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Live From New York

May 2005

By Published: May 10, 2005
Kenny Barron concluded the opening week of his "mini-festival at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola with an international quartet featuring bassist George Mraz, percussionist Mino Cinelu and guitarist Romero Lubambo. Barron opened the third set (Apr. 9th) with a pretty piano prelude prior to launching into "One Note Samba with the trio. Lubambo then took the first solo, setting a bright and breezy the tone for the evening, with the leader sustaining the mood. The ever-melodic Mraz followed, then the three engaged in a series of exciting exchanges with Cinelu's drums before ending in perfect unison. Barron began the next number with an airy introduction to his composition "Clouds , segueing seamlessly into a bossa nova rhythm over which Lubambo and Mraz grooved graciously, before delivering a stunning multiclimactic piano solo. Lubambo's "Donato thrust the band into a blissful ambiance with Barron swaying at the piano as he engaged in a spirited four-way conversation with the band on the joyous samba. The set concluded with Barron leading the group on a spontaneously improvised "journey , which began eerily with the pianist accompanied by Cinelu's electronic percussion and eventually settled into a tour de force rendition of "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise that concluded with the audience rhythmically snapping their fingers and clapping as the music quietly faded.

Arthur Blythe made his way back east for a rewarding week at the Blue Note with an allstar group featuring special guest saxophonists Dewey Redman (4/19-21) and Ravi Coltrane (4/22-24), with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, guitarist James "Blood Ulmer and drummer Jeff "Tain Watts. Beginning the week's final set Sunday night with his original "As Of Yet, the altoist filled the room with the distinctively powerful tone that has made him a favorite of New York audiences since he first came here back in the '70s. Coltrane followed with an authoritative solo, displaying his mastery of the tenor saxophone, and the exceptional organ trio utilized the composition's funky angular melody as a springboard for their own personal statements, which took the familiar song to new and interesting places. The set's second selection, Blythe's "Faceless Woman, a melancholic melody with an exotic rhythm, inspired exciting exploratory solos, propelled by Watts' effusive drumming, from Coltrane, Ulmer and Smith, following the composer's moving introduction. The group swung straight ahead on Monk's "Wee See, with Blythe and Coltrane trading fours with Watts as Blood and Smith took turns comping creatively behind the soloists. The generous set ended with each of the band's members displaying their individual mastery of the blues on the Ellington classic "Things Ain't What They Used To Be .

~ Russ Musto


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