feel for the Afro-Cuban bridge. The band locked into the song’s tricky bass line and proceeded to groove out.

The evening closed with a burning take of a Bobby Hutcherson composition, “I Wanna Stand Over There.” Green mentioned enjoying the cut on In The Vanguard. the 1986 Hutcherson live date with Kenny Barron, Buster Williams, and Al Foster. It is telling that Green is citing the masters in the mid-80s, an era not all of Green’s generation have thought much about. (Indeed, most of the rep – V.S.O.P, Miller, Foster, ’86 Hutcherson — was comparatively recent and significantly less explored than a whole host of more common hard-swinging tunes from an older canon.)

“I Wanna Stand Over There” features a single hit answered by a melodic line, repeated and varied. Rodney found cracks within the hits of the melody to drive the tune into the soloing form. From there, it was Tim Green taking off and blowing his heart out. After a winding Birnbaum solo, Corcoran and Rodney exchanged ideas together, walking bass with percussion input. At the end the band stopped on a dime and rang a bright, bell-like chord.

by EB Silverman

be there or be square 2/26


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Julphan Tilapornputt Trio w. Jeong Hwan Park, Kobe Abcede ▲ Deborah Latz Trio w. Adam Fisher, Ray Parker
Birdland Lorna Dallas “Home Again” ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note McCoy Tyner
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Steve & Jackie Trio w. Special Guests
Cornelia St. Cafe Anna Grudskaya
Dizzy’s Monday Nights with WBGO: Scott Tixier Quartet + Strings w. Glenn Zaleski, Luques Curtis, Allan Mednard, Kiku Enomoto, Molly Fletcher, Kenny Wang, Susan Mandel
Fat Cat Harold O’Neal’s Piano Cinema Raw ▲ Simona Premazzi Band ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Flatiron Room Blue Plate Special
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Philip Harper w. John Colianni, George Delancey ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Minton’s Young Lions Series: Dead Center w. Eladio Rojas, Simon Wilson, Chris McCarthy

Rue B Carlos Homs Trio
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Tivon Pennicott, Orlando Le Fleming ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Michel
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Mark Kross ▲  Kaz Araki
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield, and guest Gilad Hekselman
55 Bar JD Walter w. Ben Monder, Nasheet Waits, Jonathan Michel ▲ Tony Mason w. Michael Blake, Ben Stivers, Jeff Hanley


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Bulla En El Barrio
Bar Lunático Reid Anderson & Andrew D’Angelo
Bushwick Public House Anna Webber, Max Johnson, Michael Sarin ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Anders Nilsson/Jeremy Carlstedt ▲ Anna Webber, Oscar Noriega, Jonathan Goldberger, Adam Hopkins, Jeff Davis ▲ Lior Milliger, Hilliard Greene, Joe Hertenstein

see rest of the week…

Kris Davis and Craig Taborn at Issue Project Room 2/15/2018 (by Nathan Bellott)

PERSONNEL:  Kris Davis (piano), Craig Taborn (piano)

SETLIST:  Interruptions #1 (Taborn), Love In Outer Space (Sun Ra), Untitled (Davis), Interruptions #2 (Taborn)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Davis and Taborn took the audience through the gamut of pianistic expression, united by the perfect acoustics of the hall.


The forty-foot ceilings and stone floor of Issue Project Room’s theater in downtown Brooklyn was an ideal space for a two piano concert. Two pristine Yamaha 9-foot grand pianos were placed in the center of concentric seating. While at provocative rest the instruments suggested all manner of potential sounds. The seats filled up (extras were added) and soon the two minds came out to play, celebrating the release of the new record Octopus.

With two brilliant improvisors that also compose, there is the question of how much is planned in advance. They both had sheet music on the pianos, and both started with similar written motifs that built into improvisations. In the end, much of the hour-long concert must have been spontaneous, although their reflexes and responses have undoubtedly been honed by recent touring and recording together.

The music flowed freely and echoed a myriad of influences: the placid beauty of Morton Feldman, the rhythm of Stravinsky, serialism, Cecil Taylor’s intensity. In “Interuptions #1,” a piece by Taborn, each pianist had a chance to play solo statements. Davis used this opportunity to develop a textural lyricism, using touch, mysterious pedaling, and the range of the piano to create a soft soundscape. When it was Taborn’s turn,  I could see both hands and feet. At times he seemed to encourage the notes out of the piano with a free hand, not unlike Glenn Gould gracefully conducting the notes out of the piano.

Davis is famous for preparing her piano, which would manifest in Sun Ra’s “Love in Outer Space.” It’s a feel-good tune, familiar but foreign. The bass line is a simple groove in six and the harmony stays in the same place, a happy E-flat major. Davis used the prepared part of her piano as a clave, breaking the time up in six, three, two, and every other possible way. Among the highlights here was Taborn’s blurring tremolos between his left and right hands. After another long round of applause, they announced the composition names including their final number, Taborn’s “Interruptions #2,” carrying the thread from the beginning of the concert to a close.

by Nathan Bellott

Nick Green Quintet at The Flying Lobster 2/17/18 (by Tom Csatari)

PERSONNEL: Nick Green (alto sax), Ben Rice (Fender Rhodes), Andrew Latona (electric guitar), Cole Davis (bass), Mike Camacho (drums)

SET 1: What’s New? (B.Haggart/J.Burke), Bluesnik (J.McLean), These Foolish Things  (J.Strachey/E.Maschwitz), Fungii Mama (B.Mitchell), Along Came Betty ft. Bruce Barth (B.Golson), The Theme (M.Davis)

SET 2: East of the Sun (B.Bowman), Sophisticated Lady (D.Ellington), Joy Spring ft. Unknown Drummer (C.Brown), The Song Is You (J.Kern/O.Hammerstein), Sax Cadenza (N.Green), Db Blues (N.Green), Ornithology (C.Parker), Hackensack (T.Monk)

HIGHLIGHTS: A duet intro by Latona and Green on “These Foolish Things” was sweet and starry-eyed. Davis’s bass solos were a perfect, unamplified respite from the barrage of Brooklyn bebop.

For some time the Flying Lobster has been hosting teenage bebop proteges down in Red Hook. I finally made it out to hear a group helmed by the bartender/owner Neil Galic’s son Nick Green, alongside the trumpeter Sebastian Gil. They blew my mind.

The next week I showed up again to review for DTG. I missed the West Coast-vibe and the alto/trumpet chordless hookup, but this show was much the same vein: completely fresh, joyful bebop; played from the heart without any gimmicks; and zero bullshit. Overall, the effect of the music was more like hearing really raw, romantic rap than the mod jazz you see in Manhattan, set in a kind of neighborhood-folky environment.

Nick Green has all the bebop language down, he has adapted some Joe Henderson language for the alto, and some Lee Konitz-style freedom occurs when he interprets songbook tunes. He sang a chorus of D-flat blues and led the bandstand with ease, poise, and respect.

The guitarist Andrew Latona seemed to be Nick’s local friend and he sounded great, somewhere between Charlie Christian and Kenny Burrell, playing mostly single note bebop lines, sometimes in tandem with Green. Latona can really keep up on the up-tempo tunes.

Ben Rice was nice on the Rhodes (probably the loudest instrument in the room), especially when he was comping for the guitar, where things really fired up and went into almost organ trio territory. Seasoned shredder Bruce Barth took the cake when he swapped out on Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty,” but Rice held his own on both sets and has really big ears, coming through with a quirky, post-bop infused solo late in the second set on Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology.”

Cole Davis has outstanding intonation and a great beat. He didn’t really know Monk’s “Hackensack” but he learned it by the end of the tune — hell yeah, that’s the real shit. Mike Camacho was sort-of Elvin-meets-Philly-Joe, or something, and never too loud for the room. He played supportively on the classic “Sophisticated Lady,” and kept us all on the edge of our seats when the band was trading 1s on the set’s last hit.

There was a funny moment when one of the bartenders was Instagramming the show and replaying the videos quite loudly while the band was playing. It’s an urgent scene that’s about offering jazz music to a local crowd from local heroes. They hit every Saturday night.

by Tom Csatari

Fabian Almazan and Rhizome at The Jazz Gallery 2/17/18 (by Caroline Davis)

PERSONNEL: Fabian Almazan (piano, effects), Sara Serpa (voice), Tomoko Omura (violin), Megan Gould (violin), Karen Waltuch (viola), Noah Hoffeld (cello), Linda May Han Oh (bass), Dan Weiss (drums)

SET LIST:  Alcanza Suite: Vida Absurda y Bella, Marea Baja, Verla
Mas, Tribu T9, Cazador Antiguo, Pater Familias, Este Lugar, Marea Alta

HIGHLIGHTS:  Linda and Fabian traded choruses during one of the middle movements of the suite, and although it was definitely mixed meter with some measures of 5/8 closing the phrase, they didn’t make it sound pedantic in any way. It both looked and sounded like the joy you experience from the freeness of dancing sunshine.

…And with a fierce and skipping beat, Alcanza was brought to light. It took a moment for the group’s sonic demands to adjust to the room, but once they were in agreement, the room took heed.

The second movement gave way to Fabian’s first use of his pedals in the set. After the set, he showed us the Yamahiko pickup underneath the piano, which is a tiny microphone that picks up vibrations from the piano to run through the pedal rig (delays, ring modulation). Processing acoustic piano is a tricky venture; but Fabian’s skills were seamless and appropriately placed, and especially welcomed from where I was sitting the room, where it was a bit difficult to hear the piano. Before I noticed it, Sara came in and demonstrated her infallibly delicate upper register under Fabian’s rumbling harmony.

Akin to the vibe on Ornette’s “Lonely Woman,” there were several moments over the course of the suite when the rhythm section played in time energetically, while Sara, Linda, and Fabian’s left hand sang a rubato melody overtop. The strings joined in during a one particular early point and created a sparkling texture underneath a progression that brought Ravel to mind. In general, this string quartet was a nice addition to the trio, one could tell that Noah, Karen, Megan, and Tomoko were all well-versed in the nuances of improvised music.

The core trio brought much of the interactive magic, propelled forward by Weiss’ unexpected but perfectly placed fills. Another particularly moving moment was during an open piano solo, when Weiss accompanied Almazan’s dense harmonies. Dan’s choices didn’t seem written out, they scanned as purely felt.

It’s clear that Fabian put a lot of work into this lengthy work. Everything sat in its right place, timbrally and range-wise. A lot of the through-composed sections felt cinematic, and there were small glimpses of open interaction that could have gone on longer.

— by Caroline Davis

Joe Martin Quartet at Smalls 2/19/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Joe Martin

PERSONNEL: Joe Martin (bass), Mark Turner (tenor saxophone), Kevin Hays (piano), Nasheet Waits (drums)

SET 1: Prospecting, A World Beyond, Two Birds, Safe (all by Martin)

SET 2: Malinda, 5×3, Long Winter, Safe (all by Martin)

HIGHLIGHTS: The quartet dove deep into Martin’s folk-like melody “Malinda.”

Joe Martin’s quartet with Turner, Hays, and Waits has played a handful of gigs over the last five years, although the four musicians have frequently collaborated in other settings. A few days after their performance at Smalls, the quartet will go into the studio to record Martin’s first album as a leader since his 2009 recording Not By Chance. Martin spoke about the group saying,

I like the combination of musical personalities and what Mark, Kevin, and Nasheet each bring to the music. I have known all of them since the 90s, and I have worked with all of them in different bands over the years. I’m really thrilled to make music with them.

The first set opened with “Prospecting,” a medium swing tune with an asymmetrical phrase structure. Hays’s right hand beautifully stretched out with long, rich melodies buoyed by understated counterpoint from his left hand. Turner’s patiently paced solo was more rhythmically oriented and grew into a subtle sparring match with Waits who delivered a rolling series of accents and hits.

“A World Beyond” began with an unaccompanied introduction from Martin that reminded me of the clarity and economy of Charlie Haden. Hays and Waits eventually helped set up a loose, straight 4/4. Turner entered singing out Martin’s lyrical melody, which was underpinned by a counter line in the bass and piano. For the tenor solo that followed, the quartet kept the time, but left the form, allowing Turner to stretch with a dense and powerful improvisation. Turner handed off to Hays as the two intertwined in a series of trills. The pulse loosened as Hays continued to create a wash of sound by trilling through the piano. Out of this texture, he gradually began to draw out a melody, which he sang with raw intensity. Martin and Waits accompanied with a mixture of interjection and support. The three eventually returned to the time and form, and from there back to the melody.

Both sets closed with Martin’s uptempo swing “Safe.” The first section of the tune created a beautifully disjointed half-time feel by combining groups of four and five. The second section was an angular contrafact over “Just in Time.” The quartet’s second reading of the tune settled into the challenging form and expanded on their earlier version. The solos began over the changes with Hays and Turner loosely trading. Turner eventually stepped back. Hays dug in with dense, hard-swinging melodies and rich counterpoint between the hands. Hays solo ended in the half-time section where Turner reentered soulfully singing in the low register. Waits later blew over the same section, navigating the asymmetrical form with freedom and flexibility. The band then laid out for a loose, semi-walking solo from Martin. A final statement of the melody brought the quartet’s performance to an authoritative close.

— by Jeff McGregor

b there or b square 2/19/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Paul Jubong Lee Trio w. Daniel Durst, Diego Maldonado ▲ Elisabeth Lohninger Trio w. Walter Fischbacher, Marco Panascia
Birdland Linda Purl ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Roy Hargrove
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Salute to Vinicius de Moraes & Baden Powell feat. The Afro Sambas Ensemble & Andres Laprida
Cornelia St. Cafe Ryan Slatko Trio w. Ben Tiberio, Mike Piolet
Dizzy’s Julian Bliss Septet: A Tribute to Benny Goodman w. Martin Shaw, Lewis Wright, Neal Thornton, Colin Oxley, Tim Thornton, Ed Richardson
The Django Bill Dobrow ▲ David Johansen
Fat Cat Osso String Quartet ▲ George Braith Band ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Ron Blake & Marc Cary ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Minton’s Young Lions Series: Steve Nelson Quartet w. Alec Safy, Mike Camacho
Rockwood Music Hall Lior Milliger Quartet with Nitzan Gavrieli, Arnon Palty, Ronen Itzik [III]

Rue B Orion Turre Quartet
Smalls Joe Martin Quartet w. Mark Turner, Kevin Hays, Nasheet Waits ▲ Ari Hoenig Trio w. Chico Pinheiro, Eduardo Belo ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Subculture Nadje Noordhuis/James Shipp ▲ Nadje Noordhuis Quintet
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Strings Attached: Jack Wilkins, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield, Vic Juris and guest Sheryl Bailey
55 Bar Mike Stern


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Locobeach
Bar Lunático Gilad Hekselman’s GHEX Trio w. Rick Rosato, Jonathan Pinson
Bushwick Public House Elijah Shiffer, Stan Zenkoff, Sam Day Harmet ▲ Stephen Gauci/Sandy Ewen ▲Brian Groder Quartet ▲ Sarah Bernstein, Ryan Ferreira, Jeremy Carlstedt ▲ Anna Webber, Yuma Uesaka, Edward Gavitt, Shawn Lovato, Colin Hinton
Three’s Brewing Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Moppa Elliott, Ron Stabinsky, Kevin Shea ▲ Brian Adler’s Shankar


National Jazz Museum Kevin Sun Trio w. Walter Stinson, Matt Honor

see rest of the week…

Dave Stryker Quartet at Smalls 2/16/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Dave Stryker

PERSONNEL: Dave Stryker (guitar), Bob Mintzer (tenor saxophone), Jared Gold (organ), McClenty Hunter (drums)

SET LIST: Blues Strut (Stryker), Pusherman (Mayfield), Thaddeus (Mintzer), Everything Happens to Me (Dennis), Shadow Boxing (Stryker)

HIGHLIGHTS: The quartet’s arrangement of Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” allowed each soloist space to create and explore while maintaining the spirit and vibe of the original.

Dave Stryker’s trio with Jared Gold and McClenty Hunter has been together since Hunter joined the group in 2010. They have performed and recorded regularly including their most recent record Strykin Ahead, which featured vibraphonist Steve Nelson. The organ trio has been an important part of Stryker’s musical history:

I grew up listening to records by Grant Green with Larry Young, Jimmy Smith, etc. I was fortunate to play 2 years with the great Jack McDuff and ten years with Stanley Turrentine.

This night at Smalls, the trio was joined for a rare New York appearance from tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer. The evening opened with Stryker’s hard-grooving shuffle “Blues Strut.” Stryker’s solo was patiently developed, beautifully combining soulful melodies with well-placed harmonic substitutions. Mintzer’s improvisation had a similar alteration of blues and superimposed harmony, which he sang out with his compact, Joe Henderson-esque tone. Gold dug in with a rich wash of melody and harmony underpinned by his relentlessly swinging left-hand bass. Throughout the tune, Hunter’s deep shuffle groove was punctuated by perfectly placed accents and hits.

Mintzer’s medium-swing “Thaddeus” was a tribute to Thad Jones and a contrafact on Jones’ “The Groove Merchant.” Hunter and Gold laid down a warm and relaxed groove for Mintzer’s tight, gospel-like melody. Mintzer’s solo combined punchy, rhythmic figures with harmonically daring lines. Stryker swung particularly hard with an improvisation full of blues and bop. The quartet’s interpretation of “Everything Happens To Me” beautifully captured the melancholy mood of the song. Stryker began with an unaccompanied introduction. Mintzer then danced through the melody with sensitivity and imagination and was answered by a half-chorus solo from Stryker. Mintzer reentered on the bridge, gradually returning to the melody in the last A before arriving at his cadenza, which balanced virtuosity with lyricism.

The set closed with Stryker’s “Shadow Boxing”, a fast-moving piece punctuated by heavily-syncopated hits at the end of the form. It featured concise and powerful solos from all four musicians, confirming their commitment to melody, swing, and the blues.

— by Jeff McGregor

Mary Halvorson’s Reverse Blue at the Stone 2/4/18 (by Caroline Davis)


PERSONNEL: Mary Halvorson (guitar), Chris Speed (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Eivind Opsvik (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums)

SET LIST: Reverse Blue (Halvorson), Torturer’s Reverse Delight (Halvorson), Echinochloa (Halvorson), Rebel’s Revue (Opsvik), Insomniac’s Delight (Fujiwara), Resting on Laurels (Opsvik), Really OK (Speed), Back Down Slowly (Halvorson)

HIGHLIGHTS: I was brought back to my youthful angst with Mary’s “Torturer’s Reverse Delight” which started with some interweaving madrigal-esque melodies which transformed into a grunge rock solo section, over which both Chris and Mary slayed.

I caught Mary on the last day of her weeklong residency at the Stone in the East Village on a rainy Superbowl Sunday. Although a larger portion of the tunes were by Halvorson, Reverse Blue is a true collaborative effort. (Collaborative bands seem to be more and more common in New York.)

Their namesake tune connected its melody through funk to a light waltz to a bouncy swing and back again. Mary runs the gamut of styles and grooves in all her music. The band ventured into open territory during Mary’s solo, and then miraculously returned home again, ending with a darling clarinet trill.

Chris Speed is generous on both clarinet and tenor. In “Echinochloa,” he included a wide warble in his already beautiful tone, which complemented the laconic energy of the piece. There was a nice moment between Opsvik and Speed, where they both pressed into a note at the same time and their sounds folded into each other. The song ended with an open bass solo, pulsing and driving without being overly aggressive.

“Resting on Laurels” offered lots of interlocking rhythms in the meat of the piece, but then retreating to a beautiful cloud of texture (bells, clarinet exasperations, bowed bass frenzies, pointillistic delayed guitar statements) that led back to a shorter version of the melody and a quick halt.

Tomas’s drumming offers a terrain outside the realm of the day-to-day. He is sensitive to the timbral and pocket needs of a piece, but he’s also a catalyst. Like all the other members of Reverse Blue, he pushes the band to heights not yet reached. Seeking the new is a common thread that ties these four musicians together.

by Caroline Davis

Miguel Zenón at The Village Vanguard 2/11/18 (by Kazemde George)

PERSONNEL: Miguel Zenón (alto saxophone), Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass), Henry Cole (drums)

SET LIST: Quitate de la Via Perico (Rivera), Las Tumbas (Rivera), Ciclo (Zenón), Sangre De Mi Sangre (Zenón), Las Ramas (Zenón)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Henry Cole’s playing throughout the night was inspiring. He plays with a sensitive touch, without losing the full dynamics of the drumset. And by emphasizing the ‘big beat,’ he makes even the most complex rhythmic structures feel like 4/4, while also catching every intricacy of Zenón’s compositions with accurate subdivisions.


Zenón started the set with his arrangements of two songs by the Puerto Rican Salsa singer and composer, Ismael Rivera. On “Perico” he took only the minimum from the original song, utilizing a few simple riffs as jumping-off points for extended improvisations and his signature polyrhythmic, multi-meter inventions. “Las Tumbas” began with a more standard treatment, a lyrical solo by Perdomo giving way to an honest recitation of the melody by Zenón, before transitioning into a high-energy revamp of the original song’s introduction. A third section in 6/8 served as a solo form for the saxophone. In his solos, Zenón puts on display his piercingly beautiful tone and purposeful dexterity.

The band demonstrated their ability to flawlessly execute their leader’s most involved rhythmic structures when needed, but never overemphasized any specific motif. Both Glawischnig and Cole can confidently mark the more complex forms and hits without sounding confined. By extrapolating away from prescribed hits and playing over the bar-lines, they created a very free environment for improvisation without ever losing their bearings. Perdomo’s sparse and sometimes non-existent comping contributed to this open feeling, which gave way to more clear structures only at critical pre-orchestrated moments. The arrangements and compositions were geared towards improvisation, but featured diverse sections often with different solos happening over different forms, and with functional transitions between sections and songs.

Zenon ended the set with “Las Ramas” from his most recent album, Típico, a slowly-paced melody juxtaposed by constant metric modulations in the rhythm section. The song concluded with a drum solo over a syncopated vamp marked by the whole band, a concise thesis statement for the evening.

by Kazemde George

b there or b square 2/12/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Jonah Udall Trio w. Steve Williams, Noah Becker ▲Beat Kaestli Trio w. Pete McCann, Gary Wang
Birdland Kooman & Dimond ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note McCoy Tyner w. Special Guests
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Cornelia St. Cafe Dave Juarez “Stories” w. Max Zooi, Albert Marquez, Marty Isenberg, Eric Reeves
Dizzy’s Juilliard Jazz Ensembles
Fat Cat Jarod Kashkin ▲ Ned Goold Quartet ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Flatiron Room Blue Plate Special
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Micah Thomas w. Dean Torrey, Kyle Benford ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Rockwood Music Hall Wayne Tucker and the Bad Motha’s [I] ▲ Campilongo After Dark! Jim Campilongo Trio w. Chris Morrissey, Kenny Wollesen [II]

Rue B Carlos Homs Trio
Smalls Kevin Hays/Mark Turner/Marc Miralta Trio ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Michel
Smoke Jeremy Pelt 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, Ron Affif, Mark Whitfield, Vic Juris and guest Tony Purrone
55 Bar Jim Ridl ▲ Leni Stern Band w. Mamadou Ba, Alioune Faye


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Los Cumpleanos
Bar Lunático Kulik & Voltzok Group w. Hila Kulik, Yonatan Voltzok, Vince Ector, Barry Stephenson
Bushwick Public House Hillai Govreen Segal, Santiago Leibson, Kenneth Jimenez, Rodrigo Recabarren ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane, Kevin Shea ▲ Patricia Brennan, Juanma Trujillo, Zach Swanson, Léonor Falcon, Noel Brennan ▲ Eric Plaks, Don Chapman, Zach Swanson, Kolja Gjoni ▲ Sandy Ewen, Michelle Yom, Paul Feitzinger
Shapeshifter Lab Rafael Piccolotto de Lima Chamber Project with Hadar Noiberg, Alejandro Aviles, Remy Le Boeuf, Stuart Mack, Patti Kilroy, Delaney Stöckli, Pedro Vizzarro Vallejos, Susan Mandel, Glauco Lima, Vitor Gonçalves, Eduardo Belo, Mauricio Zottarelli ▲ Brooklyn College Jazz


City Winery Al DiMeola

see rest of the week…

Pete Zimmer trio at Smalls 2/8/18 (by Jeff McGregor)

Pete Zimmer

PERSONNEL: Pete Zimmer (drums), George Garzone (tenor saxophone), Peter Slavov (bass)

SET LIST:  Improvisation #1 (Zimmer, Garzone, Slavov), Peace (Silver), I Love You (Porter), Improvisation #2 (Zimmer, Garzone, Slavov), Billie’s Bounce (Parker)

HIGHLIGHTS:  Garzone’s robust yet sensitive interpretation of “Peace” was captivating.

Pete Zimmer’s association with George Garzone began at the New England Conservatory of Music playing duo in Zimmer’s weekly lessons. During that time, Zimmer would occasionally sub in Garzone’s legendary trio The Fringe. This was an invaluable experience for Zimmer:

Some of the most powerful musical experiences I ever had were playing in between George and John Lockwood when I was 21/22 years old. There was a total feeling of freedom and it was very liberating.

Although they play more tunes and forms than the Fringe, Zimmer’s trio with Garzone and Slavov takes a similar approach:

We generally don’t talk much about the music before we play. We keep it as natural, organic, and as fresh as possible, always listening, interacting, and allowing things to go any direction at any time.

The extended free improvisation that opened the set illustrated this approach. Zimmer began with a hard-swinging up-tempo solo that led into a duo with Garzone firmly in the Coltrane/Jones tradition. Slavov eventually joined with a pulsing bass line that increased the music’s simmering intensity. After a round of trading between Zimmer and Garzone, the music shifted to a loose medium swing. In perfect contrast to his earlier solo, Garzone delivered long, relaxed melodies punctuated by dense Trane-like flourishes. Later in the set, the trio stretched out with another open improvisation. Garzone began with slow, searching pentatonic melodies buoyed by Zimmer’s rolling mallets. Slavov followed with with a dense and earthy solo that reminded me of Jimmy Garrison.

Another important source for Zimmer is Joe Henderson’s Village Vanguard recordings with Ron Carter and Al Foster. As he explained,

Obviously our trio has a different vibe, but their openness and interaction is something to aspire to.

The group’s interpretation of “I Love You” illustrated this connection. Garzone’s solo danced through the form alternating between weaving chromatic lines and Rollins-like motivic development. Slavov and Zimmer explored the space around Garzone’s tenor lines providing both support and dialogue.

The set closed with a spirited interpretation of “Billie’s Bounce.” After a concise statement from Garzone, Slavov dug into a walking solo full of creativity and harmonic nuance. Zimmer followed with an authoritative and hard-swinging solo. While the group maintains many of the familiar traditions of the tenor trio, these conventions never inhibit a sense of freedom and discovery.

— by Jeff McGregor

Gilad Hekselman Trio + Mark Turner at Smalls Jazz Club 1/31/18 (by Jeff McGregor)


PERSONNEL: Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Mark Turner (tenor saxophone), Rick Rosato (bass), Jonathan Pinson (drums)

SET LIST 1: It Will Get Better (Hekselman), Tokyo Cookie (Hekselman), Stumble (Hekselman), Cheryl (Parker), Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So (Hekselman)

SET LIST 2: Verona (Hekselman), Clap Clap (Hekselman), My Ideal (Whiting/Robin/Chase), Home To You (Hekselman)

HIGHLIGHTS: The night closed with “Home To You” where Hekselman, Turner, and Pinson exchanged ideas with a sense of joy and freedom.

Gilad Hekselman’s trio with bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jonathan Pinson has maintained a busy touring schedule for the last two years. In November, they were joined by Hekselman’s long-time collaborator Mark Turner for a tour in Europe. This night at Smalls, the four reunited for their first performance together since returning home.

The night opened with Hekselman’s “It Will Get Better.” Like many of his compositions, it had a long arrangement buoyed by strong melodies and ample solo space. Hekselman’s searching improvisation blended loose, singing melodies with precisely executed polyrhythms. Turner followed with a patiently developed solo that was punctuated by explosive Brian Bladesque hits from Pinson. The drummer also draws on Marcus Gilmore and the straight-eighth, Dilla-esque language that characterizes much of contemporary New York drumming. Later in the set, Pinson stretched out on “Cheryl” with a dynamic, hard-hitting solo.

“Verona” opened the second set and featured a beautifully melodic solos from Rosato who has a rich, percussive attack in the tradition of Larry Grenadier and Joe Martin. Later in the set, the quartet gave a beautifully concise reading of “My Ideal.” Turner’s dry, unaffected interpretation of the melody was profound in its simplicity. The solo that followed voiced the harmony with a creative precision that was equally moving.

The first set closed with “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So”, a captivating melody with a simple arrangement that felt almost like a country ballad. I often hear elements of this type of Americana in Hekselman’s writing and playing, especially in his own groups. While it is common for Hekselman to be associated with guitarists like Kurt Rosenwinkel, this aspect of his playing comes from somewhere else. He explained that part of it is his love of songs and popular music, but another important source is Bill Frisell.

Bill Frisell is one of my very favorite guitar players. He really makes the guitar sound like a guitar and I really dig that in him. Most of my influences are pianists, saxophonists, and vocalists, but with Bill I feel like he has taught me to come back to the guitar. When I want to play in a way that is more guitaristic, I often think of him.

While Hekselman’s music draws from many places, he is able to channel everything into a cohesive voice that is his own. The quartet illustrated a similarly unified vision.

by Jeff McGregor

b there or b square 2/5/18


Arthur’s Tavern Grove Street Stompers feat. Joe Licari ▲ Amadou Gaye, A Royal Crime
Bar Next Door Cole Davis Trio w. Adam Larson, Jared Schonig ▲ Gabrielle Stravelli Trio w Greg Ruggerio, Pat O’Leary
Birdland Fleur Seule ▲ Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
Blue Note Jose James w. Takuya Kuroda, Takeshi Ohbayashi, Ben Williams, Nate Smith
Carlyle Hotel Champian Fulton Trio
Cleopatra’s Needle Jam Session/Open Mic
Club Bonafide Pedro Boschi Group: Songs from NatuReza ▲ Nick Semenykhin Trio w. Solomon Gottfried, Andrew Licata
Cornelia St. Cafe Amram & Co. w. David Amram, Kevin Twigg, Rene Hart, Elliot Peper
Dizzy’s Polly Gibbons: A New York Moment w. Andy Ezrin, Shedrick Mitchell, Richie Goods, Mark McLean, Paul Bollenbeck
Fat Cat Evan Shinners ▲Behn Gillece Band ▲ Afterhours w. Billy Kaye
The Flatiron Room Damn Tall Buildings
Jazz Standard Mingus Big Band
Jules Bistro Les Lundiz chez Jules avec Francois Wiss
The Kitano Jam Session w. Iris Ornig
Mezzrow Franck Amsallem & Tim Ries ▲ Afterhours w. Pasquale Grasso
Mintons Young Lion Series: Cole Davis Quartet w. Immanuel Wilkins, Lex Korten, Matt Wilson

Rue B Orion Turre Quartet
Smalls Ari Hoenig Trio w. Nitai Hershkovits, Or Bareket ▲ Afterhours w. Jonathan Barber
Smoke Jeremy Pelt Quartet & The New Jam Session
Swing 46 Swingadelic
Tomi Jazz Shoko Igarashi Trio ▲ Nick Brust Duo
Village Vanguard Vanguard Orchestra
Zinc Bar Vando Jam w. David Bixler Quartet


Barbès Braincloud ▲ Dilemastronauta y Los Sabrosos Cosmicos
Bar Lunático Chris Speed’s Pachora w. Brad Shepik, Chris Tordini, Jim Black
Bushwick Public House Tony Davis/Josh Uguccioni ▲ Stephen Gauci, Sandy Ewen, Adam Lane ▲ Ethan Helm, Gabe Terracciano, Jon Snell, Noah Berman, Matt Honor ▲ Jeff Pearring, Adam Caine, Ratzo Harris, Billy Mintz ▲ Welf Dorr Quartet ▲  Lior Milliger, Javier Moreno Sanchez, Rodrigo Recabarren


see rest of the week…

Mary Halvorson and Randy Peterson at The Stone 1/30/18 (by Noah Berman)

PERSONNEL: Mary Halvorson (electric guitar), Randy Peterson (drums)

SET LIST: Improvisations 1-4 (Halvorson/Peterson)

HIGHLIGHTS: After several minutes of untreated guitar, Halvorson hit a distorted chord and made a loop out of the decaying sustain. In this moment, she discovered what would be the key strategy for the set – the interplay between free drumming and precise digital echoes and loops.

Mary Halvorson and Randy Peterson joined forces for the first time on Tuesday, performing a series of four extended improvisations. Peterson created energy and movement while avoiding specific pulses or meters. Halvorson developed and transformed motivic content and created texture and depth with effects.

Halvorson began Improvisations 1 and 4 with simple melodic themes based on an [024] trichord and a perfect 4th interval, respectively. This material functioned in several ways. Initially she applied techniques of motivic transformation to generate more related material. Then, after the music brought the duo to a new area, she could return to these initial cells, effectively restating the theme. Finally, with the ability to create loops she could juxtapose a secondary area with these melodies. Improvisation 2 stood out for its blues implications. Frequent use of A7 and D7 chords, in combination with a prominent echo patch, placed elements of the blues in a cosmic dub setting. Throughout the set, Halvorson also used effects to create fleeting sonic accents, sometimes turning a distortion on and off quickly, or activating a tremolo effect just as a feedbacking note died off.

The most unique and interesting moments in the set came when Halvorson contrasted Peterson’s unmetered playing with a steady pulse. Most often this was accomplished with an echo effect or loop. In isolation, these passages could suggest Bill Frisell, Lee “Scratch” Perry, or Steve Reich. In combination with Peterson’s unmetered playing, these pulse-oriented sounds created tension and contrast. The finale of Improvisation 3 featured this concept at its most exciting and dramatic. Here Halvorson eschewed all effects and steadily picked out a set of arpeggios worthy of Slint. The repetition of the riff, its inherent harmonic tension, and the rhythmic rub of Peterson’s energy-based drumming made for a decisive climax.

by Noah Berman