Charlie Hunter, Marc Ribot, Eddie Palmieri / Brian Lynch, Dafnis Prieto, Billy Martin, Randy Sandke, Billy Bang, Bennie Maupin and Arturo Sandoval
Following the intermission, Billy Martin turns out to be a real crowd-clearer, which is more of a statement on the crowd than his music, though admittedly this involved a deep plunge into entirely improvised abstraction. Even though consistently interesting, Martin's set's not without its problems. Chiefly, there's a sense of frustration with the too-tidily organised showcase slots allotted to the players, with Martin, DJ Olive, laptopper Ikue Mori and cellist Okkyung Lee suffering from solo-demonstration-of-wares- syndrome. With a double bill evening in store, and limited stage-time available, there's the sense that Martin's trying to cram in too much, particularly when there are live soundtrack sections on the way, prepared for the whole quartet. The quartet's official name is IOOi (Ikue, Okkyung, Olive and, er, illyB), and they were formed in 2005, for what they thought would be a one-off gig at The Stone, John Zorn's New York joint. Martin's own demonstration is just that: not so much an unfolding musical experience as a tour around his admittedly impressive percussion surround, with equal time allotted to all his oddments. If Martin was heard blindfolded, is it possible that his solo display would sound completely different? Is the listener response governed by being able to view him dabbling with each instrument in turn? When the movie shorts begin, the pieces are necessarily more tightly governed, synched up to either treacling abstraction or quick- changing carnival action. Ultimately, it felt like a long evening, and there were many audience casualties during its course.
The Randy Sandke Trio
The Rubin Museum Of Art
April 25, 2008
These regular Harlem In The Himalayas gigs are arranged by The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, hosted downtown in Chelsea's Rubin Museum Of Art, on its Friday "open nights." Chicagoan trumpeter Randy Sandke views this as an opportunity to dominate the evening with original compositions, rather than his usual bias towards standards. This must be because he's in a gallery instead of a club. Sandke's joined by a tender twosome of pianist Ted Rosenthal and basswoman Nicki Parrott, the latter also found downstairs at the Iridium every Monday night, receiving the dry-leering attentions of Les Paul, as straight-woman to his witticisms. Tonight, she's suffering too: singing a few songs without the aid of a microphone. At the Rubin, there's an uncompromising dedication to complete acoustic performance, which makes for an exciting change to the aural surroundings. Few venues offer a total clamp-down on amplification. Parrott copes admirably, hushing her playing partners into a deep sensitivity. Sandke's puffball tone is beautifully exposed, and even though he's no avant ripper, Randy is a mainstreamer who's open to what almost approaches the experimental, or at least the enquiring. This is a rare opportunity to hear him deliver a sideways-slanted set, away from the ballads and boppers, and pretty close to impressionistic abstraction.
April 26, 2008
Veteran violinist Billy Bang possesses endless energy reserves, always priming himself for the massive delivery that he bestows on each performance. For this intimately informal Harlem eatery date, he upends the emphasis somewhat, contrasting his recent run of Vietnam vet compositions with some runaway swinging standards, mostly from the Ellington songbook. So, the repertoire oscillates between goodtime gobble'n'quaff foot-tappers and spiky, confrontational extremities, with the assembled diners managing to shift quite adeptly from intensely silent concentration mode to loudly whooping and hollering encouragements. Bang laps all of this up, being the rare combination of showman and uncompromising avant gardist, effortlessly melding what ought not to be two incompatible approaches anyway, at least in an ideal restaurant. He loves to serenade the throng, giving a totally solo violin display, part oiled, part jagged, but always beautifully exposed. Mostly, though, the quartet is jumpin,' and it's a revelation to catch Bang at such close quarters, clearly thrilled with his dominance of the entire room..!
The Bennie Maupin Ensemble
April 27, 2008