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Live From New York

July 2006

By Published: July 16, 2006

Expatriate pianist Kirk Lightsey led his first engagement in NYC in over a decade at Jazz Standard (Jun. 1st), with a stellar quartet featuring Steve Nelson on vibes, Ray Drummond on bass and Billy Kilson on drums. The ever charming Lightsey began the second set by telling the audience how happy he was to be "in the warmth of New York , before delivering a solo piano prelude that segued into the group's stirring rendition of "Spring Is Here , demonstrating a kind of intuitive interaction that lends itself to electrifying extended improvisation. The song moved from a rubato introduction into a medium tempo groove, with the leader and Nelson spurring each other on throughout the tune, switching from straight ahead swinging to a rhythmic bossa nova to a bluesy conclusion. Jimmy Heath's "A New Blue began in a Monkish mood, with Nelson taking an exciting solo, followed by Lightsey playing intensely over Drummond's walking bass and Kilson's dynamic drums. Drummond introduced "Habiba with a portentous bass solo and then Lightsey surprised the audience, playing eastern tinged flute with the bassist. Nelson and Kilson joined the duo when Lightsey switched back to piano for the dramatic melody of his signature song and the quartet played climactic chorus after chorus as the audience cheered them on. The band closed with a medley of favorites - "Pinocchio , "Freedom Jazz Dance , "Chameleon and "Temptation .

In a moving tribute to their fallen colleague, pianists Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron and Cedar Walton came together to memorialize the great John Hicks at Sweet Rhythm (Jun. 3rd). Miller, with Curtis Lundy on bass and Jeff "Tain Watts on drums, started off the evening swinging hard with "You The Night And The Music , then waltzing beautifully on "Up Jumped Spring . He paused briefly to tell the packed house how he had the daunting task of following Hicks in Betty Carter's band, after which the trio played a stirring rendition of "Peace . They concluded bebopping out on "Now's The Time . Kenny Barron took over for the second set, beginning with a solo intro to "Like Someone In Love , before being joined by Lundy on bass and Nasheet Waits at the drums, both of whom soloed with distinction, matching the pianist's awesome displays of virtuosity. The three segued into an up-tempo version of "Bebop followed by an emotional "Body and Soul . The set ended appropriately with "There Will Never Be Another You . Cedar Walton, Buster Williams and Louis Hayes took the stage for the third show, kicking things off with the pianist's arrangement of "Without A Song that featured Hayes' crisp drumming. Williams shined with Walton on an inspired reading of "Little Sunflower and a Monkish interpretation of "Time After Time . Surprise guest Roy Hargrove joined the trio for "I'm A Fool To Want You and the Miles theme "Go-Go to close the perfect night.

~ Russ Musto

Recommended New Listening:

· Kris Davis - The Slightest Shift (Fresh Sound-New Talent)

· Ursel Schlicht/Robert Dick - Photosphere (NEMU)

· Frank Kimbrough - Play (Palmetto)

· Bennie Maupin - Penumbra (Cryptogramophone)

· Jamie Stewardson - Jhaptal (Fresh Sound-New Talent)

· Marcus Strickland - Twi-Life (Strick Muzik)

~ David Adler, NY@Night Columnist

· Dave Burrell/Billy Martin - Consequences (Amulet)

· Roberta Gambarini - Easy To Love (Groovin' High-Kindred Rhythm)

· Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker - Palm of Soul (AUM Fidelity)

· John Law's Cornucopia Ensemble - Out of the Darkness (SLAM)

· Francisco Mela - Melao (Ayva Music)

· John Tchicai - John Tchicai with Strings (Treader)

~ Laurence Donohue-Greene, Managing Editor, AllAboutJazz-New York

· Thomas Chapin Trio - Ride (Playscape)

· Vijay Iyer/Rudresh Mahanthappa - Raw Materials (Savoy Jazz)

· Ravish Momin Trio Tarana - Five Nights (Not Two)

· Sam Rivers Rivbea Orchestra - Aurora (Rivbea Sound)

· Sonny Simmons - I'll See You When You Get There (Jazzaway)

· Steve Swell Slammin' The Infinite - Remember Now (Not Two)

~ Bruce Gallanter, Proprietor, Downtown Music Gallery

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