Wayne Horvitz released the Songlines albums Forever (2000) and Sweeter Than the Day (2002) with an acoustic incarnation of his group Zony Mash. Appearing for one night at Tonic (May 4), the former NYC downtowner (currently a Seattle resident) played this beautiful book of music with a New York lineup: Jim Campilongo on guitar, Tim Luntzel on double bass, Ben Perowsky on drums. Horvitz played acoustic piano and set up several of the tunes with unaccompanied, meditative intros. Campilongo was finding his way (he and Horvitz first met that very afternoon), but with his twangy Telecaster tones and Frisellian harmonic approach, he capably filled the shoes of Zony Mash’s first-rate texturalist, Timothy Young. Luntzel, a member of Campilongo’s working trio, brought intuition and charisma to the bandstand as he supported Perowsky’s loose yet emphatic stick and brush work. Horvitz has done his share of film composing, and much of this music came across as cinematic, roaming a spectrum that included atmospheric rock, angular swing and modern classical reverie.
~ David Adler
Jazz Gallery proved the ideal space for the forward thinking and playing trio Sticks and Stones’ CD release event (May 13th), celebrating their sophomore recording, Shed Grace (Thrill Jockey). Matana Roberts (alto, clarinet), Josh Abrams (bass), and Chad Taylor (drums) performed with a simultaneous sense of experimentation and control, utilizing a knack for strong original compositions and inspiring standard interpretations (the second set closer of Strayhorn’s “Isfahan” featured a sweet toned Johnny Hodges-inspired Roberts). A fiery and fairly new young altoist on the scene, Roberts one moment caresses whispers through her horn’s pads then sets forth foot-tapping grooves and high-pitched blistering-paced runs. Already with a very personal sound, she places emphasis on space between notes, consisting of equal parts Paul Desmond, Noah Howard, and Ornette in particular, while Abrams and Taylor are emphatically empathetic through the music’s many twists and turns. Though there’s an obvious familiarity - the trio were the house band at Chicago’s Velvet Lounge for nearly a half dozen years - they perform each tune as a fresh three-way conversation. Roberts’ unamplified single notes varied in volume without sacrificing intensity on her “Turning the Mark”. Her breathy delivery consisted of embellished melodic notes and tones that had audience members - and band mates - leaning in for a closer listen.
Like the warm breath of a Ben Webster tenor sax solo, Shirley Horn’s genuine atmospheric bluesy vocal approach comes across as natural a delivery as her own soft speech, tender but assured, vulnerable but intentionally so. Her first of three nights at Le Jazz Au Bar (May 14) showcased the veteran vocalist whose approach lends itself to the inherent problem of aging vocal chords for any singer just turned 70. Performing for over 50 years, Horn fortunately works within a non-demanding style, a smoky mid-range paired down to perfection over the years. Even before her renaissance in popularity since recording for Verve in 1987, Horn’s early recognition and support from Miles Davis and others has been well earned. One of jazz’ most consistent performers, Horn breathes new life into everything she’s sung, from ballads to blues to more upbeat numbers on which her patented low-key approach always prevails. Every resonating syllable sung in “Time for Love” exploited the club’s great sound which served ideal for the tight, swinging supportive rhythm section trio of George Masterhazy (piano), Ed Howard (electric bass), and Steve Williams’ (drums) superb cymbal work in particular. Just the right amount of reverb and amplification was given for the performances of Peggy Lee’s “Fever”, Lennon/McCartney’s “Yesterday”, “Our Love is Here to Stay”, and “Here’s to Life”, showing that Horn quite literally has one of the most memorable breaths in all of jazz.
~ Laurence Donohue-Greene
A temperate early Saturday evening was spent at the unpretentious 5C Café, away from the bustle of the city’s “traditional” jazz venues. Appearing May 8th was the duo of vocalist Yoon Choi and pianist Jacob Sacks (the no horns or drums policy has still not kept this laudable venue from coming under attack by the City) presenting material by composer Joe Raposo. The name might not be familiar but the works, written for Sesame Street and The Muppets, has a timeless appeal. Jazz gets its inspiration from many places, why not simple graceful melodies for children?
Choi and Sacks are not the typical duo; Choi effortlessly mixes traditional jazz vocals with a sultrier approach or the gymnastics of the avant-garde. Sacks never plays the straight man, abstracting the melodies enough to keep each turn interesting. Contrary to normal course, Choi relies on Sacks’ percolations as much as Sacks follows Choi’s lead. “Bein’ Green” was sad and winsome. “J-Jump” and “La La La”, two songs about letters, gave Choi the opportunity to stretch her delivery. Ernie’s “Imagination” was the heartfelt ballad of the set, followed by a rambunctious “Happiness Hotel”. The closing “Sing”, popularized by Peggy Lee, saw Choi begin with a tongue-in-cheek attempt to sing out of tune before resolving into a lovely reading.
A triple bass bill should be enough to send most people screaming.. But the Carlini Group’s adventurous May 24th booking of three elders of the upright at Merkin Hall demonstrated why the bassist can make or break any band. Buster Williams, Eddie Gomez and Richard Davis represent nearly 150 years of combined experience; they also embody vastly different approaches. Williams, in trio with George Colligan and drummer Lenny White slinked around interpretations of “All of You”, “Little Girl Blue”, “Song for Thaddeus” and a mesmerizing solo “Summertime”. Eddie Gomez, mostly in duo with pianist Mark Kramer showed off his classical nimbleness an original apiece by himself and Kramer and several covers, Michel LeGrand’s “You Must Believe in Spring”, Johnny Mathis’ “Wonderful Wonderful” and a lovely version of Fiddler’s “Sunrise Sunset”, Gomez’s bowing used to great effect. Davis, the big draw of the evening, played with White and pianist James Williams on two numbers, “Strange Vibes” by Horace Silver and “Everytime We Say Goodbye”. Davis plays seated, his bass slung at almost a 45° angle, his arco the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard. The trio of bassists explored a long version of “Toku Do” as a rousing closer. Bassists such as Ron Carter, Rufus Reid, Lisle Atkinson, Hill Greene and Steve Tintweiss were in attendance to pay their respects.
~ Andrey Henkin
Baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett brought his bluesy, hard swinging quartet into Sweet Rhythm to get May off to a blazing start. Joined by pianist John Hicks, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Lee Pearson, the World Saxophone Quartet’s big horn blower showed off his impressive range and extensive vocabulary in a set that turned the house inside out. Beginning with Don Pullen’s up-tempo blues 1529 Gunn Street, the saxophonist explored the farthest reaches of his instrument –sounding like a roaring lion one moment and a purring kitten the next in a circular breathing tour de force duet with Pearson’s wildly ecstatic drumming that followed one of Hicks’ patented multiclimactic piano solos over Lundy’s walking bass.
Lundy bowed the opening of Bluiett’s beautiful arrangement of I Believe I Can Fly, on which the baritonist delicately displayed the tenderness he’s able to express in the bottom register of his weighty horn. He extended that mood on his own rumbling, quaking gospel blues, Song Service, which featured some authentic church piano from Hicks. The dark beauty of the leader’s big rich sound came to the fore on Sing Me A Song Everlasting, another lyrical Pullen line that inspired some of Hicks most opulent playing. Bluiett finished the set playing wooden bass flute on the funky Hip Hop Drop.
McCoy Tyner ended a two-week engagement with guests at the Iridium on Sunday, May 16th with an inspired set that had the teeming audience screaming for more. Starting the set off performing Angelina, a rhythmic Latin tinged original, with his current trio, featuring bassist Charnett Moffet and drummer Eric Harland, the pianist poured out torrents of notes with amazing articulation and pulsating power, rivaling his most electrifying performances with the great John Coltrane Quartet or any of his own exciting groups. After the introduction of Pharaoh Sanders and Ravi Coltrane to thunderous applause, the quintet launched into an uplifting half an hour version of Tyner’s African Village, with the pianist maintaining the previous song’s high energy level as the two saxophonists played the memorable melody in unison before Sanders took off on his own individual exploration of the outer reaches of his horn’s tonal regions. Coltrane’s solo, though more measured and less energetic, was satisfying for its intelligent use of the composition’s main motif and his own instrumental voice, which is personal and reminiscent of his father at the same time. Moffet and Harland also demonstrated their own original approaches to their instruments on extended solos. The evening concluded with an exhilarating rendition of the leader’s classic Blues On The Corner as an encore.
~ Russ Musto
Recommended New Releases
– Arild Andersen - The Triangle (ECM)
– Bill Bruford - Random Acts of Happiness (Summerfold)
– Frank Kimbrough - Lullabluebye (Palmetto)
– Billy Martin - The Turntable Sessions Vol. 1 (Amulet)
– George Schuller - Jig Saw (482 Music)
– James Weidman - All About Time (Contour)
~ David Adler (NY@Night Columnist, AllAboutJazz.com)
– Rashied Ali/Arthur Rhames (Dynamic Duo) - Remember Trane and Bird (Ayler)
– Sir Roland Hanna - Tributaries: Reflections on Tommy Flanagan (IPO)
– Tubby Hayes - Live in London (Harkit)
– Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre - Morning Song (Delmark)
– Mintzer/Hidalgo/Gonzalez/Chesky/Brecker - The Body Acoustic (Chesky)
– Natsuki Tamura - Ko Ko Ko Ke (MTCJ)
~ Laurence Donohue-Greene (Managing Editor, AllAboutJazz-New York)
– Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet - Signs/Images (Okka Disk)
– Myra Melford - The Tent - Where the Two Worlds Touch (Arabesque)
– Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble - Memory/Vision (ECM)
– Eddie Prevost/Evan Parker - Imponderable Evidence (Matchless)
– Louis Sclavis - Napoli’s Walls (ECM)
– Wadada Leo Smith/Henry Kaiser’s Yo Miles! - Sky Gardens (Cuneiform)
~ Bruce Gallanter (Proprietor, Downtown Music Gallery)