On Apr. 15th at Jimmy's Sunday Freestyle Creative Music Series, trumpeter Eddie Gale made one of his now more frequent East Coast trips to play with veteran trombonist Dick Griffin. And with Ken Filiano (bass) and Dee Pop's (series curator/drummer) rhythmic connection, the improvisational intensity through four spontaneous creations was set in motion, the two horns succinctly and empathetically playing over Filiano and Pop's momentum. Griffin's tone and projection quickly claimed the lead voice, a role he enjoyed and exploited responsibly. The brevity in brass solos, the band's strong suit, retained a compositional structure for the first two numbers. Filiano fluidly alternated arco and pizzicato passages, temporarily disguising the quartet as a quintet, Pop incessantly and texturally developing dynamic syncopated layers of rhythms through use of a rotated two-in-one stick with a ball-mallet at one end. The band's conversational approach took a breather during Filiano's unaccompanied solo of atonal and melodic counterpoint followed by an extended solo by Griffin, who visibly waved everyone off through a marching Mingus anthem into some awe-inspiring multiphonic circular breathing. A ballad for trumpet trio led to the set closer in which Griffin memorably inserted "Take the A Train and a bolero of multiphonics into his solo and Filiano added Gale's "Children of Peace theme much to the composer's surprise and delight.
Wycliffe Gordon at The Lighthouse
The inaccurately-billed "One Man Band at The Lighthouse (Apr. 9th) nonetheless featured an entertaining evening with valve and slide trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, also performing on tuba, euphonium, trumpet, upright bass, piano, vocals, didgeridoo and jazz tap (his brief clarinet noodling assured everything lugged over for the occasion was played). Appropriately presented by the Sidney Bechet Society, the concert's title came from Bechet's "Sheik of Araby (1941), on which he played all six instruments. The main difference here was Gordon's support and, in cases, replacement by his guests: his trumpet was quickly depped by Dominick Farinacci and after a quick shoe change, Gordon sampling his jazz tap skills in low hems - the long legs and acrobatic rhythms of DeWit Fleming, Jr. left little question as to what primary "instrument was whose. Before introducing Jay Leonhart, the night's fixture on bass, Gordon jokingly announced, "Allow me to introduce the bassist for the evening, grabbed his bass and slapped and sang "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter . Eric Reed would permanently replace Gordon at the piano after a Jimmy Yancey-like blues rag early in the first set. This said, Gordon's talent as a multi-instrumentalist is undeniable. His trombone voice shone through everything he touched and he successfully played with amazing musicality and dexterity on each instrument (vocals, too).
~ Laurence Donohue-Greene
ICP at Tonic
Of the many things lost when Tonic closed its doors on Friday the 13th, one of the bigger was having a centrally located, mid-size venue for avant-leaning musicians from overseas to play. And while some saw gigs canceled or moved after the club's closing, there were a few final hurrah's before it was all over. The ICP Orchestra made their annual visit, taking up residency on Apr. 5th-6th, the first night joined by trombonist George Lewis. They were unusual sets for the Dutch legends, more complex and less overtly joyful than usual, but with a fair portion of Monk and Ellington and a piece by cellist Ernst Reijseger that seemed to involve players conducting portions of the ensemble by mimicking animal ears with their hands. Leader Misha Mengelberg played piano much more than on past visits, as if the meticulously arranged suites left him no other choice. His longtime associate Han Bennink seemed more focused on playing the drums than playing to the audience, making for some of the richer ICP sets in recent memory. Lewis took his time integrating, sitting out the first piece and then moving to the back of the stage with the rhythm section for the second. But by the end of the first set he had stepped up. A quartet with violinist Mary Oliver and saxophonist Ab Baars with Michael Moore on clarinet began both taut and prickly and grew softer as they pushed forward, eventually. Mengelberg, getting a comparatively rare recess, grinned in appreciation.