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Live From New York

February 2008

By Published: February 2, 2008
Dr. Lonnie Smith at Iridium

Dr. Lonnie Smith gave what amounted to a clinic on the dynamics of the jazz organ at Iridium (Jan. 6th), leading an allstar trio with guitarist Russell Malone and drummer Herlin Riley. Playing with a subtlety not generally associated with his instrument, the white-bearded Smith, clad in a crimson turban and black tunic, cut a commanding figure behind the Hammond B-3 as he gently set the exotic tone to Juan Tizol's "Caravan , pedaling a percussive bass line that was rhythmically reinforced by his colleagues. Drawing the audience deep into his sonic universe with supple harmonies, the organist suddenly ignited the room with a booming blast that set the basement chamber ablaze with enthusiasm, Riley laying down a clave beat on cowbell, complemented by Malone's AfroCuban comping. The Doctor followed up with a pretty original, "When We Kissed Goodnight , that showcased his and Malone's lyricism. On "Simone , the seldom-heard Frank Foster classic, the trio swung mightily, with Smith demonstrating the full breadth of his keyboard's potential by employing vocal effects on the melody line and powerful orchestral sonorities in his improvisations. A soft and gentle reading of Ellington's "Squeeze Me showed off the band's sensitive side, but it was a raw and raucous reading of "Freedom Jazz Dance , with Smith playing hand percussion on his bench and Riley putting on a flashy show with a tambourine, that generated the all-out excitement that organ aficionados crave.

Dave Douglas at Abrons Arts Center

Diversity has long been the hallmark of the artistic vision of Dave Douglas, allowing his music to evolve continually through a wide variety of ensembles with constantly shifting personnel and instrumentation. Douglas' unique approach to jazz repertory has proven to be particularly interesting, as evidenced in past projects exploring the compositions of Mary Lou Williams and Booker Little. At the Henry Street Settlement's Abrons Arts Center (Jan. 5th) the trumpeter once again found a fine balance between innovation and tradition in a program titled "Blue Nile: The Music of Randy Weston . Fronting a sextet that retained only saxophonist Donny McCaslin from his regular working band, Douglas arranged the great pianist's impressive songbook for a group anchored by the tuba of Marcus Rojas, who excelled in the dual role of soloist and member of the rhythm section with drummer Nasheet Waits and keyboardist Geoff Keezer. With Luis Bonilla on trombone filling out the frontline, the group presented forward-looking interpretations of both well known and seldom played pieces. Weston's music, the most Afrocentric of all jazz composers, was well served by Douglas' conception, which utilized variegated tonalities and timbral textures while alternating polyphonous group improvisation and call-and-response solo interaction. Starting with "Zulu — one of Weston's earliest songs -and ending with the classic "High Fly , Douglas shined a bright light on one jazz' true greats.

~ Russ Musto

Recommended New Listening:

· Ron Blake — Shayari (Mack Avenue)

· Bill Dixon — With The Exploding Star Orchestra (Thrill Jockey)

· Hans Glawischnig — Panorama (Sunnyside)

· Tony Malaby/William Parker/Nasheet Waits — Tamarindo (Clean Feed)

· Matana Roberts — The Chicago Project (Central Control)

· Gonzalo Rubalcaba — Avatar (Blue Note)

-David Adler NY@Night Columnist, AllAboutJazz.com

· Kevin Brady Trio — Common Ground (feat. Bill Carrothers) (Living Room Project)

· Denis DiBlasio Quintet — Where the Jade Buddha Lives (Art of Life)

· Susie Ibarra — Drum Sketches (Innova)

· Keefe Jackson's Project Project — Just Like This (Delmark)

· Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani — The Third Man (ECM)

· Matana Roberts Quartet — The Chicago Project (Central Control)

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

· Nik Bärtsch's Ronin — Holon (ECM)

· Peter Brötzmann/Paal Nilssen-Love/Mats Gustafsson — The Fat Is Gone (Smalltown Superjazz)

· Ila Cantor — Mother Nebula (Fresh Sound-New Talent)

· Delta Saxophone Quartet — Dedicated to You...But You Weren't Listening (Moonjune)

· Stephen Gauci's Basso Continuo — Nididhyasana (Clean Feed)

· Jeremy Steig — Pterodactyl (s/r)

-Andrey Henkin Editorial Director, AllAboutJazz-New York



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