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Two Nights, Two Gigs

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I am going to depart partially from my normal observation about the last two concerts I attended because my points of view are changing. And although I might give you sometimes a technical description of what I heard, that description will be underwritten with a total abandonment of thought. This music, this vanguard jazz is concerned with an ultimate awareness. Each musician involved has to be so totally at one with what is being played, that the sound that is produced has not an explanation
Deep in the Hudson Valley, in a wisp of a town called Rosendale, the J Band (Joe McPhee, Joe Giardullo and Jerome Bourdellon all on reeds and Dominic Duval on bass) performed the music I have been anticipating for a long time. The instruments were picked for the space. The space was intimate. The sound was all-embracing. The images of the four playing I will remember for a lifetime. This gig took a less formal shape than the concert at Rhinebeck a week earlier. The group had been playing stea
On Friday evening, March 31, 2000 at the Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center was the US premiere performance of the J Band. The J Band is Joe McPhee on reeds, Joe Giardullo on reeds, and, from France, Jerome Bourdellon on flutes and reeds. Special guest performers were Dominic Duval on bass and from Italy, Luciano Pagliarini on alto saxophone. Jerome Bourdellon initiated the first set with a solo on bass flute. The muted tones he produced projected an altogether feathery character, which had int
Last night’s performance of Jemeel Moondoc’s decade-long project, "Jus Grew" Orchestra, mesmerized the capacity audience in Bezanson Recital Hall at UMass Amherst . This orchestra works within the context of "free jazz", yet, upon listening, you can hear its roots. Its roots are imbedded in Moondoc’s deeply sincere assimilation of the best of jazz band music, specifically that of Ellington and Mingus, and more broadly of individual artists, like saxophonists Henderson, Ayler, and Jackie McLean.
Jazz guitar has evolved over the decades and its evolution has created a myriad of styles. On Saturday night, at the Pabst Theatre as a part of the Hal Leonard Jazz Series, we were privileged to enjoy the stellar guitar work of two major jazz stylists. Similar to last years' pairing of Cyrus Chestnut and Tommy Flanagan, a young lion demonstrated brilliance but the master craftsman displayed that rare jazz wisdom in his approach and execution only capable of an elder practitioner. The Mark Whi
Dee Dee Bridgewater has the jazz world standing on its ears. With the passing of many grand dames of jazz such as Ella and Sarah, and her credited Grammy award-winning CD Dear Ella in 1998, Dee Dee Bridgewater is becoming a legend in her own time. With gracious charm and a synergy all her own, Dee Dee captures the essential core of jazz, delighting audiences with imaginative vocal explorations. Such was the case at Jazz à Liège. Some spectators traveled hours just to see her perform and they
Musicians of 13 different nationalities, within a total of 28 bands, performed at the annual Jazz à Liège at the Palace of Congress Center in Liège, Belgium. Headlining the 2-day event was Scott Hamilton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Charles Lloyd, the W.D.R. Big Band with blues guitarist, Robben Ford, and Jeanne Lee with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. Straight ahead, swinging and always fresh, Scott Hamilton took the stage with Brian Lemon piano, Dave Green - double bass and Steve Brown drums. I was a
The house was packed on Sunday, May 7, at the Iron Horse, Northampton,Ma., to hear Brad Mehldau's trio, with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums . The evening glistened with endless music. That is the way Mehldau plays the piano. The first time I heard Mehldau was with the Josh Redman quintet. Since Mehldau has gone out on his own, having recorded 4 trio CDs, one studioand three live dates at the Village Vanguard, he has blossomed. His piano playing is exquisite. And I feel free
The Steve Turre Sextet descended on the Pabst Theatre stage and delivered an evening of jazz not soon to be forgotten. Plentiful were the reasons that made this a memorable show. Articulate and infectious describes both the music and Mr. Turre's commentary between numbers. An All-Star band flexed their musical muscles throughout two sets of hard-driving jazz. Extremely democratic leading the band, Turre may have spent less time soloing than anyone else in the group. Everyone took multiple solos,
"Directions in Music," the theme for the celebration of the 75th anniversaries of the births of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, live at the Bovard Auditorium. The University of Southern California played host to the music of two jazz legends, Thursday evening October 11, 2001. Herbie Hancock; pianist, Michael Becker; saxophonist, and Roy Hargrove; trumpet and flugelhorn, preformed the honors in putting forth their best effort to recreate the legendary sounds of Davis and Coltrane. Who better
Friday evening, October 12, 2001 at 8:00 p.m. Swing Fever with special guest trumpeter Clark Terry, didn’t happen, instead the audience got an evening with Swing Fever and Terry Gibbs. As disappointing as it was that Clark Terry was a no show due to illness, his replacement, Terry Gibbs was a delight. Vibraphonist; Terry Gibbs, a great musician in his own right, preformed beautifully with Bryan Gould, bandleader, and trombonist, Jim Rothermal, clarinetist and saxophonist, Steve Campos, trumpeter
The second night of this year’s Bright Moments Festival at UMass Amherst on July 21 starred Antoine "Papa" Wendo Kolosoyi, a 75 year old Congolese vocalist, whose 39 year reputation as "a pioneer of African rumba" has been suppressed until very recently. In 1992, he put out a CD which brought him much attention, so much that he went on a European tour. It has not been until now that he has come to the United States, having produced another successful CD, MARIE-LOUISE. Papa Wendo’s group consi
MICHAEL BRECKER & PAT METHENY SPECIAL QUARTET Performing in the large Staten Hall, the special quartet of Michael Brecker-tenor sax, Pat Metheny-guitar, Larry Goldings-keyboards and Bill Stewart-drums bent the airwaves to a large crowd of cheering fans. The dream team quartet gave the crowd a nice blend from scorching too-hot-to-handle riffs to the dreamy smooth jazz styling with Brecker taking the lead. Brecker surprised me, however, with some funky stuff and simply went off on the openin

Reliving Trio X

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The Old Office at the Knit on July 22 saw the second of a three night run of the performance of Trio X, that is, Dominic Duval on contrabass, Jay Rosen on drums & percussion, and Joe McPhee on tenor sax & pocket cornet. I went to this gig with a clear mindedness that allowed me to hear in a way that carried no expectations. Trio X is finding its own voice. It is a voice that balances dynamics, that carries both soft and brash expressions and an increasing camaraderie of interaction. T
ARCHIE SHEPP QUARTET Striding coolly onto stage where Tom McClung, piano, Wayne Dockery, bass and Steve McCraven, drums lies in wait, Archie Shepp steps up to the microphone. Reminiscent of NY nights, Archie is sharp in his black suit, black hat and light blue, polka dot silk tie. The lights are low, but the overhead spotlight shines down to capture the character of that great looking jazz face. At 63, Archie is still a great musician, pulling harmonic structures, swing, tonal passages, a
Returning from a drizzly, sometimes sunny, but absolutely wonderful weekend of jazz, my head still echoes with the 27 (out of 200+) performances I saw during the 3-day event. It was impossible to see everyone on my list, but what I saw was memorable at this 25th anniversary year of North Sea Jazz in beautiful Holland. A Brief Founding History The Founding Father, Pilgrim and Godfather of the North Sea Jazz Festival was Paul Acket. He was an important figure in presenting the American jazz

Bill Watrous Quartet

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Bill Watrous brought his trombone and his quartet Shelly Berg (piano), John Leitham (bass), and Randy Drake (drums) to the Jazz Spot April 21st and 22nd for a wonderfully varied, virtuosic performance. Standards such as "You Don’t Know What Love Is" led into originals such as "El Cajon," a spoof on Johnny Mandel’s tribute to Al Cohn. The quartet served up both "Girl From Ipanema" and "Close Enough for Love" in a uniquely happy double-time. In slower ballads, Watrous reveled in a mellifluous l
The Plas Johnson trio played May 27th and 28th at the Jazz Spot in Los Feliz, with special guest Herman Riley joining in on Saturday night. Johnson and Riley dueled on their tenor saxes with a range of blues and jazz standards. The audience enjoyed the old-time blues sax sound with the organ shivering underneath it, and clapped and called out, "take it, Plas!" and "tell me 'bout it!" Riley complements Johnson nicely; he knows how to play just behind the beat to make it really swing. This subt

Oregon at the Bakery

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The members of Oregon may be getting older and balder, but this band’s music is still as fresh as it was 30 years ago. The four musicians (three of them original members) have an obvious joy for their unique jazz style, and they continually develop new sounds. This week, May 9-14, Oregon played at the Jazz Bakery in Culver City. It’s inevitable that Oregon be compared with easy-listening jazz, due to the instrumentation (heavy on the soprano sax) and the optimistic, relaxed sensibility of the
Jimmy Smith and his quartet offered a rousing wrap-up Sunday night to their week-long stint at Catalina’s. The Jimmy Smith Quartet has the supreme confidence of musicians who’ve been playing for 40-plus years. These guys don’t have to practice anymore -- they know their instruments so well that they can just play. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t get to hear much of Jimmy Smith’s renowned organ playing, as he spent most of his time wisecracking and left the solos (except a few five-second t