Luis Bonilla, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tony Levin & Otis Taylor
The Luis Bonilla Quintet
March 19, 2013
For two nights only, trombonist Luis Bonilla brought his quintet to Dizzy's Club. The first set on the first evening launched off into an assured blast of convoluted style amalgamation. Many might view Bonilla as a Latin jazz specialist because of his Costa Rican background, but the Californian 'bone man bandleader's version of jazz skirts many different zones, usually within each individual composition. Opening with some sleazily slurred blues, the combo switched to ballad mood, transforming into a funk feel, with pianist Bruce Barth taking a spiky, fragmented solo. By the fourth tune in, the aura had shimmered again, transforming into an Indian mystic haze, this composition created especially for the band's appearance at The Rubin Museum Of Art in 2010. Ivan Renta switched from tenor saxophone to soprano.
Most of the set's works were lifted from Bonilla's last two albums, Twilight (Planet Arts, 2010) and I Talking Now! (Planet Arts, 2009). "Blind Faith" featured its composer John Riley's strangely shimmering echo cymbal, a small sonic detail that provided an insistently alluring, ever- present atmosphere. Dedicated to Bonilla's wife, "Closer Still" was, unsurprisingly, a tender ballad, then "Elis" was penned for his daughter, smeared with a New Orleans feeling. Despite the skills of the entire quintet, it was frequently the leader's own solos that dominated in terms of authority, energy, boldness and invention. Bonilla's personality is also a great asset, in terms of immediately establishing a connection with the audience and swiftly cutting off the chains of formality.
Terri Lyne Carrington
March 26, 2013
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington celebrated the release of her new album over two nights at Dizzy's. Her Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue (Concord, 2013) marks the 50th anniversary of the original Money Jungle (United Artists, 1963), which featured the super-trio of pianist Duke Ellington, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach. Carrington's chosen setup facilitates an onward journey, expanding that core instrumentation with two saxophones, a guitar and extra percussion. This first set of the two nights was peppered with interpretations of the original album's compositions, augmented by Carrington's own pieces, continuing the stylistic flow.
This set found her band right at the start of its live-performance adventure, and the leader made a comment towards the end about how the music would get tighter over the next three sets. It probably would, but the players were certainly no slouches when caught in the midst of their fresh discoveries. Carrington was pretty laidback, wondering how long they were supposed to play, and what time it actually was at that point. Alto saxophonist Tia Fuller was wearing a timepiece, so all was ultimately in control. Carrington was more concerned with the timekeeping core of her heavily Afro- influenced drumming. The jazz whirlwind tumble was constantly in place, but many of the rhythmic accents sounded like they were journeying from the heart of a ritual percussion frenzy.
The first pair of tunes mirrored the opening of Carrington's album. The title cut segued into "Fleurette Africaine," which developed into a rolling drum workout with percussionist Sergio Martinez, then concluding with a swish of exotica, with saxophonist Edmar Colon taking a flute solo and Fuller brandishing tiny shakers. Guitarist Nir Felder injected a bland liquidity during the first two numbers, but then redeemed himself with a bluesy introduction to the third. Even though she's said that she views this new band and album concept as having a trio core, it was notable when Carrington, pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist James Genus banished the other players for an extended middle section. This was more like a featured spotlight than a trio-with-guests scenario. Carrington's own "Grass Roots" opened with a drum solo, then featured a rigorous and exuberant alto solo from Fuller. "Rem Blues/Music" had Ellington's poem from the original recited by Fuller, which lent an extra resonance to words that compared abstract music to fleshly woman.
Tony Levin's Stick Men
March 30, 2013