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Live From New York

September 2006

By Published: September 8, 2006

Saxophonist Miguel Zenon debuted his new Rhythm Collective band at the Jazz Gallery last month (Aug. 4th), featuring the congas and percussion of Renaldo de Jesus and Tony Escapa's drums with Aldemar Valentin on six-string electric bass. The evening's second set started off with the leader's composition "Words of Power , a tour-de-force alto outing that began with a measured, almost mathematical melody that moved from its deceptively simple lyricism to a burning intensity into a relaxed swing. Zenon wove his lines through a labyrinth of shifting rhythms, smoothly segueing into a second original, "Hypnotize , that opened dramatically with his impassioned sax crying over impressionistic percussion, resolving into a folkish song form that alternated Spanish and Tranish modes over Valentin's funky bass guitar and Escapa's cowbell. An unaccompanied sax prelude opened "The Chain , a bright melody built around a rhythmic bass line doubled on sax and momentarily transformed into a ballad before a powerful segment that hearkened to the '60s avant-garde. "Meditations In Rhythm followed, a marked contrast on which Zenon blew softly and slowly, emphasizing the purity of his sound and patience as a soloist. The group ended the set with a stammering deconstructionist interpretation of "Oye Como Va that had Zenon and Valentin exchanging clipped statements with de Jesus and Escapa.

Bebop master James Moody showed no signs of slowing down at 81, turning in a typically impressive set at Iridium (Aug. 13th). Accompanied by his longstanding rhythm section of pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Todd Coolman and drummer Adam Nussbaum, Moody opened his final show of the week with an up-tempo rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'n You , slightly embellishing the classic melody with a multihued sound that was practically polyphonous in its rich tonality - blowing chorus after chorus that demonstrated a seemingly limitless storehouse of ideas. Rosnes' powerful improvisation followed, Nussbaum picking up her final phrase to begin his melodic solo. Moody played an a cappella intro and the head to "Anthropology and then let the trio have at it with Coolman up first, followed by a bluesy Rosnes, before returning for a harmonically sophisticated solo and some fours with Nussbaum. The jovial saxophonist joked with the audience before delivering a stunning interpretation of "Body and Soul , replete with ingenious chord substitutions that reinvented the standard. He then engaged in a bit more shtick preceding a tongue-in-cheek version of "Moody's Mood For Love that ended with a sardonic rap built on soap opera titles. Moody swung breezily on Rosnes' classically tinged arrangement of "Con Alma and switched to flute for a brief "Confirmation before ending the set with the band's theme - Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas .

~ Russ Musto

Recommended New Listening:

· Tom Beckham - Center Songs (Apria)

· Marc Cary - Focus (Motéma)

· The Diplomats - We Are Not Obstinate Islands (Clean Feed)

· Lee Konitz - New Nonet (OmniTone)

· Francisco Mela - Melao (Ayva Music)

· Walter Smith III - Casually Introducing (Fresh Sound-New Talent)

~ David Adler, NY@Night Columnist

· Billy Hart - Quartet (HighNote)

· Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra - New Magical Kingdom (Clean Feed)

· Robin McKelle - Introducing (Cheap Lullabye)

· Misja Fitzgerald Michel - Encounter (No Format-Sunnyside)

· Simon Nabatov/Tom Rainey - Steady Now (Leo)

· Trygve Seim - The Source (ECM)

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

· Bridge 61 - Journal (Atavistic)

· Misha Mengelberg/ICP Orchestra - Afijn [DVD] (ICP)

· Nicole Mitchell/Ed Wilkerson/Harrison Bankhead - Frequency (Thrill Jockey)

· Michael Musillami - Fragile Forms (Playscape)

· Nucleus - Hemispheres: Live 1970/71 (HUX)

· Soft Bounds - Live at Le Triton (Le Triton)

~ Bruce Gallanter, Proprietor, Downtown Music Gallery

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