Displaying items by tag: Progressive - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Tue, 23 May 2017 04:02:14 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts performance review http://jazzreview.com/jazz-news/news-story/matt-wilson-s-arts-crafts-performance-review.html http://jazzreview.com/jazz-news/news-story/matt-wilson-s-arts-crafts-performance-review.html Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts performance review
 Anticipation was running high and the energy level was palpable, as when the hair on the back of your neck deifies gravity if you stand below a high voltage power line, for drummer Matt Wilson's performance with his Arts & Crafts band at Tri-C's Black Box Theatre. 

 Anticipation was running high and the energy level was palpable, as when the hair on the back of your neck deifies gravity if you stand below a high voltage power line, for drummer Matt Wilson's performance with his Arts & Crafts band at Tri-C's Black Box Theatre. 

 

In today's high-tech world, not many bands still utilize a real Hammond B-3 organ (still considered to be an 800 pound gorilla) but this classic sound is integral to Gary Versace's repertoire and so he began the opening tune "Little Boy With The Sad Eyes" with deeply soulful playing from the whirling speakers. The rest of the band, trumpeter Terell Stafford, bassist Martin Wind and Wilson, followed, diving headlong into the martial, thematic melody. Stafford, a dynamic player who has never been shy on the bandstand, took a solo that was so hot and forceful that the attendees in the first three rows could have had their hair blow dried. Elsewhere, he employed the enveloping warmth of the flugelhorn, as on what Wilson called the set's love song, "Cruise Blues."

 

In fact, should Wilson ever decide to stop playing, and let's hope that that day never arrives, he could easily make a living as a stand-up comic. Evoking abundant laughs, his raillery between tunes conveyed a razor sharp wit that is evidenced in sly ways within his compositions and playing without demeaning the music to mere comedy performance. Indeed, this music was deadly serious. Stretching the gamut from the Balkan-esque melody of "Bubbles" and its poetry recitation to the plaintive "Happy Days Are Here Again" this band came to play.

 

Arguably, Wilson is the most melodic drummer on today's scene. Whether playing the skins with his hands and the drum shells and the stands with his sticks, all while blowing a wooden flute or shaking a cluster of bells and Tibetan cymbals or accenting a tune with crash cymbal splashes, calling Wilson a drummer is like referring to Mario Andretti as a car driver. Whitney Balliet famously called jazz "the sound of surprise" and Wilson was the embodiment of this perspective throughout the set. Frequently raising his eyebrows and smiling or eliciting an audible "whoa!" he responded to each and every surprise from his band mates.

 

These delights came in the form of Versace's impressive, simultaneous playing of the Steinway and B-3, where his arms were stretched in rival anything that Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada could have employed. They also came in the form of a bass solo from Wind that conveyed exceptional longing and Stafford's tone that was as sweet and smooth as butterscotch sundae topping on "Happy Days." 

 

Playing a small cymbal that was laying on the head of his floor tom, which produced a non-resonating "broken" sound, Wilson relentlessly, yet loosely, impelled the band through a jaunty rendition of "Poster Boy" where the sound Versace's piano and Stafford's trumpet coagulated like two coats of paint. Wind was featured late in the set, where he was given the unenviable task of laying down the driving bass line of Jaco Pastorius' "Teen Town."  In a respectful nod to Cleveland, the set also included a two-song medley of "Our Prayer/Rejoicing" written by hometown, avant-garde hero Albert Ayler. The set-ending tune "Feel The Sway" had the entire audience on their feet and at the band's urging, we all felt each and every resplendent note. I, for one, left like a drunken sailor on shore leave from this intoxicating music.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Gary Finney) News Story Wed, 02 May 2012 18:24:10 -0500
Ben Williams Quintet/ Marcus Strickland Quartet performance review http://jazzreview.com/jazz-news/news-story/ben-williams-quintet-marcus-strickland-quartet-performance-review.html http://jazzreview.com/jazz-news/news-story/ben-williams-quintet-marcus-strickland-quartet-performance-review.html If you want to be part of a racially diverse audience experiencing jazz in an intimate setting, then the Tri-C Jazz Festival's "Debut" series, held at the East Cleveland Public Library, is the place to be. But don't be late, because the 250-seat auditorium is filled on a first-come-first-served basis

 If you want to be part of a racially diverse audience experiencing jazz in an intimate setting, then the Tri-C Jazz Festival's "Debut" series, held at the East Cleveland Public Library, is the place to be. But don't be late, because the 250-seat auditorium is filled on a first-come-first-served basis and the line forms on the sidewalk well over an hour before the doors even open. You'll never be disappointed either, for the featured performer is always top-shelf in caliber, even if yet to be a household name. Bassist Ben Williams and his Sound Effect band met both criteria, with the latter hopefully to be surmounted very soon.

Like most young jazz artists who grew up listening to hip-hop, subtle influences from this genre creep into their jazz compositions, but more importantly, they look to 1970s era R&B music as sources for cover versions, rather than Tin Pan Alley songs, as did jazzers of prior generations. The opening tune "Home" abounded with the skittering rhythms of hip-hop, intuitively laid down by drummer John Davis, while guitarist Matthew Stevens inserted jagged guitar punctuations, like a little boy jabbing a stick into the cage of a captive animal.

Guitarist Stevens' angular style of playing owes more to the John Scofield approach than it does the John Pizzarelli style of playing, which is appropriate in this quintet format, thus allowing him to avoid conflict with the other chord-based voice in the band, pianist David Bryant. The guitar solo on "Dawn Of A New Day" was a highlight for Stevens, as his face contorted commensurately with each bent string. Bryant was a last minute replacement for an ailing Taylor Eigsti and acquitted himself well. You could see that he was listening really hard and his responses to musical statements from the other band members were informed and empathic. Despite seeming to be more comfortable on the Steinway, he did turn in a roiling electric piano solo on the aforementioned "Home."

Two easily recognized covers were Michael Jackson's "Little Susie" and Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover." The former began with an enthralling, solo bass intro from Williams (he was the winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk Institute jazz competition for bass) that eventually had Davis join him in a groove that was funky without being greasy. Bryant's solo spewed so may well placed notes that it sounded like spilt marbles on a linoleum floor. But it was also on this tune where saxophonist Marcus Strickland reached his apex. Playing soprano, his turn in the limelight quickly accelerated to a sustained fever pitch where he seemed to be channeling a player by the name of Coltrane. The latter cover tune had a relaxed swing while the nuanced narrative of the melody melted your tensions away in time for an impassioned tenor solo from Strickland and an exceptionally melodic solo from Williams.

This is not to say that Williams only draws upon recent songs by others to augment his own compositions. Woody Shaw's classic piece "Moontrane" was given an inspired, but reverential rendition. Following the stately melody of the head, Williams executed a fleet-fingered, resonantly "woody" sounding solo, followed by Strickland's tenor performing some Bennie Wallace style intervallic leaps across the range of the horn, before Bryant downshifted the momentum at his solo's beginning, only to finish with the band once again in high gear. And all the while, Davis was swinging his butt off!

"November" had its double-time melody shifts bookend another pyrotechnic solo by Williams and the pronounced backbeat of "Dawn Of A New Day" wasn't heavy handed, which allowed the sweetness of Strickland's effulgent soprano to radiate like a late afternoon sun.  While the term "young lions" has become a tired cliché, because every generation has them, these cats played with all of the passion and skill befitting musicians who want to fly above the radar and be known to a broader audience.

The second performance of the day took place on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College in the debut of the newly christened Black Box performance space. This cozy little room is decorated just as its name states, with the only contrast to the obsidian interior being a full-wall canvas of Cleveland's nighttime skyline. This scheme must have been influenced by Jazz At Lincoln Center's Allen Room, with its 5th floor view of the New York City skyline. The performer to play the inaugural Black Box gig was Marcus Strickland's quartet. If you were one of the few to have attended both of the day's events, you could view this as a second set of sorts, as the band was Bryant, Williams, Marcus and Strickland's identical twin brother E.J. behind the drums.

The heavily syncopated, odd-metered "Mudbone" opened the set and set the tone with Marcus unleashing a fire-breathing tenor solo that seems to say, "Now I'm the leader." But a munificent one, as everyone took an extended solo on the tune. "Lilt" also featured bustling polyrhythm, with E.J. pinging a prominent backbeat on the bell of a cymbal. In fact, E.J.'s cymbal work clearly distinguished him from his predecessor of the day.

His chattering cymbals and snare drum laid the foundation for "Surreal" which was inspired by Picasso's painting "The Seated Bather." Atop this rhythm, Marcus' soprano sax wove tales of exotic intrigue like a snake charmer. His tone on this horn is quite warm; lacking the harsh or nasally sound it can produce in lesser hands. After dropping into a straight 4/4 time, Bryant, exclusive to a Steinway for this set, took a solo that was straight out of Sonny Clark during the Blue Note days.

Other nods to the tradition appeared via a no-nonsense reading of Charlie Parker's "Bloomdido." This be-bop workout appropriately featured Marcus on alto sax and Williams' bass was walking with a vengeance. Bryant now played with the drive of Bud Powell, with his small hands bouncing all over the keys in a hyperactive blur. Given that the melody of this tune was written over the "borrowed" chord changes of "I Got Rhythm" Bryant quoted the chorus in its entirety to conclude his solo. Who could ask for anything more, indeed.

Another cover tune, albeit a surprising choice, was Nina Simone's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" (Do Not Leave Me). This was all light and airy, with E.J. using brushes on the drum kit and Bryant's grand pianistic statements echoing Simone's infamous indignation. Contrasting this, "Entomology" had a brown-sugar sweet melody pouring from Marcus' alto. Ostinato figures on the piano, during the head, would segue way into a very forceful piano solo while Williams seemed super relaxed as he plucked deep, rich notes from the bass. With beads of sweat forming on his shaved pate, Marcus was intense and very much the leader for this high-octane set.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Gary Finney) News Story Fri, 27 Apr 2012 19:15:24 -0500
Silent Photographer by Scenes http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/silent-photographer-by-scenes.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/silent-photographer-by-scenes.html Silent Photographer by Scenes
Silent Photographer is an excellent trio recording. The tone is generally hushed and introspective, and the improvisations are searching and cerebral. Though the group does utilize dissonance, space and tense harmony, the music never feels alienating. The musicianship here is first rate, and the group's interplay is equally impressive. Further credit also goes John Stowell (long an underrated and original guitarist) and Jeff Johnson for contributing well crafted and fitting originals to this album. This album is worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

Silent Photographer is an excellent trio recording. The tone is generally hushed and introspective, and the improvisations are searching and cerebral. Though the group does utilize dissonance, space and tense harmony, the music never feels alienating. The musicianship here is first rate, and the group's interplay is equally impressive. Further credit also goes John Stowell (long an underrated and original guitarist) and Jeff Johnson for contributing well crafted and fitting originals to this album. This album is worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Eric Prinzing) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Thu, 12 Apr 2012 23:50:37 -0500
Hasler - Paeffgen - Berger http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/hasler-paeffgen-berger.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/hasler-paeffgen-berger.html Hasler - Paeffgen - Berger
Renowned vibraphonist and improviser Karl Berger often serves as the centralizing entity on this curiously interesting date. A multinational trio, the music is often patterned with sublime textures, ethereal subtleties, and methodical song-forms, occasionally grounded on succinct pulses and steadily moving waves of sound. Here, Berger is the elder statement via his historic alignments with the crème de la crème of modern jazz stylists and cutting-edge improvisers.

Renowned vibraphonist and improviser Karl Berger often serves as the centralizing entity on this curiously interesting date. A multinational trio, the music is often patterned with sublime textures, ethereal subtleties, and methodical song-forms, occasionally grounded on succinct pulses and steadily moving waves of sound. Here, Berger is the elder statement via his historic alignments with the crème de la crème of modern jazz stylists and cutting-edge improvisers.

Trumpeter and electronics ace Werner Hasler blurts out scratchy distortion-based, and perhaps intentionally disruptive EFX on "Lomallet," where initial responses may indicate that your stereo system has a bad connection. But on repeated spins, it may make sense amid an existential viewpoint, based on the cyclical mid-tempo pulse and oscillating current featuring Berger's colorific vibes over the top. Hence, the trio morphs a mechanized-like sound-sculpting medium into a study in supple contrasts. The electronics element may stand as a wrench-in-the-works type mindset, indicating flaws in a well laid out plan, offering terse abstracts and eerie developments.

Hasler's delicate trumpet lines and drummer Gilbert Paeffgen's nimbly flowing brushwork enact a continual pattern that is carved up, notched out, and contextually shaded along the seven-minute ride. But they finalize the piece on a whimper and move on to the next conquest, resulting in an album that straddles jazz-improvisation, the avant-garde spectrum and offbeat concepts. Hasler also injects bluesy intonations into his attack to complement an aggregation of understated surprises throughout the program. Off-kilter but at times uncannily attainable, the trio projects a distinct ideology throughout.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Glenn Astarita) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Fri, 06 Apr 2012 00:33:44 -0500
The Tip of the Sword by Herwig - Beirach - DeJohnette http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/the-tip-of-the-sword-by-herwig-beirach-dejohnette.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/the-tip-of-the-sword-by-herwig-beirach-dejohnette.html The Tip of the Sword by Herwig - Beirach - DeJohnette
Three veritable jazz heavyweights align for a briskly moving and thoroughly modern program, steeped in galvanizing thematic encounters. Trombonist Conrad Herwig, heralded for his hip 'Latinizations' of jazz standards amid a progressive outline, exercises ample doses of pop and sizzle throughout many of these oscillating pieces. And the lack of a bassist engenders a musical climate that offers a loose, open-air foundation for improvisation, sparked by all-universe drummer Jack DeJohnette's sweeping rolls and polyrhythmic timekeeping.

Three veritable jazz heavyweights align for a briskly moving and thoroughly modern program, steeped in galvanizing thematic encounters. Trombonist Conrad Herwig, heralded for his hip 'Latinizations' of jazz standards amid a progressive outline, exercises ample doses of pop and sizzle throughout many of these oscillating pieces. And, the lack of a bassist engenders a musical climate that offers a loose, open-air foundation for improvisation, sparked by all-universe drummer Jack DeJohnette's sweeping rolls and polyrhythmic timekeeping.

Pianist Richie Beirach serves as a catalyst and colorist while handling the implied bass parts via lower-register chord voicings, evidenced on the oscillating opener, "Where the Tip of the Sword Settles." Featuring a semi-structured game-plan, the trio delves into balladry or goes off the charts during movements where Herwig and associates render a consortium of blitzing aerial assaults. Indeed, the majority of these works spawn a bustling framework, although on "The Void," the trio offers lucid imagery of a mysterious panorama, executed by Herwig's dark lines and Beirach's delicate touch. Moreover, they explore hallowed vistas sans a firm rhythmic component, where DeJohnette shades the proceedings via his textural cymbals hits.

"Inner Sincerity" is a composition featuring the drummer's complex metrics in concert with his groove-based solo nestled within an undulating current, topped off by the pianist's melodic phrasings. Here, the soloists' project an optimistic vibe. Ultimately, the band delves into an abundance of mood-evoking segments and intermittently veers off-center. Herwig is a force to be reckoned with by providing an aggregation of disparate angles and seething improvisational flurries. Hence, it's a top-shelf product that uncovers additional insights and pleasantries on additional listens.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Glenn Astarita) Various Jazz Styles - CD Reviews Tue, 03 Apr 2012 18:36:27 -0500
The Air is Different by Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/progressive-cd-reviews/the-air-is-different-by-tomas-fujiwara-the-hook-up.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/progressive-cd-reviews/the-air-is-different-by-tomas-fujiwara-the-hook-up.html The Air is Different by Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up
The second recording by drummer Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up follows the heralded Actionspeak (2010, 482 Music), and continues upon a course, teeming with unanticipated shifts in strategy, but not executed in shock-therapy mode. With a superfine support system of revered improvisers, including guitarist Mary Halvorson who seems to be showing up everywhere these days, Fujiwara reaps the benefits of a distinctly fresh musical climate. With off-kilter patterns, cunning geometric architectures and sudden paradigm shifts, the band merges a search and conquer tactical component with an acutely balanced mix of structure and free-form dialogues.

The second recording by drummer Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up follows the heralded Actionspeak (2010, 482 Music), and continues upon a course, teeming with unanticipated shifts in strategy, but not executed in shock-therapy mode. With a superfine support system of revered improvisers, including guitarist Mary Halvorson who seems to be showing up everywhere these days, Fujiwara reaps the benefits of a distinctly fresh musical climate. With off-kilter patterns, cunning geometric architectures and sudden paradigm shifts, the band merges a search and conquer tactical component with an acutely balanced mix of structure and free-form dialogues.

As a drummer and leader, Fujiwara steers traffic via supple accents, crashing cymbals, and polyrhythmic fills while dropping a few bombs along the way. Regardless, it\'s a group-focused underpinning that yields the rewarding results. Set by imagery of social chaos, temperance and regimentation; spanning an abundance of offsetting time signatures, the hornists\' staggered pulses and peppery unison choruses also intimate a curvy perimeter.

The musicians smooth out the rough-hewn parts with a glistening sheen; an attribute that is not always the case within these semi-structured type programs. Brian Settles (tenor saxophone) and Jonathan Finlayson\'s (trumpet) bristling improvisations are clustered by a string of micro-themes, secured by Trevor Dunn\'s booming bass patterns. Hence, shifting plots interweave throughout the divergent track mix.

\"For Ours\" is a piece that highlights the band\'s emotive sensibilities and complex movements often accelerated by Settles\' ricocheting lines, segueing the arrangement into a cheery vibe. And on \"Smoke-Breathing Lights,\" Halvorson\'s trademark blend of odd-tunings, animated single note flurries and swerving notes ride atop a buoyant groove, engineered with ascension and edgy deconstruction metrics. Here, the drummer projects a broad undercurrent due to his swarming tom rolls, perpetuating an open-forum for the soloists\' expansive exchanges.

Fujiwara tenders a multidimensional game-plan that is not complacent in scope. Marked by undulating currents and spirited soloing jaunts, the album sustains interest from start-to-finish. He lays out a compelling framework, containing gobs of mind candy for the attentive listener.  (Official release date: May 1, 2012)

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Glenn Astarita) Progressive - CD Reviews Thu, 29 Mar 2012 14:47:56 -0500
Jazz from India! http://jazzreview.com/jazz-news/news-story/jazz-from-india.html http://jazzreview.com/jazz-news/news-story/jazz-from-india.html Jazz from India!
Jazz Club based in Goa, India: www.jazzgoa.com

Review music and musicians from Goa, India at www.jazzgoa.com

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Jazz Goa) News Story Fri, 30 Mar 2012 15:01:01 -0500
Metamorphosis by Chris Donnelly http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/progressive-cd-reviews/metamorphosis-by-chris-donnelly.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/progressive-cd-reviews/metamorphosis-by-chris-donnelly.html Metamorphosis by Chris Donnelly
Pianist and composer Chris Donnelly teaches at the University of Toronto and has previous teaching experience as a faculty member at the Humber College Community Music School, Prairielands Jazz Camp and the National Music Camp of Canada.  Holding Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Toronto, where he studied with David Braid, Gary Williamson, Paul Read, Kirk MacDonald Alexander Rapoport and Russell Hartenberger, Donnelly was awarded The Tecumseh Sherman Rogers Graduating Award for students "deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of music."

Pianist and composer Chris Donnelly teaches at the University of Toronto and has previous teaching experience as a faculty member at the Humber College Community Music School, Prairielands Jazz Camp and the National Music Camp of Canada.  Holding Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Toronto, where he studied with David Braid, Gary Williamson, Paul Read, Kirk MacDonald Alexander Rapoport and Russell Hartenberger, Donnelly was awarded The Tecumseh Sherman Rogers Graduating Award for students "deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of music."

Donnelly's first recording, Solo, was not only nominated for a Juno (the Canadian version of a Grammy) but also earned him nominations for Best Recording of the Year and Best Keyboardist of the Year at the 2009 National Jazz Awards.   With such a debut expectations were high for the release of his newest CD, Metamorphosis.

This new solo piano recording is a single 50-minute uninterrupted flow of improvised ideas and set pieces that will remind many, in form, of some of the work of Keith Jarrett.  The differences lie in how each develops their ideas.  Jarrett's long arm of classical technique and jazz fire power colors his work in a truly unique manner that is uncategorizable.  Donnelly, on the other hand, seems to work with the starting point being simple two-part inventions.  From these humble beginnings he weaves lines and phrases that are developments of those beginnings. 

While the music is mostly in the romantic vein, the most forward looking of the pieces is "You hear the voice."  After a dramatic beginning of fast juxtaposed large repeated note large leaps it settles down into a more tranquil quasi-swing section ala the music Chick Corea and Gary Burton play when recorded together.

Recordings like this one raise the question of whether the music is jazz or classical improvisation, similar to what Bach, Beethoven and Liszt were known for doing during their lifetimes.  The answer will have to be decided by each listener.  While the music is ostensibly inspired by the works of graphic artist M.C. Escher, it's hard to hear that influence in the music.  While there is the occasional ticked note, as on "Cresting, falling away," Donnelly's technique is quite clean and careful throughout.  The harmonic palette is tonal and rarely does he stray from the center few octaves of the keyboard.

For the occasional listener this recording will most probably be too heavy and slow in developing, but for others there are moments of greatness.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Thomas R. Erdmann) Progressive - CD Reviews Mon, 26 Mar 2012 21:24:27 -0500
Enrico Rave Quintet Performance http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/enrico-rave-quintet-performance.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/enrico-rave-quintet-performance.html Enrico Rave Quintet Performance
 Nuance and breathing room was the order of the day for Enrico Rava's February ending  performance at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This was the last stop on a four-city, American tour and the audience fully understood just how auspicious the afternoon's concert was to be. The quintet hit the stage and with no fanfare, immediately set to work.

Nuance and breathing room was the order of the day for Enrico Rava's February ending  performance at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery. This was the last stop on a four-city, American tour and the audience fully understood just how auspicious the afternoon's concert was to be. The quintet hit the stage and with no fanfare, immediately set to work.

"Amnesia" has a sepulchral melody that awakens slowly, yawning and stretching over pulse-less, chattering drums. The energy became a groundswell as Gianluca Petrella's trombone told a wailing story that was taken up by Rava, as he proved that at 72 years of age, he could still spit out flurries of notes with serious intent. Eventually, drummer Fabrizio Sferra sprung into the hyperactive rhythm that signaled a segue into "Choctaw." While the band surged joyfully atop bassist Gabriele Evangelista and Fabrizio's propulsion, you could just feel that this band was capable of a more demonstrative power, much like a restrained leopard on a stout chain. In the brief pause at the end of this piece, a hush fell over the audience, as though holding its breath, waiting to be kissed.

From here, a blow-by-blow accounting of each tune became virtually impossible. This band is simply a group of alchemists. One composition seamlessly morphed into the next making it difficult to distinguish the difference between segments of a single composition or the transition from one piece to another. But as with any good alchemist, it was magical to hear how this was changed into that, only to have it mutate yet again into something else equally spellbinding.

Notes seemed to hang in the air like water droplets in freeze-frame photography. Piano accompaniment from Giovanni Guidi supplied notes as delicate as fine china during bass solos. Clear, piercing notes from Rava's trumpet was paired with slippery trombone playing that was all glissandos and smears. Or was it boisterous trombone, like a charging elephant, paired with staccato trumpet bursts while Guidi's pelvis gyrated above his piano bench to the manic polyrhythm? Or could it have been something that sounded like an eastern European folk song (in a 12/8 meter) with mirrored horn lines and then something faintly echoing a second line cadence from the Crescent City in the next moment? Actually, it was all of the above, as Rava's quintet played a "stream of consciousness" set, following each other's queues and leads as though everyone was the leader and no one was the leader.

Dedicated to Woody Allen, the composition "Interiors" was bona fide film noir music. If the music could be translated into words, it would have been "It was a dark, lonely, rain-swept night." Petrella supplied melancholy harmonies behind Rava's crystalline trumpet solo while Guidi's piano sprinkled notes like soft raindrops on a skylight. Whether intentional or not, Evangelista's bass solo was resonant and "woody."

The last piece of the set featured trombonist Petrella and for the first time he used a plunger mute. And this particular leopard was finally unchained. And like all wild cats, he ran with it! Every trick in his bag was employed and the crowd ate it up while the band was mightily inspired. Wow! For the encore, they played their theme song "Tribe" and brought the energy level back to where, hopefully, our feet would again touch the carpet.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Gary Finney) Concert Reviews Sun, 25 Mar 2012 15:54:30 -0500
Donny McCaslin Quartet Performance http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/donny-mccaslin-quartet-performance.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/donny-mccaslin-quartet-performance.html Donny McCaslin Quartet Performance
Cleveland's famed Nighttown was a tour stop in late February for tenor saxophonist Danny McCaslin. The Wednesday evening crowd was plentiful and eager to hear the latest musical offering from this New York City stalwart.

 Cleveland's famed Nighttown was a tour stop in late February for tenor saxophonist Danny McCaslin. The Wednesday evening crowd was plentiful and eager to hear the latest musical offering from this New York City stalwart.

Near the end of McCaslin's first set, he confessed that he's been changing a lot of diapers for the past six months and it felt really good to get out and PLAY. And play he did, for the opening piece, "Energy Generation," saw the band come out with all of the pent-up fury of a Mike Tyson roundhouse upside the head. The nasty groove of this intense piece was driven home by bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana. Over their sledgehammer propulsion, McCaslin quickly launched into one of his trademark solos of Promethean proportions. The only imagery that came to mind was that of a flamethrower. How he maintains the lung power for such extended workouts is a marvel of human nature. Jason Lindner picked up the torch with a Fender Rhodes solo that harkened back to Chick Corea's sound while with the 1970 edition of Miles' band; volume knobs turn up to the max so that the sound was distorted nearly beyond recognition. But to sound contemporary as well, he had an array of effects to really push the sound over the edge. Whew!

Things settled down a bit for the next three tunes included in the first set, but not by much. "Perpetual Motion" was meaningful bass 'n drums fun as Lefebvre and Guiliana were in a lockstep like a Kremlin military parade. Lefebvre commenced an a cappella start to "Memphis Redux" which McCaslin said was written with Cannonball Adderley and Donny Hathaway in mind. This piece had a lazy funk like a hot South Carolina afternoon. After another grinding Linder keyboard solo, the band got as loose as a chronic shoulder dislocation problem. Gumby music! McCaslin wrapped things up with a sax cadenza that seemingly went on forever. The set-ender, "L.Z.C.M.", was dedicated to Led Zeppelin and Christian McBride and featured a crunching, effects-laden bass solo.

The second set contained all new music that will soon be recorded for an autumn CD release. "Stadium Jazz" sounded like its namesake, with a staccato, over-driven delivery that was more rhythmic than melodic. Surprisingly, "Gritty" was less so than its title suggests and syncopated lines from all involved ruled the day on the tune "Tension." "Henry" (written for McCaslin's six month old son) had a hauntingly beautiful melody and Linder took his solo straight, without effects. The last piece of the evening is as yet untitled. A complex chart, it again amped up the energy level as the band went out with a flourish.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Gary Finney) Concert Reviews Sun, 25 Mar 2012 15:34:37 -0500