BassDrumBone, thankfully, never seem to go away. The trio of trombonist Ray Anderson, bassist Mark Helias and percussionist Gerry Hemingway marked its 30th anniversary on Jul. 6th at Cornelia Street Café (just two nights after the venue celebrated its own 30th birthday) and showed that despite some extended breaks over the years they continue to be a tight, exciting group. Hemingway is such a great, textural player that it was a blast to see him with brushes on snare, swinging to one of Anderson's tunes and then on a thoughtful Helias piece nodding his head and lightly tapping the tom where any other drummer would be trying to fill the space. Anderson, although born in Chicago, has a southern charm to his playing. His first exposure to music was his father's Dixieland records and that early influence has seemed to carry through his career. He slid all around the blues in the hot basement at Cornelia Street. The bluesy swing took over the band on Helias' "Rhythm Generation , with kazoo-sounding trombone and balloon-sounding drums grounded by the composer's solid bass. The final of the four pieces in their second set was Hemingway's "Edward's Dance , dedicated to Edward Blackwell, with whom Helias played for years. It was the most compositionally complex piece of the night, but still made room for a moderate bop (Blackwell apparently knew a number of dances). BassDrumBone is so precise that they sometimes feel like a percussion trio, everything in its place.
~ Kurt Gottschalk
ABC No Rio Benefit
Since the early '80s, ABC No Rio has been a countercultural mecca of artistic activism in the East village; unfortunately, the 25-year city-sanctioned 'squat' may come to a premature close if critical improvements aren't implemented in timely fashion. Enter tenor saxophonist Blaise Siwula, curator of Rio's Sunday night free jazz follies for the past eight years. On the first night of July, Siwula and friends staged a benefit boasting a close coterie of downtown stylists. An eclectic mix of musical personalities, over 20 musicians contributed short vignettes in the form of solos, duos and trios more like musical dim sum than a six-course meal. The outré award for the evening properly belongs to a piece by AAJ-NY's own Kurt Gottschalk and tonsorial technician Nelson (wielding an assortment of scissors, thinning shears and clippers, all wired through an ammo belt of stomp-box effects and a strap-on amp) called "Electric Chaircut . Other moments of moment included a short but compact solo set from tenorist Ras Moshe; an edgy duo with Bonnie Kane's overdriven tenor and pianist Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut's sepulchral basement-notes; guitarist Phillip Gayle's softer-than-soft minimalism; and pianist Ursel Schlicht's discovery and subsequent exploitation of a 'faulty' string hammer. After the initial round of musical chairs, Siwula called up several impromptu combos for a roof-raising final blast, full of sound and fury, signifying something.
Gottlieb/Fort; Prana Trio at Center for Improvisational Music
It was a lucky Friday the 13th last month for those who made it out to the Center for Improvisational Music, beginning with an intimate duet set by pianist Anat Fort and vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb comprised of originals, an Israeli song and free improvisation. Gottlieb's voice, warm and resonant, has just a hint of a catch, giving her an appealing mixture of confident vulnerability. She and Fort were simpatico from the downbeat their collective acoustic perfectly matched the room but they really stepped into the zone on the third piece and in the free episode to follow, when Fort let the worms out of the can with arresting gestures and two-fisted flourishes. Eric Lawrence cameo-ed on the piquant, sci-fi-esque "Lament ; then, on the last two numbers, the duet was joined by the Prana Trio (+1) for a collective blow: Rose and Sunny Kim sang now blended, now puréed textures, clarinetist/ tenorist Petr Cancura added innocuously insinuating obligatos and electric fretless bassist Stomu Takeishi, an immediately palpable presence, percolated the proceedings with charismatic yet unobtrusive ebullience. Prana returned for a second set featuring leader/drummer Brian Adler's original tunes set to the lyrical poetry of mid- and far-eastern poets Rumi, Hafiz and Kabir. From the hypnotic voodoo tom-toming of "Endless is My Wealth to the undulating climaxes of "A Drop in the Sea , the augmented trio capped this seamless summer evening with painterly brushstrokes.
~ Tom Greenland
Phil Woods at Jazz in July, 92nd Street Y