Harry S. Pariser - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 16:18:57 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Vijay Iyer Live at the Herbst Theater http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/vijay-iyer-live-at-the-herbst-theater.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/vijay-iyer-live-at-the-herbst-theater.html Vijay Iyer Live at the Herbst Theater
Accomplished Pianist Vijay Iyer and His Trio Appear at Herbst Theater in San Francisco

Sometime during the early 1990s, I was walking past a theater run by a dance collective in the then ungentrified Mission District. I saw a notice that Vijay Iyer was performing that evening but did not go in because I was not sure if I was found of his style of music or not.

Rediscovering Vijay over the past few years, beginning with his free solo performance and talk at the Community Music Center on Capp Street in the Mission District, I regret that decision in hindsight. "You don't know what you've got until it's gone," Joni Mitchell sings, and, indeed, Iyer left thereafter for the wider musical opportunities in New York City. Leaving the Bay Area, where he had truly broadened his horizons by playing at Oakland jam sessions with the likes of Pharoah Sanders, he has risen to acclaim as his playing and compositions have come to international acclaim; the Jazz Journalists Association named him Musician of the Year in 2010.

But he has been returning, with the help of a residency with San Francisco Performances, to play in San Francisco. As he noted during his concert, "It is amazingly difficult to tour in the United States."

Genre embracing, his sound is hard to pidgeonhole. Friday he gave an early evening concert at the Community Music Center, and, this year, he was able to bring his trio to this informal setting, and bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore shined throughout. A lively question-and-answer session followed, during which Iyer meaningfully remarked that "every sound is a choice."

The next evening, he and his trio took the stage at the comparatively luxurious and plush Herbst Theater.

The first tune, "Accellerado," originally part of a suite composed for Armitage Gone! Dance, is the title track of his latest CD. It builds to a crescendo,with Gilmore fiery on the sticks.

Incorporating sampled music, "Heat Wave" has Crump bowing his bass.

"Carnival" is then followed by "something quiet."  "Our Lives" incorporates thoughtful brushwork by Gilmore.

Iyer introduces Little Pocket Demons," a piece by master avant-garde composer Henry Threadgill by saying that "he told us how to play this piece."

Human Nature seems to be a strange choice for a cutting-edge jazz pianist until you hear it. Its lovely lyricism wins over even those who otherwise loathe Michael Jackson. Gilmore accents the piece with mallets, and a solo piced follows.

Towards the end of the set, Iyer explains the importance of the Bay Area to him. Not only did he get his graduate degree here and learned his chops here, he also met his wife here.

"Optimism" follows, and a standing ovation brings him back for Monk's "Darn That Dream" and Ellington's "Village of the Virgins."

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Sat, 21 Apr 2012 11:35:55 -0500
Keith Jarrett Solo Live at Zellerbach http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/keith-jarrett-solo-live-at-zellerbach.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/keith-jarrett-solo-live-at-zellerbach.html Keith Jarrett Solo Live at Zellerbach
Legendary Jazz Pianist Keith Jarrett performs live at Zellerbach Hall at the University of California Berkeley

When the announcer at Zellerbach proclaims that the evening's concert is being recorded, so "please try to refrain from laughter," the audience explodes with mirth.

For we are at a solo performance by the legendary Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett, who is well known for his pricklyness onstage, especially when he is confronted with flash cameras. Introduced to the piano at age three, Jarrett swiftly emerged as a virtuoso, first playing with veteran jazz drummer Art Blakey in 1975, then coming to increasing acclaim and then fame following a lengthy gig with Miles Davis, where he compromised by playing electric piano.

He made a landmark career decision when he teamed up with the German art-jazz label ECM. The year 1972 saw the release of The Koln Concert. Initially pooh poohed by some critics, it went on to sell some four million copies.

Another astute move was to team up with bassist Gary Peacock and legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette to release a series of albums and CDs which put them on the charts and launched them on a series of tours. And Jarrett has also recorded a fleet of classical CDs, which has brought him to the attention of another type of audience.

To date, Jarrett has released more than 75 albums and CDs. He did have to slow down the pace for some years while afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome between 1996 and 1998, but he has come back with a roar since then.

Never known for his modesty, this evening, in addition to coming out for innumerable stage bows,  he seems comparatively chatty. Unfortunately, except for one occasion when he comes over to the mike, his comments, which largely appear to relate to humorous asides about his aversion to photography, are inaudible unless you are sitting in the first few rows.

Jarrett brings a theatricality to his piano playing, partially stomping as though he were a necromancer, conjuring out sounds from the 88 keys. From time to time he exhales, as though he is a conjurer or riding a huge worm on the planet Dune. Hunkering over the keys meditatively, he taps out crescendos of notes. Shaking his head with acute attention, he also periodically enunciates groans.

Although some of the improvised compositions are longer, many are around four or five minutes; he bows after each, in the tradition of the true diva appearing before his acolytes.

For number after number, he builds a sonic wall of sound  —  steaming volcanoes, twisting staircases, thundering clouds, all rising above a multicolored and multihued plain.

At last, he is done. Tumultuous applause brings the encore, a version of "Summertime," and, then considering what to play, comes up with another short improvisation before leaving us with the reassurance that he loves us.

Another memorable evening; we can't wait to hear that CD and, happily and fortuitously, nobody coughed — which should expedite things for the recording engineer.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Sat, 21 Apr 2012 06:04:21 -0500
McCoy Tyner at Yoshi's in San Francisco http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/mccoy-tyner-at-yoshi-s-in-san-francisco.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/mccoy-tyner-at-yoshi-s-in-san-francisco.html McCoy Tyner
Veteran Jazz Pianists Gives Another Virtuoso Performance Many years ago, walking down the hall in a dormitory at Boston University, I heard the most amazing music coming from a turntable. The artist was John Coltrane, and the tune was "My Favorite Things."  

Many years ago, walking down the hall in a dormitory at Boston University, I heard the most amazing music coming from a turntable. The artist was John Coltrane, and the tune was "My Favorite Things."

What helped make Coltrane's music so exemplary was the presence of McCoy Tyner, who had joined the tenor and soprano saxophonist in 1955 and would record the classic album, which would have such an explosive effect on jazz, just five years later.

Over the decades Tyner has toured extensively, recording both meditative ("Naima") and orchestral albums ("Song of the New World," for example). Prodigious in output and prolific in appearances, he has mellowed a bit over the years, but few have matched him and no other pianist really resembles him in style.

As the sole remaining member of the John Coltrane Quartet, he remains an icon. For tonight's performance at Yoshi's in San Francisco, the culmination of a three-night gig, he is joined by bassist Gerald Cannon on bass and cutting-edge young drummer Eric Harland, along with 1970s "free jazz" icon Garry Bartz  —  another legend who may have mellowed slightly but has lost neither cogency nor declaration of sound.

Bartz, a thick sheaf of grey hair protruding from underneath is brimmed top hat and over his jacket's collar and donning a formal white shirt and tie, soloed magnificently on soprano and tenor throughout the evening.

Bartz  — a veteran of the bands of such departed luminaries as Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Charles Mingus won a Grammy Award in 2005 for playing on McCoy Tyner's album Illuminations.

"Fly with the Wind" the evening's gorgeous opener which features Gary Bartz on tenor. Tyner's playing is as memorable as always. Leading strongly with his left hand, he conjures up waves of sound, building a floating sonic wall of notes.

"Aisha," next up, presents Tyner at his best, accompanied by another Bartz solo.

"A Moment's Notice" is than followed by a Tyner solos with other members leaving the stage. The lyricism is punctuated by the sound of a raucous youngster being carried from the room.

After a memorable African Village, McCoy annnounces Duke Elllington's "In a Mellow Tone," after which the group receive a standing ovation and leave the stage.

The second set is composed of much the same tunes but in a different order. Now a septuagenarian, Tyner will not be around forever. See him while you can!

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Sat, 21 Apr 2012 10:16:33 -0500
Elastic Aspects by Matthew Shipp http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/elastic-aspects-by-matthew-shipp.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/elastic-aspects-by-matthew-shipp.html Elastic Aspects by Matthew Shipp
A new CD from sonic voyager Matthew Shipp is always a treat. With this new venture, Elastic Aspects on Thirsty Ear, Matt takes us on a sonic journey — one which is reflected by the name of such tracks as Circular Temple and Gamma Ray. Matt's music is meditative, reflective and lyrical yet also assertive, boisterous, celebratory, exploratory, sometimes cacophonous, often percussive and frequently orchestral.  

A new CD from sonic voyager Matthew Shipp is always a treat.  With this new venture, Elastic Aspects on Thirsty Ear, Matt takes us on a sonic journey — one which is reflected by the name of such tracks as Circular Temple and Gamma Ray.

Matt's music is meditative, reflective and lyrical yet also assertive, boisterous, celebratory, exploratory, sometimes cacophonous, often percussive and frequently orchestral.

The CD opens with the sonorous and elegaic Alternative Aspects before moving on to the flowing Aspects. The dialogue  —  between Matt and his piano and between Matt and bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey  —  continues through ten tracks, including the the cacophonous Flow Chart, the meditative Mute Voice, Rainforest, which commences with extended bowing by Bisio; the contemplative title track, and, finally, Elastic Eye, the brisk-yet-fluid finale.

Not always easy to listen to but often rewarding, this is another accomplished effort from the New York City-based virtuoso pianist.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Fri, 20 Apr 2012 14:14:18 -0500
Cuban Rhapsody by Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/cuban-rhapsody-by-jane-bunnett-and-hilario-duran.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/cuban-rhapsody-by-jane-bunnett-and-hilario-duran.html Cuban Rhapsody by Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran
Wow! This is a really great CD with which to set a mood. You might want to put it on as as background music for an intimate meal, when you are giving or receiving a massage, or when you've had a hard day and are soaking in a steaming tub.

Wow! This is a really great CD with which to set a mood. You might want to put it on as as background music for an intimate meal, when you are giving or receiving a massage, or when you've had a hard day and are soaking in a steaming tub.

ALMA Records, a label from Toronto, has nicely packaged this ten-track set, which includes a four-part Contradanza, featuring a duet with Jane Bunnett (flute and soprano sax) and Hilario Duran (piano). Compositions by such masters of the craft as Miguel Matamoros, Ernesto Lecuona and Manuel Saumell are included.

Burnett and Duran have been performing together for years. Duran is noted for her work with This collection of vibrant, lovely Cuban classics shine despite (or in spite of) their age and are lovingly and re-interpreted here. A nice addition to any collection!

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Latin Jazz / Latin Funk - CD Reviews Sat, 24 Mar 2012 19:40:32 -0500
Michelle Rosewoman Solo and Trio at Oakland's Piedmont Piano Company http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/michelle-rosewoman-solo-and-trio-at-oakland-s-piedmont-piano-company.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/michelle-rosewoman-solo-and-trio-at-oakland-s-piedmont-piano-company.html Michelle Rosewoman Solo and Trio at Oakland's Piedmont Piano Company
When I first heard that Michelle Rosewoman would be playing in a piano shop, I expected her in a small, dusty showroom with pianos clustered around her. What I found instead on San Pablo in Oakland was a shiny showroom with gleaming pianos of many varieties, many of which cost ten to over a hundred thousand dollars.

When I first heard that Michelle Rosewoman would be playing in a piano shop, I expected her in a small, dusty showroom with pianos clustered around her.

What I found instead on San Pablo in Oakland was a shiny showroom with gleaming pianos of many varieties, many of which cost ten to over a hundred thousand dollars. A side benefit to the splendid sea of pianos surrounding us is that it also meant that Michelle had a Fazioli, one of the world's most expensive pianos to play.

Michelle is an Oakland native who moved to New York when she was 28. Earlier, she had been greatly influenced by pianist and organist Ed Kelly, whom she regards as an unsung legend of jazz and was to praise during her performance. As befitting someone who has been intrigued by Cuban music since her youth, and one who has led the 14-piece ensemble  New Yor-Uba, Michelle Rosewoman began the evening with "Elegua,"  an invocation to the Yoruba deity.

She followed this with a dynamic solo set which included "The Thrill Of," the classic "Body and Soul," "Everytime We Say Goodbye," "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," and a medley of Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood" and "Ask Me Now."

Her rhythym section (accomplished bassist Aaron Germain and drummerJeff Marrs) then joined her for a prayer to Oshun which was followed by tunes such as "From Tear to Here." "The Inside Out," the sung ballad "With a Need for Each Other," "In a Mood", and "Where it Comes From."

Throughout it all, Michelle never failed to engage the audience with her percussive, mellifluent, and passionate playing which melds avant-garde jazz with funk and Cuban influences. If you have the opportunity, infuse your ears with the magic that she is able to conjure up with her fingertips.

And be sure to check out the Piedmont Piano Company, which features concerts once or twice per week. Engaging bassist Germain has one CD of his innovative compositions out,  while drummer Jeff Marrs performs with a variety of local ensembles, including Marcus Shelby's, around the San Francisco Bay Area. http://www.aarongermain.com/live/

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Sat, 04 Feb 2012 05:06:19 -0600
Angelique Kidjo and Youssour N’Dour at the San Francisco Jazz Festival http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/angelique-kidjo-and-youssour-ndour-at-the-san-francisco-jazz-festival.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/angelique-kidjo-and-youssour-ndour-at-the-san-francisco-jazz-festival.html A great show by Angelique and Youssou at Oakland's Paramount Theater

Rarely do two superstar singers of African popular music converge together for an evening performance, but Angelique Kidjo and Youssour N’Dour did just that  at Oakland’s Paramount Theater recently as part of the 2011 San Francisco Jazz Festival.

 

A resident of New York City, Kidjo was born and raised in the West African country of Benin where she started singing at the tender age of six; she fled the then dictatorial, pseudo “Marxist-Leninist” nation to relocate in Paris in 1983.  Her travails have undoubtedly played into her distinctive viewpoints and she is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and founder of the Batonga Foundation (www.batongafoundation.org). A great vocalist, her music covers the gamut from soul to funk to samba to reggae to salsa, jazz, gospel, zouk, makossa, and soukous.

 

Star of the 2010 documentary I Bring What I Love, Youssou N’Dour first came to fame with his percussion-driven mbalax sound — a singular combination of traditional griot percussion and praise-singing with imported Afro-Cuban and Haitian kompa arrangements. Recently, he has diversified into reggae and, as of this year, is the proud holder of an honorary doctorate in Music from Yale University. 


It is Angelique’s turn first, and she takes the stage with her customary jest and enthusiasm. Angelique has never been one to restrain from social commentary while on stage, and this performance finds her in fine oratorical form. But she also never misses an opportunity to dance, telling the audience, “You want to dance? Go ahead!” Soon, a good portion of the audience is up, dancing in their seats or the aisle. Except for the young woman sitting down and texting on her cell phone, most of the audience stays on their feet throughout. Her expert talking drummer, along with the rest of the expert crew, maintain the excitement.

 

She performs her ebullient version of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” and follows it with her trademark “Mama Africa,” as she extends her customary invitation for the audience to ascend the stage, and the scene becomes the same as a mosh pit except everyone is standing. Waving her hands in the air, she dances in tandem with her talking drummer before letting other women take their turn. 

 

After a break, N’Dour’s group assembles on the stage. A musician announces that the performance will be split in two parts  —  reggae and mbalax.  His reggae is enthused but hardly traditional, and is perhaps best characterized by Marley, his tribute to Robert Nesta Marley. 


All of the numbers are signatured by Youssou’s ebullient, resonant and sweet vocals  —  which have enabled him to bridge language and culture and unite everyone who hears him in great buzz of positive energy. While the musician’s costumes are striking, the onstage choreography (including scarf dancing) lively and celebratory, it is his remarkable music that will endure.

 

Set List

Angelique Kidjo

Atchahoun

Lakutchoni

Kelele

Senamou

Move on up

Mama Afrika

Tumba

Youssou N’Dour

Pitche Mi

Medina

 
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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Fri, 22 Jul 2011 19:39:33 -0500
Acoustic Africa Live in Oakland, California http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/acoustic-africa-live-in-oakland-california.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/acoustic-africa-live-in-oakland-california.html How often do four talented African guitarists come together to play acoustic onstage? Putumayo Records, a unique company, not only brought together such a remarkable supergroup but put them on tour. "Acoustic Africa's" three main guitarists were Afel Becoum and Habib Koité from Mali and Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe. They were backed by the estimable Mamadou Kelly, Becoum's highly-talented regular guitarist and other musicians.

How often do four talented African guitarists come together to play acoustic onstage? Putumayo Records, a unique company, not only brought together such a remarkable supergroup but put them on tour.

"Acoustic Africa's" three main guitarists were Afel Becoum and Habib Koité from Mali and Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe. They were backed by the estimable Mamadou Kelly, Becoum's highly-talented regular guitarist and other musicians.

Becoum is known for his work with Ali Farka Koure, Habib is a prominent singer songwriter who is known for tuning his guitar on a pentatonic scale and playing on open strings as one would on a kamale n'goni, a traditional instrument. At other times, his music sounds more like the blues or flamenco  —  two styles he studies under mentor Khalilou Traore. Mtukudzi, a Zimbabwe native who still lives under the repressive Mugabe regime, is known for his own musical style, dubbed "Tuku Music" by his fans.

Rounding out the group were Yoro Cisse (another Becoum veteran) playing njurkel, a one-stringed lute, and jdjurkle (monochord), Sam Matauare on percussion and Phillip Tzikirai on mbira.

The ensemble's sound combined a hearty mix of West African and Zimbabwean rhythyms, quite a bit of cleverly staged, extremely colorful costuming, and some back and forth concerning the two cultures. The sight of the three guitarists, rocking back and forth on the stage, was as much a marvel to see as the interplay was to hear.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Mon, 27 Jun 2011 19:07:16 -0500
Randy Newman Solo at San Francisco Jazz Festival http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/randy-newman-solo-at-san-francisco-jazz-festival.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/randy-newman-solo-at-san-francisco-jazz-festival.html Although he relates that his 17-year-old daughter, “who plays me like a violin,” maintains that he is “not that famous,” singer-songwriter Randy Newman needs no introduction to most music aficionados. Years ago, when I was a student in Boston, I hitchhiked over to Harvard and forked down $2 to hear him play at the college’s creaky wooden Sanders Theater. It was an unforgettable experience. Since then much has changed, including number of wars and invasions, massive inflation, and the near-death of newspapers — as well as a whole slew of Randy Newman songs, one of which “A Few Words in…
Although he relates that his 17-year-old daughter, “who plays me like a violin,” maintains that he is “not that famous,” singer-songwriter Randy Newman needs no introduction to most music aficionados.

Years ago, when I was a student in Boston, I hitchhiked over to Harvard and forked down $2 to hear him play at the college’s creaky wooden Sanders Theater. It was an unforgettable experience. Since then much has changed, including number of wars and invasions, massive inflation, and the near-death of newspapers — as well as a whole slew of Randy Newman songs, one of which “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country”, was a 2007 New York Times featured editorial. Randy’s songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as the Adam Price Set, Three Dog Night, Etta James, Dave Van Ronk, Keb Mo, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Rondstadt and the late Harry Nilsson (who recorded “Nilsson Sings Newman,” an entire album of his compositions.

But one thing has remained constant: Randy, while grayer, still sounds and plays much the same. And, although he is still not a household name, he can command a crowd, as he proved at a recent appearance at San Francisco’s Symphony Hall as a part of the San Francisco Jazz Festival.

Appropriately, he began the evening’s solo performance with “Down in New Orleans” from the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog”:

“The evening star is shinin’ bright

So make a wish and hold on tight.

There’s magic in the air tonight

And anything can happen.”

He then continued with the revealing “It’s Money That I love” before turning to tunes, such as the evocative “Birmingham” and his sort-of hit “Short People,” enunciating its extremely sarcastic lyrics with transparent relish.

The lyrics of “The Great Nations of Europe” caused the audience to titter, as did those of the semi-sardonic “The Girls in My Life (Part One),” a simple tale leading up to a family life.

And he touched on history again with what he calls “the reasons for the failure of Marxism” in “Life Isn’t Fair.”

He did show his more serious side, alternating humor with searing emotion, such as in the evocative and emotive “Louise”:

"I loved you the first time I saw you

And I always will love you Marie

I loved you the first time I saw you

And I always will love you Marie"

And Lucinda, which mixes the both pathos and irony:

“Now Lucinda lies buried neath the California sand

Put under by the beach-cleaning man”

Randy told the related the engaging tale of Bob Dylan’s visit to his show. At first he had mistaken John Hammond for Dylan not knowing what Dylan looked like. Then he turned to the the actual Dylan to relate that “I really love your stuff.” Dylan in turn asked him if someday he might be able to write something as good as “Lucinda.” “Reflecting back on it I realize now that he was being totally sarcastic” Newman related.

The famous “You Can Leave Your Hat On” was followed by “Harps and Angels” and then “I’m Dead (But I Don’t Know It)”:

"I have a family to support

But surely that is no excuse

I've nothing further to report

Time you spend with me

Is time you lose"

This featured a choral singalong (“He’s dead”) which he followed with the impassioned confessional “Losing You” and the humorous “Let’s Drop the Big One” before we found ourselves knocked out of a rapturous trance at intermission.

After the break he took the stage again with “Last Night I Had a Dream” followed by the Three Dog Night hit “Mama Told me Not to Come.”

The sad “In Germany Before the War” was followed by the inimitable “Baltimore” with its refrain of “Man it’s hard just to live.”

Accompanied by a suitable story he played “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” the theme song to Disney’s “Toy Story” followed by another tune from the same soundtrack.

The heartwrenching “When She Loved Me” was followed by the classic “Living Without You.” The affirmative “My Life is Good” was followed by “A Real Emotional Girl” and then what Randy confessed was “the closest to autobiography I have ever gotten” namely “I Miss You”.

The ebullient “Dixie Flyer” perhaps taken from his New Orleans childhood experiences was followed by the lovely “Louisiana”.

He called out for requests. I shouted “Love Story” and he played it flubbing it at one point.

The next song was also a personal favorite “Redneck” which I remember being banned from radio in Boston during the beginning of school bussing.

Randy explained that the song’s reference to “New York Jew” was to the (Christian) talk show host Dick Cavett whom a Georgian might assume to be a Jew who hosted Maddox (who was shouted down by the audience and not allowed to speak) on his popular television show.

There was yet more including “Guilty” the classic “Sail Away” and as a stunning finale the evocative “Feels Like Home”:

"Something in your eyes makes me want to lose myself

Makes me want to lose myself in your arms.

There's something in your voice makes my heart beat fast.

Hope this feeling lasts the rest of my life."

A standing ovation and thunderous applause brought the encore of “I Love LA” and “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today.”'

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Thu, 05 May 2011 19:00:00 -0500
Randy Weston Solo at Yoshis in San Francisco http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/randy-weston-solo-at-yoshis-in-san-francisco.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/randy-weston-solo-at-yoshis-in-san-francisco.html Randy Weston is one of the elder statesman in jazz. At 83, he has been at this before many of his listeners were born. He does not tour or record as much as he used to, so it was a very special occasion when Weston entered the stage at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on February 7, 2011 for a one-night, one-time special performance. He was there to promote his new book, his first book, African Rhythms. Befittingly, he was interviewed by Anthony Brown, a UC Berkeley jazz professor, drummer and popular bandleader who had once produced an interview with him…
Randy Weston is one of the elder statesman in jazz. At 83, he has been at this before many of his listeners were born. He does not tour or record as much as he used to, so it was a very special occasion when Weston entered the stage at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on February 7, 2011 for a one-night, one-time special performance.

He was there to promote his new book, his first book, African Rhythms. Befittingly, he was interviewed by Anthony Brown, a UC Berkeley jazz professor, drummer and popular bandleader who had once produced an interview with him for the BBC.

At 6’ 7” Weston, clad in his customary African-derived garb, is an imposing presence. He has been gigging since the 1940s and was in the US Army during World War Two, operated a restaurant, before releasing his first album “Cole Porter In a Modern Mood” in 1954; Down Beat then voted him “New Star Pianist” in its 1955 International Critics Poll of 1955. Since then his singular percussive style has continued to evolve. Through it all he has stressed his belief in “one humanity.”

During the half-hour of back and forth Weston told any number of stories including how he had had piano lessons for 50 cents per and how the teacher an older female had hit him on his hands with a ruler when he made mistakes. He also talked about watching Monk play with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and at Monk’s home where Monk had sagaciously advised him to “listen to all kinds of music.” He told us “I love Basie” and that pianist Art Tatum was so gifted he was “frightening.” The late famed drummer Max Roach introduced him to Ghanian musician Guy Warren whose composition “Memory of Love” is a Weston staple as well as to Haitian music.

Randy who once owned a nightclub in Morocco lauded the Gnawa musicians with whom he has performed and recorded and talked about ten superb days he had spent in Ghana — an experience which marked his first homecoming to Africa. “I knew I was home” he told us.

Then it was time for him to sit down and play the grand piano. He began with Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and then segued into other compositions by Duke including the rhapsodic “Jitterbug Waltz.” As he played he taped a foot clad in a large polished black shoe and the spider-like fingers of his right hand traveled up and down the keys. He ended the evening with "Hi-Fly" (first recorded in 1958) Berkshire Blues and Little Nile (which “I wrote for my son.”)

A standing ovation brought an encore “The Healers" which Randy introduces as “a tune I wrote about in my mind what it must have been like to have made the first musical instrument....music is magical.” He concludes with a short cacophonous flourish.'

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Harry S. Pariser) Concert Reviews Sun, 13 Feb 2011 18:00:00 -0600