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Live From New York

April 2003

By Published: April 2, 2003
Sunday’s second set opened and closed with “Free Willy” and “Shustabuster” respectively, both up-tempo free-bop items by D’Angelo. Wilson reached back to the Arts and Crafts album for the warped yet elegiac “Lester,” but mostly stuck to music from the new record: the frenetic, Eastern-tinged “Raga,” Lederer’s derangement of “Don’t Blame Me,” the ballad “Beginning of a Memory,” and the title track — a free-for-all involving three special guests from the album, as well as tenor monster and ex-MWQ member Joel Frahm. While a simple beatbox loop played over the speakers, Wilson introduced “Humidity” as a specimen of “jazztronica.” Then came the zinger: “Sounds like something you go to the chiropractor for.”

Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet — Contrary to my statement in the March column, Rosenwinkel appeared at the Village Vanguard not with Mark Turner, but rather with his regular trio mates: pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Ben Street, drummer Jeff Ballard. This was the first time I had heard Iverson away from The Bad Plus in a while, and he was astounding — playing blistering lines and extraordinarily perceptive chordal passages, balancing Rosenwinkel’s ethereal, echo-drenched sound with a solidly grounded acoustic timbre.

As for the guitarist, he has arrived at the most original sonic and harmonic concept of his generation. His playing becomes ever more expressive, his writing ever more probing and evocative. Highlights included “Our Secret World” and “Gesture,” as well as older pieces like “Cubism” and “Synthetics.” (Interestingly, Turner had a go at “Synthetics” during last month’s Vanguard run with Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier.) Hearing Rosenwinkel is like navigating through a thick fog in a small boat, never knowing what lies ahead until it’s upon you. This is no less true during his interpretations of Bill Evans’s “Turn Out the Stars” and Cole Porter’s “Get Out of Town.”

Ben Perowsky Trio — I like a Hebrew tune, how about you? On his new Tzadik release Camp Songs, drummer Ben Perowsky reaches back into his past and recovers melodies learned at Jewish summer camp in upstate New York. Joining him in this endeavor are pianist Uri Caine and bassist Drew Gress. This is in fact Caine’s trio, appearing under Perowsky’s leadership; the same lineup was on hand for an inspired set at Tonic. If you’re one of the tribe you’ll probably recognize hymns like “Adon Olam,” “Yigdal,” and “Aleinu,” even in these heady post-bop and even gospel-tinged guises. Although Caine was in exceptional form, the sound at Tonic was a bit clanky — perhaps a result of all that extra floor space since the renovation.

Michael McGinnis — He’s the “M” in RKM Music , the new label co-founded by Ravi Coltrane. Playing soprano sax exclusively, McGinnis appeared at Cornelia Street Café with his quintet Between Green, the same folks who play on his nifty CD Tangents (trumpeter Shane Endsley, pianist Jacob Sacks, bassist Dave Ambrosio, drummer Mark Dodge). McGinnis’s tunes are of labyrinthine complexity, with strong and uplifting melodies and heaps of fun, positive energy issuing from the bandstand. Endsley and the leader play a fair amount of unison passages together, giving the music a classic post-bop color at times (usually when one least expects it).

Before McGinnis took the stage, altoist Michael Attias and Flugumbo turned in a strong set with Reut Regez on trombone and bass trumpet, Eric Revis on bass, and Igal Foni on drums. (Apparently the Café is beginning to shoehorn two bands into a single 9-11:30 slot — not a happy development.) This music was a bit more raw and free, with Revis and Foni lighting the way. Both Attias and Regez blew with great authority and passion. One rarely gets to hear a bass trumpeter (much less a female one). Chicagoan Ryan Shultz played the bulbous horn on Rudresh Mahanthappa’s debut CD, Yatra.

Recommended Discs:
  • Ron Miles, Laughing Barrel (Sterling Circle)
  • Jamie Begian Big Band, Trance (Ind.)
  • The Drummonds, Pas de Trois (True Life)
  • Edward Simon, The Process (Criss Cross)
  • Jessica Williams, All Alone (MaxJazz)
  • Triology & Wolfgang Muthspiel, That’s All Daisy Needs (Material)

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