December 2008

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Alfred Patterson

Although not officially a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, trombonist Alfred Patterson rightly earned a place in the organization's fall series through a long relationship with co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams. He opened his Nov. 14th brass quintet concert at The Community Church of New York with an encompassing unaccompanied solo, playing tight but never repeating lines through his mighty double-bell horn, creating a long paragraph of broken phrases, splintered but cogent. At length he came to a three-note motif that cued the Ebony Brass Quintet—French horn, tuba, two trumpets—plus drums into sweet yet still fragmented melodies broken finally by Joe Daley's walking bass tuba line and a taut Newman Taylor-Baker snare-and-drum shuffle. Patterson's five compositions, including a dedication to Langston Hughes and a piece using Malcolm X speeches as text, rang closer to his time with the New Jersey Symphony than with the Duke Ellington Orchestra; it wasn't until well into the second half that the bright tones usually associated with jazz trombone were heard. Patterson's reading on "Malcolm 6365" showed him to be a strong orator as well as a smart composer. He didn't try to duplicate the fire of the original, but still stayed closer to sermon than poem or recitation. Patterson, long an unsung trombone hero, in this rare leading appearance, showed himself to be an intelligent, sensitive composer as well.

Mostly Other People Do The Killing

The thing that makes Mostly Other People Do the Killing such an exciting band to watch is that they are a quartet of individuals, which is to say that they are both four and one, as a great band should be. Outside the quartet, the individual work of Moppa Elliott, Peter Evans, Jon Irabagon and Kevin Shea is extremely varied; inside they are, well, inside, in the hard bop pocket, but each immediately is ready to back the others' proclivities. That flexibility was shown in full on Nov. 1st when the band played a release party at Zebulon for their new This Is Our Moosic (Hot Cup). They drifted behind Irabagon's psychedelic sax soloing and broke into staggered, cutting rhythms underneath Evans' jet-engine trumpeting, which presumably wouldn't have had a place in the Jazz Messengers band but worked so smoothly as to defy logic or genre on Elliott's "Effort, Patience, Diligence," one of the pieces from the new record they played for the packed house. The other members stepped aside, however, for Shea's auto-erotic introduction to "A Night in Tunisia," a song the band has made its own in a way both respectful and undermining. But they are not only genre defiers; they clearly love the roots they cite, from Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey to Ornette Coleman. They are modern, but not ironic, serious but not formalist. They wore suits. They drank whiskey. They swung, but where swings customarily go back and forth, Mostly Other People Do the Killing go in and out of tradition.

—Kurt Gottschalk

Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra

It was the perfect occasion to experience Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra: Election Night, Nov. 4th, 2008. The horn section, including three saxophones, two trumpets, trombone, French horn and tuba, all performed without microphones, separated from the electrified rhythm section players by plastic sound baffles, creating an intimate acoustic ambiance. The arrangements featured interlinked contrapuntal lines, lush chorale textures and a variety of grooves, including the reggae-fied "This Is Not America," all enhanced by strong soloing from the band. Tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek and guitarist Steve Cardenas both took fine turns on "Blue Anthem," trumpeter Michael Rodriguez was subtle and articulate over his ballad feature "Goin' Home" that also featured a dynamic cameo by alto saxophonist Loren Stillman, and pianist Alan Broadbent took interesting liberties with his introduction to "America the Beautiful". As the set progressed, Haden kept asking the audience for election updates and, when word came through around 11 pm that Senator Obama had enough votes to ensure a victory, he counted off a rousing rendition of "Amazing Grace" featuring himself on the melody, Curtis Fowlkes' inspired trombone solo and a heartfelt "amen" coda. The following medley of "America the Beautiful," "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and Ornette Coleman's "Skies of America" seemed to encapsulate the idea of 'freedom'—social, political and musical—on this historic night.

Django Reinhardt New York Festival

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