Jean Luc Ponty's career has taken some dizzying turns. After his beginnings playing slinky organ trio jazz (his violin replacing the ubiquitous guitar) to his flirtations with European free improv in the late '60s, Ponty joined the fusion-cum-jazz rock ranks playing with Zappa, then the Mahavishnu Orchestra then Zappa again before embarking on a solo career. This is where he has settled, or stalled according to some, continuing his run of highly melodicized, multi-tempo through-composed "suites". When he appeared at the Park Avenue Borders Bookstore (Sept. 17th), it was to promote his latest endeavour, a DVD release of a 1999 concert with his current band (10+ years and going), released on his new label. Additionally, his daughter, a sprightly pianist, also has a record coming out on the family imprint so this was a dual promotional event. Three songs by the daughter, two as a duo and one solo by Papa covered the 40 minute set followed by an autograph signing. Despite what Ponty may have gone through, his playing is still firm and lyrical, edgy and energetic, with heavy nods to his classical training. It was surprising though that he asked your correspondant if he had any of the newer material when presented with LP sleeves from the '60s; Ponty seems quite comfortable riding the waves of his '70s superstardom without any hint of irony.
~ Andrey Henkin
Luis Perdomo celebrated the release of his debut CD, Focus Point (RKM Music), at Jazz Gallery (Sept. 17th), with two sets showcasing his group featuring Hans Glawischnig, Eric McPherson, Miguel Zenon and Ravi Coltrane. Perdomo's beautiful sound was immediately evident on the opening trio performance of saxophonist Max King's "Dreams", on which the pianist demonstrated an approach that maintained an attractive melodicism while exploring impressionistic harmonies and rhythms in conjunction with Glawischnig's warm but powerful bass and McPherson's expansive drums. The pianist introduced Zenon for a quartet outing on a new original "Ready About". The altoist's liquid sound blended beautifully with Perdomo, ringing out bell-like accents as they articulated the charming melody in unison against Glawischnig's counter bass line.
Coltrane joined the group for Miriam Sullivan's "Spirit Song", a cheerful composition that opened with a bass solo climaxing in a repeated figure on top of which the soprano and alto playfully stated the folkish melody, which inspired fine solos from the saxophonists and Perdomo. Coltrane switched to tenor for "Breakdown", a flowing boppish line on which the horns tangled around McPherson's energetic rhythms and a dramatic background provided by Perdomo and Glawischnig. The pianist ended by thanking the full house for coming and Jazz Gallery for providing the environment that helped him develop the music.
Brian Lynch brought his Latin-Jazz sextet into the Zinc Bar for three nights of fiery AfroCuban sounds September 21-26. Beginning the last set Wednesday with "La Mulatta Rhumbera," the trumpeter showed off his "bilingual" mastery of the Latin and jazz idioms on an original arrangement that featured extended statements from each of the band's members. Lynch and Ralph Bowen played a unison introduction leading into a "percussion discussion" between Ernesto Simpson's drums and Pedro Martinez's congas. Pianist Luis Perdomo comped odd-metered phrases encouraging Bowen's full-bodied tenor's electrifying multiple climaxes, while Lynch's solo, driven by Simpson's cowbell clave rhythms, confirmed him to be one of the most exciting trumpet masters playing today. Perdomo's solo left plenty of room for the polyrhythms of the percussion section and bassist Boris Kozlov, who contributed his own swinging solo. Simpson and Martinez raised the temperature, dueling over Perdomo's montuno, which preceded the band's repetition of the melody with mambo and bomba rhythms. The horns took it out with a heated exchange of four bar phrases. The second extended piece, Lynch's tribute "Tom Harrell," demonstrated the leader's harmonic genius, sustained by Perdomo's opulent chording, while Arturo Stable, sitting in on congas, maintained the compelling rhythms of the previous song. The band ended the night with a blazing AfroCuban arrangement of "Rhythm-n-ing."
~ Russ Musto
Recommended New Releases
– Don Byron - Ivey-Divey (Blue Note)
– Satoki Fujii - Illusion Suite (Libra)
– Mike Holober - Thought Trains (Sons of Sound)
– House Band of the Universe - Cycle Maintenance (Louie)
– Benny Lackner - Not the Same (Nagel Heyer)
– Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Paseo (Blue Note)
~ David Adler, NY@Night Columnist, AllAboutJazz.com