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Live Reviews

6th Rochester International Jazz Festival, Part 3

By Published: July 18, 2007

Among other things, Moran incorporates samples of spoken speech, using the speech patterns as the rhythmic basis for the music. The samples used during this set were very different from the ones used on the disc. But as forward-looking as Moran is, he's always mindful of the music's past. As the music flashed by, I caught a wonderful revision of Monk's "Crepescule With Nellie when the trio toyed with various phrases of the tune, always hinting at the piece but never quite bringing it out until the very end. A little later in the set, Monk's "one-note theme "Thelonious surfaced, a heavy gospel influence permeated one section. It was a terrific set and had me so wrapped up in it that I neglected to take many notes. Waites made his second appearance at the festival, and his playing on this set was quite different from his playing during the Fred Hersch set, once again confirming what a complete drummer he is. Moran seemed genuinely involved in the music and, including the encore, the set ran a little over the allotted time. The audience was definitely with the trio all the way, and Moran seemed appreciative of the reception.

In The Country
Lutheran Church Of The Reformation
June 14, 2007
Morten Qvenild: piano, keyboard, vocals; Roger Arntzen: bass, vocals; Pal Hausken: drums, percussion, vocals

After Moran's set ran overtime, it was a quick jaunt back up to the Church for another group in the Nordic Jazz Now series—Norwegian trio In The Country. Once again the venue was packed. There was a little buzz on this one, since their recent album Losing Stones, Collecting Bones has been getting good reviews.

On paper, In The Country looked like a fairly straightforward proposition: a piano trio. But in their own way, much like Moran, they're trying to carve their own individual space in this format. Once the music started, one realized this group was doing things a little differently. First of all their music tended to operate at the quieter end of the spectrum. Pianist Qvenild shows the influence of Paul Bley, both harmonically and in his use of space. There's a little bit of Keith Jarrett in there as well. At times one could describe this music as Satie-esque. Drummer Hausken plays a standard kit, but it's outfitted with all sorts of extraneous things: bells, wooden objects. He would cover his toms and snares with cloth to achieve that odd muted sound so prevalent on the disc. Occasionally he would play a glockenspiel, doubling the melody or playing counterpoint, which was a nice touch.

The rhythmic drive of this music is not exactly jazz-based. It seemed much more rock-based. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since Hausken is a fine drummer. The development of the pieces tended toward rock with a rock-ish sense of drama: starting out quietly, building an idea to a climactic pitch, then arcing back. When the band launched into "Kung Fu Boys ("I wrote this song and named it after ourselves said Qvenild), I couldn't help but recall the Canterbury style of bands like Hatfield & The North. This piece could have easily been from one of that band's instrumental interludes.

While In The Country may have had a rock base, they clearly had a jazz musician's sense of spontaneity, responding to a distant church's bells that started to ring during one of the quiet portions of the set. Occasionally the trio would break into song. "Everyone's going to die, everyone in their life went one. They were personable and seemed genuinely shocked that they had such a large crowd: "We never get audiences this big back home. This is amazing! What was amazing was the music, and once again the audience left with smiles on their faces after receiving another pleasant surprise from this series.

Don Byron: Ivey-Divey
Kilbourn Hall
June 15, 2007
Don Byron: clarinet, tenor sax; Jason Moran: piano; Billy Hart: drums

This was Byron's first appearance at the RIJF and in Rochester, in general. Between songs he reminisced that he had applied to the Eastman School Of Music 20 years earlier and was rejected. (He's in illustrious company. Among others, in the 1940s Bela Bartok applied for a professorship but was passed over.) Ivey-Divey is Byron's tribute to the melodic genius of Lester Young, but like all of his projects, this one wasn't confined by its concept. The music looked both backwards and forwards to create exciting sounds of the present. Jason Moran, who was present on the original Ivey Divey album, stayed an extra day after his Bandwagon date to reprise his role. The redoubtable Billy Hart replaced original drummer Jack DeJohnette, and one could do no better as a replacement.



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